Being a treatise on OB Fubara, Fellow of Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, NIPR, in the Rivers State Chapter, who passed early in the week by Amuopusenibo Bobo Sofiri Brown, former National President of NIPR.
I called Darego O.B. Fubara this afternoon. He is our member and son of our mentor Chief O.B. Fubara. Tried all his numbers. He didn’t answer at first. His lines were drowned by the flood of calls. Then he called me back: ” Sir, I lost my dad at 4.30am today”. The rest is in the womb of agony that swallows our wound like a silent river. Chief O.B is gone home to be with God. Hear the account: “he wasn’t ill but had a fleeting sign of discomfort for which he was taken to hospital. He looked like he was getting better. Then he passed on”. Imagine the suddenness of it all! Heaven couldn’t wait. Papa God sent some special service to bring his son back. We thank you heavenly Father for the gift of Chief O.B.
But did you really know Chief O.B.? He was in the first wave of public intellectuals not just graduates, who came into the Nigerian communication industry to forge a distinct community. As General Manager Chief O.B. Fubara was a star among his peers. His enlightened diction and analytical mind made him a heavyweight respected by even career Perm Secretary. Like the Angala tree toughened by robust waves and the salty nutrient of the Atlantic, Chief O. B’s brain- power floored many even before an argument began. A number of Perm Secretaries told me they didn’t want his trouble whenever he went to defend his station’s budget. He held high the flag of Rivers State Broadcasting Corporation (Radio Rivers) among radio stations in Nigeria then. And he stood like a light house in a frothing sea as Nigeria struggled with the darkness of its past. Chief O.B. attracted other young minds of Rivers origin to join in the challenge of cutting a name for Rivers State through broadcasting. Late Oju Daniel Kalio, lanky Dakolo the litterati, Mike Yempe and Perry Ockiya, joined hands with irrepressible Mrs Nguba Agolia- Aspinal, MKM ( Matthew K. Mieseigha), Florence Ekiye the golden-voice of the Niger Delta, elegant Gloria Fiofori with the diamond stars of BBC on her shoulders and a few others.
Dumo Oruobu (as he was known then) and I, we’re in the flock of 1979 that came to heat up that exciting team after our NYSC. Chief O. B. made me become a Radio journalist. He took me away from the job of PRO I was appointed to do. He said I was too young for PR profession. But he didn’t pick anyone behind me, either . Today I understand what he means about PR and maturity. If a medical Dr makes a mistake, God forbid but one life could be lost. Painful yes. But when a PR man makes a mistake a whole organization closes down. Ask ENRON in the US or the Managing Director of BP who committed a gaffe after the Deep-water Horizon spill in the Louisiana Gulf Coast. That matter is another story.
The vibrancy of the media environment in Rivers State was very high in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Both the Radio and TIDE newspapers led the charge on their respective fronts across Nigeria. Chief O.B bestirred the fertile intellectual environment of the time, as a professional communicator and a wonderful manager of people. Even great media warriors like Esoghene Barret and Tam Fiofori found joy to spice up Radio Rivers and TIDE with their international footprints respectively.
And when he moved into PR in NNPC, he opened a new professional corridor for many of us. Chief O. B. made the PR environment look like his first home. Mrs Aspinall followed to NAOC. Dumo moved to NNPC too. I had changed jobs to become the first Political Editor of TIDE Group later in 1979. It took 7 years before I went to M.W. Kellogg / NAFCON as Head of PR. But as Editor Daily TIDE, I was invited to join the Governor to discuss with the Petroleum Minister at Government House in 1984. It was an occasion where I saw the global mind of a PR manager at work in Chief O.B. He came with Prof. Tam David West as Minister of Petroleum. Chief O.B was leading the Minister’s technical team. You would not last 10 minutes as an ordinary member of Prof David-West’s delegation, if you did not wear your grey matter as your natural hair and stood on four legs for smartness.
And Chief O.B was bloody smart on the job. Saw him snatch a camera from a well dressed but unknown VIP who was hanging in the Governor’s waiting lounge. The man jumped in front of the Minister and had a “photo op”, as the Americans would say. But Chief O.B won’t let any 419 claim grow out of that photo. He had responded out that it could be used as an evidence of someone “familiar with Nigeria’s Minister of Petroleum”. I have taken all this length to make us see only two days in the professional life of Chief O.B.
Now imagine what thanks we owe to God for giving him to us, for many years of his life. You can see how nearly “inspired” the Rivers State Chapter of Nigerian Institute of Public Relations was, when we resolved to inaugurate the Chief O. B. Birthday Lecture in his life time. Now we can whisper the words with courage: Go home pen warrior from the mangroves. Rise with the celestial choir and add a Kalabari soprano to the entry anthem that heralds you to the sea of gold before your father’s throne. Rest your head in the eternal glow of the splendour of light that purifies the universe with an endless morning and Hallelujah!