Editor's note: In this article, an Abuja-based social commentator, Bernard Balogun (BenPino), writes about the positive impacts being made by a prominent communication teacher, broadcaster par excellence, Tom Adaba, in Nigeria's academic and media space as he joins the octogenarian club.
He currently goes by the sobriquet name, "But For God" and coincidentally, that is the title of his book that appropriately reminisces or captures the life of the celebrant.
As Prof celebrates his 80th birthday on July 2, 2021, with a thanksgiving mass, it is only proper to remind ourselves of some significant signposts in his life, beginning from his birth. As a guide, let us rely on the book - But For God.
The strange thing about his birth was that his name preceded his birth. And I shall explain.
The Parish priest of Christ the King Catholic Church in Okene at the time, Rev Fr Thomas Duffy, an Irish priest of the Missionary Society of Africa (SMA) congregation had gone to commiserate with mama Mary Oniya Adaba, the celebrant's mom, on the death of her third infant child because she was devastated by this occurrence.
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As Rev Fr Duffy was departing the house, he left a consolatory prophecy. Fr Duffy said, "the next child would be a male and should be named after him."
Behold months later a male child was indeed born into the home of Pa Joseph Abara Adaba. And so on the seventh day of delivery, in line with the Catholic Church tradition, the child was named and baptized Aaze Thomas. The name Aaze in Ebira language, concisely means "if they allow....him to live" and of course, Thomas was in honour of Rev Fr Thomas Duffy's prophecy.
That child, who was named Aaze Thomas (popularly known as Tom Adaba in the media) became a renowned personality, assuming many "firsts" in his numerous national assignments.
Permit me to add this important piece of information. His amiable and unassuming wife of close to 56years also bears Aaze, Lady Aaze Theresa Adaba, meaning they both have the same initials - ATA.
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Back to specifics. He left Ahmadu Bello University's lecturing job for the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Jos. He was a pioneering staff of the first television station in Nigeria to transmit in colour - the Benue/Plateau Television. The first principal of NTA-TV college in Jos.
The importance of that institution cannot be over-emphasized in moulding and training of high calibre manpower for the television industry, not only in Nigeria but also in the African continent. First to earn a Ph.D. in Mass Communication from the University of Jos.
Pioneer director-general of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), a commission that midwives the deregulation and opening up of the broadcast space for private investors' participation. Just as his birth came with strangeness, so was his appointment as the Director General (DG) of the NBC.
He was initially slated for retrenchment by the management of the NTA. His name was actually number one on the list. The unpleasant news was leaked to him. Usually, people in such a dilemma would look for influential persons to intervene for them. Not Prof Tom Adaba.
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Rather he confidently turned his attention to God, saying "May Thy Will be Done" he challenged God. No one with a sincere heart ever challenges God and ever goes unheeded. God was provoked by that sincere challenge.
A man who was penciled for retrenchment was consequently appointed, by divine intervention, the helmsman of the nascent NBC, an institution to midwife, in fact, regulate the functions of the NTA network, an institution whose management was his direct superiors. By this appointment, the role had automatically changed.
He became their boss regulating their functions not only in the NTA but also all states' television stations, as well as all private radio and television ownership. It can only be God's doing. Perhaps, it is important to add.
During his tenure as DG at the NBC, he scrupulously built and developed the establishment of new private radio and television stations, side by side, the old government-owned broadcast stations for seven years.
The NBC as an institution has brilliantly outlived him. It was during his tenure, he assisted in setting up some West African and South African broadcasting regulatory bodies, an equivalent of Nigeria's NBC.
The celebrant has authored and co-authored many books in the field of Mass Communication, attended and delivered numerous lectures in journalism and journalism practices and other sundry national discourse. In fact, Prof. Adaba remains a role model to many Nigerians, especially in the broadcasting industry.
Prof. Adaba was the first Nigerian between 1988-1992 to be honoured as the president of the African Council for Communication Education (ACCE) based in Nairobi. ACCE is one of the biggest communication bodies in the continent of Africa.
This continental body was established in 1979. During his presidency of this Council, Prof Adaba deplored his talent and connection within the media to elevate and enhance profoundly the position of the Council to greater heights.
Prof. Adaba is a committed, indeed a consummate planner and articulate administrator. For Prof, there is no half measure in anything he embarks on. It is perhaps for this reason that the Elders-in-Council in Ebiraland considered him worthy for the chieftaincy title of Ohi Etohueyi of Ebiraland, meaning - "The beacon of light in Ebiraland."
It is also in recognition of his exemplary selfless service not only to the Church but also to humanity that sometime in December 2020, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, considered him and few men and women of the Metropolitan of Abuja Archdiocese worthy to be awarded the prestigious title of Papal Knight of St Gregory the Great.
Before this, he was the Grand Knight of the Knight of St Mulumba, Maitama Subcouncil. Prof takes delight in doing God's work without looking back. Do not say l told you. I am reliably informed he took after his dad, Pa Joseph Abara Adaba of blessed and unforgettable memory.
In retirement, Prof Adaba is still active and currently the chairman/CEO of Trim Communications Ltd, a communications consultancy outfit, which is into diverse activities including but not limited to manpower development; training of media personnel; construction of functional radio, television stations; production of still and motion documentaries, etc
To mark and celebrate this significant milestone, a Zoom webinar titled ‘But For God’ a conversation with Prof. Adaba about his rich legacy of life, faith, family, service and leadership will hold. The date is Wednesday, June 30, 2021. Time 2:00 pm - 4.00 pm (West Central Africa Time).
This is strictly by registering. You will receive a confirmation via email containing information about joining this scheduled meeting. If you wish to participate in this webinar please send a message to 08039919126. And in case you desire copies of Prof .Tom Adaba's autobiography, contact Lola on 0703.850.6788.
Happy 80th birthday to Professor Aaze Thomas Adaba, OON, KSM, KSGG and wishing you God's choicest blessings always. Bernard Balogun (BenPino) writes from Wuse District - 0803.787.9275