He was Sunny-Obazu Ojeagbase, but to many of us he was simply S.O
He was a dreamer, who made his and others’ dreams to come true.
The Publisher of Complete Sports and Success Digest passed on to Glory this past weekend.
It is not a time to mourn, but to celebrate the life and times of a remarkable man, who rose from obscurity in the Nigerian Army to become the leading sports writer in Nigeria and on to emerging as a trail-blazing Publisher, who impacted positively on the lives and careers of many including this writer.
S.O was first a dreamer, who was armed with ideas and vision far beyond many generations even where there were multiple odds stacked against him.
He first launched a weekly all-sports newspaper titled ‘Sports Souvenir’, which eventually gave birth to a glossy, all-colour magazine, Complete Football.
Millions of Nigerians closely followed the Super Eagles qualification to their first-ever World Cup in 1994 thanks to Complete Football.
It was a coverage that was professional, authoritative, refreshing as it was absorbing and comprehensive, from a qualifying race that included crucial wins over Algeria and Cote d’Ivoire right up to the World Cup itself in the United States of America.
That was the Golden Generation of Nigeria football on a high complimented by a world-class reportage by some of the country’s finest writers yet.
It was on the back of these notable achievements that S.O launched Complete Sports, a daily, all-sports newspaper on December 18, 1995.
It was a privilege and an honour to be the founding Editor of Complete Sports.
But it was equally a stormy baptism for the latest baby from the Complete stable as defending champions Nigeria sensationally pulled out of the 1996 AFCON in South Africa after a political spat between Nigeria and South Africa.
Complete Sports sales were badly hit by this boycott and it needed the commitment and total support of S.O to get us out of the woods.
It was that doggedness and belief that will be richly rewarded by the time Nigeria made history by becoming the first African team to win Olympic Gold in Atlanta in 1996.
Over the years, the various publications in the Complete stable have had to weather other storms, but again and again that commitment to soldier on have seen them through because the main promoter stayed strong and true.
S.O was dogged, probably borne out of his military training.
He was as professional as he was personable.
He trusted young men with his business – they made in-roads, they made mistakes, they took responsibilities and in the end, we came out stronger and better for the experience.
S.O was a great man who stood tall even beyond sports journalism with his forays into promoting start-up businesses and his work with the church.
We have been challenged by this remarkable mentor, who we once shared ideas, milestones, setbacks and even disagreed with.
S.O, I thank God for the blessing you were to me and my family.
Today, we celebrate a self-made man, who was never afraid to not only dream the impossible, but go on and do it.
Rest well, sir.