His death hit me like a thunderbolt. It was like a hot knife that pierces through butter and one should understand my pains. I’m still in tears as I pen this as I’m yet to come to terms with the demise of Olajide Fashikun; an accomplished journalist, an achiever, a foremost administrator, an editor per excellence and one of the best investigative journalists Nigeria has ever produced who breathed his last on Sunday, January 27, 2018.
He was my adviser and mentor and always guide me to the right path but would not hesitate to scold me and whip me into line whenever I derail. I never knew he was sick because I called him on Thursday January 3rd, 2019 around 6:33 pm with no sign of any ailments. We spoke for 30 seconds after which I asked about aunty (his wife) and the home front. As always, he was his ebullient self, throwing jibes at me calling me Alagbara (the powerful one).
So you can understand my pains, when as my daily routine I was going through the social media only to be hit by the news of the death of my beloved brother whose pictured stared at me as if saying, “Taofeek, I know you don’t know that I was sick but I have gone back to be with our Creator, bye”. I quickly called my wife’s attention, handed my phone to her and it dawned on her too that my brother had left us for good. I burst into tears not minding the presence of my kids and I quickly collected my phone, looked for his number 080…, dialed it twice with the response that “the number you have dialed is switched off” and that was when the reality dawned on me that the publisher of the Gongnews online is no more.
I have not seen anybody as passionate as Uncle Jide about Nigerian Project which he pursued till he breathed his last. You may not like his style but he is rugged, blunt and straight-forward and his love for motherland is unrivalled among his peers. He was the Director General of the Nigeria Sports Development Fund Incorporated (NSDFI), with support or partnership or whatever you call it from former queen of the track, Mary Onyali-Omagbemi. The (NSDFI) initiative came into being to raise funds for Nigerian athletes in five sports for 2020 Olympics to be hosted in Tokyo, Japan. Fashikun has met with stakeholders in the sports sector and even blue chip companies to key into the project. At least, I was with him last year at the Leadway Assurance at the Centre Business District (CBD) close to the NNPC Towers here in Abuja where he presented his vision to the Leadway Assurance management. He has also not failed to sell the NSDFI idea to his constituency (journalism) by asking his colleagues to contribute their token of N200.
As a journalist of over three decades and a publisher of the Gongnews, an online platform for top of the news story especially investigative, Jide paid his dues accordingly and the torrents of tributes right from the number one sports man in Nigeria, the honorable Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Barrister Solomon Dalung, extolling his virtues and our leaders and editors in the sports industry aptly captured and defined Jide’s personality. Dalung described his demise as a sad day for sports journalists and athletes in Nigeria.
“Jide created a platform to support athletes and stimulate performance through his mobilization of training funds to assist athletes. This made us to look forward to a better podium performance in the years ahead. Today, the curtains have been drawn on that project. Jide was a dedication journalist who went far to uphold the truth. He was a fighter, fearless, thorough and an epitome of investigative journalism while contributing immensely to grassroots sports development. I pray that God will receive him and give his wife and family the fortitude to bear this loss,” Dalung said.
But I want to appeal to the minister not to allow curtains to draw on that project. The project should outlive Jide because this is just THE MORNING AFTER his death. How are we sure Jide’s effort will not be forgotten. Rather than allow the project to fall by the wayside, Dalung as the custodian of Nigerian sports should key into this and follow it to a logical conclusion, after all it is the athletes and the country that will benefit.
No doubt, his death has left a big vacuum both in his family and the sports industry. We must all rally around the family at this time of their grief and share in their sorrow. Olajide Fashikun was a jack of all trade and master of all. He was a stakeholder in all sports.
Adieu brother, boss and mentor. I am still in shock.
*Lawal is an Abuja-based media practitioner