A journalist’s true recollections (1)

Ima Nkanta

Journalism practice can be really engaging, though you might not have money as thrown over the place by runway movie stars but you will not beg to eat if you’re creative, diligent and determined.

Through it, you can meet great men and women. You can also meet touts, addict and whatsoever… the choice is yours!

Graduating from journalism school in early 90s, I was assigned to report arts and entertainment for my organization then, Sahel Publishing group; publishers of Nigerian Economist and New Agenda newspapers in Lagos.

Reporting arts and entertainment can be thrilling because you’ll meet the big names in the creative and entertainment industry. My line of duty then made me meet and interact frequently with the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Christy Ibokwe, Sunny Okosin. Others were Ebenezer Obey, Sunny Ade, Wasiu, Shina Peters…the list is endless.

Every weekend met me either at these folks homes, studios or at some mega Lagos weekend Owambes they were performing. My then editor, Levy Iwunze, wouldn’t take a no for an answer, as arts and entertainment page provided soft and refreshing stories for readers.

But I wasn’t fulfilled. As a born again believer, I was worried for being a regular guest to those bands of newsmakers. So, I needed to do something about the void. That was to either quit my job or change beat. I envied the business desk because there you meet corporate czars and entrepreneurs.

While I was envying a colleague on a business desk, he was desiring my beat also. We made a smooth switch. I love entrepreneurs because they are vision-driven, I love their discipline and forthrightness.
Fifteen years ago, I started publishing Quest Inspirational Magazine in Akwa Ibom State. My effort then got the attention of Pastor Umo Eno. I was invited to his church office at Eket. After a brief media chat, I found he was in the mould of entrepreneurs and business leaders I had met and interacted with in Lagos. I bemused within myself then: “So, good thing too can come from Nazareth!”

As I left for Uyo after that brief conversation, the picture of the man I just met didn’t leave me. I began to reflect deeply in soliloquy: “Here is someone who’s so wealthy (by the standard of his business practice then as a singular indigenous industrialist; competing favourably with expatriate firms in the high stake oil and gas fields) yet so humble enough to accept the call of God to shepherd a multitude of persons.”

As if we had known for years, Pastor Umo Eno showered me with exceptional love. I became his publishing consultant and later his Executive Assistant, Corporate Communication, Royalty Group.

Working closely with him for years was like doing MBA in entrepreneurship and administration. I went through series of capacity development on the job, such that my perspective on work, success and kingdom service completely morphed me into a transformed person inside out. What a human developer he is!

We saw the future. It was a bright one. We rehearsed the prophecies onhim from his birth and knew he had something much more than doing business and church. It was very clear. My curiosity then brought out the adventurer in me, as I began many years back to explore to get more about the man we called then,’Executive Governor, “even when himself and politics were strange bedfellows.

The title, Executive Governor at Royalty Group was a perfect summary of the huge task of managing such a large business that had to provide its own power 24/7 daily, attend to about a thousand staff on the payroll, attending to hundreds of mails, presiding over long hours of management strategy sessions, frequent travels, while at the same time pastoring a fast growing church, attending to socio-cultural groups and community needs.

Adventure took me to almost all the places he was once reared up by his late parents – the Police Barracks, the schools, Mapoju where the Apostolic Church he attended as a kid, grew up to become an interpreter, later an elder, is located…then we put the details of my adventure in a book, ‘In the Lord’s Kitchen.’

Now about a decade after, all the predictions of the people I interacted with in places I went researching him, have come to light. Pastor Umo Eno is indeed a man of destiny!

Quest News 24

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