Oga Sam, or Chairman, as we used to call him, had a larger than life personality. He was someone you would expect to have lived a ripe old age, keeping everyone, especially his staff as well as the government of the day on their toes. This is why his death is still so shocking and surreal. Alas, such is death- it creeps up, snatches away and leaves one panting in grief.
Chairman had always been nice to me, and, despite his shortcomings as a perfectionist, he was quite understanding and played a big role in me finding my feet in Journalism.
I remember when I first met him. It was through my love for writing that I landed a job at Leadership after being a housewife for many years and recently widowed. My friend Khadija, who had a weekly column in the paper recommended that I apply for a job opening, which, after much persuasion, I did. She didn’t prepare me for the man, Sam. I was interviewed by him personally- seeing that he was a Nupe man, I knelt down to greet him in the Nupe tradition (to his surprise and amusement). I would learn later that he was not your typical Nupe man, and certainly not driven by those traditional ways but what was my own? I was just trying to make a good impression! We talked about various topics and he listened to my stumbling and nervous responses with keen interest. After the interview, I think he must have seen something he liked because I got hired. This was in 2006 and thus began my 12-year career with the Leadership newspapers group.
He encouraged me in many ways. He pushed and pushed, grooming me to occupy the position of Editor of the Weekend title after my predecessor, Lara. I was Assistant Editor and did not feel ready for leading the paper but that was Chairman’s way of doing things. Accept it and learn on the job.
I saw him not only as a boss but as a big brother that I was careful not to disappoint, especially being from north, where female journalists are still quite few with even less occupying top editorial positions.
As a human, he had his flaws. One of them almost everyone would agree was his impatience with mistakes.He was not one to condone mistakes easily and yes, he changed Editors before they could settle in. It was a known fact that as an Editor, you should not allow a major story slip by nor let any error find it’s way to the cover page). This means you were not in charge of the paper! These were just Chairman’s ways of striving for the best for his paper.
As an Editor, certain responsibilities were expected of you. You have to read a lot in order to be vast in knowledge. An admirable trait in Chairman was his love of books; he had a whole library of books on almost every topic under the sun. Whenever he travelled, he would bring back piles of books. He almost always had ideas he wanted to implement, new columns he wanted to add in order to enrich the paper. When he hands over the latest books he had purchased to an editor, you could be sure he had a new project or publication he wanted to begin.
He was brilliant and full of new ideas that would make Leadership newspaper among the leading papers.
One could go on and on about Chairman, Sam Nda Isaiah, Kakaaki Nupe, big brother, mentor and boss. He meant different things to different people but one thing that really stood out about him was his love for the country and strove to do his part to make it better- it’s one of the reasons he ran for the number one position of the country. He came, he saw and ran his race well during the time he was alloted on this earth. He will indeed be missed by all of us. Leadership Newspaper was Sam and Sam was Leadership newspaper.
Such is Life. Entries and Exits. We come one after the other and also depart ditto. Calm down. Do good. Take your leave at the appointed time. May our last moments be those that would leave positive memories of us.
I pray the Almighty will keep the company afloat for many many more years to come so that the dreams of its founder will not die.
May God comfort his aged mother as well as his wife, children and all those he loved and left behind. Rest in peace chairman.
Amina Alhassan Ahman