Mr. Eddy Ochigbo is the gentleman beside me in this pix. At the time, he was Editor of then famous but now rested Hotline Magazine in Kaduna. Permit me to tell you a short story so you may appreciate why I truly appreciate this man.
I had gone to Hotline to drop an application for employment as a reporter and was told to wait for the Editor to be interviewed. For all the times I was asked to come, I did but Mr. Ochigbo was never on seat.
The day I finally met him, he apologised and told me he had to do a number of trips out of town. We were about settling down for the interview when the publisher, Alhaji Hassan Sani Kontagora (Magajin Rafin Kontagora) walked in. Straight at me he came: “What are you doing here?” he thundered. I told him I was looking for a job. “My friend there is no job here,” he replied. “Come,” he commanded and I followed him out of the Editor’s office. Pointing at another office, he told me, “Go there and introduce yourself to them. If you can write, you have a job but if you can’t, I don’t ever want to see you here again.”
That was the beginning and end of the interview. Now if you know the Magajin Rafi, you would have pictured what happened between us. I must admit it was quite a scary moment. To think that I had no journalism training, not even a day of trying to write for journalistic purposes, I almost made up my mind not to return to that office again but for Eddy Ochigbo.
After the publisher left, I went back to the Editor’s office. He asked if I had ever practiced and I answered in the negative. He asked again if I believed I could write and this time my answer was in the positive. He said that was the first thing I needed. He asked me to write on any issue and bring it to him the next day.
The next day, he read my piece and told me I could write. What a boost! From thence, Mr. Ochigbo took to training and personally guiding me. I was given tasks that I completed satisfactorily. Before long, I became the favourite of the publisher. He gave me a room in his house, made sure I ate each time he ate. From a job seeker, I became family. It was all thanks to the tutelage of Mr. Ochigbo.
When I later went to journalism school, I found things rather easy. Mr. Ochigbo prepared me to be the best and for the two different programmes that I undertook, I came out the best each time.
Today is Mr. Ochigbo’s birthday. How else do I celebrate such a man than bore you with such lengthy write-up? A very humble fellow he is. He makes writing easy and exciting. Anything he cracks turns out a masterpiece. Lest I forget, he is a table tennis champion.
May God favour you all the days of your long and healthy life. May the riches of heaven be your lot. May the good seeds you have sown grow to become fruits you shall joyfully reap. Happy birthday sir. My Jottings are joyful, not Joyless sir.