By Jude Atupulazi
Life has one inevitability and that is the fact that anything with a beginning will have an end. Initially while the fun goes on, it seems as though an end will never come. But as sure as night will succeed day, the end finally creeps up on you and that is that. Sometimes such an end leads to a point of no return (death) and at times too it is nothing permanent (like going on transfer).
Yet, any end or ending is fraught with sadness, especially if the memories shared are good. And so it is that we at Fides are bidding three of our priests goodbye as they venture into pastures new. They are Rev Fr Dr Martin Anusi (Director); Rev Fr Coach Obinna Dike (Deputy Director 1); and Rev Fr Fidelis Odunukwe (Deputy Director 111). These three are among those affected by the annual posting of priests to new places.
While Fr Odunukwe can be said to still be a bit new to Fides, having spent the shortest time among the three, the story isn’t same with Fr Martin (as we all call him) and Fr Obi (as we call Obinna Dike). Yet I will dwell briefly on Fr Odunukwe, a.k.a. Fr Semper.
Fr Semper has a very quiet demeanour. He is someone that will be there and yet you’ll be looking for him. In fact it wasn’t long that I thought he had travelled, not knowing he was very much around.
Blessed with youngish good looks, he is a very friendly and accommodating fellow but it is something you can only find out if you come close to him. I often joke with him to exchange cars with me for a weekend as his car is quite cool. Each time he will tell me to take it if I am ready and I know he will do it if I really press for it.
It was just a matter of days when the two of us shared our experiences in life before news came that he was among those who would be leaving us at Fides. For sure, I will miss our jocularity and I can only wish him well as he confronts his future.
And now to Fr Obinna Dike. This man is like a meteor. He quickly appears and disappears. On occasions when he appears, he lightens up the whole place with his ready charm which oozes naturally. He is the darling of everybody and one with whom everybody feels at home.
But he is always very busy as he is deeply engaged in his passion for discovering young football talents, being that he runs a soccer academy (DOSAD). But despite his busy schedule which has taken him away from the newsroom where he is supposed to be working with me, he still finds time to attend to any pressing issue in the editorial department.
He is a man with a rare gift of understanding situations in a flash. He is also a man you can pour your problems on and expect him to give you immediate succor. He is a man who takes one look at you and quickly decodes whether you are down spirited or not.
Above all, he is the man who brought me to Fides. I remember how he worried me each time we met then at Government House, Awka, telling me I should join them at Fides. I finally caved in and, boy oh boy! What an experience it’s been! Through Fides I’ve been able to reach out in different ways to different people but that is a story for another day.
Fr Obi is like ”NEPA” light. There is joy when it comes on and sadness when it goes off. I will miss the football analyses we do before and after matches. He is a very good analyst and often I wonder why he is not into full time coaching. Mind you, he was once a coach, as well as a referee. A man of many parts? You gerrit, as they say. But the fact which serves as a soothing balm to me is that he will be in my town.
Perhaps, on the rare occasions he may be at home, I’ll steal in to grab his food. At least he knows how much I love good food. I hope his parish priest is reading this so that he ”will not look at me one kind” if he sees me sharing or eating Fr Obi’s food alone.
There is no doubt that ”NEPA has taken light at Fides” with Fr Obi’s latest posting.
What of Fr Martin? We call him the Digital Director. He is a very cerebral priest and respected among his peers. He is a stickler for correctness and a perfectionist. He is a great guy to have around, who, like Fr Obi, understands life. He is a great manager of men and resources and even in the toughest of times has been able to keep Fides afloat.
You would immediately know that Fr Martin is around by his hearty laughter. He jokes with the high and lowly at the office but still knows when and how to draw the line, a trait many at the office have described as a mark of a great leader.
Fr Martin is a motivator-in-chief who has through some innovative measures been able to bring the best out of many of his staff members, past and present. One of such is the introduction of Fides Best Reporter of the Month, FiBROM Awards. This has pushed many a reporter to exceed their limits in a bid to emerge the winner every month and go home with an envelope.
Fr Martin will also often reward some staff members financially after noticing how hard they work. This always comes as a surprise to them. I remember the case of two typesetters who were each given ten thousand Naira for their diligence. They were over the moon that day. Even my humble self has benefitted a few times from such magnanimity.
That Fides has become the brand it is today is due largely to the Midas Touch of Fr Martin. It has seen Fides grow from just a newspaper outfit to having a digital studio and a farm.
Fides is one big, happy family; a work place like no other where everyone works with a smile; yet makes maximal input; all as a result of the enabling environment emplaced by Fr Martin and his ”gang”. Some of us have promised to be around when he celebrates his first Mass at his new post.
Sadly Fr Martin is leaving with two others at a time we need them most but that is the way of life. Luckily, we still have a certain Fr Pio Anthony Okafor who in his quiet but effective way has shown himself as a capable hand. He held the forte when Fr Martin was away on a two-month holiday abroad.
The ”loss” of these three priests will be massive to us and will surely take some time to heal. Even now, there is this feeling of a sense of sadness in the Fides environment
In the absence of Fr Martin is the incoming Director, Rev Fr Robert Anagboso. He is coming from St Michael’s Parish, Neni, a place Fr Martin will be going to in a swap arrangement. Fr Anagboso, another Communications expert like Fr Martin, was with us at the editorial meeting last Monday to acquaint himself with the processes at Fides.
We welcome him with open arms and will cooperate maximally with him to make his first months easier. But hopefully he will understand if some of us still look forlorn like the apostles did in the first few days after Jesus left them. It is only natural to feel so when you suddenly realize you are going to be without people you have gotten used to. Indeed, no two persons are the same and each personality brings something different.
We have been lucky at Fides to have had these three men of God, who like the biblical gods, came down to us in the likeness of men. Many times, they made us forget that they were priests and related with us as regular folks. Perhaps, this is what evangelism should be like as it is easier to pass messages when the receivers see you as one of them.
But, alas, the time has come for a reality check which is that our friends will be leaving us for pastures new. So sad to say goodbye but we must. Thank God for the sweet memories we shared. May God be with them in their future endeavours.
Goodbye Padres Martin, Obinna and Semper; welcome Padre Anagboso.