WAKE UP: Alhaji Kola Animasaun – A father in a million difficult to forget five years after

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Late Alhaji Kola ANIMASAUN, ready for an outing, weeks before his death on May 30, 2022.

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By BASHIR ADEFAKA

To lift from my tribute to him published in The DEFENDER on June 1, 2019, I said Alhaji Kola Animasaun, in the course of his training after school for me, had admonished me and I won’t be able to quote him precisely: “As a Journalist, integrity should be your guide to success. Dont play workplace politics. Whenever you have to travel for any assignment, take with you money for your flight tickets, hotel accommodation and feeding. If you are not given money by your host, you are not disappointed and not going to be stranded. But if you are appreciated and given money willingly, it is your money.”

Exactly this time yesterday, 5.30am, of Thursday 30th May 2019, a call came through into my handset and it was Brother Boye Animasaun. I had just flown out of Lagos two days before, which was Tuesday 28th May after Monday 27th May when Daddy, Alhaji Kola Animasaun, Mummy, Alhaja Modupe Animasaun, and Sister Opeyemi Animasaun, had bidden me bye as I would be flying to Sokoto as visit coordinator for a VIP to attend the inauguration of Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who had just won a re-election as Executive Governor of Sokoto State.

READ ALSO Kola Animasaun buried in Lagos, as President Buhari, Sultan of Sokoto, Gen. Tajudeen Olanrewaju, others mourn

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MEMORIAL FILE: From Left: Chairman, Media Committee, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Femi Abbas, former Chairman, Editorial Board of Vanguard Newspapers, Alhaji Kola Animasaun and Special Assistant to the SSA to President Muhammadu Buhari on the Diaspora Affairs, Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Balogun, during the Aqidun-Nikai ceremony of a daughter of Alhaji Femi Abbas at University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State, on November 6, 2016. Alhaji Kola Animasaun died three years after on May 30, 2019. May Allah continue to keep him safe as his soul is believed to have been reposed in Al-Jannah Firdaus.

READ ALSO Amosun writes Kola Animasaun family, says death of Journalism Doyen loss of one Nigeria’s best in critical period

The farewell, which was meant to be that I would return Friday 31st May that 2019, according to the flight schedule, to meet them at home, was at General Hospital, Broad Street, Lagos, where medical consultants were attending to him. Daddy was referred to the hospital Sunday 26th May on the advice of his personal physician. I will now remember to thank the then Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, who rose to ensuring that possible situation usually encountered in public hospitals here did not happen in the case of the quintessential administrator, journalism teacher, leader and father admitted in one of his state’s hospitals.

That morning, 5.30am of Thursday 30th May 2019, Brother Boye called and, because I knew the condition with which I left the house in the Lagos hospital, I rushed to pick the phone call. “Brother Bashir, Daddy ti ku o,” he said, “Daddy has died. He died just now” and it was around that 5.30am. He said but Alhaja had not been told and so that I should not make media announcement yet pending the time she would be informed.

From Right: Former Deputy Governor of Ogun State, Senator Adegbenga Kaka discussing with former Chairman Editorial Board of Vanguard Newspapers, Alhaji Kola Animasaun, at the 8th Day Fidau of Veteran Journalist and Former City Editor Nigerian Tribune, Alhaji Safi Awofeso, held at St. Paul Primary School, Ijoku Shagamu, Ogun State.

READ ALSO Governor Tambuwal prays for late Kola Animasaun

I didn’t make it a media thing, I was the first person outside the direct biological children to be confided with the all-important but touching and devastating information, yet I simply composed a text message and sent it to Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, CFT, mni, who like Alhaji Kola Animasaun, had also taken me as a son and had publicly announced that to my Akure, Ondo State royalty. I sent another copy to the VIP at whose instance I was in Sokoto and then further sent the same text to Oga Gbenga Adefaye, General Manager/Editor-in-Chief of Vanguard Newspapers, Oga Eze Anaba, Editor of Vanguard, Oga Adekunle Adekoya, Deputy Editor Vanguard, Oga Dada Adekola, Cartoon Editor Vanguard.

Afenifere Chieftain Chief Ayo Adebanjo exchanging pleasantries with Former Chairman of Vanguard Newspapers, Alhaji Kola Animasaun, while Senator Gbenga Kaka looks with keen interest, at the 8th Day Fidau of Veteran Journalist and Former City Editor Nigerian Tribune, Alhaji Safi Awofeso, held at St. Paul Primary School, Ijoku Shagamu, Ogun State, a year before his death on May 30, 2022.

READ ALSO PHOTOS: Faces of those who paid condolences to Kola Animasaun’s Family

Kola Animasaun, granting interview with a Vanguard journalist, celebrating him at 73 in 2012.

READ ALSO Kola Animasaun: NASFAT Iftar converted to celebration of fallen Journalism hero

I then sent the same text to Uncle Sam Amuka-Pemu, Chairman/Publisher of Vanguard Media Limited, His Excellency Chief Segun Osoba, former Governkr of Ogun State, His Excellency Senator Gbenga Kaka, former Deputy Governor of State, with who Daddy recently attended the 8th Day Fidau of Chief Obafemi Awolowo sister’s son, Veteran Journalist and Former City Editor Nigerian Tribune, Alhaji Safi Awofeso, in Shagamu, and then His Excellency Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, then sitting Governor of State of Osun, who later handed over the reigns of power to his Chief of Staff, Mr. Gboyega Oyetola, as Governor of Osun State. By 6.30am or thereabout, Brother Boye called back to say Mummy had been informed and the next was for me to do the media report, not release, and got it across to The DEFENDER, Vanguard and the rest. The shock then rented the entire place.

READ ALSO Sultan of Sokoto, JAMB Registrar, Yarima Zazzau, Complete Sports Publisher, NAWOJ Leader, Aiyede Ekiti Prince, others pay condolences to Kola Animasaun’s family

That was how life played out with Dad, Alhaji Muslim Kolawole Animasaun, former Chairman, Editorial Board of Vanguard Newspapers, former Officer/Diplomat of the Federal Ministry of Information in Sweden, and a founding Advisory Board figure for The DEFENDER Newspaper. It took me more than one year to believe that Daddy was truly dead. The moment I heard “Daddy ti ku o”, the tears that I released has never been released for whatever reason before. The more I thought about it, I was feeling like my legs cut off beneath me and that I was lifeless.

His Eminence Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, the Sultan obviously realized the impact of the death of Alhaji Kola Animasaun in my person when even to his call into my phone, cry would not allow me to speak to him or respond to some of the things he was saying. He then asked a special driver and car to bring me to the Palace where I addressed the Council and arrangements were made for the Sultan to personally attend the burial although for reasons of timing, an emergency flight seat was organised for me and I arrived Lagos to see the reality that the news I have been part of but not really witnessing from afar was actually true.

READ ALSO Kola Animasaun, a true Journalism Icon, Bola Tinubu pays tribune to fallen journalism giant

That was how we all lost a very unputdownable jewel of inestimable value into the grip of Malakul-Maot, Angel of Death, and till today, Daddy Kola Animasaun remains away in his Barzak, life between death and resurrection. I stopped my daily mourning of Daddy because I didn’t want to lose Alhaja Modupe Animasaun, his widow and Matriarch of the Home, too soon also. But if I forget about the action of the Angel of Death, it is beyond me to forget the Date the Sun Set in the Midnight – 30th May? I missed Daddy a lot! Daddy promised me greatness, by Allah’s assistance, and he fulfilled it for me before he died. He handed over his journalism and influence to me and monitored me use them at the tail end of his life unknown to me that the Boabab Tree was preparing for his quitting from the stage.

READ ALSO WAKE UP: How Alhaji Kola Animasaun made me a man – SPECIAL TRIBUTE

Daddy was no longer the one connecting. Any such assignment, he said, “Go and do it, you are now a journalism man.” I remember he once told me, “You are now son of the Sultan. Go and inform him about it (a VIP needing to visit him)” and I did. Sultan confirmed his love for Daddy in his comment upon his death. “I got to know Bashir through him. He would never ask for anything even when he needed it,” Sultan said in his tribute inside the Palace Council Chamber in Sokoto on Thursday 30th May 2019.

I must confess that since Daddy Animasaun died, but the love limitlessly shown to me by my father, Sultan, Major General Tajudeen Olanrewaju, Alhaja Modupe Animasaun (the matriarch) and the entire Animasaun Family, life has not been the same for me. This is a fact.

READ ALSO President Buhari mourns Journalism Icon, Kola Animasaun

To lift from my tribute to him published in The DEFENDER on June 1, 2019, I said Alhaji Kola Animasaun, in the course of his training after school for me, had admonished me and I won’t be able to quote him precisely: “As a Journalist, integrity should be your guide to success. Dont play workplace politics. Whenever you have to travel for any assignment, take with you money for your flight tickets, hotel accommodation and feeding. If you are not given money by your host, you are not disappointed and not going to be stranded. But if you are appreciated and given money willingly, it is your money.”

READ ALSO Journalism icon, Kola Animasaun, is dead

This particular advice and tutelage made me a different journalist to the notice of Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, Former Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Prince Bola Ajibola (SAN) now also late, sitting Sultan of Sokoto and Amirul Mu’mineen of Nigeria, Alhaji Dr. General Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, CFR, mni, Former Ogun State Governor Chief Olusegun Osoba, Former DG PRODA Enugu, Engr. Edmund Kaine, Former Press Secretary to the Head of State during the Military Regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo, and Uthokoneze Achalla, Anambra State, Igwe Ezeoba Alex Nwokedi, OON, who died November 2020, Olowu of Owu Kingdom, Oba Olusanya Adegboyega Dosunmu, CON, Fta, now also late, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, also now late, Senator Gbenga Kaka, and a host of many others.

What is more surprising is that, by the guidance given to me by Alhaji Kola Animasaun, I became a personality based journalist traveling all over Nigeria with Vanguard Media Limited footing my bills for doing so and, more to mention, each and every personality I have had contact with has retained me as a son and media and publicity consultant. This is how the enigmatic creator of opportunities made me a man by the grace of Almighty Allah.

Fate made him and my biological father friends. Later in 2008 April, he footed the bills for all the Islamically stipulated materials and fragrance required for the burial of my biological mother, who died at the Air Force Hospital, Air Force Base, Ikeja, Lagos at her prime age of 55.

My lyrics: Laiye laiyeee l’eye o maaa se’ranti olugbo oo, laiye laiyeee ooo lolugbo o maaa seranti odan. Laiye layeee oooooo Laomaa serantii re, Animasaun… Odigbereeeee odigb’oseeeee aori Baba mo laiye laiyeee!

Sad it is so, but I thank Allah for your well managed soul, Daddy. Mummy is fine but not too fine without you. Aunty Abiola, Aunty Denrele, are here doing well but still sad for your absence although as Muslims they accept their fate of having to have missed you permanently. Uncle Ajibola now steps into your shoes the soft and kind mindedness that depicted your name while alive. He finds it difficult to get angry at any provocation. He doesn’t want to hurt anybody’s feeling for whatever reason. That is your Jibola behind you. Sister Sola, the banker, Brothers Afolabi, Boye and Sisters Yemi and Seun are alright. All of us pray as we remember you daily and today, Daaaaaad!

May Allah continue to keep you safe in your anticipatedly expanded grave, expand your space and repose your gentle soul in Al-Jannah Firdaos on the Day of Resurrection when we hope to reunion with you. Amiin.


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