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Late John Odeh was a genuine public servant – Kayode Soyinka

THE LATE JOHN ODEH: The sad news of the death of former Nigerian minister John Ogar Odeh reached me early this morning. I understand he died early this morning in a Dubai hospital. I first met him when he was federal minister of Information and Communications – when the now two ministries were together as one. He was also minister of the Environment. This picture below (with him on the left) was taken in Cairo, when he was minister under the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, when he saw me at the ITU conference, which Egypt hosted. I found him to be a genuine public servant with proven honesty and integrity and, more importantly, a complete gentleman. We became very close friends. And he gave me his unflinching support whenever I needed it at Africa Today. He was never reluctant whenever I asked him for help or assistance or advice on my work. He even chaired some sessions at the Africa Today Summit in Abuja last year. He was taken ill recently and was receiving treatment at a Dubai hospital. I am consoled by the fact that I went to see him in Abuja when I was in Nigeria last month and, he too, came home briefly before returning to continue with his treatment in Dubai. We still spoke and I also received a text message from him just a few days ago. Any time I called him, he would still be asking me about Africa Today and how we are doing – even on his sick bed! I was going to give him a call last night to find out how he was progressing. And now the sad news of his death. He fought a good fight! Our heartfelt condolences to his family and numerous friends. May the Almighty grant the family the fortitude to bear this irreplaceable loss. May his soul rest in peace. Sleep well, my brother! -Kayode Soyinka