By Dr. Mumini Alao, PhD
JUST A FEW WEEKS to his 60th birthday, Ehi Braimah was on a hospital bed in Houston, Texas, United States of America. He had been sedated so that specialist doctors could carry out a surgery on him to cure an ailment that threatened to cut his life short.
The three-hour surgical procedure was successful. After a while, Ehi came around to start receiving messages of congratulations from extremely relieved family members and close friends. His life was beginning anew.
“My brother, I give glory to God that I’m still here speaking to you,” Ehi would say to me on the telephone. “I have lost some weight because of pains, discomfort, post-surgery care, and a diet plan to support my recovery. But the important thing is that I’m back on my feet and doing fine.”
Ehi is alive and well! Not even the entire riches in the whole universe could substitute for that. That’s why, for me, this tribute to my dear friend on his 60th birthday is so, so special.
Born 21 March, 1963 in Iruekpen, Ekpoma in Esan West Local Government of Edo State to Pa Benjamin Aluya Braimah and Madam Rose Osovbakhia Braimah, young Ehi attended three primary schools in Auchi and Benin City in Edo State, and Ughelli in Delta State before proceeding to Government College, Ughelli, as a 10-year old. He was the the smallest in his class, especially due to his lanky frame at the time.
Sam Omatseye, popular columnist and Chairman of the Editorial Board of The Nation newspaper was his classmate. When the results of the first term exams were released, Ehi topped his class. He clinched the first position to the surprise of everyone. Thereafter, he attended University of Benin, graduating with a degree in Industrial Mathematics in 1986.
On completion of his mandatory one year service in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) at the Anambra State College of Education, Awka (as it was then known), Ehi and I started our careers together under the tutelage of the late Dr. Emmanuel Sunny Ojeagbase at Complete Communications Limited in the late 1980s. He had joined a couple of months before my arrival and we ended up sharing the same office and the same official car for several years.
Although a mathematician, Ehi discovered his passion for writing early and that was how he ended up at Ojeagbase’s sports publishing doorstep. He started off as a proof reader, then sub-editor and research assistant onComplete Footballmagazine. When the company launchedClimax, a general interest magazine, Ehi was drafted there as a staff writer, then promoted as general editor and deputy editor. He was later reassigned as pioneer editor ofInternational Soccer Review(ISR, we called it) as he continued to demonstrate his flexibility and adaptation. One edition ofISRthat stuck in my memory till today was Ehi’s cover story on a certain Italian professional player, Pierluigi Casiraghi. All the while, I focused primarily onComplete Footballmagazine.
Ehi worked hard and played hard. While perfecting his journalism, he was also building his reputation and a network of influential social contacts. After a hard day’s work, he would retire toNiteshift,the foremost nightclub at the time where all the movers and shakers of Lagos regularly converged. He became the President of the club’s Glamour Boys of Nigeria (GBN), a group that described itself as a collection of young, upwardly mobile professionals. This provided the platform for Ehi to diversify his media career into public relations in 1991.
He joined the debonair Mr. Yemi Akeju at Ideas Communications Limited where he worked as Head of Media Relations and, later, as the General Manager. While there, he supervised the hosting of the annual Nigeria Media Merit Awards (NMMA) which remains the foremost media awards in Nigeria till today. In 1995, he moved on to Whitewood Group where he was instrumental to the rapid growth and rising profile of the event marketing and management, media relations and brand development arm of the Group until he quit in March 1999.
By May 1999, Ehi co-founded TQA Communications Limited with some colleagues and served as Executive Director until October, 2008. Inevitably, he finally went solo and he is now the Chairman/CEO of Neo Media & Marketing, a public relations and marketing management company he founded in October 2008. Over the years, the company has consulted for a plethora of multinational organisations that included Nigerian Breweries, Coca-Cola, Unilever, PZ and Promasidor amongst others. In 2013, after only four years of operations, Neo Media was ranked among the top 50 fastest growing companies in Nigeria by theAllworld NetworkandTony Elumelu Foundation.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Ehi diversified further into the hospitality business as the Chairman/CEO of Adna Hotel, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos which opened its doors to clients in 2011. I have been a guest at Adna which feels like a “Home Away from Home.” Not surprisingly, the hotel reflects Ehi’s personae as a finicky organizer with high quality standards and a keen eye for details.
While exploring the worlds of marketing communications and the hospitality business, Ehi never forgot his background in writing and publishing. He collaborated with us at Complete Communications Limited alongside the famous journalism duo of Mike Awoyinfa and Dimgba Igwe to establishEntertainment Express,a weekly entertainment newspaper. For more than a decade, Ehi was also involved in organizing the annualSuccess DigestEnterprise Awards in honour of enterprising Nigerian entrepreneurs.
Ehi’s most recent media adventures are as the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief ofNaija Times, an online newspaper he established in 2020 to advocate for a better Nigeria. He is also the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief ofLagos Post,a digital newspaper dedicated to promoting news about the city of Lagos. Also in 2020, he published his first book,My Lockdown Diary, which is a collection of his articles and reflections on Nigeria and the Covid 19 Pandemic. His dexterity as a prolific writer is effusively demonstrated in the book which he dedicated to his parents.
As a content writer and global PR strategist, Ehi is widely travelled with footprints in Africa, United Kingdom, Canada and the USA. His socially outgoing and accommodating nature means he associates with a wide range of people, as well as many business and professional groups. He has been a member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) and the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM) since 1993. He was the Vice President and Chair of the Publicity Committee of Nigerian American Chamber of Commerce (NACC) where he was honoured in 2013 with the Outstanding Enterprise Award.
Ehi is also a mentor of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP); member of the Publicity and Communications Committee of the Nigerian British Chamber of Commerce; Honorary Fellow of the Business Process Management Institute; Trustee of the Experiential Marketers’ Association of Nigeria (EXMAN); Fellow of the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN) and Chairman, Edo Sports Development Foundation.
Despite his numerous engagements, Ehi found the time to register for an MBA programme at the University of Roehampton, London which he completed in December 2016. On one occasion, we were together on a trip to Abia State when some of his assignments fell due. He dutifully sacrificed his sleep to meet the deadline but he’s not finished with academics yet. He plans to enroll for another master’s degree programme and subsequently earn a PhD. Watch out for Dr. Ehi Braimah!
Ehi has a generous soul. He has touched many lives as a Major Donor of The Rotary Foundation. He was the 2018-2019 President of the Rotary Club of Lagos, District 9110 and Immediate Past District Secretary of Rotary International District 9110. This was followed by his appointment as Assistant Governor in addition to being the Editor-in-Chief ofThe Governor, a monthly publication of District 9110.
Ehi is passionate about Nigeria. His patriotism is infectious. His mantra is that Nigeria needs to build strong institutions under a transformational leadership so that Africa’s most populous nation can rise to its full potential. Listen to him lecture me during our trip to Abia State: “Mumini, we must strive to build an egalitarian society that is founded on truth, equity, justice, fairness and respect for fundamental human rights.” It turned out that he was referencing his vision forNaija Times.
My friendship of 35 years with Ehi Braimah has endured primarily because we share similar traditional values of hard work, reliability, trustworthiness, contentment and the fear of God. I have been present at many of his official as well as private, family functions and I can attest to the fact that he has maintained these values. We have collaborated together on many projects and we still have several more in the works. He is a trustworthy friend indeed.
As Ehi clocks 60 years, I must express special thanks to his wife of 27 years and mother of his children, Oluwakemi Braimah, for taking care of him and being a strong pillar of support all the way. Thank you, Mrs. Braimah.
I have described Ehi as “Industrious and Boisterous” in my title to this tribute. His life story clearly underscores his industry. As for being boisterous, yes, that’s the sweet other side ofEhi-Foxyas we used to call him. If you want a man that is always cheerful, energetic, dependable and full of laughter all the time, that’s Ehi Braimah!
Congratulations, dear friend and a man of many parts. This is wishing you many more decades of accomplishment in good health.
*Dr. Mumini Alao is Executive Consultant at Complete Communications Limited and Director, Medianomics Limited.