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How Can We Say Goodbye To You, S.O?: Tribute To A Journalism Legend, By Eyobong Ita

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You came, you saw, you changed our approach to sports journalism. You came at a time our profession needed a fearless and fascinating leader.

You took up the mantle as sports editor at Sunday Concord and exploded into a national treasure as sports editor at The Guardian, the flagship of Nigerian journalism at the time.

Your column, “S.O. This Morning, the Sports Journalist You Can’t Ignore,” rattled the nerves of Nigeria’s sports administrators, but your coverage endeared you to fans and foes within and beyond Nigeria.

From The Guardian, you took Nigerian sports journalism to the next level, blazing a trail in sports publications. From Sports Souvenir to Complete Football magazine, Complete Football International, International Soccer Review, and then you went daily with Complete Sports.

S.O., you didn’t just impact sports journalism, you impacted lives of sports journalists and thousands of others who knew little or nothing about sports. With your mentorship, many who worked with you went on to become prominent sports editors – Chris Okojie, Ikeddy Isiguzo, Mitchell Obi, Trigo Egbegi, the late Pat Opara, and a host of others living and deceased. Two of your mentees – Okojie and Isiguzo – became my mentors at Vanguard, where I started my sports journalism career and continued in the United States.

According to Isiguzo, you were “a kind and patient teacher who made people better, generous with your ideas and kind with your possessions.” You had “a knack for identifying talent and did a lot to improve people’s capacities and capabilities.”

Yemi Ojo, a prominent member of Nigerian Sports Journalists in Diaspora who worked with you at Sunday Concord, recalls that you were the first Nigerian sports editor to introduce the addition of reporters’ photos to their bylines.

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You didn’t only impact sports journalists, you teamed up with your wife, Pastor (Mrs.) Esther Ojeagbase, to establish the Success Attitude Development Centre (SADC) to teach and inspire thousands of Nigerians on how to create wealth from scratch.

You served in the Nigerian Army, wrote and edited sports articles, authored multiple books, gave motivational speeches and preached the Lord’s message.

You did it all!

At Nigerian Sports Journalists in Diaspora, news of your transition was shocking, and the reality of your departure is painful. We are, however, consoled that you found and embraced Christ as your Lord and Savior. Yes, you once served in the Nigerian army, but you’re going home as a general in the Lord’s Army.

How can we say goodbye to you, S.O?

You’ve left your beautiful family in tears and Nigeria’s sports journalism nation is in pain, but we refuse to mourn. Rather, we celebrate your life and the impact you had on our lives.

We can’t say goodbye, S.O.

That’s too painful to say. But we wish you God’s speed. Have a safe trip to your Father in Heaven, Pastor (Dr.) Emmanuel Sunny Obazu Ojeagbase, Nigeria’s sports journalist who could not be ignored!

Eyobong Ita is President, Nigerian Sports Journalists In Diaspora (NSJID)

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