Posted by News Express | 26 June 2021 | 1,371 times
By BERNARD BALOGUN
He currently goes by the sobriquet But for God. And, coincidentally, that is the title of his book that appropriately reminisces or captures the life of the celebrant.
As Prof Tom Adaba celebrates his 80th birthday on Friday July 2, 2021, with a Thanksgiving Mass, it is only proper to remind ourselves of some significant signposts in his life, beginning from his birth. As a guide, I’ll rely on the book – But For God....
The strange thing about his birth was that his name preceded his birth.
The Parish Priest of Christ the King Catholic Church in Okene at the time, Rev Fr Thomas Duffy, an Irish priest of the Missionary Society of Africa (SMA) congregation had gone to commiserate with mama Mary Oniya Adaba, the celebrant’s mom, on the death of her third infant child, because she was devastated by this regular occurrence. As Fr Duffy was departing the house, he left a consolatory prophecy. Duffy said: …the next child would be a male and should be named after him.... Behold, months later, a male child was indeed born into the home of Pa Joseph Abara Adaba. And so on the seventh day of delivery, in line with the Catholic Church tradition, the child was named and baptized Aaze Thomas. The name Aaze in Ebira language concisely means “If they allow....him to live.” And, of course, Thomas was in honour of Fr Thomas Duffy’s prophecy.
That child, who was named Aaze Thomas (popularly known as Tom Adaba in the media) became a renowned personality, assuming many “firsts” in his numerous national assignments. His amiable and unassuming wife of close to 56 years also bears Aaze, Lady Aaze Theresa.
Back to specifics! He left Ahmadu Bello University’s teaching job for the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Jos. He was a pioneering staff of the first television station in Nigeria to transmit in colour – the Benue-Plateau Television. He was the first principal of NTA’s Television sCollege in Jos. The importance of that institution cannot be over-emphasised in moulding and training of high calibre manpower for the television industry, not only in Nigeria but also in the African continent. First to earn a PhD in Mass Communication from the University of Jos. Pioneer director-general (DG) of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), a commission that midwifed the deregulation and opening up of the broadcast space for private investors’ participation.
Just as his birth came with strangeness, so was his appointment as DG of the National Broadcasting Commission. He was initially slated for retrenchment by the management of the Nigeria Television. His name was actually number one on the list. The unpleasant news was leaked to him. Usually, people in such a dilemma would look for influential persons to intervene for them. Not Tom Adaba. Rather, he confidently turned his attention to God, praying “may Thy will be done?” He challenged God. No one with a sincere heart ever challenges God and ever goes unheeded. God was provoked by that sincere challenge.
A man who was penciled for retrenchment was consequently appointed, by divine intervention, the helmsman of the nascent National Broadcasting Commission (NBC); an institution to regulate the functions of the NTA Network; an institution whose management were his direct superiors. By this appointment, the role had automatically changed. He became their boss, regulating their functions, not only in the NTA but also all state television stations as well as private radio and television ownership. It can only be God's doing. Perhaps, it is important to add: During his tenure as DG of the NBC, he scrupulously built and developed the establishment of new private radio and television stations side-by-side the old government-owned broadcast stations for seven years. The NBC as an institution has outlived him. It was during his tenure, he assisted in setting up some West African and South African broadcasting regulatory bodies, an equivalent of Nigeria's NBC.
The celebrant has authored and co-authored many books in the field of mass communication, attended and delivered numerous lectures in journalism and other sundry national discourses. In fact, Adaba remains a role model to many Nigerians, especially in the broadcast industry.
He was the first Nigerian, between 1988-1992, to be honoured as president of African Council for Communication Education (ACCE) based in Nairobi. ACCE is one of the biggest communication bodies in Africa. This continental body was established in 1979. During his presidency of this council, Adaba deployed his talent and connection within the media to elevate and enhance profoundly the position of the council to greater heights.
He is a committed, indeed, a consummate planner and articulate administrator. For the professor, there is no half-measure in anything he embarks on. It is perhaps for this reason that the elders-in-council in Ebiraland considered him worthy for the chieftaincy title of Ohi Etohueyi of Ebiraland, meaning, the beacon of light in Ebiraland.
It is also in recognition of his exemplary and selfless service, not only to the church but also to humanity, that sometime in December 2020, Pope Francis considered him and a few other men and women of the Metropolitan of Abuja Archdiocese worthy to be awarded the prestigious title of Papal Knight of St Gregory the Great. Before this, he was the Grand Knight of the Knight of St Mulumba, Maitama sub-council. Prof Adaba takes delight in doing God's work without looking back.
I am reliably informed he took after his dad, Pa Joseph Abara Adaba of blessed and unforgettable memory.
In retirement, the octogenarian is still active and currently the Chairman/CEO of Trim Communications Ltd, a communications consultancy outfit, which is into diverse activities, including manpower development, training of media personnel, construction of functional radio cum television stations, supply of military tactical communication equipment, production of still and motion documentaries, etc.
To celebrate this significant milestone, a zoom webinar titled “But For God”, a conversation with Prof Adaba about his rich legacy of Life, Faith, Family, Service and Leadership will hold on Wednesday, June 30, 2021.
Happy 80th birthday to Professor Aaze Thomas Adaba, OON, KSM, KSGG, wishing you God’s choicest blessings always.
•Balogun (BenPino) writes from Wuse District: 08037879275.
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