It is always very painful when you lose a friend. It is just mind boggling to imagine that Ota Ogefere is no more. A quintessential public relations and advertising professional and a jolly good fellow.
Ota was kind, understanding and generous with his time and counsel. I first met him in the 90s while I was rounding up my studies at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
He was a regular fixture in my big sister’s (Sister Ndidi Akpeneye) home in Bode Thomas, Surulere-Lagos where I had always spent most of the ASUU strikes induced holidays.
He was friends with my sister’s brother-in-laws Dr. Ogaga Omajuwa and Chief Glory Ekakite. They are all from Abraka, though Ota’s mother is from Obiaruku and he speaks not only Urhobo but fluent in my native Ukwuani language.
Ota had graduated from the University of Ibadan (UI) and began a brilliant career in Dr. Biodun Shobanjo’s Insight Communications, the then Nigeria’s lead advertising agency.
Always impeccably dressed, Ota was all the time looking debonair in his immaculate suit and ties. He was very knowledgeable about any issue under the sun. As a student then, I so admired Ota that he was all that I had hoped to become.
When I finished my youth service at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) and was bothering him about helping me with a job placement at Insight Communications, he felt that with my background in International Relations, that I will do better to pursue a career related to that field.
He was so happy with me when my career took off as a Foreign Affairs reporter with some of Nigeria’s then leading newspapers.
Over the years we have remained in contact. In 2019 I received a surprise call from him that he was on vacation with his wife and children in Orlando, Florida. He wanted to know if I was stateside so that he could visit with me in Atlanta on their way back to Nigeria. Unfortunately, I was also on vacation with my family in Dubai.
He was excited to hear we were in Dubai in the very same hotel he had stayed with his family the previous year. That was the last time we talked only to be informed he passed on last week in Lagos after a brief illness. May his sweet gentle soul rest in peace and his memories remain a blessing.
Kingsley Dike, former Foreign Affairs Reporter with The Guardian Newspapers and retired United States Army Intelligence Analyst wrote from Atlanta, Georgia USA