Benue born, barrier-breaking journalist, Nats Onoja Agbo, is dead. Intervention can confirm that he died after midday in Lagos, Nigeria Thursday, June 20th, 2019. He was 62 years old. He has been down, with friends, governors and others raising funds for a surgical operation that was expected to have restored his system. It has been learnt that the ailment took a dreary turn recently, details of which are not available immediately.
Nats, as he is fondly called by friends and colleagues, has been a remarkable journalist, a former editor of the Benue State owned The Voice. It was from there he ended up at Newswatch where he was an award-winning reporter. Those who worked closely with him then speak of a year he was promoted twice. According to one of them, Nats was the type of reporter who submitted four stories where others were submitting one or, at most, two. He loved the glamour of the journalist and was thus the sort of reporter any editor would wish to have.
But Nats was also a journal-analyst in his combination of reporting with academic essays, published mainly in academia. edu, the online free access academic space. One of his major works is Ogiri Oko Portrait of a King. Chief Ogiri Oko was the mercurial pioneer Och’Idoma of Idoma.
If Nats were a politician, he was a very likely first governor of Benue State of Idoma identity because he was aloof of intrigue and no one could ever seriously complain that he planned against anyone. He was rather the joke-throwing and easy going type. His death is, therefore, the passage of an icon in his own right, coming as he was from a deprived region of the old Benue Plateau State and yet, making it to obtaining a First Degree in History and Archeology from a First generation Nigerian university – the University of Nigeria Nsukka – when Nigerian universities were still very tough.
His death brings to five the number of senior journalists from the state who have died from one ailment or the other in the last decade and half. Amongst them are Chris Aba, hard running editor of The Voice on Sunday; Simon Tor Melabu, the pioneer editor of Benue Community Concord who died in 2008; Mr. Achinga Igyuse, ace Government House, Makurdi photographer; Mr. Vihinga Gberikon; one of the most capable production editors of The Voice; Mr. Hyacinth Ede; the perfect communal leader and above all, Chief David Atta, former Chief Press Secretary to late General Sani Abacha.