My last dance with Dimgba Igwe +The Biggest regret he will take to the grave

Dimgba spoke glowingly about one of their books on Pratitioners in Corporate Nigeria

My first
encounter with Dimgba Igwe was sometime around May 2010; some clear four
months after him and his twin brother and business partner of twenty seven
years Mike Awoyinfa were unceremonious removed from The Sun
Publishing Ltd
as MD & DMD respectively by the maverick business
man publisher, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu.
The encounter didn’t happen without the
blessings and invitation of the giant tabloid genius himself, Mike
Awoyinfa
who felt for me as I have been on their neck for a long time
after their unceremonious removal from office in January of that year. Their
removal came under a very flighty circumstance that must have made the two
brotherly partners have a sad memory that still hung in the mind of  Dimgba Igwe till the early hours of  Saturday 
September 6th  2014
when he took his unceremonious exit from planet earth courtesy a dare-devil hit
and run driver.

The GDA endorses a copy of the book ‘Nigerian Marketing Memoirs’ and ’50 Nigerian Corporate strategists’

The Drama & Dribbles of their
removal from The Sun Newspaper

The whole
drama started in the early hours of January 7th, 2010 when the
Chairman and Publisher of Sun Newspaper
Chief
(Dr.) Orji Uzor Kalu,
former Governor of Abia state, South East Nigeria
and maverick politician extra-ordinary allegedly called for the attention of Mike Awoyinfa
and his partner in creativity, Dimgba Igwe. It was at that meeting
inside his Victoria Island, Lagos mansion that Dr. Orji Kalu allegedly
dazed the two with a shocker; “Gentle men, you are no more in charge of The
Sun Newspaper
as from this moment. I hereby pronounce you as ex-MD and
ex-DMD”. The news staggered Mike Awoyinfa and nearly killed him
as he later confessed to me during the rare encounter with both of them inside Mike
Awoyinfa’s
library inside his Okota, Lagos home. Mike said he nearly had a
heart attack but for Dimgba whose consoled him and
charged him to be of strong faith “If not for my brother Dimgba, I almost had a
heart attack when he (Dr.Orji Uzor Kalu) told us to leave. We didn’t bargain
for it as we were just resuming work from the New Year holiday” My encounter
with the two tabloid icons was later published in one of the editions of Ovation
International
Magazine in the later part of the year.

The late Dimgba Igwe, GDA and Mike Awoyinfa

“But did Mike and Dimgba justify the purpose for their raise? Yes. Capital Y-E-S! As at the time of their“Sack”, Dimgba told me that they already made a whooping $8.5 milliondollars turn-over for the media company. In fact the previous year before their removal, they just bought three printing machines and installed them at three locations in Nigeria including Abain Abia state and Abuja the Federal Capital territory”



The Move that broke their heart

From what
I gathered during the rare encounter I had with the two gentle men and icon of
Nigeria’s tabloid journalism, the decision to terminate their relationship with
The
Sun
brand by their friend and employer Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu was
not one that made them happy in any way as they viewed the action as a total
assassination of their great spirit of enterprise and the annihilation of their
sense of duty to a brand which has spanned a tenure of seven years under their
strict leadership. The two veterans were not only shocked and angry but they
also felt short-changed. Both of them poured their anger to me in equal
measures and equally explained why they found the move very awry. According to Mike
Awoyinfa,
he never bargained for what he got from Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu that
morning as he was just resuming from a Christmas and New Year holiday. He said
when Kalu gave them the instruction never to return to their duty post in Apapa
again, he nearly collapsed with a heart attack as he never believed their
relationship with such a project they invested lots of energy and creativity
into in seven years could be cut off just like that. Of course, Dr.
Orji Uzor Kalu
who I later met for his own side of the story gave me
his own version for the sudden removal of Mike and Dimgba as MD & DMD of
The
Sun Newspaper
respectively.

Late Pastor Dimgba Igwe
Mike Awoyinfa to GDA….’We gave The Sun all we had’

That Monday morning of January 7, 2010, he had
told Mike
and Dimgba
that the action was necessary as he had just finished reading some books on
what he termed “Organizational transformation” and that the old tabloid folks
should buy his idea and exit as fast as possible as he was already putting in a
new team to come on board. Of course when I later met Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu in his
Lagos mansion in company of Dr. Seye Kehinde, the Publisher/CEO
of City People magazine, he gave an entirely
different reason for removing the two tabloid brothers. We shall publish Dr.
Orji Kalu’s side on this blog as event unfolds.

Dimgba Igwe sharing his book philosophy with the GDA
Mike, GDA and Dimgba during the book tour aspect of the interview

According
to Dimgba
Igwe,
the reasons for their removal were spurious, curious and furious
to say the least. And the two gentle men never hid their displeasure from me as
they poured their anger in session, one after the other. I asked them what the
nature of the deal was initially; and Dimgba Igwe who hails from the same Igbere, Abia north neighborhood with Dr.
Orji Uzor Kalu
 said when the
project was to take off in 2003, they never anticipated that one day, their new
boss will find every reasons to fire them. Instead the oral agreement according
to Dimgba
Igwe
was that both will bring their business ideas into the new deal as
Dr.
Kalu
supply finance. And that the three; Kalu, Dimgba
and Awoyinfa will work for life as equal share holders and their
children will equally join them later to run the place and if possible their
grand children.

The late Dimgba Igwe explians a point to the GDA as Mike Awoyinfa looks on

It was to be a forever thing. They never saw it coming that
they could be fired from their post as MD & DMD one morning like that. All
these they complained to me which was equally published in one of the editions
of Ovation
International Magazine
which was the only medium at the time that has
the space to contain the long discourse from the two tabloid gods. Bashorun
(Dr.) Dele
Momodu, the Ovation International Magazine
publisher gave me a whole thirteen (13) pages of the magazine to run the
interview. Of course the whole thing drew a lot of sympathy from some quarters
in the Nigerian media and to many discerning minds; it was another lesson of
how joint partnership will never work in a clime like ours, at least in major
instances.





Other allegations
Mike and Dimgba who were very, very bitter at
the time told me how they had labored in terms of ideas, commitment, strategy
and team resources to raise and build The Sun Newspaper brand from
nothing to something. According to them, the former Abia state governor, Dr.
Orji
Uzor Kalu
had initially wanted to start a political newspaper called
“The Republic” and they had gone to see him for an entirely different project
before he convinced them to join him and start the newspaper project. He was
alleged to have promised to give them all the opportunities in the world to
express themselves as he would only sit back and watch from behind. After
persistent persuasion, the two agreed to work for Dr. Kalu but on the
ground that he will allow them to change the vision of the newspaper and make
it a tabloid instead of a political newspaper. They later submitted an idea
audit proposal which Dr. Kalu found interesting and it
was there and then it was agreed that Mike and Dimgba should re-enact
their tabloid journalism prowess which was the bastion of their Weekend
Concord
day’s success.

One of late Dimgba Igwe’s works on feature writting Co-authored by his twin brother, Mike Awoyinfa


The real truth was that Mike and Dimgba
re-enacted Weekend Concord but name and financier were the only features
that changed. Who gave the name “The Sun” I wouldn’t know but I know who gave
the content and creativity; it was Mike Awoyinfa and Dimgba
Igwe.
And for who gave the finance, it was Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu. But
did Mike
and Dimgba
justify the purpose for their raise? Yes. Capital Y-E-S! As at the time of
their “Sack”, Dimgba told me that they already made a whooping $8.5 million dollars turn-over for the
media company. In fact the previous year before their removal, they just bought
three printing machines and installed them at three locations in Nigeria
including Aba in Abia state and Abuja the Federal Capital territory.
I have forgotten the third place they called but truth was that the two felt
they made success of the brand in seven good years and they couldn’t just fathom
why Dr.
Orji Uzor Kalu
will fire them without review.  They also claimed that majority of the key
executives in the organization are their old boys at Weekend Concord; one of
them is the Present MD of the publishing house, Mr. Femi Adesina who is
equally the President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors. Another one is the
prose master and gifted journalist Mr. Sola Oshunkeye who is now the
Ghana bureau chief of The Sun newspaper. Sola
Oshunkeye
has not stopped crying and shedding deep emotional tears
since Uncle Dimgba died last Saturday September 6th.



Dimgba Igwe shows G D A a copy of their book ‘Nigeria’s 50 Corporate Strategists’
The Godfather Mike Awoyinfa with the G D A in a hearty discussion on how they were pushed out of The Sun Publishing Ltd
The riddle of the baby and the bath
water

The duo
later took their fate with a high level of equanimity despite the anger, the
shocks, the silent lamentations; Mike and Dimgba proceeded into a
new project called Entertainment Express. For Mike Awoyinfa, according to what he
told me, his biggest regret in life was to have trusted people and work for
people at his early age in life. That assertion was like a life lesson nugget
for me as well.  They both promised to
make their new project a reality of their own journalistic expression. The
second chapter of their life was the one that dealt with writing books; the two
went into writing of biographies for elites.



Late Dimgba Igwe’s flagship book on How to write Successful articles

Two of the elites they wrote about
were veteran journalist and former Ogun state governor, Aremo Olusegun Osoba and
business mogul and rich man, Otunba (Dr.) Mike Adenuga Jnr. While
they succeeded with the Osoba project which was launched with lots of fanfare
in Lagos sometimes in 2011, they met a brick wall with the Mike Adenuga project as
they were hounded into silence not to publish the book after a painstaking
effort that lasted three years of ground research. This equally is one of the
deep pain that Dimgba Igwe will take to his grave as he and his research
partner never had a good tale to tell about the outcome of their Mike
Adenuga
book project which they spoke so passionately about before the
project was shot down by no other person than the billionaire business man
himself for reasons best known to himself and his men. Mike and Dimgba
had a very sore and sad experience with the Mike Adenuga project and
the story could only be good for another day. 

The late Dimgba Igwe with the GDA inside Mike Awoyinfa’s Library

For their
old baby The Sun, they were caught in between the devil and the deep
blue sea as their friend and former boss (Boss for life according to Mike
Awoyinfa) Dr. Orji Kalu offered to give them a 5% share holding which
they were entitled to at the end of every annual budgeting. They were also to
keep their columns running, one on Tuesday (Dimgba) and the other on Saturday
(Mike); it was a well choreographed strategy by the master strategist Dr.
Orji Uzor
Kalu to keep both Mike and Dimgba’s fans glued to
the newspaper without recourse to the managerial exit.  In the eyes of Mike, it was something beyond
the anger of the moment as Mike felt ‘”You can’t because you are angry throw
the baby off with the bath water. The Sun is our baby and we are still
affectionate with the brand. Our children (Femi Adesina and co) are the ones in
charge and we still feel a sense of pride that what we created is still there
living after us. I can’t be angry with the brand even though we never liked the
way we were asked to go but The Sun still remains our baby and
we must protect the baby irrespective of the circumstance of life” To Dimgba,
it was almost the same perception “Nobody will love to be treated that way; not
after you have given the best in terms of brand value, creative expertise and
management strategy that worked and brought the kind of result and attention The
Sun
got within a very short time.

The GDA & Dimgba Igwe in the heat of the interview

Majority of newspapers didn’t achieve
such feat within such a short span. We have (News) papers that came with
several billions of naira yet they died after few editions but in our own case,
the brand triumphed within two years and the only thing that could have
guaranteed that was our excellent niche which is tabloid journalism. We feel
proud to say the only thing that kept The Sun brand standing was talent
and distinctive branding that we offered. That is what I and Mike
brought to the table. We are proud that even though we are asked to go away,
the brand still has our imprint on it”. However, the irony of their exit was
the decision of Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu to appoint Dimgba Igwe who was a
junior executive to Mike Awoyinfa when the later was Managing
Director as the Vice Chairman of The Sun publishing, a position which
automatically makes Dimgba the next in line after Dr. Orji Kalu while he
made Mike
Awoyinfa
who was Dimgba’s senior as MD an ordinary director. Others who
are directors alongside Mike Awoyinfa are Tony
Onyima
who is now a commissioner in Anambra state, South Eastern
Nigeria. Tony Onyima succeeded Mike Awoyinfa as MD of the
publishing house. Although the positioning of Dimgba Igwe as Vice
President of The Sun Publishing Ltd whiles his brotherly partner and
business friend held a junior position of a director is one discretion that has
raised a lot of criticism in the background.

(Watch out for “The Many Secret sides of Mike Awoyinfa by Dimgba Igwe” coming up on this
blog soon
)

1 COMMENT

  1. What a fantastic interview; i thoroughly enjoyed it but i want you to make public the Orji Uzor Kalu's own reaction to why he removed them from The Sun.

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