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Pray for me: Mike Awoyinfa’s tribute to Dimgba Igwe

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The Mike Awoyinfa tribute on Dimgba Igwe that

everyone has been waiting for is here. Mike,

(right) and late Dimgbe Igwe (left), who died on

Saturday Sept. 6th, were best friends and both

pioneered the now rested Weekend Concord

newspaper and Sun Newspaper. Find his touching

tribute below..

This is it! The most unimaginable nightmare!

This is it! The most painful column I have ever

written or will ever write. The column I wished

I never wrote. The agonizing column. The

column written amidst sorrow, tears and

blood. Please, pray for me.” Continue…

More than any time in my life, I need prayers.

Prayer is the only healing balm for me now.

Prayer is the only thing that can save me from

these troubled waters, from this ocean of

sorrow threatening to consume me. I write

with a heart brimful with sadness. By the

Orwell River in Ipswich, England, where I am

sitting, I am scribbling these painful words. By

the time you are reading this, I should be

home to face the shocking reality.

You know why I am writing, you Father of the

fatherless, you Creator of all things good and

bad, you giver of life and taker. You gave him

to me, now you have taken him. You gave me

a friend and a brother. Now, you have taken

both. Who will be my friend? Who will be my

brother?

Sadness is now my name. Sadness like those

missing girls stolen from us in the middle of

the night and taken into captivity. Sadness is

the tattoo mark emblazing my face like Mike

Tyson’s facial tattoo. I have been reading Mike

Tyson’s bizarre memoir: MIKE TYSON,

UNDISPUTED TRUTH, MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY

and I was planning to write on it. But I am

compelled to jettison that to write this sad

column.

Oh, my God! You know why I am sad. My best

friend is gone. My twin brother is gone. A

good man is gone. A generous man is gone. A

man who gave all his life serving God and

journalism is gone. A man who is the other

part of me is gone. Dimgba Igwe is gone.

What will I do now? Who will I turn to now?

Who?

Why must all my friends and heroes in

journalism die so cruelly, landing on the front

page? My editor Dele Giwa died the same way:

killed dastardly through a letter bomb on

October 19, 1986. And up till today, the riddle

of his death remains unsolved. It has become

“a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an

enigma,” to use a phrase by Winston Churchill.

Like Giwa, Dimgba Igwe in the throes of death

was crying: “I don’t want to die.” For four

hours, he was bleeding on the road to

Golgotha. No ambulance. No oxygen mask.

No Samaritan hospital. From St. Raphael

Hospital to the General Hospital Isolo where

there was no surgeon to attend to him, it was

the story of Nigeria’s systemic failure as a

country. He finally gave up at Lagos State

University Hospital, Ikeja.

If I am angry at all, it is not with the bloody

coward who killed him and fled in panic. I will

forgive the hit-and-run killer. And the Dimgba

Igwe I know, will forgive the man who killed

him. What I cannot forgive is a nation with

health institutions that can do nothing, once

your life is in danger. It’s the same story all

over Nigeria. Of course, you know that once

you are taken to LUTH on emergency, you are

as good as dead. And this is a country without

a functional 911 which you dial in emergency

and get help. Only in Nigeria will you commit

this heinous crime and vanish. In a civilized

country, the killer would have been caught on

camera. The security agents would have

tracked the car down. Not so in Nigeria.

I remember the sad death of my other Sunday

Concord friend May Ellen Ezekiel whose death

in a Lagos hospital shook the nation. Dimgba

Igwe and I were at the helm in Weekend

Concord where he was my deputy. The best

decision I ever took in life was to choose

Dimgba Igwe as my deputy. He complemented

me in every way. Now, he is gone.

Like everyone else, I am confused. I am lost.

Please, pray for me. More than any time in my

life, I need prayers. Lots of them. Because I

don’t know how I can cope without my friend,

my business partner, my co-author, my soul

mate, my chief critic. He was the voice of

restraint—always fearing for my life, because

of my constant prone to accidents. I

remember an accident in Paris, when I

stumbled, crashed on the street and seriously

injured my arm in the bid to protect my

camera and photos. Dimgba Igwe was there

for me when I was down and out in Paris. And

at the Golden Tulip, where we had lodged to

write Governor Fashola’s biography, I had

another accident in the night after my writing,

resulting in a deep cut on my lower and upper

lips. Again, Dimgba and the hotel medical staff

quickly rushed me to hospital where I was told

I could have bled to death, if the broken glass

had cut my throat. You read it all in this

column!

Against this backdrop, I was the one more

prone to death. In his last interview, Dimgba

Igwe told YES INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE how

he nicknamed me “Iniquity Man” because I

won’t sit in one place. As his twin brother four

years older, I used to imagine a future where

two of us would be old and I would die first

and Dimgba would be there, paying me

tributes, looking back at the lives we lived. But

alas, the imagined future is dead and Dimgba

is gone in his prime.

The Dimgba I know was a kind man who didn’t

deserve this cruel death. If anything, he would

have hated this big embarrassment of being

on front page, killed doing what he loved best:

jogging. He believed the best way to prolong

life is by exercising, by running and pumping

oxygen into the heart. He was the one who

introduced me to jogging. And for more than

10 years, I have been jogging with him. Our

houses are next to each other on that God-

forsaken Dele Orisabiyi Street in Okota which

has not for once seen any government

repairing it in years. Recently after returning

from a first-time trip to Banana Island where

he had gone to visit our friend, Elder Ekeoma

whose daughter was marrying, Dimgba Igwe

had an epiphany. He was so sad that he would

be leaving the well-tarred streets of Banana

Island and be returning home to that hell of a

street in Okota. “Ogbeni, we must work harder

and have a place in Banana Island,” he told

me. Dimgba was a hard-working man, a

visionary who should have lived long to reap

the fruits of his toil. The greatest honour that

the Lagos State government can do in memory

of my departed friend is to tar his street. I am

sure even the inhabitants wouldn’t mind if the

street is renamed Dimgba Igwe Street after

this great son of Nigeria—if the road is tarred

for his sake. That would make him happy in

his grave. That was what he yearned for and

even begged our friend, the governor who

gave us his word that he would assist.

Every morning, we run on that bad road. I

couldn’t join him last Saturday because I was

in the UK with my family for my son’s

graduation—a day I was looking forward to

with the pride and joy of a father. Dimgba

opted to stay and take care of the home front

while I was away. Somehow, I feel guilty. If I

had known it will end this way, I would have

taken my beloved brother along.

Pastor Igwe must have prayed that morning.

His first act at the break of every new day is to

go on his knees. He sings in praise of God,

blesses the name of the Lord, speaks in tongue

and prays for the Lord to deliver him from all

evils. But on that Black Saturday, the devil

struck. On the eve of his death, I had called

him from Ipswich and told him the books I had

bought for him. Books like JFK’s Last

Hundred Days, by Thurston Clarke, The

Virgin Way, by Richard Branson, God is not a

Christian, by Desmond Tutu and an epic

book on the history of Jerusalem from the

days of David up to the current day. He was so

excited. He was waiting for the books. He

loved books. Now, the evil forces have

brought him to book.

Adieu, my friend, my brother. Like King David

mourned his friend Jonathan, I cry: “How have

the mighty fallen! Tell it not in Gath. Publish it

not in Ashkelon.” For a great man of

journalism has passed away. Our latest book is

a book called 50 World Editors, featuring

conversations with editors around the world

whom we met in the course of our travels. We

were planning to launch it, but see me now!

This morning, I came across the New Men’s

Devotional Bible you gave me on my 60th

birthday. Oh, you really tried on my 60th

birthday and I was looking forward to

celebrating in grand style your own

60thbirthday. But, see me now!

In the Bible you gave me, you wrote: “Ogbeni,

be strong in the Lord and the power of His

might.” (Ephesians 6: 10)

My friend, I will be strong in the Lord. I will fly

the flag and search for heaven that you so

much cared about. Ogbeni, thank you. Good

night and enjoy your freedom

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