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I just lost a friend, mentor, confidante: I’m in pains

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By Christian Aburime

I HAVE just lost a great friend, mentor and a confidante who had been there for me for close to 30 years. I am in deep deep deep pains right now over the sudden death of my friend, Joe Anatune.

  As I try to scribble these words, my eyes are dim with tears; tears that have flowed endlessly yesterday with the news of Joe’s death.

  Two years ago when Joe clocked 60 years, I had written an article to celebrate him. After reading through the article, Joe sent a note to me thanking me for celebrating him and specifically instructed jokingly that I reproduce the article for him when he is no more.

  Incidentally, I just laughed over it not knowing Joe will leave us in pains this way.

  As a tribute to Joe, I reproduce the article below in his memory and as instructed by him

The Essential Joe”, the Human Dynamo!

  Meeting Joe Anatune for the first time, you are most likely to feel intimidated. The huge frame and the intimidating presence could make one feel the man may be difficult to deal with.

  But benign that huge and intimidating frame is a simple and humble fellow. Simplicity and humility are the twin virtue that defines the personality essence of the man Joe.

  When I first met Joe over two decades ago while hunting for a job, I felt frightened seeing his towering frame and hearing his guttural voice.

  Joe, sensing I appeared intimidated then as a young man, muttered, “l am Joe Anatune”. ‘You can call me Joe’!

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  With a pack of cigarettes (Joe smokes then but had stopped smoking for long now), and the Photos of his beautiful wife adorning his table in his modest but tastefully furnished office, Joe asked of how he could be of help to me.

  Having regained my composure, I went straight to the point. “I need a job sir, I am a journalist”. I said.

  I gave Joe a note given to me by Ota Ogefere (who is now late) to help secure a job for me. Joe scanned through the note quickly and focused his gaze at me with a probing smile. After profiling me with his eyes, he quipped, “Often times people come to my office claiming they have the skill for advertising job; and each time, they fail very simple test”.

  Joe was later magnanimous enough to give me a written test which I passed. And so it was, I landed my first advertising job with my journalistic background!

  It is therefore on record that Joe became the first employer to give me the opportunity to practice advertising after working for years as a journalist.

  Working with Joe is another different ball game. His managerial style makes you comfortable and always rearing to go, because of his nature as a goal- getter. He is man who will stop at nothing until he achieves his goals. He has that uncanny ability to simplify seemingly complicated issues, and make it easier for one to find a solution.

  Joe is so refined and disciplined. He will never breathe down on your neck but will always inspire confidence and the latitude for one to use his initiative on the job. Working with Joe brings out the best in you. Little wonder that everyone of us that passed through his training have all become very successful in the communication business today.

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  Joe’s leadership acumen is infectious because it’s both enigmatic and phenomenon. He is a leader who inspires confidence and will always accept responsibility on behalf of his staff even though the bucks stop at his desk.

  He is a leader who is ready to take a bullet for those he leads. A loyal and dependable leader you can trust. This perhaps explains the reason Joe commands so much following and loyalty from his workers and any person who has come in contact with him. As a result, we often tease him that because of his sterling leadership trait and the ability to identify hidden talents, he could jolly well manage the Super Eagles as a coach if given the opportunity. And use raw talents to win the world cup for Nigeria!

  All through the years I worked with Joe, I have never seen him raise his voice on any of his workers – not even the drivers or the Messengers. You hardly know who the boss is when you meet Joe in company of his staff except for the huge frame which usually gives him away!

  Even in the midst of a daunting challenge, Joe is always calm. He will always say, “Christian, lets focus on the solution”. Even when you make a glaring mistake, Joe will never scold you publicly. He always prefers to find solution rather than passing blames.

  As an equal opportunity employer, Joe is completely a detribalised Nigerian. Joe offers employment to anyone as long as you can prove to him you have the capacity without prejudice to tribe, race or religion. You will find all the tribes in Nigeria in Joe’s company: Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Edo, Delta, Akwa-Ibom, etc.

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  Joe is not a man to owe workers’ salary. One of the cheques Joe love to sign is the salary cheque. There was a day I asked Joe why he takes so much joy in signing salary cheques unlike other employers. For the first time in my life working with Joe I was shocked when he looked at me in the face and said, “Christian, salary is a covenant between an employer and the employee”. These words hit me so hard that I went to my office to ruminate over it. So this was the reason this man will always make every efforts in the world to ensure salaries are paid even before the month ends.

  Aside making payment of salaries a solemn covenant, Joe was also a cheerful giver. Joe is generous to a fault. He is ever ready to assist while keeping away from the limelight.

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