“Today is a night of reflection; I am here tonight because it has pleased God. Every day of my life, there are two things I always ask God, His Grace and His Mercy, I am going to hold my tears today even if I cry, it is a tears of joy. Tonight is because I believe there is Jesus, you can see what is happening!” – Moji Makanjuola
By Abdul Rahman Aliagan
The 29th of September, 2014, witnessed another phase in the life of Offa-born veteran journalist and former Nigerian Television Authority (NTA)-ace broadcaster, Chief Moji Makanjuola.
It was a day to celebrate her excellent contribution to the nation and humanity. Given her personality, the lady of the tube, popularly called Anty Moji, did not lobby to make the list of distinguished Nigerians who made the 2013/2014 national honours list.
Fortuitously, she got a call from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, broke the news of her name as being among the 305 distinguished Nigerians to be conferred with the national honours by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
Making the list of honourable Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in various fields of human endeavour and whose their lives have positively affected their fellow citizens, Moji has been found worthy in both character and individual accomplishment to deserve honour.
The award, Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR), conferred on her “is the Lord’s doing”. According the Moji, the award “ is dedicated to Almighty God, my family and all Nigerians.”
At the instance of her children, a party was organised at the Kano Hall of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in appreciation of a good mother, with family members, friends and well-wishers given a treat.
Speaking at the event, Kogi-born don and former National President of the Association of Nigeria Authors and author, Professor Olu Obafemi, said Moji is a factor to be reckoned with in the media industry.
He noted that her contributions in the industry, particularly in health journalism, is remarkable, making the award not only well deserved but also long overdue.
“This award is no doubt a reward for your untiring effort at scaling-up the health index of the Nigeria-nation. I thank God for you and I want to believe it will spur not only you but also those coming behind you to do more,’’ he said.
Among those who felt that Moji meant so much to them and the health sector was one time Minister of Health, Professor Eyitayo Lambo.
Speaking with passion, the former minister commended Moji “ for what you have done and what you are still doing in health reporting particularly on polio eradication, HIV, malaria and some other diseases.
“ To save lives is not a small job. Personally, I have been longing for a day like this and for the promise of God that no good work ever go unrewarded, the day has come and it is today.’’
Lambo, who could not hold his joy and showered prayers on the amazing woman of many virtues, said: ” The sky is your beginning. It has just began today, more good things are still coming your way. And for the labour you laboured and you are still labouring for this country, I prophesy your children are going to be greater than you.’’
Senator Smart Adeyemi, the Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District and the Chairman Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory, also showered encomium on the ace-broadcaster.
He said Moji had done a lot to help and sustain health reportage in Nigeria.
“The national award conferred on her is a deserved one; she worked for the country without looking back, even at the expense of her own comfort. Thank God, she is recognised and rewarded,’’ she said.
At the occasion, Moji was also recognised and described as an ‘unrepentant fighter’ for reproductive health by Mr Mike Segun.
Close to tears as he spoke, Segun said: “I cried because I lost my mother in the neighbourhood and I had been fighting with Moji to make sure that other women don’t die the way my mother died. That is why I had to speak.’’
To him, Moji is not just a journalist but an “unrepentant fighte.’’ ” If you have been to the hospital and watched women and children rolled out and in two hours you count about eight dead, then you will know what we are talking about.
“We have been in a situation when mothers died because there is no service provider, no health care provider, they labour and die in labour.
“For Moji standing on her feet and working to bridge all these gaps, she is not just a health reporter, she is one who does this with passion. That is why I said I need to honour her today.
“When I look at the list of awardees, if I am to choose number one, she is number one. With due respect to the government of Nigeria, there are so many people on that list that do not deserve it, they have done practically nothing to deserve the award,’’ he said.
Yejide Makanjuola, one of the celebrator’s daughters, described her mother as her siste.
“My mother is my sister, my mother and my everything,’’ she said, adding that she wonders how her mother combined her job and her home front together without any suffering.
Yejide told Time Nigeria that she was very happy when she heard that her mother was enlisted on the National Award list, “I was very happy and excited”.
The celebrator, telling her story herself, recalls her life’s journey: “ I was a very sickly child when I was growing up; if it is not asthma, it will have to do with one leg that couldn’t walk, it will be my hand. If it was not God may be I would have been condemned by polio.
“ Sometimes, it was so difficult that I could not hold my hand, to such an extent that they have had to rip off my dress for me to be able to change my dresses.
“Today is a night of reflection, I am here today because it has pleased God, in every day of my life there are two things that I always ask God; His Grace and His Mercy. I am going to hold my tears today, even if I cry, it is tears of joy. Tonight is because I believe there is Jesus, you can see what is happening!’’
Entertaining guests with what she called her favourite and motivational song that always give her the strength and courage, she gave a rendition: “It is your grace and mercy is all I want, it is your grace and mercy will see me through, it is your grace and mercy is all I need”.
She said the song was first sang at the Government House in Kano when there was a challenge with polio eradication in that state.
“ I wish Dr Awosika was here; we looked at the gate of government house and we sang the song together. We went on our knees and we said Father in the name of Jesus, let there be a change concerning polio eradication in Nigeria.
“ Ever since then, I see the grace and mercy of God in all I do in my life, and it has been sufficient for me.
“I serve my God and He has never failed me, God will never fail you for spending your night with me. Moji thanked everybody who made it to the occasion and used the occasion to thank and appreciate Professor Lambo, Professor Olu Obafemi and many others too who impacted on her life.
The night would not have been completed without capturing the vote of thanks from the brain behind Moji’s success in life– the head of the Makanjuola family, Chief Bayo Makanjuola.
He had said: “On behalf of my family, we appreciate everybody present here and I pray that this kind of celebration will not cease in the homes and lives of all of you who came from all walks of lives and from far and near to celebrate with us. We appreciate you all, May God Almighty appreciate you the more.’’