When the news mill came up with a flash two weeks ago, announcing the transition of the famous veteran journalist, Alhaji Alade Odunewu, popularly known by his pen-name, Allah-De, my immediate reaction was to say another star has dropped, and the timber of the journalism profession in Nigeria has gone. Truly, his life and times celebrate all that the journalism profession stands for. The reality is Alade has mounted up wings as eagles and flown to meet with his creator.
Allah-De has been such a huge and indelible part of Nigerian journalism history for over five decades. Nigeria, history, and indeed the media history, would not be completed without the name of Alade Odunewu. His contribution to the growth of the industry is legendary and it would amount to a disservice if anyone fails to acknowledge the role he played to get the new entrants into the profession to maintain ethical standards at all times, no matter the condition they found themselves. Odunewu is a legend in the true sense of the word, now and always in this country. We have lost not only a wonderful old school journalist of shinning integrity, but a fantastic public analyst/commentator and simply, a great human being.
Allah-De was a journalist’s journalist with imbued knack to explain and untie complex issues in a language everybody could understand. He was among the leading stars of his time in the coverage/struggle towards attaining the country’s independence in the 50s and 60s. His incisive write-ups against the military incursion remains as an attestation of his commitment in upholding the tenets and the core value as a watchdog. He bestrode the political landscape like a colossus and earned the respect of politicians of all shades. He was extra-ordinarily versatile on any issue he wrote on. He lived and breathed journalism in and out of the newsroom. His passage is a real loss to the pen fraternity in Nigeria.
In his life time, Allah-De loved his celebrity status but he knew how not to take it too seriously as he always accorded younger journalists at that time the respect they deserved. Once more, we have lost a great mentor, and a true gentleman. We will forever miss his dry humour, quick wit and genuine advice as a front runner/father.
Baba, as I fondly called him while alive, was larger than life. A wonderful story anchor, Allah-De was an amiable and lovable personality who appreciated his craft which he honed to an art form. He held his colleagues, both old and young, in high esteem. He could laughed at himself and thus make us all smile when one least expected. Alas! The ink stopped flowing and indeed....away he flew. Allah dey.Walk tall among your ancestors.
•Lanre Ogundipe, Former, National President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ). Ibadan.