In less than a minute ago, I stepped on to the 81st Rung of the Ladder of Life. The journey to now started on April 27, 1939 when I dropped from my Mother’s Womb. You will get the full story from my Biographer, Andrew Okwilagwe, Professor of Library, IT and Archival Studies of the University of Ibadan.
After about seven years of research, he published a 590-paged book he titled “Prince Tony Momoh A National Bibliotherapist & Cultural Engineer”. I didn’t know what Bibliotherapist meant but they said I was Africa’s foremost bibliotherapist. What I recall in proof of the claim is that in my whole career as a journalist between 1962 and 1990, I did not use a curse word and was never invited by the Police!
Why? Because I learned early enough in my life that here and the hereafter, you will account for every thing you did during your sojourn on earth. The doing is with your hands through activity, your mouth through the spoken word, and your brain through thinking!
The Book under reference was presented at the biggest ceremony organised to celebrate my birthday. I was 70!
My Friend Sam Amuka Pemu, Publisher of the Vanguard titles came to my Bush Street Okupe Estate Residence and invited my Wife Jane to be witness to the message he brought.
” Tony”, Sam said. “Die”. “Jane, tell your your Husband to die!’ .
Sam said the event of the previous day at the National Theatre Iganmu, Lagos could never be equalled or beaten. It was chaired by Gen Yakubu Gowon. Two other former heads of State, Gen Muhammadu Buhari and Chief Earnest Sonekan were also there.
Many of my former Colleagues in IBB’s government were there. So also were the media leadership in Print, Eectronic, Advertising and Public Pelations.
The National Troupe performed and some of Nigeria’s foremost events hosts-Bisi Olatilo, Ali Baba, Soni Irabor and Patrick Doyle- compered. AIT covered the event live!
To crown it all, four books were presented, three by me and one on me. They were reviewed by the Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Guardian, Dr Reuben Abati and Festus Unuigbe.
The one on me is the one anchored by Prof Okwilagwe while the three by me were the first two volumes of Democracy Watch, A Monitor’s Diary, 1999 to 2008, and Tony Momoh’s Spiritual Essays.
The third volume of Democracy Watch completed my monitoring of governance in pursuance of the media’s role to hold government accountable to the people, a chore I performed through weekly publications in Sunday Vanguard every week for 12 years under the title Point if Order.
You see how big the outing was when I was 70 and why Sam asked me to die when the ovation was loudest!
I decided the last birthday I would celebrate before my departure to where I came from on April 27, 1939 would be my70th which was eleven years ago.
Many activities have taken place since that outing at 70! I remain eternally grateful to Prof Okwilagwe for promoting a name he says anchors many things to go for!
For instance when I was 78 he gave out 1,000 copies of his four volume Nigeriana Stirling-Horden Encyclopaedia of Mass Media & Communication to all university libraries in Nigeria, all editors in Nigeria and all media houses in Nigeria plus a copy of my biography he wrote, all in the name of Tony Momoh Foundation!
And last year when I clocked 80 , my children wanted to mark it and I told them, “Give my wife and I business class tickets to Dubai for a week. I will do a comprehensive medical check-up…” My wife and I were at Radisson Blue where the hotel brought flowers and cakes to mark our 50 years of marriage on April 24 and my 80th birthday on April 27. I did the medicals at the American Hospital in Dubai.
Yes, at the appropriate time, I will and you will, whether you like it or not, return to where we came from. We are told that we are in this world but not of this world. The Holy Quran tells us , “To us you shall return…
Unfortunately, between the time we come and the time we leave, we imbibe teachings that lead upwards to where we came from or downwards to the depths. The choice is ours, to choose life or death.
Fellow travellers on the Path, I choose life and that is that I know my home is not this earth, it is up there in Paradise, not down there in hell!
Knowing that Paradise and Hell are places outside this earth, it is obvious that it is what I do, that is, my actions, my speech and my thoughts, that will determine where I go.
There is no doubt therefore that you must go to where you merit, that is you must travel there!
Question: How do you embark on a journey you must willy nilly undertake if you REST IN PEACE?
My co-travellers on Train Station Earth, when I go, as my brother Hafiz Momoh left on April 25, don’t curse me by praying for me to rest in peace. Wish me a smoothened journey to my home in Paradise which all of us here left aeons ago to this part of God’s wonderful Creation where we can attend the school of life. The whole of this Creation is on the move and there is no stopping…
From the very day I dropped from my Mother’s Womb, I was given a Boarding Pass to return to where I came from. So were you.
On Rung 81 of the Ladder of Life on which I now perch or on the Rung you are on, the time to board to return to base ticks. I and we all await the call to account.
Until the call to board comes wish me Happy Birthday. Thank you.