Olawale Ajimotokan, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and Daji Sani in Yola
More condolences yesterday poured in over the death of the Chairman and founder of Leadership Newspapers, Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah, with the Adamawa State Governor, Mr. Ahmadu Fintiri; the Minister Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Muhammad Bello; former Chairman, The Punch, Chief Ajibola Ogunshola; and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), expressing sadness over his sudden demise.
Nda-Isaiah died on Friday at the age of 58.
Fintiri expressed deep shock over the death, describing Nda-Isaiah as an embodiment of leadership.
In a statement by his Press Secretary, Mr. Humwashi Wonosikou, the governor noted that Nda-Isaiah’s sterling qualities stood him out as a rare Nigerian, who interpreted the Nigerian situation with great understanding and passion for the growth and development of the nation.
He stated: “I express my condolences to the immediate family of Sam Isaiah, the government and people of Niger State, the Leadership family and indeed the entire Nupe kingdom over the painful loss.
“Sam’s contributions to the new Nigeria will be greatly missed at a time when quacks have taken over the cyberspace peddling dangerous rumour and hate speeches.”
While commending his courage towards the unity of Nigeria, Fintiri commended the use of his paper in building bridges of peace across divides and unity, expressing hope that the drive is sustained even after his death.
In his condolences, Bello described Nda-Isaiah as an epitome of hard work and patriotism, a bridge-builder and a firm believer in the unity of Nigeria.
“Although a pharmacist by training, through hard work and commitment to excellence, he founded the Leadership Group, which has in its stable one of Nigeria’s foremost and most influential newspapers,” Bello said.
He noted that as a resident of Abuja, whose business concerns were located in the nation’s capital, Nda-Isaiah contributed to the development of the FCT.
In mourning Nda-Isaiah, the APC described him as a faithful party man.
In a statement yesterday on behalf of the party, Mr. Ishmael Ahmed, said he was part and parcel of the journey that brought the party to its formation and the growth achieved in the last six years.
It said: “Whenever the party gave tasks to Dr. Sam, they were carried out dutifully and with the highest sense of responsibility; this indeed was the classic Sam: a hard worker, who was passionate about the growth and development of his community, party and his country.”
The ruling party said Nda-Isaiah set industry standards as a publisher, adding that he is forever a reference point for journalists in Nigeria.
The APC said like the motto of his newspaper: “For God and Country,” Nda-Isaiah was driven by faithfulness to God and patriotism to the country in whatever decision he took.
It said the country has lost a man of ideas and solutions at a time the nation needs his contributions more than ever.
“I am shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Sam Nda-Isaiah, the chairman of Leadership Group at the early age of 58,” Ogunshola said soberly in a statement last night.
He narrated his association with the deceased: “My relationship with him particularly developed and was largely confined to the era when I was the president of Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria between 2007 and 2011 and while he was a member of its governing council.
“Although he held strong beliefs on practically any matter that one had to discuss with him and stated them with characteristic vehemence, I found him quite open to alternative arguments when they have merit. He would, with a smile, say, ‘Chief, that’s true.’
“But what I admired most in him was his forthrightness, consistency and reliability as a member of that Council.”
He said they communicated often and Nda-Isaiah would call him from some distant part of the world, even when the deceased was expected to be sleeping.
“His early wealth, elevated newspaper platform and high political contacts, especially in the states of the North, and his sheer rugged persona emboldened him to say or write whatever he wanted to write or say,” Ogunshola said, adding: “I even thought he was older than he was.”
He added: “A strong ally and defender of then presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, he once told me that candidate Buhari was, in private group conversations, a witty and humorous man.
“My heart goes to his wife and children, the boards and staff of Leadership Group and the other companies which he owned or co-owned.