LekkyBrown : the reality of your exit from this part of Creation finally struck me like a bolt from the Blues. An effervescent man, bubbling with youthful energy, focused and single minded about the pursuit of excellence and an unquenchable desire to make life worth living for all those around you and even those far away who never got to meet you but whose lives you reached with your caring touch. Who would ever have thought that you would leave this early.
We had so much in common – Great Ife, Greatest UI, proud indigenes of the land of the valiant ( Ogbomoso),a knack for excellence and sartorial elegance – but you stood out in influence in all these.
Perhaps what endeared me to you most was your humility. Long before your foray into international relations and diplomacy that eventually took you to the highest echelons of authority at the ECOWAS, I was fond of calling you “YOUR EXCELLENCY” and your usual response was always , “Debby, Olo’un lo nje bee” – “that is an appellation exclusively reserved for God”. You honoured God with all your being and it was not surprised He honoured you in return. Proverb 22 :4 came alive in your life : BY HUMILITY AND THE FEAR OF THE LORD ARE RICHES AND HONOUR AND LIFE.
You had riches by whatever definition and with it you demonstrated you cared for those in need. You were honoured as you ultimately answered to the appellation of “YOUR EXCELLENCY ” as the ECOWAS Permanent Representative at the African Union. You had life in its abundance while you lived, all to the glory of God.
LekkyBrown, you were an inspiration in many ways. You were my teacher in Organzational Politics and Emotional Intelligence, lessons that came handy when the wolves came with their histrionics and mischieves.
And how could I forget the pep talk on presentation skills in your office at the ECOWAS HQ that December of 2009. At the instance of Professor Joel Babalola and Professor Adedeji , both of the Faculty of Education, UI, I had been invited to speak on Advocacy and Fundraising by the African Union. The presence of the “AU Big Guys” as you put it, invoked some awe and trepidation and invariably stage fright in me resulting in some initial stuttering as I made my presentation. Little did I know that you were listening from a vantage position outside the Hall. During tea break , you invited me to your office and gave me my first lessons in presentation skills. Those lessons were confidence building but you were never privileged to assess my subsequent presentations in other places in and outside Nigeria to know your invaluable contribution in this aspect of my professional development.
Another lesson in basic facts of life you taught me came when I informed you about my desire to apply for a job in ECOWAS. You said NO with a convincing reason. “Debby”, as you were wont to call me, ” o ti koja level yen joo, that position is too low for your calibre “. The lesson you imbued me with was that of self esteem and pride, and a sense of self worth – never to become a dog for the sake of a garnished bone.
You were a silent giver who never allowed his left hand to be privy to what the right hand was doing. Testimonies of your philanthropic disposition have been pouring in since the announcement of your demise as attestation to your inclination for giving.
Your Excellency, Dr Nelson Olalekan Magbagbeola, you were a man of outsized humanity. Though of a relatively diminutive stature, you towered in all aspects of human endeavours. You brought so much life into your short years of living confirming the hackneyed but meaningful expression, it is not how long but how well.
A true friend you were. A loving and caring husband and father, a distinguished son of the land of the Valiants, a celebrated and eminent alumnus of both the Obafemi Awolowo University and the University of Ibadan. A dyed in the wool Baptist and spirit filled Christian and a lover of mankind. You will be sorely missed. May your gentle soul find eternal rest in the bosom of your Creator.
Adieu LekkyBrown, good night Your Excellency. See you on the other side of Creation.