by Kayode Olagesin
‘They have stolen this car’. ‘Are you sure this is where we parked?’, my friend asked. ‘Yes. Is that not the yellow bus that we used as marker when we parked earlier’, I replied. By this time, I had started to sweat profusely and lamented again, this time in Yoruba, ‘won ti gbe moto yi lo’.
Earlier that evening, we both left Insight Communications’ office at Akanbi Onitiri Street, off Eric Moore Road, Surulere to attend a meeting at NICON House to approve the Advert and Media Schedule for an ad hoc campaign for NICON Insurance. It was supposed to be for the 1990 Independence Day, if my memory serves me right. We drove in my mom’s Datsun 120Y she allowed me to be using when I got a job at Insight almost a year earlier. NICON House was on Marina so we parked at Marina Car Park and walked the rest of the way. It took a while for us to see the Corporate Affairs Director who was to approve the advert and schedule so we didn’t leave his office until after 6pm.
It was past closing time when we made our way to the Marina Car Park which was almost empty by the time we got there. Earlier when we parked, it was filled and we had to drive around before we got a space. With the Car park almost empty, it should have been easy to spot the car but here we were perplexed as the car was nowhere to be found. In my confused state, I even bent to look under the car that was now parked where ours was supposed to be. What do I tell my mom?
Several thoughts were racing through my head when I heard my friend ask again, ‘are we sure we parked in this Car Park? Hope shot through my veins as I looked towards the street and realized that Mr Biggs was directly opposite the park we were in but we had walked up to it when we were heading to NICON House. We were in the wrong park! We half walked, half raced to the other car park where we found the car next to a yellow bus of a different make in an almost identical position as the one we saw earlier. If it was possible to hug a car, I would have hugged it. We both burst out laughing. The joy we felt was palpable. It was an experience we would both never forget.
We knew each other before Insight Communications. We were at the University of Ilorin together and graduated same year but we were just casual acquaintances then. I saw him after University the day he came for the Insight interview and naturally I was happy to show him the ropes when he resumed as one of the new batch of Management Trainees. I was in Client Service but he was placed in Media. Later on when I moved to SO&U, I invited him to come over to the new agency and he did. Years later, after I left SO&U to join Cosse at inception, he came to see me that he was thinking of leaving too as he was the only one remaining of the early set of Senior Managers. I advised him not to as he stood a chance to benefit from the exit of the others as he will be well rewarded if he stayed. He listened to the advice and stayed a couple of years growing to become Associate Director. Later when an opportunity came to join a Media Independent that seemed primed to make waves in the industry, we both agreed that this was the move. The rest as they say is history. My friend took on this role and made a great success of it.
Many memories flood my mind. He gave my wife an opportunity to ‘manage’ their Relationship Management Programme which was a very novel idea at the time as an external supplier. She did this until she temporarily relocated abroad. We opted for the primary school my children attended on account of him and we never regretted that decision as they laid a very solid foundation for them. I remember when he bought his first car; a green Datsun Bluebird. He was so excited. I remember when he started courting his wife. Naturally our wives became friends and keep more regularly in touch. Something that we failed to do. I remember our conversations, which sadly became more far apart as ‘success’ sometimes come at a price. How I wish I had reached out more, particularly in the last two years as our interactions reduced to practically chance encounters and occasional phone conversations. I remember what we discussed when we last saw at a hotel restaurant where we both had lunch. How I wish I could rewind time and we could sit over a drink and catch up, again. But that opportunity is lost forever.
The news of your sudden passing was a rude shock and a cut too deep to bear. Now, I can only remember you in memories. Sleep well my dear friend, Gbeke Tolu Ogunkoya. Your stay here was brief but impactful. You came, you saw, you conquered.