By Moses Akarhan
Edson Arantes do Nascimento, a Brazilian Portuguese, born on 23rd October 1940, known as Pele was a Brazilian professional footballer who played as a forward. He was regarded as one of the greatest players of all time and labelled, “the greatest” by FIFA. He was among the most successful and popular sports figures of the 20th century.
During his playing days, Pele was, for a period, the best paid athlete in the world.
For Victoria Apeanem Asher, I knew her for a long time, as far back as in the year 2000 when she used to visit her bosom friend, Iveren Akaaza, of blessed memory, in the Marketing Department of The Voice Newspaper, Makurdi. But I never had the opportunity of working closely with her. We also used to meet in the field during assignments in the course of our professional practice but it was not good time to assess someone because everyone was always in a hurry to beat deadline for filling of reports.
Between 2012 and 2015 when Mrs. Asher was the vice chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Benue State Council, I was the secretary of the union’s education committee but we were not very close since our schedules were quite deferent.
In November 2018 , she was elected through bye-election to fill the vacuum created by the death of her predecessor, David Ukuma, who answered the Lord’s call on August 25,2018, barely two months after his election as council chairman on July 3, 2018.
On assumption of office as Chairman where Mrs Asher came to join other members of the state working committee, it became necessary for the two of us to work hand-in-hand as mandated by the constitution for the progress of the council. We were the only National Executive Council Members from Benue State where we meet with other journalists across the nation and take far reaching decisions on behalf of the great Nigeria Union of Journalists.
In the course of discharging our duties as chairman and secretary of the council, there was a good relationship between the two of us. In fact, we operated like twins; if I am not in her office, she is in my office each day we come to work. Our Cordial working relationship with other members of SWC brought harmony to the council and a lot of achievements were recorded within her short stay in office.
The chairman and secretary’s offices were given a face lift as well as the hall. The council attempted to fix the leaking roof, though in vain due to paucity of funds. The union’s manual borehole has been converted to a motorized one. The NUJ Pen Nursery and Primary School which was at the verge of extinction has been revived through a partnership with an expert who is managing the school, now. The same applies to the Pen College which is also doing extremely well.
Little did anyone anticipated that she will be answering the Lord’s call at this moment. So we outlined series of projects to be done before the expiration of our tenure in July this year including completion of the union’s restaurant (Ate), building of shops, among many others.
The cold hands of death snatched her during delivery on January 30. She went through a ceasarean section surgery where three babies were removed with one dead while a male and female babies survived.
The death of such a rare gem came to me as a rude shock as it came at a time when we were preparing to put the council in good shape before the next election. I was shocked by the colossal loss because Benue is not only losing a skilled and eloquent public speaker (orator) but a team player, a committed media practitioner and a dedicated leader who devoted her time to the service of the union and humanity in general.
Victoria Apeanem Asher was the Pele of the media industry in Benue and Nigeria in general. The series of tributes and condolences by people from all walks of life across the country and beyond speak highly of her as a good person. Her contributions to the Pen Profession and the society in general are unquantifiable and cannot be forgotten in a hurry.
The death of our late chairman is indeed, devastating in view of her outstanding performance in the council within her short stay in office. We take solace to the fact that she completed her assignment here on earth, hence her call by the Almighty God, who is the giver and taker of life.
We are also consoled by the fact that she was a committed Christian who lived a fruitful, simple, fulfilled and contented life. She also, fulfilled her life desire to see the fruit of her womb, which is every woman’s desire. She is survived by a set of twins. It is our earnest prayer that they should survive and tell the story of their mother.
May the good Lord forgive her shortcomings and grant her eternal rest in His bosom and also give her immediate family, the media and her friends the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
Adieu Victoria Apeanem Asher, till we meet to part no more.
Akarhan is the Secretary of NUJ, Benue State Council.