Former NAN MD, Mgbemena, dies in U.S.

A former Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Nwabu Mgbemena, is dead.

Mr. Mgbemena, 71, died of cancer on April 22 in New Jersey, United States of America.

His close associate, Tony Idigo, confirmed the death on Sunday in a telephone interview.

Mgbemena was one of the pioneer editors of NAN, where he rose to serve as managing director for two terms from January, 1985 to January, 1994.

He took over as Chief Executive Officer from Olufemi Adefela, who was then the General Manager of the agency.

Mgbemena attended Dennis Memorial Grammar School, Onitsha and later proceeded to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in journalism.

He became a lecturer at UNN, where he rose to become a senior lecturer at the Department of Journalism, which was later renamed Department of Mass Communication.

Mgbemena also obtained a masters degree from the Syracuse University in New York as well as a doctorate from the Texas Southern University in Houston, U.S.

After his teaching stint at UNN, he joined NAN as senior editor when the agency was established by the Federal Government in 1978.

He was one of the “original nine editors” employed at the take-off of NAN. The others are Olufemi Adefela, Sani Sambo, Wada Maida, Dave Igiewe, Godwin Omole, Toye Olofintuyi, Willie Bozimo and Chukwura Ezebube.

Expressing his grief over the passing of his bosom friend, Idigo said that Mgbemena’s era at NAN marked a foray into rural reporting at NAN, with the opening of district offices at Ile-Ife and Nsukka to boost grassroots coverage.

Idigo recalled that the deceased was at one time chairman of a pool of news agencies in West Africa with headquarters in Cotonou, Benin Republic, through which regional news agency journalism was developed in the sub-region.

He also recalled that Mgbemena served as one of the advisers on media and communication to Chief Jim Nwobodo during his tenure as the governor of old Anambra State.

Wada Maida, who took over office from Mgbemena, described him as a good administrator who carried his colleagues along in taking major decisions.

“As a journalist and journalism teacher, he used his experience to consolidate the achievements of the first management of the News Agency of Nigeria.

“I miss a colleague, with whom I travelled the same route in NAN. Dr Nwabu Mgbemena and I joined NAN as pioneer staff, rising to head the Editorial Department and later becoming managing directors of the agency.

“May his soul rest in peace,” Mr. Maida said.

Mgbemena is survived by wife, Faustina; daughter, Nkiru, and three sons.

Nkiru said that her father’s remains would be brought to his country home in Obosi, Anambra State at a later date.