Former Managing Director of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Dame Felicia Oluwaremilekun Oyo, has passed on at the age of 61.
She died Wednesday -11 days to her 62nd birthday – after a protracted battle with a cancer related illness.
In a statement, issued on Thursday, her husband, Mr Vincent Oyo, said she died peacefully in London, where she was recuperating after receiving treatment.
Born on Oct. 12, 1952, Oyo, a seasoned journalist, served as Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to former President Olusegun Obasanjo from 2003 to 2007.
She began her journalism career in 1973 in the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation, now known as the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), as a reporter.
She later joined NAN as a Desk Editor in 1981 and left in 1985 as a Principal Editor, the first woman to attain such a high position in the Agency.
In NAN, she was responsible for editing copies for the General News and Foreign News Bulletin and headed the two desks at different times.
Owing to her professional astuteness, she was put in-charge of the control of news going out of the Agency.
In her role as the Control Editor, she had the responsibility for ensuring the standard for which NAN became known.
“All stories transmitted by the Agency had the stamp of Dame Oyo,’’ the statement said.
She worked in NAN up to 1985 when she left to take up an appointment with Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS) as the Nigerian Bureau Chief.
She later became the Chief of IPS West African Bureau.
Oyo was elected President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and served for two consecutive tenures from 1999 to 2003.
She was the first woman to be so honoured and she had also served first as Secretary of the NGE, the professional body of editors running the country’s media industry.
“As President of the Guild, she set up a functional secretariat which still exists today at the NAN Complex, Iganmu, Lagos by the National Theatre,’’ the statement said.
Oyo was educated at the University of Lagos, where she studied Mass Communication at the Diploma level and graduated with distinction and the best graduating student award.
She held a Master’s Degree in International Relations from the University of Canterbury at Kent and also earned a post-graduate Diploma in International Relations from the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos.
In honour of her patriotism, the former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, appointed her as a member of the 1999 Constitution Drafting Committee.
She is a recipient of the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) national honour.
She has also received many other awards from notable organisations like the National Council of Catholic Women Organisation of Nigeria, Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM), and the Nigerian Institute of Peace Administrators.
“On Jan. 7, 2011, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, imparted Apostolic Blessing on her for the prestigious award of Papal Dame of the Order of St Gregory the Great,’’ the statement said.
Her union with Vincent was blessed with two children, Otome and Okiemuote, and three grandchildren.
A devout Catholic, Oyo was Vice-Chairperson of the Parish Pastoral Council of SS Joachim and Anne of the Catholic Church, Ijegun, Lagos.
Her primary education was at St. James Catholic Primary School in Ilorin and she attended St. Louis Girls Secondary School, Bompai, Kano.