Dan Unimna and I had come a long way. When I asked him to return to mainstream journalism, he reminded me of how mosquitoes used to feast on us as were producing the pages of ThisDay newspaper in Lagos in the mid-1990s. After ThisDay and National Interest, he went into public relations; I veered off too in year 2000.
We met again in 2005 in Abuja when I joined LEADERSHIP and he was consulting for Jerry Gana. In no time he co-founded Sylk Stream Concepts Limited. In 2014, he returned to journalism with the founding of FirstAfricaNews.ng. He was its CEO. I too retired from LEADERSHIP and co-founded Eyeway.ng that year.
Since both of us were CEOs in the same industry – and remained friends – we always had cause to meet and discuss matters of mutual interest. On May 31, this year, I called him several times in order to fix an appointment. When he couldn’t pick my calls, I sent him an SMS: “Not yet back from Otuoke?” He did not reply. Later, he told me he was having bed rest and kept the phones away. A similar scenario repeated itself on August 27, prompting me to send another SMS: “Umoru, are you dead?”
On September 29 I sent this message: “Where do we meet at noon today?” Dan replied: “Sorry, we have to move our meeting. I have an appointment with my doctor for check-up. Will reconfirm another time later.” And I fired back: “You are too young to be visiting your doctor often. Well, best of medical report.” “Thanks,” he replied.
Then, October 22 came. At 11:14am, I sent an SMS: “Can we meet today? 3pm?” When I waited until 2pm without getting any reply, I started pressing my phone to call his Glo line. Just then, Innocent Odo, editor of FirstAfricaNews.ng , called me to ask whether I had heard the news about their editor-in-chief. I told him Dan had ignored my SMS that morning.
Dan Unimna, a media giant, a public relations guru, and one of the most decent businessmen of his generation, had passed on in his sleep that morning. His body was buried yesterday, November 7, in his family compound at Bedia, Obudu LGA of Cross River State.
Aged 50, he left behind a wife, and a daughter who is a student in the University of Massachusetts, USA. He left behind the broken hearts of several friends and relations.
-By ANIEBO NWAMU