Anthony Manzo, Frank Olize: Where are they now?

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For a very long time after their exit from public service at different times and for different reasons, no one has heard about them; where could they be at the moment; asks ELEOJO IDACHABA.

Anthony Manzo

His last known public responsibility was just before 2015, when he served as the chief of staff to former President of the Senate, David Mark. Since then, the whereabouts of this former senator who once represented Taraba North in the upper chamber is not certain even though unconfirmed reports indicate that he is still planning to return into active politics. The defeat he suffered in the hands of Mrs. Jummai Alhassan who took his place in the Senate has remained a huge shock to him. A medical doctor-turned politician, he was said to have provided credible representation for his people. A look at some of the bills he initiated while in the Senate was those that touched the lives of the people directly. Apart from being a member of the Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Information and Media, Health and Air Force, he was noted for such bills as the Mental Health and Free Medical Centre Act, amendment of the Psychiatric Hospital Management Board Act, University of Abuja College of Medicine, among others.

As a vocal senator, he spoke against the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) bank consolidation programme under Prof. Chukwuma Soludo. He also called on the government to pay debts owed local contractors and pensioners in order to reduce the effect of the economic crunch. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, recognised his potential and appointed him as Nigeria’s ambassador to Israel and Cyprus at different times. However, he has been conspicuously absent even in the present democratic dispensation when die-hard politicians use every political tactic at their disposal to ensure that they remain relevant both at the federal and state levels.

Frank Olize

Anyone born in the late 80s would not be familiar with the identity of Frank Olize. This is because this Delta state-born former newscaster with the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) left full broadcasting in the early 90s after tantalising his viewers with his style of news presentation. He was one of the voices on NTA who anchored the Sunday night news and current affairs programme Newsline. In another way of saying it, he made that programme popular by what it is in the country today. After his usual phrase of, ‘It’s nine o’clock. Do you know where your children are?’ It’s time for the one-hour programme with him. Olize now in his late 70s left the NTA, to many, unannounced. Not until a few years later, many thought he simply took the back seat while operating silently, but he retired quietly and left the shores of Nigeria for the US.

In those days, the older and younger Nigerians looked forward to 9:15 pm every Sunday in order to hear the latest weird, funny and sometimes serious stories of the week anchored by this icon. Writing about him, a lecturer in Mass Communications at the Chukwu Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University in Anambra state, Chinenye Nwabueze, said, “Frank Olize is unarguably a legendary broadcaster who was a dominant brand at the NTA in the 80s and 90s. He was very popular as an anchor of Newsline, a programme aired every Sunday from 9-10 pm. Not just that the programme was very interesting, Olize’s unique style of presentation kept viewers captivated and glued to their television set while he was on air. He took television presentation to another level through that programme. He had a way of captivating his viewer’s emotion while the viewer watches the programme to the extent that he lets tears drop down from the eyes when the story gets so emotional. He made that programme a Sunday-Sunday tonic for many Nigerians.”

Long after his exit from the tube, rumour went wild that he was dead until he was spotted in Dubai in a French suit during the wedding of his daughter a few years back. Analysts are of the opinion that he simply wants to keep himself away from the happenings in Nigeria; hence he kept everything about himself in top secret. The general consensus however is that in the current democratic experiment in the country, if Olize were to be around, he would have been heading one of the government agencies but he has kept everyone in dark as to his whereabouts in recent times.

Turner Isoun

Professor Turner Isoun is from Bayelsa state and was the former minister of science and technology under former President Olusegun Obasanjo from 2000 to 2007. It was under him as minister that the real blueprint for technological development of Nigeria was drawn. A university teacher, administrator and researcher, he was educated in the 70s at the University of Michigan, United States. On his return to Nigeria after his doctorate degree, he took up teaching appointments at the University of Nigeria Nsukka and Ibadan, respectively.

Earlier in his life, he was special adviser on science and technology in the old Government of Rivers state. Prof Isoun played a prominent role in the establishment of Rivers State University of Science and Technology said to be the first technology university in the country in 1980 for which he was subsequently appointed as its first vice chancellor. During his tenure as minister, he initiated policies that promoted both high-tech and low-tech science for development as under him, Nigeria launched the two satellite stations in conjunction with Chinese investors. That was the launch of NigerSat I and NIGCOMSAT 1 (an advanced communication satellite). At a point, he was chairman, board of directors, NIGCOMSAT Ltd.

With the establishment of the Niger Delta University (NDU) years back, Prof Isoun was appointed chairman of council and pro-chancellor. Reflecting on his life at the age of 80, he said, “My parents had no money and I wanted to study Veterinary Medicine, which was a huge area for economic development. So somehow, the federal government was giving out scholarships at the time and I benefited from it. There was nothing like being born with a silver spoon. However, let me say that they had money to, at least, get me through primary school. A lot of people thought that I went to a foreign primary school when they read what I’ve achieved. But no, I didn’t. I went to Odi Primary School and then I attended a local secondary school called Okrika Grammar School.”

Also, writing on him, Alex Abutu, a newspaper columnist, said, “Prof. Isoun is a silent achiever, but when he appeared on the national scene as the nation’s minister of science and technology in 2000, there was no holding Nigeria back in the comity of science-driven nations. Nigeria treaded paths reserved exclusively for the advanced nations as it launched what was then termed an ambitious scientific road map. This was to, among others, see the launch of geospatial and communication satellites, installation of a 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant and the launch of the ICT backbone infrastructure which is responsible for the digital economy, including e-banking and other e-products that Nigerians are enjoying. Other longer term benefits in the roadmap include the prospect of sending a Nigerian to the moon as well as the design, building and launch of a satellite by Nigerian engineers.”

This erudite scholar is one Nigerian whose footprints in the academy of science both in Nigeria and Africa cannot be forgotten. Now in his mid 80s, it’s not clear where he is at the moment.

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