Shock as LEADERSHIP Newspaper Publisher, Sam Nda-Isaiah, dies at 58

*Buhari mourns, describes him as an ally

By Ralph Christopher

The nation’s political and media sector was sent into a mourning mood with the abrupt death of the Chairman and Founder of LEADERSHIP Group Limited, Pharm Sam Nda-Isiah.

He was aged 58.

The pharmacy-trained media mogul, writer, politician and serial entrepreneur, reportedly died Friday night in Abuja after a brief illness.

Confirming his demise, a statement by the family last night stated: “We are deeply saddened to announce the news of the passing of the chairman of LEADERSHIP Group/National Economy, Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah.

“He died in Abuja on Friday night, after a brief illness.

“Nda-Isaiah was a family man, a serial entrepreneur and visioner, and a passionate politician.

“He was, above all, a man of faith. Even in this moment of grief, we know he is in a better place.”

*His life

Nda-Isaiah was a pharmacist, but he made his mark as a newspaper publisher and columnist, with three dailies, including the flagship and one of Nigeria’s most influential newspaper, LEADERSHIP, in his stable.
He was also a serial entrepreneur with a portfolio of thriving businesses.

He was a founding member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on whose platform he contested for presidential ticket in 2014.

Nda-Isaiah, popularly referred to as “bridge-builder and man with Big Ideas”, which he vigorously canvassed, also held the traditional title of Kakaki Nupe (the spokesperson of the Nupe people).

He was a promoter of Nigeria’s unity and an outstanding student of history and global politics.

His last major outing was on Thursday, December 10, when he inaugurated the Board of Economists of NATIONAL ECONOMY Media Limited, a subsidiary of the LEADERSHIP Group.

Nda-Isaiah was born in Minna, capital of Niger State on May 1, 1962.

He attended the UNA Elementary School before switching over to the Christ Church School, Kaduna in 1968, to complete his primary school education.

He attended the Federal Government College, Kaduna, from 1974 to 1979.

He later studied Pharmacy at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) and did his National Youth Service Corps programme at the Ekiti State General Hospital in 1984.

Nda-Isaiah, fondly called “Sam”, is an alumnus of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.

He began his working career as a pharmacist at the Kano Specialist Hospital before he moved to the General Hospital, Minna.

He worked at Pfizer Products Limited from 1985 to 1989.

A passionate newspaperman and pundit, his column, “Last Word” with a footnote, “Earshot”, was a must read.

He started the column as special writer and editorial board member of Daily Trust, before he founded LEADERSHIP with proceeds from the launch of a collection of some of his finest articles in 2001.

Before LEADERSHIP became a full-fledged newspaper, Nda-Isaiah started with, LEADERSHIP CONFIDENTIAL, a newsletter that was of tremendous value and insights, especially among diplomats, top politicians and business owners.

He demonstrated exceptional courage through his write-ups, a quality that popularised the newspaper and often put him at odds with the federal government, especially under former Presidents Olusegun Obadanjo Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.

As a result of his contributions to the media industry, Nda-Isaiah was called to serve as a committee member in the Kano State government to revive The Triumph Newspapers owned by the state government.

In 2003, he was in-charge of President Muhammadu Buhari’s presidential campaign publicity team.

He was a member of the Asian Think-tank, the Global Institute for Tomorrow in Hong Kong.

In 2019 he was appointed board member of the Baze University, Abuja.

In 2015, Nda-Isaiah ran for the country’s presidency, contesting in the primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC), with the campaign slogan, Big Ideas.

He however lost in the keenly contested primaries.

He held the title of Kakaki Nupe conferred on him by the current Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar.

He was also conferred with a chieftaincy title, Aare Baaroyin of Akure Kingdom, by Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi, Odundun.

A very hard-working personality in all he sought to do, he was fully committed to ideals which he believed in.

He was a great patriot who believed in the unity of Nigeria.

*He Was A Friend, Ally – PMB

Prominent among the early sympathisers was President Muhammadu Buhari who expressed shock and sadness at his death, describing him as “a friend and ally”.

A statement issued last night by special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, stated so.

Adesina said the president condoled with the media fraternity, the Nda-Isaiah family, friends and associates of the deceased.

“The country has lost a man of conviction, a resolute and dogged believer in a better Nigeria,” the statement quoted Buhari as saying.

“He will be sorely missed. This is a massive fish gone out of the media ocean,” the presidential spokesman further quoted the president as saying “of the pharmacist, renowned columnist, and one time presidential aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).”

(Additional reports from the Leadership Newspapers).

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