My last Conversation with Dimgba Igwe – Mike Awoyinfa | Says “I now call on God of Dimgba Igwe when I pray”

Mike Awoyinfa to Asabeafrika…’Pastor Sam Aiyedogbon has filled a vacuum in my life but Dimgba Igwe’s shoe is too big for anyone to put on, even me’
A chanced encounter with tabloid
Journalism legend and media great, Mike
Awoyinfa is as good as meeting the
Prime Minister of one’s nation. Yes, he is a Prime Minister in his own right.
Prime minister of tabloid journalism!

This iconic journalist is one man who
trilled an entire generation of media enthusiasts with his titanic skill of
writing and his witty way with newspaper headlines.

A man of ideas, a media colossus and
a journalism icon of yesterday and today’s journalism Mike Awoyinfa whose perfect friend, Dimgba Igwe died last year September 6, after a hit and run car
driver knocked him down while jogging around his Okota, Lagos—South West Nigeria
neighborhood has done it all in the world of media business. Meeting him for
another encounter for me was historic because Mike Awoyinfa is a man of mystery. He and his late friend, Dimgba Igbwe lived a life sewn with the
thread of myth during their over two decade of friendship and journalism adventure.
My first encounter with the two media
icon was sometimes in April 2013, few months after their business partner and
former boss, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu
suddenly relieved them of their high ranking position of Managing
Director/Editor-in-Chief and Deputy Managing Director/Deputy-Editor-in-Chief of
The Sun Publishing Ltd, a newspaper
which was theirs in concept and idea. The removal from their position which was
almost like a dismissal was something that came like a thunderbolt for Mike Awoyinfa and his late friend as
they never envisaged such eventuality could take place with a project they
willingly obliged to pilot with passion and vigor. However, they told me how
the entire deal was tied from the beginning of putting pen to paper and the end
of discussion at Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu’s
Lagos mansion on that ill-fated Monday morning in January 2010.     
That experience of leaving The Sun in 2010 made Mike Awoyinfa miss his tabloid passion
but Dimgba Igwe’s September 6th
2014 death made Mike Awoyinfa miss
his friendship passion. Hear him “Without Dimgba,
I don’t have an editor. I am my own editor, nobody edits me. I write and it
goes like that. nobody to say ‘Well-done’, ‘Excellent’, ‘Fantastic’ or somebody
to just say ‘This is rubbish, this is nonsense’. What is it, abeg!” Mike Awoyinfa confessed to this blog
with a face strewn with emotional restrain.
The tabloid legend Mike Awoyinfa with late Co-Pilot, Dimgba Igwe

Even though the tabloid king wasn’t
too disposed to talking to a blog nine months after his friend’s death but
several requests with mounted pressure, the Nigerian godfather of tabloid journalism
 open up on his last minute experience
with his best friend and  things they
both discussed on phone six hours to Dimgba’s
death.
 He spoke on his decision to re-launch Billionaire Mike Adenuga’s biography and real
reason why he closed down Entertainment
Express
Newspaper after Dimgba
Igwe’s
death.
On Tuesday September 8, 2015 “50 World
Editors: Conversation with Journalism Masters on trends and best practice

will be launched in Lagos. The book is the last project done by the two
journalist-authors and it is going to be launched before a cream of dignitaries
from all walks of life to commemorate Dimgba
Igwe’s
first year anniversary.  Mike Awoyinfa spoke on the greatness of
the project which he jointly did and finished with Dimgba before his untimely death on Saturday September 6th,
2014. Enjoy the excerpts only on your Africa’s number 1 Celebrity encounter
blog Asabeafrika.
Mike Awoyinfa to Asabeafrika….’I spoke and discussed so many things with Dimgba from London a night before his death’

Let’s share our heartfelt condolence
with you over the sudden demise of your brother and partner, Uncle Dimgba Igwe.
It is nine months after that sad episode, we share your moment of grief with
you.
Thank you.
Why I campaigned for General Muhammad
Buhari
In recent time, the tune of your
Saturday column
Press Clips became political in honor of General Buhari, how did you feel when the
General won the election?
Let me start
by thanking you for coming to interview me. Each time I wonder why you always
come to interview me. I feel much honored and I can say you are coming at a
time of great hope and expectation for our leadership. A whole lot of damage
has been done in this country and it is not easy rebuilding. The GDP has
dropped, the foreign reserve has dropped and even the petroleum that is the
bulwark of our economy is no longer bringing in the revenue and there is so
much despair in the air and the fuel situation is so rash and it is so bad. For
a man that came into office four years ago, he came, he saw, he didn’t
conquer.  He left us with problems; he is
a good man, I like him. He is good natured but that is not enough for
leadership. Leadership is about finding solution to problems. I am not a very,
very radical person. I am usually laid back, I am usually apathetic and
apolitical but something that concerns us, concerns our children, concerns our
great-great grand children, that is why I had to really come into the ring to
route for Buhari and really fight
that he became the president and I wrote a lot of things in his support. I
campaigned for him with my column and I am so happy God answered my prayer. It
was not easy, you know every column you write in honor of change, the supporters of Jonathan
will just come like Bees
stinging you gbam-gbam-gbam, abusing
you; all kinds of abuses but I was not discouraged. I and my son, Femi Adesina we all put our neck on the
block for Buhari. We campaigned for
him and very, very happy that he got it, he is now in power. But the task ahead
is very, very herculean. We all must support him, we all must give him time,
and we must all pray for him, that he chooses the right cabinet. That he
doesn’t choose base on sentiment. That he chooses men who can bring something
to the table; men who can deliver value. Men who are committed to serve Nigeria
not men who are in office because of what they will get. This is what this
entire new regime is all about, it is about change. People are ready to work hard. I am very happy my son, Femi Adesina is now the spokesperson
for our desired government. 
“The last day before he died, I was
walking from a book shop in Ipswich,
it took about 45 minutes journey, I was walking and enjoying the city, I was by
the river band, I was walking and talking, I was giving him comments about the
spot, I said ‘Oh, what a lovely city? Look at the river band; look at boats,
yachts. I was giving him situation report, the kind of books I bought for him.
A book on Jerusalem, a book on journalism, a book on Kenndy;

Mike
Awoyinfa to Asabeafrika….’I thank God today that Femi Adesina one of
my son is President Buhari’s spokesman. I also have Eric Osagie, Dele
Momodu & others doing great exploits.’

I am father of many sons
Mr. Femi Adesina told me in an
interview few days to his appointment that you mentored him, how do you feel
having him represent father’s land as a presidential spokesman?
It is the
joy of every father that our children will be greater than us. God has answered
my prayer and Femi Adesina is not
the only one; Eric Osagie is also my
son, he has also taken over from Adesina
at Daily
Sun
as the Managing Director. My other son, Dele Momodu is far bigger than me. He is making waves all over the
place, he has been presidential candidate, he has been everything and the sky
is his limit. What else? I give glory to God; that is what leadership is all
about. To create people, to build people and that is all my joy, I don’t have
money. I don’t have anything but I have helped in creating people who create
value and making meaningful impacts in the society. I thank God but I will tell
you that it is not easy without my friend, Dimgba
Igwe.
It is not easy at all, it is not easy. What two of us used to do I am
left to do it now and I can tell you it is quite uneasy.
The tabloid legend Mike Awoyinfa welcomes Asabeafrika’s Gbenga Dan Asabe into his Okota, Lagos home

Dimgba Igwe in heaven
How has it really been having a Mike
Awoyinfa without a Dimgba Igwe?
You know Dimgba’s shoe is so large that I don’t
think anybody can fill it, not even I can fill it but there is God; and when
God is on your side, you are not alone. My friend was a real man of God, very
prayerful, very saintly and I have no doubt that he is in heaven and he is
interceding for me in heaven, telling God, saying ‘this my friend, this my
brother, don’t let him fail’ because I have this conviction that he is in
heaven. It gives me strength. It gives me hope. It makes me belief; each time I
pray I say ‘look, God of Dimgba Igwe,
don’t disgrace me, don’t leave me alone, help me, help me, help me’ and God has
been very, very faithful. Doors are opening and I can see a better future ahead
and I am doing things that will not let him down. I am doing things that he
(Dimgba) has always known that once Mike is there, it will be done.

The New Journalism Bible from the stable of the masters; Mike Awoyinfa & Late Dimgba Igwe

Last chat with Dimgba Igwe
There is this perception that maybe
if you had taken him on your trip to London in September he might have escaped
death on that very day since you both often travel together. Do you share this
belief?
Yes, we do
travel together but this one, only God knows. Even that trip I didn’t want to
go, he was the one that forced me that I should go because his word is law. He
said how can you pay so much money to put a boy in one of the best universities
in England and he is graduating and you wont be there. He said ‘no, no, no, no,
mba! Mba! Mba! Mike-you must go, you must go’. So, he convinced me and he could
have followed us but you know there was so much to be done at home. There are
so many books to be written and I said ‘Ok, you take care of the business while
I go’ and this was strictly a family affair, it was an opportunity for me, my
wife and my children to re-bond and be happy for the first time. Let’s travel
together and he (Dimgba) didn’t want to intrude in our little re-union. He said
“Mike, this is your family, go and enjoy yourself as I work here till you
return’. And truth is that we were not apart, everyday we were always in touch
via the telephone, talking. I was almost like a reporter, giving him a
situation report, where I was, what I am doing and I will tell him ‘oh, I am
enjoying this, I am doing this, we are at this’. The last day before he died, I
was walking from a book shop in Ipswich,
it took about 45 minutes journey, I was walking and enjoying the city, I was by
the river band, I was walking and talking, I was giving him comments about the
spot, I said ‘Oh, what a lovely city? Look at the river band; look at boats, yachts.
I was giving him situation report, the kind of books I bought for him. A book
on Jerusalem, a book on journalism, a book on Kenndy; I mean the kind of books I knew
he is going to like and he said ‘Aah, wao, Mike, okay buy them for me and bring
them home’. I had even bought him some under wears, that one I didn’t tell him
I bought them. I just wanted to surprise him. I was getting ready to come but I
was doing my little-little shopping. We talk, talk, talk, talk, and talk.
“He said ‘Call your house’. I said
‘Call my house for what?’ ‘Tell me, tell me. Whatever it is, tell me’. He said
‘No, it is not my mouth you will hear this’. I said ‘Haa! It is not your mouth
I will hear it, Oya, tell me’. He said ‘It is about your friend’. I said ‘Which
friend?’ He said ‘Which Friend do you have again than Dimgba?’ I said ‘Ehen,
what happened to Dimgba?”

The Late Dimgba Igwe, Gbenga Dan Asabe & Mike Awoyinfa during first encounter with the GDA in 2010
(Cuts in) That was September 5?
That was 5th
of September. He was to deliver a lecture on 6th of September, a
lecture to his village people (Igbere) in Lagos. He was presenting a paper on
the way forward and on how to develop the village and he was very excited about
it, he was boasting that ah, he has done something very, very profound. That he
is going to really, really Wao them, and I said ah, very good,
very good, very good. He was telling me all the things he was going to do the
next day; I mean we are that close, he was really my heart (Kept silence, spoke
in between as voice drops low). And I was like ‘well-done, I trust you now’.
For one hour my phone was hot, we talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, and talk. I
told him about how my credit card was rejected in a bank in Ipswich. The card didn’t work and we
had a problem. You know all this little-little chat. We talk everything as it
comes, we discussed everything. There was nothing to hide (Losing voice
intermittently and breaking in and out of emotion, almost moving to tears). We
talked until I got home and that was it. I never knew that was going to be the
last talk. I never knew it was our last discussion.

The GDA endorses the yet to be published Journalism Bible by Mike Awoyinfa & Late Dimgba Igwe
Dimgba’s death news, worst day of my
life!
So, how did you get the September 6th
news?
I was going
to jog. I was wearing Chelsea T-shirt
and jogging along the lake, the water side of Ipswich. I was wearing my jersey and I was surprised the Chelsea fans too will hail me and say
‘Heee! Blues! Blues!! They too were hailing me. I was very, very proud jogging.
I didn’t know he too was equally jogging. I didn’t even know that as at the
time I was jogging, I didn’t know he was already even dead because he usually
goes out jogging too, very early in the morning. He comes out very early before
me because he was the one that initiated me into jogging.  He was the one that pushed me into it.
Mike Awoyinfa to Asabeafrika…’Since Dimgba Igwe’s demise, i have found it dificult to do things alone’
(Cuts in) So, you didn’t know there
was a kind of corresponding activities going on in Nigeria?
I was just
doing my thing; so, I came back from my jogging and I don’t know weather I even
took breakfast. I was just there when I just got this call from Lagos and they
said ‘something has happened in your house’. I said ‘My house? What? Is my
house on fire?’ He said ‘No’. ‘Has my house been bugled?’ he said ‘no’. If it
was all these ones that happened, I will even be able to manage it psychologically’.
‘So, what has happened?’ He said ‘Call your house’. I said ‘Call my house for
what?’ ‘Tell me, tell me. Whatever it is, tell me’. He said ‘No, it is not my
mouth you will hear this’. I said ‘Haa! It is not your mouth I will hear it, Oya,
tell me’. He said ‘It is about your friend’. I said ‘Which friend?’ He said
‘Which Friend do you have again than Dimgba?’ I said ‘Ehen, what happened to
Dimgba?’ ‘Ah, something has happened o, it is not my mouth you will hear, go
and find out what happened’. To cut a long story short, the person just
delivered the bombshell “Your friend is dead”. ‘Haaaaa!’ I said ‘No, no, no,
no. it can’t be true. I said this person must be joking. Dimgba dead?  For what! He
died in his sleep?, He didn’t wake up or what?’ he said ‘Just call the house,
call the house’. So, that was how I called my son. My elder son, Ayo, I said ‘Ayo, what has happened in the house?’ he said ‘Nothing’. What
happened in Mr. Dimgba’s house?’ He
said ‘nothing now’. At least that re-awakened my hope again; I said if
something drastic like this has happened and my son has not heard, then maybe
this person that called me earlier is just pulling my legs. Maybe it is April fool in September. So, I
instructed my son, ‘Oya, go to the next door, don’t cut the line. Just be
going, let us be hearing you, as he was going, we were hearing everything and
to cut a long story shot, it was true. My son called Dimgba’s Mai-guard and even his Mai-guard didn’t know. Until finally the news was broken and all of
us were rolling on the floor; I mean, my family, everybody was wailing,
screaming, I mean, it is not a day I even want to remember at all because I
have never seen a bad day like that in my entire life. It was a terrible day; I
quickly went through the Bible he gave me. I took the Bible and read through
some quotations
(Cuts in) Oh, you mean Uncle Dimgba
gave you a Bible?
Yes, he gave
me a Bible that he want me to be reading and it was the Bible I saw and there
were things he wrote there, that ‘Mike, turn to the Lord bla-bla-bla’, I didn’t
know that was a last message to me.
“The book is like a Bible of
journalism. For the first time I can boast and say ‘this is the greatest
journalism book ever’. We have never seen it anywhere in the world; a book, a
compendium of editors of the greatest newspapers in the world”
Mike
Awoyinfa to Asabeafrika….’I thought my house was on fire when someone
called on Sept. 6 to tell me that something happened in my house during
my sojourn with family in the UK’
You took the Bible on your trip?
Yes, the
Bible is a gift he gave me when I turned 60. He urged me to trust in the Lord
with some Bible passages written in his handwritten that I should get closer to
the Lord. I mean, it was quite touching and instructive.
Dimgba Igwe’s last wish
From his urge towards you to get
close to God, do you think your friend had a premonition that he was going to
die?
No, no, no,
I don’t think death was the next thing. Ah, ah, death ke? Death was the last
thing. Ah, ah, no, no, no, no. We had so many plans, big dreams. When we went
to Banana
Island
for the first time and we returned, he said ‘No, this place is
not for us’. That we should work hard and move to Banana Island; I didn’t
know his own Banana Island is another place. Somewhere in heaven; I have no
doubt, if there is heaven and if people go to heaven, I know my friend is there
and that really, really gives me a sense of hope and happiness.

Mike
Awoyinfa to Asabeafrika….’On September 8, we are launching Nigeria’s
biggest journalism book to honor Dimgba Igwe’s memory’

Dimgba’s unfinished Fashola project
 When the former Governor of Lagos, Babatunde
Raji Fashola came for condolence visit he became emotional and said you guys
were working on a book. Have you finished the book?
It has been
edited from the (Former) Governor’s side and everything is ready and we are
packaging it to turn it into a book. Weather he is in office or not in office,
the book is still relevant. Fashola
is a good study in leadership and the story is a very, very, inspiring story.
It is a story that is very unusual. I mean, he (Fashola) is a real child of
destiny. He is a child of destiny and anybody that reads that story will know
that there is hope and nobody should be written off.  Nobody should be written off no matter the
condition and the circumstances of birth and whatever. The story is a great
story, a very great human angle story, a very good spiritual story. A good case
study in leadership; when the book is ready we will let the world read about
it. We have another book to be launched by September 8 at the institute
of international affairs
. We are trying to present our other book; it
is a book called 50 WORLD EDITORSConversations with Journalism masters on trends and best practices. It is a book that
involves interviews with editors all over the world. Editors we met during the
course of our travels.

Mike
Awoyinfa to Asabeafrika….’Life is all about building leaders which i
and Dimgba Igwe did by creating a crop of young journalists’.

About the Book; 50 World Editors
Like how many of them
Fifty
editors, all around the world, telling their stories; telling their journalism
journey and how they made it and talking about journalism generally, about
editing and stories that defined them and how they became editors and what they
did in their time as editors. The book is like a Bible of journalism. For the
first time I can boast and say ‘this is the greatest journalism book ever’. We
have never seen it anywhere in the world; a book, a compendium of editors of
the greatest newspapers in the world;
Newyork Times,
Washington Times, Chicago Tribune, Times of London, The Guardian, CNN, Reuters,
The Mirror, The Sun, BBC, Associated
Press,
editors past and present. These are people who are repository of
journalism wisdom, sharing their thoughts and sharing their ideas. People think
when we travel, we just go out, travel for fun and pleasure but they don’t know
there is no pleasure in it, when we travel, we travel for business and when we
go for this conferences and people are talking, you will see us, with our tape
recorder just like you do. Singling out people worthy of interviews, those were
the things we did for ten years or so. We combined it into a book and the good
thing is; Dimgba saw the book before
he died. The book is finished, it is already in and he saw it before he died.
He was part of the planning of the design of the book and everything. He saw
the book, he held it and he was very, very pleased and happy with the book. So,
that is the book we are to launch on September 8th 2015 at the National
Institute of International Affairs,
in Victoria Island, Lagos.
That will be just two days after
Dimgba Igwe’s death?
Yes, and we
are hoping everybody will be there. We are hoping to bring President Muhammadu Buhari there
as the Special Guest of honor. We are dreaming that Mike Adenuga will be our chief launcher.  
Oh, that is the busy man that no one
sees else his works…
We are
praying and hoping there is nothing God cannot do. We are hoping governors will
come. We will do everything possible to make it a befitting book launch that my
friend, wherever he is, would be proud and fulfilled to have been part of such
a great project. It is not just a celebration of a book; it is a celebration of
an icon, a great man, a pastor, a saint, a friend, a brother. That is his day.
A day we will remember him a year after. We are going to pull every string and
we are hoping you will also support us to make it a glorious day. It is not
just a book launch; it is a celebration of an icon. Dimgba Igwe can never die as long as I live. He can never die, I
have said it.
Mike
Awoyinfa to Asabeafrika….’Writting for CHANGE came with lots of
challenges as GEJ’s E-warriors attacked me like stinging bees’

The Man who wants to fill Dimgba
Igwe’s vacuum
In your column of recent, we have
noticed this Pastor Abraham Sam Aiyedogbon coming to console you at all times,
who is he and why is he getting so close to you?
He read my
column after the death of Dimgba
where I was asking, ‘Pray for me’. And he saw the column
as very spiritual, that it was not me that wrote it; that it was God that
inspired me to write it. So, he came here and prayed for me and he equally gave
me a prophetic message and he said since there is a vacuum in my life that he
wants to fill that vacuum. Everything that my friend did, he wants to be my
next friend. He was very, very touched. That God is saying he should be there
for me. And who are my, to say I don’t want a friendship from such a very
renowned man of God?  It is not like a
“re-marriage” because nobody can fill the shoe of my friend Dimgba Igwe but Aiyedogbon has been there for me. 
He has supported me and I thank God for meeting such a great man of God.
I count myself blessed, I count myself lucky and everyday we exchange test
messages, praying for each other, inspiring each other. He is a very, very busy
man and for such a man to have my time, I don’t take it for granted o. I mean,
he pastors a great church Chapel of
Glory
 in Lagos and for such a man to
really, really humble himself to say ‘Look, this iniquity man, called Mike Awoyinfa, I want to be your
friend’, ah, it is God o. It is God.
The GDA, Late Dimgba Igwe & Mike Awoyinfa during first interview ever with the tabloid geniuses

Why I resuscitated Mike Adenuga’s
biography
What has his consolation done to you?
No, he
always asks me what I am doing. He always want to know what I am doing and how
are my progressing and I told him about the Mike Adenuga biography, the unfinished biography that we are
re-writing and he gave me an advise and even volunteered himself to write the
foreword. There are three people writing the foreword, I think he is one of
them. Babangida is part of the
foreword, Wole Soyinka is part of
the foreword and on the spiritual side
Pastor
Aiyedogbon is writing the
foreword of Mike Adenuga’s book.
Mike
Awoyinfa to Asabeafrika…’When the news of my friend’s death was
eventually broken to us in London, the entire family went down, rolling
& wailling. It was the saddest moment of my life’

I was actually going to ask you what
really happened to the Mike Adenuga memoir that was to be published with his 60th
birthday. I think some of us saw the finished copy three years ago but we
learnt the man ordered you not to publish?
Well, let’s
just forget the forgettable. Let the past just be the past. All I am telling
you is that I was going through the manuscripts of the interviews I did and the
fire rekindled in me and I said ‘no, no’ no’, this is a great man. I cannot
just let him go like that; the world must hear his story. His story is a story
that is very, very inspiring. It is a story that must motivate the youths of
today that there is hope in Nigeria. So, I have re-focused and re-strategized.
Rather than making it a book told from my own and Dimgba Igwe’s perspective, I want the book to be told from the
perspective of everybody that has encountered Mike Adenuga. I call it “The Guru: Eye Witness Biography
of Mike Adenuga…One of Africa’s Richest Men”.
That is it. Babangida will tell you his Mike Adenuga story, Wole Soyinka will tell you his Mike Adenuga story; David Jemibewon will tell you his Mike Adenuga story.
Mike
Awoyinfa to Asabeafrika…’I used my column to campaign for General
Buhari because my children’s life was at stake the way the country was
going’

David Mark too….
I didn’t
interview David Mark; we spoke to
great people around Mike Adenuga.
People who helped him to establish a bank, a former business partner who told a
very, very moving story of Mike Adenuga
who was his friend and business partner. How he was loyal, honest and like I
wrote in my column that he reminds me of Dimgba
Igwe
; that he is a man you can do business with and you can go to sleep
without fear. He can go and do business outside and he will make some money
aside and he will still bring it and say “Egbon, I did this kind of business o;
this is your own cut’. So, that kind of story should be told.
I was equally surprised and
disappointed with the fact that you guys couldn’t release the book because we
all needed that inspiration as well. We asked why Mike and Dimgba should dump
such an inspiring project.
No, no, no,
we can’t dump such an inspirational work. Like I said in my earlier column that
Mike Adenuga’s life is a continuous
inspiration for me. Once he has a project in mind, he never gives up. He is
always persistent, the inspiration I draw from him is what has brought back the
resuscitation of this book. I tell you it is a good book, it is an inspiring
book. It is a positive book. It is not a negative book.
(Watch out for Part 2 of the Mike Awoyinfa’s Exclusive tagged Why I stopped Publishing Entertainment Express after Dimgba’s
Death
on
this blog in 24 Hrs time
. Kindly
Re-visit
)

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