Dee Bob Ogbuagu: A legend steps aside
It was my younger brother, Emmanuel Nonye Iwuoha who drew my attention in the early morning of Tuesday, August 22, 2017, of the passing on to higher glory of Chief Dr. Sir Bob Beremako Ewulonu Ogbuagu, OON, who was globally known as ‘‘Dee Bob’’.
Of course, I knew Dee Bob had been sick and everything was being done to ensure his speedy recovery. Unfortunately, the doyen of Public Relations in Africa and accomplished newspaper manager succumbed to the cold hands of death on the 21st of August 2017.
Dee Bob was my personal friend. He was my father, and my advisor. His private residence is in Prefab Housing Estate Owerri-Imo State. I grew up in Prefab. I knew Dee Bob in 1981 (36 years ago), when I was in Primary six. I and other Prefab boys used to go to his house to play with his last son, Kelechi Iheukwumere Ogbuagu. We had access to even his bedroom. Most times, while playing or watching television in his house, we would break and damage doors, louvers and chairs. Dee Bob would return home from work to behold the damages in his house. He would summon us (Prefab boys) to explain why we would not be careful and responsible. Of course, as a strict disciplinarian, he would punish us. All the then Prefab boys took Dee Bob as their father. He was our father. We ate his food, drank his Remy Martins Brandy, Moet/Chandon, Martell brandy, Metoeus Rose Wine, Yago Wine, etc, most times without his consent.
It was in the house of Dee Bob that we the Prefab boys first saw Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu (the Aha Eji Agamba of Igboland) in 1983. Iwuanyanwu had visited Dee Bob with his Brand New Rolls Royce Car. Almost all the Prefab boys trooped out to Dee Bob’s residence to behold the “wonder machine”. His wife (Mummy Cecilia) has remained a mother to all Prefab boys and girls, such that we still visit the family house to greet her and indeed crack jokes with her, even now that we have all grown up, married and managing our respective families.
Almost all the Prefab Boys grew up in Dee Bob’s house. We would abandon our various homes to ‘’anchor’’ at Dee Bob’s house. Most times, Dee Bob was never around, (he was always travelling to Lagos, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Calabar, London and USA,) but his numerous vehicles then were at our mercy. We would intimidate and harass his drivers, and the car keys would be given to us. I learnt how to drive in 1985 at the age of 15. Most Prefab boys learnt how to drive with Dee Bob cars. As should be expected, some of the vehicles got damaged in the process, but Dee Bob always bought new ones. He was a father to all of us.
I remember an incident that happened in 2006: dare devil armed robbers attacked Dee Bob’s residence in Prefab at night. Prefab youths organized and mobilized themselves that same night. I was contacted and informed that armed robbers were robbing in Dee Bob’s house. I left my Ikenegbu Layout Extension residence that night and rushed to Prefab, and joined in the Rescue Operation. Other Prefab boys living outside Prefab but in Owerri, also rushed to Prefab that night. We confronted the Armed Robbers with the assistance of Policemen who arrived much later, and they were over powered. They fled Prefab Housing Estate without achieving their mission. Dee Bob and Mama Cecilia were not hurt, neither was anything (property) stolen.
I have used the above narrative to show that Dee Bob Ogbuagu was well known to me, and that he was my father, friend, advisor, encourager and indeed father to all Prefab youths.It will therefore be very stupid, foolish and idiotic of me to stand aloof, and watch Dee Bob Ogbuagu lowered into his grave on the 18th of November 2017 without paying proper tribute.
Dee Bob Ogbuagu was born on the 25th of May 1925 in Umukabia in the Ohuhu Clan of Umuahia North Local Government Area of Abia State, to the family of Chief Sir Francis Udegbu Ogbuagu, a former school headmaster and Methodist Church preacher. He attended Methodist Central School in Umukabia, and the famous Methodist College Uzoakoli where he finished in flying colours in 1945. He also attended the famous Brookings Institute, USA.
Dee Bob was married very early in life to his beautiful wife, Mummy Cecilia in 1950; and together they had six children, including Uncle Uche, Uncle Chinedu (late), Aunty Ada, KK and Kelechi amongst others. He (together with his lovely wife) trained his children and they are all doing very well in their chosen professions. No doubt, Dee Bob was a successful father, Proud grandfather and Happy great grandfather. Dee Bob was one of the last surviving members of the defunct Zikist Movement that led the struggles for Nigeria’s independence from the former British Colonial Authorities. He worked closely with Kola Balogun and MCK Ajuluchukwu, the president and secretary of the Zikist Movement respectively, to rid the country of foreign political domination and imperialism. Zikist Movement was formed on the 2nd of February 1946 in Lagos by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and their memberships were radical young Nigerians. The movement was politically aligned to the National Council of Nigeria and Camerouns NCNC.
Iwuoha wrote from Owerri.
The resolute commitment of Dee Bob to the political liberation of Nigeria made him to abandon (through resignation) his flourishing career at Nigeria Geological Survey Department, Kaduna in 1948 to join the Nationalist struggles. He was the Secretary General of the Zikist Movement between 1948 and 1950, in Kaduna. He later became the President of the Movement in Jos, Plateau State. Dee Bob, in his desire to give bruises to the British Colonial Authorities, floated a Newspaper ‘known as the “Northern Advocate” which became an instant hit to the Anti-Colonial struggle. The newspaper was based in Jos, Plateau State.
The radicalism of Dee Bob put him in collision with the colonial authority in Nigeria. His Newspaper, ‘’The Northern Advocate’’ was proscribed in February 1955; while he alongside prominent members of the Zikist Movement like MCK Ajuluchukwu, Kola Balogun, Anthony Enakoro, Sa’ad Zungur, Ikenna Nzimiro, Osita Agwuna, Raji Abdullahi and Oge Dengbe Marculay etc, were arrested, charged and convicted for sedition and sentenced to prison. Dee Bob served his sentence in Jos Prison, where he was held in solitary confinement.
After serving his sentence in Jos Prison, Dee Bob Ogbuagu regained his freedom, and thereafter relocated to the Eastern Region where he teamed up with Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Dr. Michael Iheonukara Okpara to work graciously for the repositioning of the economy of the region.
While Dr. Okpara served as the Premier of the Eastern Region, Dee Bob was appointed the Chairman of the Eastern Nigeria Development Commission (ENDC). It was on his watch that the famed Agricultural, Industrial and Infrastructural Revolution of the Dr. Okpara administration took place in the whole of Eastern Nigeria. It should be noted that it was within this period in 1961 that the World Bank in its annual report boldly declared that the Eastern Region of Nigeria was the fastest growing economy in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa.
Dee Bob was not just a Newspaper Manager and Publisher; he was the Doyen of Public Relations not only in Nigeria but also in Africa. He made name in Newspaper Management, Advertising and Public Relations. He was ingenious in handling issues of government, and his contributions to the growth of the media industry in Nigeria were recognized and fetched him handsome rewards. Dee Bob was the National President of Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), from 1980 to 1984. His peak in Public Relations came in 1981 when he was elected the First President Emeritus of the Federation of African Public Relations Association (APRA), which he co-founded in Nairobi, Kenya. He held the position from 1981 to 1987.
Dee Bob was not just a political leader in his life time, he was also a community leader who saw to the growth of his Umukabia Community. Dee Bob was indeed the quintessential man of the people who associated himself with many developmental projects such as School Rehabilitations, Market constructions, Road constructions, Building houses for the less Privilege in the society etc. Dee Bob trained and sponsored many people in their Academic pursuits. Therefore, it was in recognition of his numerous assistance to the upliftment of the society that he was honoured with several Chieftaincy titles across Nigeria.
With the painful and regrettable “Stepping Aside’’ of Dee Bob Africa has lost a Pan Africanist, Nigeria has lost a great statesman of uncommon leadership traits, Ndigbo has lost one of the few surviving pillars of Igbo strength. Abia State has lost their mouthpiece, Prefab Housing Estate has lost their Papa-Nnukwu, the Newspaper Industry has lost a Frontline Journalist, the Methodist Church Nigeria has lost their Pillar of Support, the Public Relations Industry has lost their First Class Image Maker. Finally, the Ogbuagu family has lost a Father, Grandfather and Great Grandfather.
Iwuoha wrote from Owerri.
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