Yushau Shuaib: 47 Candles for an Iconic PR Man

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Abdullahi Yunusa ProfWills
Having known him through his countless, well-scripted and richly informative articles and news commentaries in some national dailies and online platforms as far back as 2003, we only had our first physical contact in 201‎0 at a national symposium on peace organised by the management of Peoples Media Limited, publishers of the Peoples Daily Newspaper titles in Sheraton Hotel, Abuja. Our initial meeting was facilitated by my bosom friend and professional colleague, Kandi Mohammed (The civilian General).

‎Long before meeting him, the depth, originality, strength and convincing style with which Malam Yushau Shuaib wrote painted a picture of an old journalist who had spent several years in the newsroom. I thought I was reading a man in his late 60s who still wrote pieces with pen and paper. I equally thought I was tapping from the knowledge reservoir of a man who had the trappings of a typical accomplished Nigerian writer and celebrity journalist.

Our eventual meeting in 2010 cleared the air on the true personality of Yushau. I met a refined, urbane, unassuming, sound, creative and down- to-earth individual whose unique qualities far outweigh his frailties. He is by all standards a perfect gentleman and thoroughbred professional.

He exudes meekness, humility, professionalism and ‎sincerity in his engagements with others. Most of his literary interventions are tailored towards addressing the plight of the disadvantaged in the society, ensuring probity in public office as well as the campaign for the emergence of a country we can all be proud of. He’s not your typical public affairs commentator who employs verbose, bogus or high-sounding phrases in a bid to sound sophisticated or elitist. He keeps it simple, sharp and straight to the point.

Yushau Shuaib wasted no time in fixing an appointment for a formal meeting that birthed a relationship that opened several doors of good tidings for me and also sharpened my literary teeth. He became so interested in my writings and adopted me as his professional son and mentee. The most fascinating thing about Yushau’s writing is the speed with which he pens articles. I’ve always wondered how he manages to churn out pieces as though he picks them up from the computer.

I’ve always admired and envied him from afar. I desired to write as frequently as he does. Hardly a day passes that you don’t get to read Yushau’s piece. His works are just in a world of their own. I think his biggest selling point is the simplicity with which he writes. He writes in accordance with the dictates of his conscience. At a time pen-pushers obey approved media professional ethics only in breach, this man has continued to ply his trade with his integrity and professional name intact.

His reign as the Head, Public Relations at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) ‎was quite epochal. The finesse, professionalism, spontaneity and speed he displayed in responding to information seekers made him the darling of both local and foreign newsmen.

He has indeed secured a place in Nigeria’s history as one of the few patriotic Nigerians who at personal risk and discomfort, put their lives on the line by serially criticizing and countering Boko Haram’s hollow media propaganda with articles upon articles.

The Abubakar Shekau led group’s failure to take over the nation’s media space to propagate its message of destruction was largely due to Yushau’s critical pieces and interventions. He relied strongly on the understanding and benevolence of his colleagues across various media platforms to put a lie to Shekau’s serial false claims as often captured in video tapes. He did his very best to puncture Shekau’s loads of twisted narratives on the insurgency war.

His fierce media face-off with former Finance Minister, Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala where he courageously criticised the former Minister’s open agenda to ‘Biafranise’ appointments into key parastatals under her supervision remains fresh in our memory. The then powerful Ngozi felt her ego was bruised and vowed to ‘deal’ with the writer. She wanted an apology from Yushau, a mission he considered impossible. At the end, Yushau, a no-nonsense man that he is, called the Minister’s bluff and tendered his resignation letter.

The inhuman treatment meted to him did not discourage him from offering his professional services when contacted by the same government, though as a consultant on Public Communications with regards to security issues. He indeed gave his all and left no one in doubt as to whether he possessed the requisite knowledge or expertise for the herculean task of countering Boko Haram’s media narratives. He did his best without blemish.

To his credit, Spokespersons of security, intelligence and disaster response agencies had a number of media sources through which their stories or information are dished out to the reading public regarding the war against Boko Haram. Nigeria, and probably, Africa’s largest mailing platform, PRNIGERIA is Yushau’s brainchild.

Here is wishing my boss, friend, teacher and professional mentor a hearty birthday anniversary. May your labour of love be rewarded both here and the hereafter. Sound body and soul, prosperity and God’s protection are my wishes for you, now and always. Happy birthday sir.

Yunusa wrote from Lugbe, Abuja. meetprofwills@yahoo.com