by Okon Ekpo
2016 has been an eventful year, one that has seen deaths of remarkable people – those who we would rather still have with us. From actress, Bukky Ajayi to artiste and producer, OJB Jezreel – these are the 10 notable deaths of 2016.
Zainab Bukky Ajayi, beloved thespian and veteran broadcaster passed on to the great beyond on 6, July after battling an undisclosed heart condition. The beloved actress and star of films such as Mama Sunday and Critical Assignment made a final public appearance at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA) in March where she was awarded an Industry Merit award to a rousing reception from the audience.
The late Lieutenant Colonel Abu Ali was one of the bravest soldiers to ever put on the uniform of the Nigerian Army. A veteran of the war against terrorism, Ali was killed in the line of duty, felled by Boko Haram terrorists who attacked 119 Battalion, Nigerian army location at Mallam Fatori on Friday, November 4 in Borno state. Abu Ali served the nation and eventually paid the supreme price, laying down his life for the country. He will be remembered for his sacrifice and commitment.
The author of classic novels like The Concubine, Sunset in Biafra and The Great Ponds, Amadi is one of the first generation of African writers. A novelist, essayist and dramatist, Amadi passed away at the age of 82 at Good Heart hospital in Port Harcourt, Rivers state in June. He was a Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Education and a Member of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Amadi was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by the University of Port Harcourt in 2011.
Shuaibu Amodu, a four-time coach of the national team, passed on in Benin, on the night of Friday 10, June shortly after complaining of some chest pain. He was 58. Amodu was until his death, a technical director of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF). A former player whose career was cut short by accident, Amodu won Nigerian FA Cup titles with BCC Lions of Gboko and El Kanemi Warriors on different occasions. He also managed Shooting Stars, Sharks F.C and Orlando Pirates of South Africa.
Ibrahim Dasuki, father of the embattled former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki e died on Monday 14th November at the Turkish Hospital in Abuja after a protracted illness. He was 93. Ibrahim Dasuki was the 18th Sultan of Sokoto but was deposed in 1996 during the military government of General Sani Abacha. Dasuki was the first Sultan from the Buhari line of the House of Dan Fodio. He was a close associate of Ahmadu Bello and held the traditional title of Baraden Sokoto before becoming Sultan.
Industrialist, business magnate, author, and former chairman of the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency, (PPPRA), Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi passed on November 15 in his Ikorodu, Lagos home at the age of 73. Gbadamosi was appointed Commissioner for Economic Planning in Lagos State under the administration of Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson at the age of 29 and has served as Minister of National Planning. He was also chairman, Ragolis Water Ltd, AIICO Pension Managers, and Lucky Fibres Nig. Plc among other companies.
In the wee hours of Tuesday, September 6, Michael Ibru, patriarch of the Ibru dynasty of Agbarha-Otor, Delta state passed on peacefully at a medical facility in the United States at the ripe old age of 86. Ibru’s business holdings encompass agriculture, petroleum oil and storage, aviation (Aero Contractors); banking; agriculture (Mitchell Farms,); publishing (The Guardian); hospitality (Lagos Sheraton and Federal Palace Hotels); insurance (Minet Nigeria Ltd) among others.
Born Babatunde Okungbowa, the singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist known as OJB Jezreel died in June at the age of 49 in a Lagos hospital, three years after undergoing surgery for a kidney transplant in India. Even though the transplant was successful, OJB’s kidney eventually failed this year and he was placed on dialysis to overcome the relapse. At the peak of his career, OJB was the most influential producer in the business, minting hits and stars at his Silverpoint studios in Surulere, Lagos.
Football legend Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, fondly called the Big Boss, died of a heart attack on the 7th of July 2016 at the age of 54. During his playing career, Keshi represented the country at the 1994 FIFA World Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations, captaining the Super Eagles to victory in the latter. As a manager, Keshi achieved success by qualifying Togo for the only FIFA World Cup appearance in its history in 2006. He coached Nigeria, where he became one of only two males to have won the AFCON as both player and a coach.
James Ocholi who died in March after he was involved in a fatal automobile accident along the Abuja-Kaduna highway was until his death, Minister of State for Labour and Productivity. He was 55 years. A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ocholi was buried alongside his wife and son who were with him at the time of death.