Published on Jun 18, 2016 Greenbarge Reporters
When the death of the immediate past chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Abuja chapter, Chucks Ehirim was made public on Wednesday, June 15, what came to my mind was, ‘this could be a June Fool’ as in April Fool.
It was not as if the death of anyone would not elicit the same feeling of shock, disbelief and sadness roll into one, but that of Chucks had a ring of surprise because he died on the day he was born, June 15. And at the golden age of 50!
Of course, I cannot describe myself as being close to Chucks, but a few months we worked together in National Accord newspaper in Abuja, brought me closer to him. The two of us happened also to live in the same Area Council – Kuje. While he had his house in Peggy, I stayed in the main Kuje town.
Of course, like every other editor (he was Associate Editor while I was Deputy Editor), Chucks and I would work far into the night to see the newspaper through for the day. Sometimes if I did not go with my car, it was him that would give me a ride in his own. And vice versa.
He was so attached to the Press Centre, the official secretariat of the NUJ in Abuja that he would not go home, over 40 kilometre away, without dropping by at the press centre to greet friends and take a sip of beer.
On two or three occasions when he gave me ride, his car broke down after Ludgbe. While he bundled me into a commercial vehicle to Kuje, he would remain inside the broken-down car till day-break and then called his mechanics to fix the faults.
What actually made Chucks unique was his political leaning, which, by the Nigerian standard, was strange. While his fellow Igbo people in the profession were mainly on the Right, conservatism (those who are in love with the status quo), he was clearly on the Left of the political leaning, representing radical forces for change.
Chucks, until his death, was a star supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari. So strong he was behind Buhari and of course, the All Progressives Congress (APC) that you dare not speak negatively about the man or the party in his presence. This was at the time the mainstream Igbo, especially, those in journalism leaned heavily on the Right political ideology and hated anything that had to do with the APC or the North.
From the distance, one could conclude that Chucks’ philosophy about life is ‘take things as they come.’ He was not the type of person (Igbo) that chased things of this world, especially, wealth with madness or being consumed by it. As a matter of fact, he was an every day man: a man who waited on God for his progress with a lot of prayers.
It was not by mad pursuit of position that he was voted the chairman of the NUJ Abuja Council in 2012. It was not as a result of the cash he distributed to high-breed Abuja journalists that made him win the hearts of his colleagues. It was, more, the goodwill, his simple, innocent-looking mien disposition, his cool headedness, buried in radical disposition to change and his determination to change the system for the better that did the magic.
While I join other colleagues in mourning the gentle soul of Chucks Ehirim and while I commiserate with members of his immediate family (wife, kids, brothers and sisters), I wish to sincerely align myself with the demand of Abuja journalists that President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC should do something to honour him. This is the time the family he left behind should be made to feel the weight of his contribution, in his own way, to the success of the APC and President Buhari in the last year’s general elections. This is the time also that the Abuja NUJ should think of immortalizing his name, for he deserves nothing less.
Adieu Chucks Ehirim!
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