The name, Sam Nda-Isaiah may mean different things to a number of people. To some, he was the wordsmith, writer and journalist. To others, he was the businessman and media guru, while for some, he was the radical thinker, grim philosopher, politician and statesman in the making.
With his demise, the Nigerian nation has lost a rare gem, a star will definitely shine no more, it is lights out, no more will we drink from his boundless energy, no more will we have him to tell us what he thinks about the state of the nation. We will not read of his polemics as well as will miss the satirical in which we found plenty in his writings.
The Nigerian nation has lost a great gift and a son. For a man once described as someone with a passionate concern for Nigeria. Now, when we say passion, I do not mean the short termed ones which a lot of Nigerian politicians seem to have until they are thrust into the klieg lights. No, Sam’s passion was of legendary stuff, such that he quit being a pharmacist and logged himself unto the uncertain and murky waters of journalism from which he made a tremendous impact with the Leadership newspapers and other numerous publications. Like I wrote on his 55th birthday, Nda-Isaiah evoked a rare breed of the Northern intelligentsia. His uniqueness largely stemmed from his ability to provoke deep thinking in any person, raise questions and demand answers that are outside the box.
Born in Minna on the 1st of May, 1962 in Minna, Niger State. Sam had his primary and secondary education in Kaduna before gaining admission to study pharmacy in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife. Nda Isaiah briefly worked with Minna General Hospital as well as Kano General Hospital before serving at the General Hospital, Ilawe Ekiti as a youth corp member. He was also to work with Pfizer before he went into business and then journalism.
As a budding writer, I read a number of his articles while he was a columnist with the Daily Trust and though I found him a critic, he was of the worthy stock, a critic who did not twist around with an alacrity similar to a squirrel, no! Nda-Isaiah was the calculated thinker, largely dodging the vengeful partisan squabbles and the false ideological posturing of some of his peers then. The day I was to meet him was also significant; I had just finished from church and was contemplating on whether to visit my hometown, Abagana for some family business. I eventually changed my mind when I realised that my former boss, Senator Chris Ngige now Minister for Labour, was in town and would need me to attend to some matters. I immediately called and was asked to wait at a particular hotel the minister used for meetings. In the course of my entrance into the reception, I recognised the face and immediately introduced myself, he quickly recognised the name even though we hadn’t met and began discussing with me on a number of issues, as at that time, he was also running for the presidential ticket on the platform of the APC.
One thing led to another and I found myself working with him. Nda-Isaiah is a prodigious worker and I had to wonder at how he kept up with his daily routine of activities which begin from six in the morning till 2am the next morning. Nda-Isaiah did walk, eat, drink and sleep with ideas, it was therefore not surprising that the theme of his campaign was “ It’s time for big Ideas” and believe me, asides Atiku Abubakar, his campaign message was distinct in style and emphasis. It is important to let the reader know that I cut my first stint as a columnist with Leadership Newspapers and all was with his blessing and encouragement.
A detribalised Nigerian, the likes of Nda-Isaiah did invoke much hope in young Nigerians like us. I had hoped that his likes would have graced more years on this earth in order they his wisdom would help superintend a new Nigeria, where justice, freedom and economic prosperity will be our nation’s brand. Sadly, this was not to be so as he breathed his last on the 11th of December 2020.
I cannot question the Supreme Architect ,whose acts are always endowed with wisdom but as a mortal it will always be a sad development, for Sam Nda Isaiah still had a great deal to offer, a lesson to us still living that time is short and we are to make the most of it doing right with all our might!
Igboeli Arinze is the Managing Editor of realpoliticsnigeria.ng