The death of Malam Wada Maida has largely orphaned Nigeria’s credible news organization, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). His demise in Abuja on Monday marked the end of an era for Africa’s biggest news agency and largest news content provider.
Coming barely a month after the death of fellow Katsina-born newspaper publisher, Ismaila Isa Funtua, the exit of the Chairman of Board of Directors of NAN has again robbed the country’s media space of another old horse.
As one of the pioneer NAN editors, Maida joined others in nursing the Agency right from infancy and rose to become its Editor-in-Chief, Managing Director and Chairman, Board of Directors, all in a generation.
To his credit, Maida, at the helm as managing director, ensured the Agency got a befitting six-story NAN headquarters edifice sitting majestically in Abuja’s central area. He could have squandered the funds as some did during those periods of impunity.
Throughout our dealings as my direct boss for seven years as NAN Foreign Correspondent in South Africa, Maida was one of the few people I knew who were not changed by position, power, and money.
In spite of his privileged access to power all his life, he maintained his cheer and candor and remained humble till death.
Our first personal encounter was in 1989 when my letter of invitation for the NAN job interview arrived by post, a day after the exercise had been concluded. On meeting him at NAN office in Iganmu, Lagos, Maida, then Editor-in-Chief, promptly rescheduled for me another written test and interview that earned me a career in NAN till date.
Another major attribute of his was his constant reminder that we should always think about life after service.
“When I hosted NAN Foreign Correspondents’ Conference in 2001 in Johannesburg, he re-emphasized this. Being a former NAN Western Europe correspondent himself, Maida admonished those of us privileged to serve as correspondents in the Agencies’ four bureaus in London, Abidjan, Johannesburg, and New York not to get carried away by the allure of the office.
A compassionate leader and media entrepreneur, Maida, as NAN boss, never toyed with the welfare of staff. According to him “the worst treatment an employer can give to his or her employee, especially the low-income earners, is to withhold their pay during festivities.
“This is bad because it will force their children to go and beg for food in neighbors’ houses. Any employer, who does that will certainly receive due punishment from God.”
He was humility personified. His life was a lesson in forbearance, dedication, diligence, integrity, and simplicity. He gave his all to NAN.
May Almighty Allah that he served all his life forgives his shortcomings, reward his noble deeds, and grant him Aljanna fidaous.