A COLLEAGUE’S DIARY.
By: Mohammad Abdulkadri .
It was shocking and difficult for me to come to terms with the reality of the news, about the death of a personified news character, in person of Aisha Bello Mustapha.
Why won’t I be shocked to the marrow ? when few days ago my cell phone rang. Low and behold, the same Aisha was on the line with her distinct branded newscasting voice. The following conversation transpired on phone between us:
AISHA ; Salam Alaikum the General .
ABDULKADRI; wa Alaikum salam Aunty Aisha. It’s been a while ma.
AISHA ; Yes, I ve been sick.
Like siblings, my concern for her was spontaneous on hearing about her sickness, direct from the horse’s mouth. The mutual conversations continued on phone beyond what can be revealed in this write up. Sadly, though, I never thought that the call was a farewell- thee one .
The reality of her death however, became so devastating and soul- breaking with accompanied flurry of uncontrolable tears streaming down my forlorn face.
That was an open betrayal of my deepest emotional emotion.The more terrific one like the punches by Mike Tyson and late Muhammed Alli cowed me down when i saw aunty Aisha’s lifeless body on a stretcher.
I ruminated over her sojourn on this planet and concluded thus ; Hmmm, here lies the motionless body of this great woman, who had toured the seven continents of the world and had seen it all in the course of rendering quality service to the nation.
That was at the National Mosque, where I joined colleagues and the congregation for her janazat. Indeed it was a well deserved last respect for my dearest sister from another mother.
In my state of overwhelming sadness, for the loss of this great senior colleague, I became speechless like my other sisters, Halima Musa and Rabi Abdallah.
The truism of a wise saying also engaged my busy thoughts on that ill-fated black and dark Monday, 11th December, 2023.
Alas,the death of the famous newscaster extinguished the fire of activism burning in me even as a Media General.
Instantly, my terribly bad mood, swung into the mode of sololoquism: “Hmmmm, What goes around, surely comes around”.Not in the case of Aisha coming back any more, but the sting of death is going round circlically, critically and clinically taking away its victims.
Away from sololoquising, i sighted former NTA Director General, Yakub ibn Mohammed. I immediately Walked up to him. That movement at that moment was akin to hurriedly switching from a Television Channel to NTA to catch up in the 90s with the Late Aisha Bello Mustapha News presentation @ 9pm on Network News.
Of course the sorry story to share with the former NTA DG was about the end of the news for the late consumate and passionate Newscaster.
The shared moments of sorrows between my mentor, the “boss” and his mentee, “boy”expectedly dovetailed into consolatory sermonisation towards mitigating the pains in our hearts for the irreparable loss of former late Aisha katung.
The obviously sad DG said quotedly ; “As Muslims we must accept unconditionally, that,It was her (Aisha’s) time and turn to answer the last call by her Creator”. So sad. He concluded.
Thereafter, my earlier line of thoughts that was put on pause when I saw the former DG resonated thus ; “The Angel of DEATH, had made the round and took away a beautiful soul from NTA family” One in a million you may say, with the Director General, Saliu Abdulhamid Dembos as the Chief mourner.
In her life time, she was the doyen of newscasting. A role model and veteran broadcaster who through dint of hardwork gained so much milage in visibility, popularity responsibility and respectability on NTA, Network News.Cyril Stober and Aunty Moji Makanjuola can write a book on this my assertion. Many atimes, while she was on duty calls, as Newscater, she broke the news about the deaths of many notable personalities to end the news bulletins.
Be that as they were, she displayed on each occasion, after reading obituaries, uncommon spirit of a strong believer by reflecting on the departed ones, believing in the reality that one day, will be one day when someone will also brake the news of her own death too.
By the sudden turned around, it took a newscaster on duty to brake the news of her death, on the same station, same belt and same time. What an irony of life’s turn – by – turn of deaths syndrome in this ephemeral life.
According to the holy Quran, every soul must taste death. It therefore goes to say that when it is my turn as writer of this tribute and your time as readers, no Jupiter can fast forward or rewrite the destined time, date and where we will breath our last.
To her credit and to the eternal memories of Nigerians as well as residents of Nigeria and beyond, she will be remembered for her delightful news presentations. News garnished with fantastic diction laced with confidence and candour.
To the late veteran broadcaster, News presentations was like eating bread and butter.
Once upon a time, too , the larger than life Aisha, was a co-producer of one of the weekly popular flagship Programmes on NTA, Newsline.
If in doubt, enquire from the former Executive Director News Shola Atere, the Director News, Aliyu Baba Barau and Aunty Asabe Abubakar.
The amazon Aisha gave her best for several years just as she replicatedly the same enthusiastic and charismatic service in her productions and presentations on Nationwide and AM news as well as programme belts.
I also recalled with nostalgia, her scynthilating pedigree of performance as a Producer and presenter of a weekly Programme, “Environment Matters”. She made her indelible marks to make the programme a must watch by lovers of nature and environmentalists.Ask Jennifer Igwe in Lagos Network Center.No wonder she became an expert on Climate Change owing to her deep wealth of experience and expertise garnered from her various participations in National and International dialogues and conferences which broadened her horizon on the global perspectives that shaped her views to becoming an authority on the subject matter.
Looking back at my years of service especially at NTA Headquarters, Abuja, my path crossed with the deceased. For instant, we were roastered severally on the same shifts for the production of several news bulletins.
We both worked dedicatedly, creditably and cordially,like brother and sister. Sometimes, she was my News Producer while i served under her as Production Editor. Her winning and disarming sense of humour can’t be easily forgotten. She was so ebulliently, amiable and amicable to staff on her shifts which paved the ways for mutual cooperation and coordination. Emmanuel Ayinmiro, Oyinnaya kalu Oka and Odan Masawaje will testify to her sisterly disposition wherever we worked on the same shift with her.
Late Hajia Aisha who can’t hot a fly with her uncommon softspokenness and outspokenness excellently passed integrity, reliability and relationship tests of camaraderie as a notable member of NAWOJ and recipients of many awards.
She left her footprints on the sands of time in the anals of NTA as a peacemaker, Pacesetter, a bridge builder and rallying point for all. Occasionally, she communicated with me by jokingly forcing her self to speak Yoruba. That was humorous side of a detrabized Aisha for you, my readers.
Beyond the tin lines seperating Network Newsroom and other workstations at News 24 and NTA International up to Language Channels,Aisha Bello Mustapha traversed the news landscapes and made friends without any aura of arrogance and discriminatory attitude on the plater of self pride.
She was a leader to look up to for guidance, advice and shared confidential talks at all times. Although as human, she was friendly, jovial and generous but on the other hand whenever operational environment took a nose dive, her other sides will be revealed.
Sometimes she was impatient, temperamental and forgiven whenever the dust settled after the mad hours of striving to meet the deadlines for the day’s news business had been successfully accomplished.
Aunty Aisha, as she was fondly called, was as Cool as Cucumber. As hardworking as a Lion. As firmed as Aso Rock and as gentle as a dove.
Through out my exciting tour of duty in NTA, i worked with many accomplished broadcaster but non could take away from my heart late Aisha’s humble, humane, pious, easy-going and ever smiling dispositions.With due respect and recognitions of my esteemed mentors, managers and directors who impacted on my career like the retired Executive Director News, Garba Mamu, former General Manager NTA News 24, Femi Ibrahim, Muhammed Labbo, Halima Musa ,Yinka Ajayi, Adamu Abdullahi and others.
Not many of those who became TV celebrities were able to combine humility with integrity and simplicity, but Aisha Bello Mustapha did in grandstyle. Infact, she stood out in character, superb human working relations and Professionalism.
She bestrided like a colosus, the Newsroom as a distinctingly distinguished, calm and collected broadcaster who paraded high value marketability credential and an on- air aura of a Tv goddess that attracted viewer’s buy-in.
The vintage late Aisha was a woman of substance who was unassuming but full of courage, carriage, class, and distinction among her contemporaries.
She was persistently painstaking, passionate and professional about rendering service till she retired in 2022.
ABM will be greatly missed by family, friends, colleagues and fans who were unable to hold back their tears as she had her last journey on earth from the National Mosque to the cemetery, her last home.
She journeyed to the great beyond, beneath the planet and never to be seen and be heard any more, nor be called upon again for newscasting.
Her death at 57, drew the curtain, like a dramatic personae character in a movie who played her part diligently and quit the stage when ovation was loudest. Call it the end of an era in the anals of the nation’s broadcasting sector in general and in particular, the Largest Tv Network in the continent, NTA.
As Aisha joined the Leagues of late veteran broadcasters on the other side of the planet, she had been well received and welcomed on board by the likes of Tokunbo Ajayi, Yinka Craig, Cele Eradiri,Tunde Saiki, Sikeola Ipinlaye and Jonathan Bulus among others as unforgettable departed members of the NTA family.
Adiue Aunty Aisha Bello Mustapha.
Goodnight to a mentor of many young broadcsters.
Fare- thee- well, till we meet to part no more in jannat Firidaus.
Mohammad Abdulkadri , erswhile NTA Defenceb Correspondent writes from Abuja.
13 December, 2023.