Dear Nduka Obaigbena,
THEY DID NOT MAKE IT TO 60!
ThisDay newspapers founder, Nduka Obaigbena, continues with his mega 60th birthday bash in what is themed as “RainForest” Birthday Bash”, which is happening about now. I have nothing against Mr. Obaigbena. My position Is that through the years, Mr. Obaigbena tortured and tormented his staffers by either offering them verbal employment letters, verbal promotions and owed them months and years of salaries. My dear readers, in mid 1990s, Mr. Obaigbena opened a ThisDay branch office in South Africa. A few months after it opened the South African office, the SA government shut it down because he was violating the country’s labor laws. One of the laws violated was none payment of salaries “as at when due” to the staff of ThisDay. Mr. Obaigbena packed up and ran from SA.
Back to these times: Here is a list of Dead Editorial staff of ThisDay staff who died from curable and preventable diseases and illnesses, from mysterious circumstances, while waiting for their backlogged salaries to be cleared by Nduka. Most of them did not get a dignified burial. Perhaps, some were buried in “Rain Forests”. Their families went into debts or sought financial assistance from friends and families to bury their loved ones. Almost 16 years after, most are yet to be paid their owed salaries, gratuities and or entitlements. Today, Nduka Obaigbena is basking in the splash of RainForest birthday while the families left behind by these dead staffers rain in tears. Most of them are buried in unmarked graves…You decide:
* Godwin Agboroko was shot and killed on his way home, after waiting late night at the office, for his unpaid salary. Agboroko was a vibrant, brilliant ThisDay editor and columnist. He was loyal to Thisday brand, despite non-payment of salaries. On December 22, 2006, Agboroko decided to wait after his regular work hours, incase Obaigbena paid staffers part of past owed salaries. He had a family. Christmas was a few days from thence. Those days, Obaigbena, allegedly had a habit of suddenly issuing orders to the company’s accounts department to make cash payments to those staffs in the newsroom: Staff that left early lost out of “spontaneous goodwill gesture”. They would have to wait for several months or when Obaigbena desired to be kind-hearted and created another spur of the moment pay-day at midnight to those present in the newsroom. That night, Agboroko waited for a magical moment from his boss. He delayed his return home to his family. When it seemed that Obaigbena might not pay, a disappointed creative and loyal staff drove home in the wee hours of a dangerous Lagos night. While driving home, Agboroko drove into a roadblock mounted by armed robbers along Apapa road, a few meters from his office. He was fatally shot during an alleged armed robbery. He died without salaries for his dedicated services to the company. He did not make it to 60.
Samuel Famakinwa was one of the newspaper’s young, promising Deputy Editors. On August 2, 2007, Famakinwa flew into Maiduguri for an assignment with the then Borno State Governor, Senator Ali Modu Sherriff. Hours after he arrived, his body was discovered in his room 245 of the International Hotel Maiduguri. He allegedly died of a heart attack.“Why do you think these men are dying in their prime? It’s work pressure and lack of money and owed salaries” explained a former ThisDay staff. Famakinwa’s family buried their loved one. His wife was six months pregnant then.
Months after his death, Obaigbena brought his audacious personality and opulence to host the second ThisDay Music the festival, again, featuring the best of international music superstars, interspersed with Nigerian local stars.
In 2010, veteran and hardworking Judicial Editor, Funso Muraina, was humiliated after years of service for silly excuses of allegedly missing a Nigerian Bar Association trending news. Muraina never recovered from that humiliation. The stress led to a series of unexplained ailments, including heart failure. He died at 49, July 5th, 2010, “after a brief illness”. He did not make it to 60.
Paul Ohia, was a young devoted Foreign Desk Editor of ThisDay. He decided to head home to his wife and two children at the close of work on October 22, 2013. As he drove along Marine Road toward his young family, Paul suddenly became weak and dizzy and began to gasp. He somehow managed to pull his vehicle to the median. Minutes later, passersby found him slumped inside his vehicle, unresponsive. Ohia’s cause of death was ruled as cardiac arrest. He died without being paid his wages. He did not celebrate 60.
Jude Okwe, died in 2014 from a terminal disease. He was the Cross rivers State Chief Bureau. Those familiar with the tragic death of Okwe confirmed that his illness was accelerated by lack of finance to seek medical care in the early stages. His health quickly deteriorated. Help came a bit late from the Cross Rivers state government,” ThisDay abandoned Jude”. He never made it to 60
Tunde Sani was the Oyo State correspondent. He was ill for four months. He could only afford to receive medical treatment in his hometown until his death on November 13, 2014. Mr. Sani left behind a wife and eight children. He died at 49. He did not make it to 60
Deputy Political Editor, Ademola Adeyemo died from a heart attack early in 2016 because he had no money to seek early treatment for his ailing heart and treat stress. Adeyemo was two years short of 60.
ThisDay Sokoto State Bureau Chief suffered from kidney disease. He needed a kidney transplant and Nduka Obaigbena could neither assist nor pay his unpaid salaries. His condition was pathetic. It touched the heart of the then Editor, Ijeoma Nwogwugwu. Ijeoma was so touched that she donated N400,000 from her personal account to assist her colleague in fighting the deadly disease.
Nigeria’s Islamist terror group, Boko Haram, on April 26th, 2012 shattered the offices of ThisDay’s Kaduna and Abuja offices with a bomb blast, killing at least six staffers of the news organization. After the blasts, Obaigbena filed Insurance claims for his properties damaged by the blasts in both cities. All the while, Mr. Obaigbena also received copious amounts for himself, with the help of the Jonathan administration, which compensated him for loss of properties and lives. The staffers that were injured but survived the terror attacks are daily traumatized by the sad experiences, while those that lost their lives are forgotten. They did not make it to 60
Female staff at the newspaper’s Lagos office, Ms Philo Nwankwo, an Editorial Computer Operator, died at her home located inside Egbeda Estate. She was ill and could not afford to treat her illness. She could not afford N5000 to pay for hospital treatment. She was found with the Bible resting on her chest. Ms. Nwankwo was in her forties. She didn’t make it to 60.
Labake Yembra was the Advert Manager for this day, she is also one of those dedicated and loyal staff that served Nduka Obaigbenna with their hearts’ foundation. Nduka turned his back on Labake and those who left his media organization. Today she is paralyzed and lives on a wheelchair. Its been five years since this torture and inhumane condition. She continues to suffer in pain. She requires assisted daily living. She breathes through a tube that is inserted in her lungs because of a lingering goiter growth which disturbs and obstructs the flow of oxygen to her. Complications to her health continue to disturb her daily living. Labake needs urgent corrective surgery to remove the growth blocking her airways. The cost of the surgeries is estimated at N10Million. Lakabe is owed N14Million from her unpaid wages and gratuity. ThisDay under Nduka Obaigbena ignored the family’s requests to pay Labake’s due benefits which would cover the cost of her treatments and therapy. Her benefit from ThisDay reasons Mr. Precious, Labake’s husband, estimated at N14Million
*A pained member of staff wrote this on a WHATSAPP group platform