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Advocate of primary health care, Sa’adu Salahu bows out of NPHCDA

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[FILE PHOTO] Doctor

Experts in the Nigerian media industry converged on the headquarters of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) on Friday to celebrate the Head of Public Relations Unit of the agency, Mr. Sa’adu Salahu, as he retired from service.

Salah, whose service at the NPHCDA spanned a period of 19 years, began his journalism career at the Kwara State Broadcasting Corporation (Radio Kwara) in the ’80 where he rose to the post of an Editor.

Executive Director of the NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, joined friends and relations who feted the foremost journalist. He said glowingly of the 60-year-old Kwara State-born retiree: “Everybody knows that Salahu has been a pillar of strength to the agency…For everybody who has been here and observed the work of Salahu, he will leave us with a weakness in the system that will be very difficult to strengthen. For everyone here, I’m sure there are mixed feelings.

Mixed feelings on account of the fact we wish him well, that he is actually into another vista of his life. In the last few weeks, I have seen a lot of excitement on his face, meaning that there are so many things out there that he’s going to do.”

“It also means that we have to try and live without him being the foremost voice of this agency. In the last two and a half years (that I have headed the agency), Salahu has not only been the head of the PR Unit, but has also been a personal friend; he has been a strong voice for a lot of the innovative ideas that we’ve rolled out in the agency. If it makes sense to Salahu, it makes sense to the rest of Nigeria.”

He expressed hope that Salahu would always be a very strong member of the NPHCDA team. He said though he was leaving, there would be a window through which the agency would make sure that he continues to be part of the agency.

He added: “Salahu is one person in the whole agency who does not shy away from the truth. He will say it as it, no matter how bitter it is. He has a way of delivering the truth that is quoted with sugar. It is only after you’ve licked the sugar that you begin to see the bitterness. But, he’s really guided you…

“I have not worried my head in the last two and a half years that I’ve been the ED about the press because he takes good care of that department. I do not know whether it is possible to get another Salahu in NPHCDA. I do not even think that it is possible to get another Salahu anywhere in this country because he has really created a brand that comes from being a thoroughbred journalist. We can only say thank you Salahu for being honest, for being transparent and for being a genuine friend of NPHCDA. No matter what life throws at you, no matter what you do when you leave here, we have no doubt that you will continue to be a kind of string that binds things together because you have bound us together as a family.”

In a remark, his age-long friend and ace broadcaster, Mr. Godwin Odemijie, said his friendship with Salahu dated back to their days at Times Journalism.

“We’ve been to many places together and to say the least, the relationship is cordial. One thing very unique about Salahu that has been emphasized again and again is that he is blunt, resilient and he knows his job thoroughly. Salahu is a journalists’ delight. When you are looking for information and you go to Salahu as far as National Primary Health Care Development Agency is concerned, you are bound to get the true position. And that is the stuff he’s made of and the reason he is being honoured this way today.

Addressing the gathering, Salahu said he was overwhelmed and never believed he could be so honoured at retirement.

He thanked God for keeping him in good health as he bowed out of the agency.

“It’s about 19 years that I’ve joined the agency. In all places where I’ve had the privilege to serve, it’s been wonderful, it’s been exciting and it’s been memorable. I have a few that I went through their hands as my boss in various places and they made life very comfortable for me. So, when I joined this agency, I declared philosophy to my staff that they will find it difficult to find an Oga (boss) in me that they will only find a family man. And that is the philosophy with which I’ve lived till today…

“When I joined the agency, in terms of publicity and public relations it was zero. This is like a medical agency. Medical doctors are preoccupied with their technical. Apart from one quarterly magazine, there was nothing to know about the agency, but today I thank God. Those who are left at the agency will take it to the next level.”

He paid glowing tributes to past and current Chief Executive Directors of the agency for the support they offered him while at the agency.

Some of the highly respected journalists at the event include Mr. Yusuf Alli, Head, Northern Operations, the Nation newspaper, and Mr. Bashir Adigun, Controller News, Northern Operations, Channels Television.


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