Amid great grief, encomium has been pouring in for former Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria and media aide to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Mrs Oluremi Oyo, who died on Wednesday in the United Kingdom, where she was undergoing treatment for cancer.
In a statement signed by Presidential Spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati, President Jonathan said Mrs Oyo would be honoured in posterity for her exemplary professional life, her inspiring leadership qualities, motherliness and generosity, her immense patriotism and her remarkable transformation of the News Agency of Nigeria during her tenure as the agency’s Managing Director.
Below is the full text of Dr Abati’s statement:
REMI OYO WAS AS AN EXEMPLARY AND INSPIRING TRAIL-BLAZER – PRESIDENT JONATHAN
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has received with immense sadness, news of the passing away of one of the most eminent Nigerian female journalists and former Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Dame Felicia Oluwaremilekun Oyo.
On behalf of his family and the Federal Government, President Jonathan extends sincere condolences to her husband, Vincent, her children, Otome and Okiemuote, her surviving siblings and other relatives.
The President similarly commiserates with the Nigerian Guild of Editors who Dame Oyo served most admirably as a two-term President in the course of her trail-blazing journalism career, the management and staff of NAN as well as the many colleagues, friends and protégés she garnered in her very fulfilled life.
President Jonathan joins them in mourning Dame Oyo who having attained great success in a profession hitherto dominated by men, patriotically entered national service as Senior Special Assistant (Media & Publicity) to former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003 and served with great distinction as the first female Press Secretary to a Nigerian Head of State until 2007.
The President believes that although she was already much honoured in life with accolades and awards including Officer of the Order of the Niger, Dame Oyo will always be remembered and continually honoured in posterity for her exemplary professional life, her inspiring leadership qualities, motherliness and generosity, her immense patriotism and her remarkable transformation of the News Agency of Nigeria during her tenure as the agency’s Managing Director.
He prays that God Almighty will comfort her family and all who mourn Dame Oyo, and grant her kind soul peaceful repose in eternity.
In a condolence message, Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said Mrs Oyo’s sudden demise left a sour taste in his mouth and was very painful.
Obasanjo described the late journalist as a thorough-bred professional.
“Today, journalism has remained dominated by those who had been positively influenced, directly or indirectly by her great professional sagacity and integrity,” he said.
He added that Mrs. Oyo earned recognition and the admiration of many of her compatriots across the length and breadth of the country and gave her very best to the end in the service of her fatherland.
“She was not only dutiful, she was professional and loyal to the core. Not only loyal in terms of her job but loyal in terms of being a Nigerian. Her integrity was above board and on no account could you persuade her to do what she considered not to be right,” Mr. Obasanjo said.
“Ever resourceful, trustworthy and conducting herself with humility, Remi left an indelible mark in her national assignment at the Federal level, even as the Managing Director of News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, at some point.
“The finality of Remi’s passage is painful, especially as she still had a lot to contribute to her family she was highly devoted, her community and the entire nation, but we can draw solace that she lived a very responsible and caring life. Indeed, her manners and conduct while alive will continue to linger in our memory and serve as a source of inspiration.”
The former president extended heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family and prayed God Almighty to grant the family the fortitude to bear the loss.
Also in a statement signed by its Secretary General, Mr Isaac Ighure, the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) said Oyo would long be remembered by the NGE for her exemplary leadership qualities, which brought the Guild out of a near comatose state, with about 200 members, and transformed it into a vibrant association of senior editors with more than 400 members.
The NGE’s statement reads:
NGE mourns Oluremi Oyo
The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) joins others in mourning the passage of Mrs Oluremi Oyo, the former Managing Director of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Mrs. Oyo, a Fellow of the NGE and its first female president, died on Wednesday in London, few days to her 62nd birthday anniversary, which would have come on October12.
Prior to her two-term tenure as the Managing Director of NAN, she served as the Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity) to former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Oyo will long be remembered by the NGE for her exemplary leadership qualities, which brought the Guild out of a near comatose state, with about 200 members, and transformed it into a vibrant association of senior editors with more than 400 members.
Her tenure as the NGE president marked a new beginning for the Guild and laid a solid foundation for its transformation into a force to be reckoned with in the country.
Oyo was elected President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors and served for two consecutive terms from 1999 to 2003. She had also served first as Secretary of the NGE, the professional body of editors running the country’s media industry.
In 2003, Oyo became the Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity) to President Olusegun Obasanjo, again, the first woman to be appointed to such a position.
In 2007, she became Managing Director of the NAN where she initiated the transformation of the Agency’s service delivery.
Apart from being a Fellow of the NGE, Oyo was also a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Management and the Institute of Public Administration.
Her marriage to Vincent Oyo was blessed with two children, Otome and Okiemuote, and three grandchildren.
The NGE commiserates with her family, NAN, the country’s journalists and the nation at large.
The Guild notes that these are, indeed, hard times for the Nigerian media, as only recently it lost two other illustrious and thoroughbred journalists, Dimgba Igwe of The Sun newspapers and Mike Akpan of Realnews magazine.
Igwe was the Vice-Chairman of The Sun, while Akpan was former Editor of Newswatch magazine, and later, Editor-in-Chief of Realnews.
A statement released by the Director of the International Press Centre (IPC) Lagos, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, described the death of Remi Oyo as another blow to the media.
Below is the statement signed by IPC’s Social Media Officer, Ewebiyi Keye James:
Remi Oyo’s Death: Another blow to the Media – IPC
The International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos-Nigeria has expressed deep sadness over the sudden demise of Mrs. Oluremi Oyo, the immediate past Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). “As Secretary and later President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and indeed prior to that Remi Oyo stood to be counted among the voices that condemned violations of press freedom and freedom of expression, especially during the period of military dictatorship”, Director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade said in a statement today.
The IPC Director also added that Oyo would be well remembered for the very prominent role she played as President of the NGE in the campaigns and advocacy that led to the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
While sympathizing with the NGE, the management and staff of NAN and the Oyo family over the death, Mr. Arogundade said it was regrettable that the Nigerian media has recently lost a number of seasoned journalists including Dimgba Igwe of The Sun, Godwin Spiff-Sagbama, of AIT and Toba Suleiman of Thisday.
Remi’s death was confirmed by her husband, Mr. Vincent Oyo who issued a statement to that effect.
Mr. Vincent Oyo’s statement:
With gratitude to God for a life well spent, I regret to announce the death of my dear wife, Dame Felicia Oluwaremilekun OYO.
She died peacefully on Wednesday (October 1, 2014) in the United Kingdom, where she was receiving treatment for a cancer related ailment.
Dame Oyo was a seasoned journalist who began her journalism career in 1973 in the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation now known as the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria .
She later joined the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) as a Desk Editor in 1981, and left in 1985 as a Principal Editor, the first woman to attain such a high position in the Agency.
After leaving NAN, she joined the Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS) as the Nigerian Bureau Chief. She later became the international news agency’s West African Bureau Chief.
Having first served as Secretary of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Dame Oyo was elected President of the Guild for two consecutive tenures from 1999 to 2003. She was the first woman to be so honoured.
As President of the Guild, she set up a functional secretariat which still exists today at the NAN complex in Iganmu, Lagos. She also ensured capacity building for Editors through regular training which she pioneered for the Guild.
She was appointed Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity) to former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003 and served in that capacity until the end of the President’s tenure in May 2007.
This appointment was also a first as she was the first woman to hold that position in the history of the country.
Dame Oyo was thereafter appointed the Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria in July 2007. During her tenure, she improved the fortunes of the Agency and increased its clientele.
A committed and patriotic Nigerian, whose friends cut across the length and breadth of the country, Mrs. Oyo put Nigeria first in her private and official activities.
Born into a Catholic family, Dame Oyo had her primary education at the St. James’ Catholic Primary School in Ilorin, where she grew up. She attended the prestigious St. Louis Girls Secondary School, Bompai, Kano and had her higher education in Lagos and Britain.
A devout Catholic, Dame Oyo was a former Vice Chairperson of the Parish Pastoral Council of SS Joachim and Anne of the Catholic Church, Ijegun, Lagos.
Dame Oyo, who had a Master’s Degree in International Relations from the University of Canterbury at Kent, also earned a post-graduate Diploma in International Relations from the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos.
In recognition of her patriotism, the former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, appointed her as a member of the Constitution Drafting Committee to craft the constitution that ushered in the present democratic dispensation in 1999.
A recipient of Nigeria’s National honour, the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON), Dame Oyo also earned many other awards among which was the National Council of Catholic Women Organisation of Nigeria merit award.
She was Fellow of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM), and the Nigerian Institute of Public Administrators.
On January 7, 2011, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI made her a Papal Dame of the Order of St. Gregory the Great.
Dame Oyo and I were blessed with two children, Otome and Okiemuote who are married and have given us beautiful grandchildren.
She was born on October 12, 1952. Members of her family and her large circle of friends and well-wishers were looking forward to her 62nd birthday come October 12.
She is survived by her husband, Vincent, her children, grand-children and siblings – Sunday Oke and Yomi Oke.
PS: The NewsPlus crew joins in mourning this dogged fighter and trail blazer. May her soul rest in peace.