Bayelsa Times

The icon clocks 70


The icon clocks 70. Happy birthday Uncle Soni Irabor. I celebrate you sir. I found my voice. Now, here is my tribute:

It’s Soni Irabor birthday today. I should write an epistle about him but words fail me. A rush of words swirl around me, in my head, jostling for prominence in starting this tribute. 

I am not waiting for inspiration any longer. Soni Irabor  has been good to me. He celebrates me like a contemporary, yet I am about three generations behind.

When I wrote a chapter for a book written by an assembly of accomplished academics and edited by the distinguished Prof Ayo Olukotun, Soni Irabor bought copies and celebrated me endlessly. 

When I launched my books on elocution, Soni Irabor was among the assemblage of media veterans who attended, bought copies and sold them in his media institute. 

I am faculty at the Soni Irabor Institute of Media & Communications for years. The only one of my generation who taught in his institute alongside industry favourites. I teach different courses there. When he gets out of station jobs to do, I am part of his faculty.

When he launched his empowerment programme for youths, I was a panelist and speaker.

Soni Irabor told me one day, Funke, people like you are rare in the industry.You combine academic and  experiential knowledge in the media effortlessly. He left Radio Nigeria as I was getting in, in 2001, I think. 

In his words, he noticed me on Radio Express, a soar away breakfast show produced by the distinguished,  accomplished and versatile broadcast veteran, Osaze Iyamu. He wondered where I came from with such suave.  I had joined FRCN then from Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State. 22 years after, he is still my fan, my friend, my boss, my well wisher. 

For every project I embarked on, he supported generously with goodwill, offering his platform for traction and visibility. The Sanitary Pad Media Campaign is no different. He has interviewed me twice on his platform. 

The icon clocks 70 today, and I am perplexed about what to do to appreciate him. Everywhere he sees  me, he accords me respect like a peer, with warmth and affection.

I celebrate you today, Uncle Soni Irabor. I appreciate your friendship over the years. Thank you for believing in me and urging me on, through the storms too. 

I salute an icon in Nigeria’s media firmament, for Soni Irabor is not all about broadcasting, even as he towers with amazing credentials, one of which is creating Radio Link, which has outlived him in Radio Nigeria. The programme airs till today. 

When you hear the pay off, ” Radio Nigeria, uplifting the nation, uniting the people” on Radio Nigeria Network News, that’s the voice of Soni Irabor. 

He is also a PR guru with his Ruyi Communication and a former commissioner in Edo State. 

Happy birthday Soni Irabor. Seven hearty cheers for your seven decades on earth. 

Soni Irabor is married to an equally celebrated media personality, publisher of one of Nigeria’s favourite lifestyle  magazines and author, Betty Irabor 

May your home continually flourish.May you live long in good health and abundance of peace.  Amen. Happy birthday Uncle Soni Irabor


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