Untold story of my Abuja Friend

Tope Brown and Gbenga Dan Asabe ready for a Night-Out in Abuja

Yeah,
memories of my short trip to the Federal Capital City of Abuja between Monday December 19th and Friday December
23rd still lingers. It is a very short but interesting trip to the
Nigerian capital city. Whenever I embark on such trips, the intentions are
always clear; to interview personalities, sight-see and enjoy the mood of the
moment.
Within three
days of my arrival in Abuja, I
interviewed some dignitaries top among which are a former Minister of Science
of Technology, Major General (Dr.) Sam Momah; Abuja city lawyer and former
National Secretary of Nigeria’s Labor Party, Barrister (Dr.) Kayode Ajulo and Presidential Spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina (S.A. Media &
Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari) just to mention a few.

Another
thing that comes with such August trips are the enormous challenges attached,
which ranges from chasing celebrities to meeting, interviewing and transcribing
such interviews for publication. The task could be very damning but, hey, I
enjoy it all. I soak my challenges with the pleasure of work.

Brown & GDA


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However, one
guy I don’t joke with on my trips to
Abuja
is my buddy for life, Dr. Temitope Olowoyeye aka Tope
Brown
. Oh, you wonder why I gave him the ‘Doctor’ nomenclature. Well,
he is a ‘Doctor of Celebrity Photography’.

Tope Brown….The Celebrity Photo Journalist

 Tope Brown is former Ovation International Magazine’s Bureau Chief and Chief
Photographer in Abuja. He is what you
could term ‘the boy up north’.
Tope is today Senate President Dr.
Bukola Saraki’s
Chief Photographer but that has not really broken our
friendship and fellowship, which started more than a decade ago. With Tope, there is no dull moment; he is the
Jerry
while I am the Tom (Tom & Jerry). While I
cannot handle a camera to shoot a good photograph, Tope too, cannot hold a biro to script down a line the way I do
with my celebrity reporting.

Tope Brown of TBS Records with GDA of Asabeafrika

We are miles apart in our various gifts and career
choice. He is a photo journalist and I, a blogger-journalist.  However, we speak the same language of fun,
laughter and zeal for work and pleasure. Yeah, Tope is a Lady’s man but I wouldn’t know if I am.

My Path and Tope’s crossed many years ago in the
city of Lagos while he was covering Lagos society events for Ovation Magazine and since then, we have
remained glued to each other like glucose to water. Our encounter spurred so
many revelations. Like me, Tope was
equally raised in the Northern Part of Nigeria by Ijesha—Osun State (Western Nigeria)

Tom & Jerry (Brown & GDA)

born
Parents who domiciled in Kaduna—North
Central
for a long time. So, he speaks the two languages I speak—Hausa & Yoruba.

The GDA and his friend, Tope Brown

For me, I was
born and raised in some parts of the north, discovering myself in Gwarzo and later grew in cities like Tundunwada, Rano, Katchako, Sumaila, Dutse, Birnin Gudu and
later Kar Ka Sara and Sabon Gari in Central Kano.
So, we all share a passion for northern Nigeria and desperately want Nigeria to
be a united nation of tribes, cultures and elements.

Tope Brown & Arab alighting from an aircraft into the City of Kano for a Wedding Bash

I and Tope have equally flown into several
cities like Accra, Lome, Kano and Abuja in search
of celebrity stories. While he hunts with his ever roving machine cameras, I indulge
through my mood, biro and mindset. But what Tope
will get with his camera lenses, I will get with my pen.

Tope on a Jet for some of his numerous assignments up north

To start
with, Tope is the ace of the aces in Ovation Magazine. Up till today, no
Photo Journalist in Ovation has been
able to beat his record in terms of getting the best of northern celebrity
events that dots the magazine with best of pictures, styles and cultural pourt-pouri. Tope Brown is the King of
it all; very cheerful and versatile, spiky and good-humored. He is the guy
every other happy guy will like to be with—a child of grace.

Let’s Go There….

In year
2009, Tope Brown single handedly got the classy and extravagant
wedding ceremony between the then Governor of Bauchi State (North Eastern Nigeria) Isa Yuguda and daughter of
late President
Umar Yar Adua
Nafisat to appear in Ovation
International Magazine
.

Tope Brown watches on as Beatrice signs him out of Bachelorhood

That wedding
which had the cream-de-la-cream of artistes, politicians, diplomats, business
men and society big goons in attendance, brought lots of wealth, fortunes and
good tiding to the Ovation brand.

Chief (Dr.) Dele Momodu brought Michael Effiong to Tope Brown’s Wedding in Abuja

The
carnivals like wedding bash between Isa and Nafisat, gulped 192 pages
of the magazine. It was the dominant event from page 1 to the very last page.
The names of celebrities were endless. The number of artistes that performed
were endless—Lagbaja, Fatai Rolling Dollars, Dan Maraya Jos, Victor Uwaifo,  Ara, D-Banj,
Yosor Ndour and many more from
Nigeria and other parts of the world.
Talking
about statesmen? We had Yakubu Gowon,
Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida, Rilwan Lukman,
Abubakar Rimi and many more.
The GDA & Tope Brown deliberating in the Car
Tope Brown & GDA arrives Royale Restaurant
Tope’s Mercedes Car beams into the night as we head for Royal Restaurant, Abuja
Ex-First
Ladies were uncountable—Mariam Babangida,
Maryam Abacha, Ajoke Murthala Mohammed and more. It was the congregation of the
high and mighty and the soiree took place from Tuesday January 20th
to Saturday January 24th in Abuja, Katsina and Bauchi States respectively.

The GDA & Tope Brown ready for Royal Restaurant, Abuja

That
singular event earned Tope Brown a
spot on the editorial page of the world class Ovation International Magazine. The Publisher of the Magazine
equally gave him what he termed ‘The Publisher’s Prize’ of Five Hundred Thousand Naira.
I wouldn’t know if that prize equally covered Tope’s commission for the entire
one hundred and ninety-two pages project which comes at N650K per page.

Chief Dele Momodu led his Michael Effiong to Tope Brown’s Wedding in Abuja on March 6, 2010

But he
got that commendation of being the one to get the biggest event from the North
in year 2009 and till today, no other photo journalist has earned that
pedigree. In 2008, he also got the exclusive wedding in Kano of Billionaire Aliko
Dangote’s
daughter, Halima to her hubby, Suleiman
Sani Bello
and he equally reeled out the best of the best shots,
capturing celebrities and dignitaries alike in one swell swoop of good
photography.  Tope is king of the lenses;
the King of Celebrity Life style and event photography.

Tope plays with Beatrice’s lips before the World…

 

Now, before
telling you further about my friend, Tope
Brown
, I will love to give a vivid description of his personality.
Tope Brown the King of Abuja is an exuberant and creative event and lifestyle photo
journalist, an alumnus of the University of Lagos
(UNILAG/Mass Communications). Tope is
a very exciting character; with him, there is never a dull moment. It is either
we are talking about ladies or talking about friendship, betrayals and
ambitions.
His raw
talent of knowing how to communicate with the camera and his exciting character
has earned him love and passion from several ladies in Abuja, Kano, Ilorin &
elsewhere. They just die to have Tope shoot their faces, figures and
mood in a photo.  The ladies love Tope to bits.

Tope and wife, Beatrice, all Arsenal Lovers

But the Lord gave him his
perfect bone Beatrice (Nee Emaike) the mother of his two lovely kids, Opemipo
and Oluwatobiloba
in year 2010. They wedded on Saturday March 6th, 2010.  

Why do
ladies love Tope? He has their formula
at his finger tips. Yes, he has enough of their formulas and we close friends
know better. However, he remains very faithful and loyal to his Beatrice (Nee
Emaike) I have never caught him romancing or doing anything funny with any lady
even though ladies love him beyond the blitzkrieg of his camera lights but Tope will never fondle their sacred
parts with his bare hands but rather fondle their emotions with his creative
shots.

Tope ;sacrifices’ wife, Beatrice to Friends on Wedding Day

Tope loves epic assignments and once you
get him one, he rages on with his camera at the speed of a Lion and he extends
his energy in grabbing thousands moods in millions of seconds.
Tope like I earlier stated is a Yoruba boy born and raised in the
Northern part of Nigeria (Kaduna). He speaks impeccable Hausa, and understands the culture and norms of Muslim families.

Our Northern Friend, ARAB

What have we
done together? We have done a lot together. Anytime I am in Kano or any part of Northern Nigeria, Tope
Brown
remains the only magician that can wire me a photo man, especially
if the job is tasking or foggy like we usually have it in this profession. In Kano, we have a Yoruba boy we call ‘Arab’.
He is our sharp man in Kano. I will
tell you the story of ARAB some
other time.

Our Northern Friend, ARAB alighting from an air craft for a top job up north

Arab is from Iwo town in Osun State but he has lived and earned his career for long in Kano, going over two decades.

Let me share
with you one singular assignment Tope Brown helped me secure in year
2009. It was sometime around January or thereabout. I got an interview appointment
with Dr.
Orji Uzor Kalu
, the former Governor of Abia State (Eastern Nigeria)
in Abuja. The way I got the
appointment itself was a miracle but kindly permit me to tell you the story
another day.

Tope Brown with Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, former Governor of Abia State

I was
writing for Business Hallmark Newspaper
which just birthed at the time. The ex-Governor had given me an appointment for
12pm on that particular Tuesday. He was to travel to Guinea Bissau a day before then, but he cancelled the trip because
of my appointment and shifted his trip to Wednesday giving me Tuesday to storm Abuja and interview him. He specially
did that for me because I was observing my editorial meeting in Lagos which we
observe every Monday morning.

The Boys-Men enjoying the Royale Evening at Royal Restaurant, Abuja

But that
Tuesday was going to be a messy porridge for me. Two things were to disrupt my
movement to Abuja; number one was late
approval of funds by my employer for my traveling expenses and two, the
horrible cancel-and-delay tactics of Nigerian Airline operators. I got some
money on my own and I headed to the airport. I booked a Chanchangi Airline ticket for 11 am. I was sure I will be in Abuja
by 12pm and if I am to arrive late for my appointment, it won’t be more than
few minutes and I could always apologize.

The GDA had his meal as Tope Brown looks on

However, I
was wrong. But one thing saved me. Because of the trust I repose in Tope
Brown
, I released the phone number of Dr. Orji Kalu to him,
urging him to go ahead of me and prepare the politician business man for my
arrival and encounter. Tope did exactly that. It became my
saving grace.

Tope Brown with Gbenga Olajobi (Gusman) at Royale Restaurant, Abuja

We were
waiting to board, when the funny management of Chanchangi Airline announced an hour delay in take-off. I thought I
could tolerate that. But I was still trying to make up with the shock when the
airline again postponed our take off to an hour’s time. By that time, it was 1
O’clock. I was already mad.

L-R; Paul Ukpabio, Tope Brown & GDA

 I became super mad when they once again
stretched the delay by another one hour. This time around, my madness was
aggravated to 360 degree. Tope’s phone calls kept hurting my
phone, warning me that the billionaire business man cum politician was waiting
for me and could cancel my appointment if I fail to show up in time. Tope
had already done a photo-shoot for him but the interviewer (Me) was nowhere to
be found and it was terrible. I mean, how can I break such an esteemed appointment
just like that?

Tope Brown serenade the GDA, Paul Ukpabio and Gbenga Olajobi at Royal Restaurant, Abuja

The airline
later boarded us at 3pm and by then; I had interviewed all the angry and
disgruntled passengers whom Chanchangi messed up their
schedule. I later published the story in my column and I think it was one of
the many reasons the then Harold Demuren led NCAA sanctioned
the airline later that year. Imagine me sighting a spider net inside one of the
cabins of the aircraft, very funny.

Paul Ukpabio, Tope Brown, GDA and Gusman (Gbenga Olajobi) at Royale Restaurant, Abuja

I got to
Abuja, very late, though. I got to Dr.
Orji Uzor Kalu’s
Wuse 2 home by 5pm. The man has left. Tope has left. Everybody has left. I only met two aides. They were
very angry at me, but I stayed on until my host returned around 7pm with flock
of aides and visitors. A lot of drama ensued but I might not be able to tell
you the full detail in this article. The story is for another day.

The GDA & Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu….The Opportunity we nearly missed but Tope made a difference

 

However,
after staying and begging him for over three hours, Tope Brown returned to
join me at Dr. Orji Uzor Kau’s house
after dinner (Which I joined him with other VIPs on the high table) and that
night, we jointly begged the Igbere, Abia State born politician cum business
guru to pardon my Chanchangi Airline
induced lateness and he obliged and gave me a fresh appointment the next day.
We made it and the story hit both Ovation
Magazine and Business Hallmark.

Former House of Representatives Chairman of Appropriation Committee, Abdulmumin Jibrin was one of Tope Brown’s Special Guests on his wedding Day

While
I sipped the political side for Business
Hallmark
, I gave Ovation the
lifestyle content. It was a remarkable experience, and Tope balanced the creative equilibrium.

We have
engaged in other creative ventures which yielded mutual benefits. However, Tope
Brown
remains a genius of his trade. He is creative, comical,
interesting and could be so playful as well as hardworking within same stretch
of time. With him, there is no dull moment.

The Ovation Family led by Chief (Dr.) Dele Momodu came for Tope and Beatrice’s Wedding in Abuja, with GDA (R)

During his
wedding ceremony to his beautiful wife, Beatrice Emaike (Now Mrs. Beatrice Olowoyeye),
I was one of his groom’s men and we painted Abuja
pink for the entire week of his wedding soiree.

A friend, GDA & Tope Brown on Tope’s Wedding Day  in Abuja

His publisher and my mentor, Chief (Dr.) Joseph Ayobami Dele Ojutelegan Momodu was in town with his editor, Michael Effiong.

We had the
wedding at The Redeemed Christian Church
of Church
, Central ParishAbuja under the then leadership of Pastor Peter Balogun and
later had an octane reception ceremony at an upscale event center in Abuja.

Senator Dino Melaye was one of the Special Guests at Tope Brown’s Wedding Bash in Abuja

It was his happiest day on earth
as his very peaceful and innovative wife; an Industrial Mathematics graduate of
Delta State University sacked Tope from bachelor’s club of Nigeria
(BCN) and made him a happily married man with two beautiful kids.

Tope was with me at my room 306, Crystal Palace Hotel, Area 11, Garki area of FCT in the evening of
Wednesday 21, and together with few friends like my old time buddies, Gbenga
Olajobi
(Director of Photo library, Babcock University—Ilisan—Remo) and
Paul
Ukpabio
of Paul Ukpabio’s Blog we had some nice moments at an upscale
restaurant (Royal Restaurant) in Garki area of Abuja. Unlike before, Tope
this time sneaked out of his very busy schedule to be with us and the few hours
we spent together was grand. We didn’t drink heavy, but we had pepper soup,
plates of coconut rice, swallows and other palatable meals to bless our
re-union moment.  

Top Hip-Hop Musician, Soule-E sings for Tope and wife, Beatrice on his wedding day

 For details, Tope Brown also runs an
entertainment outfit which has grown into a music label in Abuja known as Tope Brown Studios (TBS) with 3
artistes on contract.

Tope Brown, Nollywood Actor & Arab on Tope’s Wedding Day
For Paul
Ukpabio,
we have equally come a long way. When I was a young Television
Presenter at MITV, Paul Ukpabio was Personal Assistant and later Chief of Staff to
Ovation Magazine Publisher, Dr.
Dele Momodu
and I had the singular honor of railroading him into mainstream
journalism when I handed over his particulars to my friend and big brother, Mr.
Louis Odion
(Ex-Edo State Commissioner for Information &
Strategy) in 2008 when National
Life Newspaper
birthed. Recently, God has equally used me to launch him
into full time blogging and the friendship and mentorship continues.

Tope Brown, Nollywood Actor & the GDA

Tope Brown with Former Minister of Science & Technology, General (Dr.) Sam Momah (CFR)
And for Gbenga
Olajobi
that we fondly call Gusman,
we worked together at National Mirror
Newspaper
years ago and he later became Photo Editor of Business Hallmark Newspaper in 2009
before he was poached by the Moffat Ekoriko led The Moment Newspaper. We all, have
indeed, come a very long way.


    

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