Buhari Grieves As Ally, Tony Momoh Dies; Osoba, Others Mourn Media Doyen

  • Nigeria Has Lost A Consummate Journalist — Osoba
  • Sanwo-Olu: Momoh’s Passage, A Colossal Loss To Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed grief at the passing of his longtime ally, media doyen, political loyalist and former Minister of Information and Culture, Prince Tony Momoh.

Prince Momoh died at the age of 81 on Monday. He reportedly died at a private hospital in Abuja.

President Buhari said Momoh stood with him through thick and thin, adding: “His brand of loyalty is very rare in the politics of today. I will greatly miss him.”

The President recalled that as Chairman, Media and Publicity of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) Campaign Organisation in the 2003 and 2007 elections as well as Chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the late Auchi Prince contributed in no small measure to the growth and strengthening of the organizations, leading to the eventual formation of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

President Buhari commiserated with the media industry on the loss of a veteran who put in a lot to raise the bar of the profession in various ways as an editor, manager, administrator, President and Trustee of the Guild of Editors, urging them to sustain his legacies.

While also condoling with the Auchi Kingdom, the government and people of Edo State on this great loss, the President prayed that God will grant the departed eternal rest and comfort family, friends and political associates in this period of grief.

Also, former governor of Ogun state, Chief Olusegun Osoba on Monday said Nigeria has lost a consummate journalist with the death of Prince Momoh.

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Momoh, a former Editor and General Manager of Daily Times died in Abuja on Monday.

Osoba in his tribute said the late Momoh was  a serious- minded journalist and a powerful member of the intellectuals in the media.

“We have lost a consummate journalist. He was a strong and powerful member of the intellectuals in the media. Great Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe gave him the sobriquet of “Lawyer Journalist” and he lived up to the nickname”.

“Serious-minded, deep in his thoughts and writings, through which he left an indelible mark in the media world.  God bless his soul”

Momoh started his journalism career as a sub-editor at the Daily Times in October 1962, rising steadily through the ranks to become Editor and deputy general manager (June 1976 – May 1980).

In June 1979, during the lead-up to the transition from military to civilian rule at the start of the Second Nigerian Republic, Momoh said of the five presidential candidates: “They are all the same … It’s going to turn into a personality contest”.

In 1981 the Senate led by Joseph Wayas summoned Momoh for contempt. This caused a major legal battle in which Momoh successfully argued that as a journalist he was empowered by the constitution to hold government accountable at all times.

In Tony Momoh v. Speaker, House of Representatives (1982) it was held that a person had the right to refuse to disclose their source of information. However, in Senate v. Tony Momoh (1983) the Court of Appeals held that the press is not a fourth arm of government. A newspaper publisher has no special immunity and the press can be ordered to disclose its sources in some cases.

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Momoh was general manager of the Times from June 1984 to Sept 1986.

Momoh, the Yerima of Auchi Kingdom, was Minister of Information and Culture (1986–1990) during the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida.

Momoh was born on 27 April, 1939 in Auchi, Edo State. He was the 165th child of King Momoh I of Auchi. He attended Government School Auchi (1949–1954) and Anglican School Okpe (1954). Momoh was Pupil Teacher at the Anglican School, Auchi (January–December 1955) and Headmaster at the Anglican School, Ubuneke, Ivbiaro, Owan Local Government (January 1958 – December 1959).

He went to the Provincial Teachers Training College, Abudu, Edo State and Government Teachers College, Abraka in Western Region (1960–1961).

Later, while working at the Daily Times or on sabbatical, he attended the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (September 1964 – October 1966) where he earned a degree in Mass communication, and then the University of Lagos where he studied Law. He attended the Nigerian Law School, Lagos (October 1974 – May 1975), and was called to the bar in June 1975.

He was Chairman of the board of directors of Nigerian Airways from 1991 to 1993.

He was appointed a Member of the Edo State Economic Advisory Committee in 1991, and a member of the Nigerian Press Council in December 1992.

In January 2011 Momoh was appointed Chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in the lead-up to the April 2011 national elections, with Buba Galadima appointed the National Secretary.

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Reacting to his passage, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-olu described the death of the former Minister of Information and Culture Minister, Momoh, as a colossal loss to Nigeria and the ruling party APC.

Governor Sanwo-olu in a condolence message signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Gboyega Akosile, on Monday, said the death of the elder statesman, politician and journalist was painful and heartbreaking.

Sanwo-olu said the country will sorely miss the rich experience and knowledge of the former Daily Times Editor and ex-National Chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), especially his contributions to national issues through politics and his editorial contents.

He said: “The death of Prince Tony Momoh is a great loss to Nigeria. The late Momoh made lots of positive impact in Nigeria during his life time as a journalist, media manager, lawyer, politician and elder statesman.

“As Minister of Information and Culture between 1986 and 1990 during the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida, Prince Momoh served his nation meritoriously.

“As a democrat, he played active roles in the formation of various political platforms at the transition stage of Nigeria from military dictatorship to civilian rule.

“I sympathise with President Muhammadu Buhari, the entire leadership and members of our party.

I also commiserate with Government and people of Edo State on the loss of their illustrious son.

“I pray that God will grant him eternal rest and give the immediate family and friends the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”

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