By Ahmed ‘Lanre Abdullateef
In his magnum opus, Many Colours Make The Thunder King, a cerebral African writer, Femi Osofisan, seems to have in mind Mohammed Tunde Akanbi, apart from the real protagonist, who happens to be Sango, a deity of note in Yoruba mythology.
Sango, in the celebrated book of Osofisan, is fated as a character, who crosses the Rubicon, in scaling hurdles, thus achieving his set goals whose ox is gored, notwithstanding.
Knowing full well that Tunde Akanbi is not anywhere near antiquity or archaic tradition of the African past, the analogy above is primarily a deployment of metaphor in analytically characterising MTA, who bestrides journalism profession like a colossus.
It is arguably incontrovertible that the thunder king is reputed for many colours. One of the attributes is his fearlessness, which perfectly captures Akanbi fondly and admirably referred to as “Sai Kayi”. It is a known fact that the gentleman has had a cause to break what could have been likened to a “Berlin Wall” in line of duty.
The feat, among others, attests to his appetite and insatiable quest to explore all avenues, to get all he needed to bring his dream into fruition as long as his exploit would be of immense help to the society.
Coming to the writing parlance where fate firmly placed him, Tunde Akanbi is never a pushover. This is in spite of working in an electronic media, which one would erroneously believe that he could only do little. Besides his interventions on radio via news reports, commentaries and programmes on issues afflicting the society, Akanbi would go a step further in ensuring that similar versions are published in the print media.
It is indeed stating the obvious when it is said that his interventions spanned years on general issues both locally and globally. Not oblivious of the attendant negative consequences of what he does through his writings, MTA has remained tenaciously consistent.
A glance at his more than three decades poignant interventions on societal issues could be found in health, economy, politics and social among other areas of exploit. These interventions, he did and still doing, with all sense of honesty and humility.
One other fine attribute that distinguishes the veteran journalist cum “today celebrant” is humility. For those who for one reason or another worked with him, it is testimony of a man who is kind, humane and humble to a fault. In fact, one does not need a soothsayer to tell about the kindness and humility of Akanbi, a close association with him would do.
Little wonder that upcoming journalists, with knack for brighter future in the pen fraternity, look up to him as a role model. This is because he has carved a niche for himself in his exploit as not just a journalist but a prolific writer of note, who makes journalism envied by all.
Despite the fact that he is a devoted Muslim, he discriminates against no one, and one would hardly see him operating under religious banner while performing his duty. His is the moment you are in journalism and knowledgeable in your enterprise, you are automatically qualified to be his friend.
Another good virtue in Akanbi, which seems to have been thrown overboard in the present day journalism, is his benevolent spirit to associate with all regardless of ethnic, political and religious leanings. He sees all as his brothers and sisters, a virtue that has taken flight in the earthly realm.
Meeting the icon in the journalism trade for the first time is reminiscent of good memories of the past. With infectious smile, Akanbi welcomes you with open arms and makes you feel at home, just like the saying goes that first impression lingers too long.
His contributions to the growth of journalism in practice on one hand and journalism as a union on the other hand cannot be overemphasized. In practice, he is a pathfinder and in unionism, he is a record breaker.
In practice, the simplicity of his writing with lucid and concise language has made the veteran journalist the toast of all, and in unionism where he held sway, his tenure as Chairman, Kwara State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) obliterated the old narratives.
It was during his term as primus inter pares in the state council of NUJ that the Secretariat opposite Government House, Ilorin became second home to all. For all intents and purposes, you wouldn’t have a sense of regret knowing him. This is because coming in contact with him makes you feel at ease.
Though his journalism career predated his current place of work (Radio Kwara, Ilorin) where he is voluntarily calling it quits after 32 years of meritorious service, Akanbi once worked with New Nigeria Newspapers and the then Nigerian Herald Newspapers (now The Herald) before fate reconfigured his sojourn in the profession.
In fact, what Tunde Akanbi is to journalism, is what pen is to paper. He used his pen sharply to extend frontiers of knowledge. One thing that must be appreciated about him is that he would not allow his interventions in writing to confine him to his cocoon in Radio. Exploring his dexterity to the fullest has always been his covenant. What a role model!
And just like yesterday, his journalistic sojourn that began in public service has finally come to a climax. Indeed, 32 years, as a public servant, transcend throwing of bash and clinging wine cups.
It would not be out of place to chronicle the experience of Mohammed Tunde Akanbi Oriokoh in journalism and public life in general in a compendium in the days ahead. His is a life full of many quality virtues; sacrifice, patience, quest, perseverance, devotion, detribalising, goal-getting and meekness. But this is not to say he is infallible like every mortal. Only God Almighty is invincible and has loaned the invincibility to no one, not on this planet.
Still alive, kicking, hale and hearty, Sai Kai has taken a final bow in the public service after clocking mandatory 60 years of age. In art, which journalism can be classified as perfectly belong, leaving public service is not an end in itself but a means to an end. For Tunde Akanbi, life has just begun with your six decades on earthly realm. And for the period of 32 years that you served, you ingrained yourself in the mind of all and etched your footprints in the sands of time. Tunde Akanbi, you are a phenomenon!