I am finding it difficult to accept the reality of the fact that I will no longer see a man who chose to call me a friend and a brother, Dr. Levi Ajuonoma. Dr. Ajuonoma is one of our Nigerian compatriots who, alongside other
nationals, died in Sunday’s plane crash in Iju-Ishaga, Lagos. While he was around, Dr. Ajuonoma drew many of us journalists and other young professionals close in developmental reportage.
In the summer of 2010, he had kept a late evening appointment to meet me while I was visiting in Nigeria. He and some of his assistants like Mike wanted to have an understanding about the mission of journalists who engage the new media for practice. I was accompanied by my daughter, Blessing. What Dr. Ajuonoma first said was that he was pleased to know that I was a man who had responsibilities and could allow a daughter to come with me for a business meeting.
Once he was convinced of the mission of sharpedgenews.com and other related news outlets, he said we could not be denied access in terms of clarifications, news sourcing and advert patronage. Dr. Ajuonoma kept his word till his last moment on earth. No matter how busy he was, he always tried to pick his calls and, on the rare moments when he could not, he ensured that he always returned calls.
There were times I felt he was too hard to deal with, but he always made sure that it was as a result of his mark of professionalism as a media and public relations expert. I was blessed to be with at the awards for the petroleum minister, Ms. Deizeani Allison-Madueke, for the centenary celebrations for Howard University’s College of Engineering, Architecture and Computer Science on April 26, 2012. While visiting Nigeria in May, we also spoke and he regretted the way Boko Haram had made it difficult for us to meet at the NNPC Towers while I was in Abuja. Yet he mandated his faithful lieutenant Michael to discuss with me.
I spoke with him on Friday, June 1st in hopes that we would again be able to meet in the United States at some not-too-distant point. The hand of fate and non-accidental aviation managerial incompetence in Nigeria ensured that the meeting would never be. Maybe we will meet in heaven some day, because Dr. Ajuonoma loved God. It is difficult for me talk of him in the past. My heart goes to his family, the NNPC staff and all Nigerians. Sleep on brother.