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The Kayode Tijani that I knew!

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TRIBUTE BY ISRAEL TOPE AGBOOLA.

In 1986, amidst our quest for knowledge, we found ourselves united in the halls of school during our HSC A/Levels in Lagos.

At that time, it was undeniable that your passion for football and novels burned brightly. A year later, you embarked on a journey to the Nigeria Institute of Journalism, while I set my sights on the University of Lagos.

You had to navigate the journalism landscape, making your mark in various outlets such as The Guardian, Complete Sports, Fame Magazine, Channels Television, and independent production.

However, our paths did not intersect during this period. It wasn’t until a cold morning in December 2002 that our lives intertwined once again.

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You were part of a media delegation led by Dr. Amos Adamu that visited AIT in Lagos. Coincidentally, I had just finished presenting Kakaaki Sports News, and we unexpectedly crossed paths at the studio entrance.

It was a moment of pure joy. Soon after, you visited my home and formed a lasting friendship with my late younger brother, Dr. Julius Ibukun Agboola.

Fate had another surprise in store for us as we ran into each other again in London in 2006. While I was stationed at the BBC office in Bush House, Aldwych, you would regularly stroll down from the BEN TV studio in Tottenham Court Area to meet me.

By then, you had finished your programme, ABC Sport. Often, we would sit in one of the cafés near the London School of Economics.

Our conversations would barely begin before fans recognised you and showered you with praise. It came as no surprise when Dr. Mumuni Alao visited London and compared your popularity to that of Michael Jackson every time you ventured out together.

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Together, we conducted numerous captivating interviews with sports stars like Kelly Holmes, David Hayes, and Eniola Aluko.

Kayode, you were a wealth of knowledge, shining like a thousand stars, leaving those we interviewed in awe. I attended many of your programmes on ABC Sport alongside Wunmi Lily’s Mum Thomas and your friend, Akeem Oyetunji.

Not long after, a Christian television station called Revelation TV headhunted you. They did not care about your Muslim faith, as the station’s founder, Howard Conder, assured me that “Kayode is a good man.”

Though accolades followed you wherever you went, there was a persistent desire within you to relocate your family abroad.

One evening, as we strolled from my place on Kennington Road, Waterloo, you shared your plans to establish a Sports Archive in Nigeria, bringing you closer to your loved ones.

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Our conversation consumed us as we unknowingly passed Holborn Station. Astounded by the distance covered, we decided to conclude our discussion at your place in Shoreditch.

Just a month later, you were back in Nigeria. Since your return, there was a slight drift between us as our communication significantly decreased, especially before you fell ill.

Your memory would resurface whenever Cable News ‘Kisu Sulola, the sister of my friend and former room-mate at Unilag, Bidemi Sulola, called inquiring, “Have you heard from your friend?”

Unfortunately, the news of your passing reached me this week after Nigeria’s victory over South Africa in the ongoing AFCON 2024 in Cote d’Ivoire.

I will forever be grateful for your help and support during the passing of my brother and your dear friend in 2016.

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It was you who inspired me to establish the Dr. Julius Ibukun Agboola Endowment, which continues to provide support for the best-graduating student in Marine Science at the University of Lagos.

Thank you for the time and unforgettable moments we shared. I will not shed tears because it is over, but instead, I will smile because fate allowed it to happen. Please convey my deepest regards to my brother and your friend, IBK.

May the just man find eternal rest.

 

 

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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