Today, Monday, February 15th marks the fifth remembrance anniversary of Mark Debo Taiwo, a cleric, retired local government worker and media practitioner. He died in the evening of February 15th, 2016 while on an assignment at LAUTECH, Ogbomoso. His sudden demise elicited sadness. At the age of 55 years, he was still expected to live many more years to further fulfill some of the missions he was saddled with. But who can query God? He gives and takes!
Pastor Mark Debo Taiwo who hailed from Alagba Compound, Isale-Laka, Ogbomoso, and born on November 11, 1960, made a lot of impact within the short time he was allowed to live on earth. As a man of God, he devotedly served his maker; as a council worker where he later retired voluntarily, he was diligent; and as a media practitioner, his passion knew no bounds, he loved journalism so much that he died in the course of media work. He was a columnist with The Insight where he wrote incisive articles that mostly bordered on national issues. In his column, Talk Turkey Realm, which he christened himself, he was ever blunt, wrote with venom without caring whose ox was gored, he wrote it as he felt it.
I first knew him in early 2000s when we interviewed him in respect of an organization he founded then – “Operation Moving Ogbomoso Forward” – which he promoted passionately to advance the cause of his homeland. He embraced The Insight wholeheartedly, offered advice regularly on how to move the paper forward. Aside The Insight his write-ups also found spaces in several national dailies; a delight to read, he interspersed his writings with facts and figures, always well researched.
“Not a teacher by profession but his life taught lessons in focus, determination, courage and hopefulness. He was an impenitent stickler for perfection and quality, he infused The Insight with lots of this, he never hid his feelings on anything, he spoke it as he saw and felt it, very forthright but impressively when confronted with superior argument he succumbed gallantly. ‘I accept,’ he would gladly retort.” I had written of him at his death.
I also wrote, “Another aspect of him I will forever miss sorely is his penchant for perusing and analyzing every page of The Insight whenever an edition hits the newsstand, he would say, ‘you did well here, here you need not do it this way, this one why this way,’ he was highly committed to the paper while never looking for any pecuniary benefit in return.
“And as an example to his chauvinism towards Ogbomoso, he protested when we changed the name of the newspaper from Ogbomoso Insight to The Insight mouthing his preference for the nomenclature bearing Ogbomoso even though we had changed the name in order to reach out more effectively beyond Ogbomoso and with that prefix we were limited.”
The voids his death created have not been filled because he was a special breed. He will never be forgotten and will forever be missed because he was a good man. He carved a niche for himself.
Let me recall some submissions and tributes from his burial programme which came up on Friday, February 19th, 2016:
In a short exhortation, Pastor Wasiu, Ogbomoso regional pastor of the Deeper Life Bible Church at the time said, “We should stop saying that a believer dies young, will anyone say Jesus Christ or even Stephen died young? When we say someone died young it is tantamount to glorifying Satan, forgetting that God permits things in His wisdom even though He could prevent it in His power.
“Our brother left when it is time. Though we may be sorrowful but if we see where he is now, it is he who will rather charge us to be prepared. As Christians, we should not sorrow like the hopeless, we should be hopeful of resurrection. It is assured we will see Pastor Taiwo again, let’s remain in Christ.”
Also, a family spokesperson, Mrs. Mercy Abosede Olawuyi (nee Taiwo), stated in her testimony: “He (Debo Taiwo) was a mentor to me, much more than a brother, he was a father to me, he led me and my other sibling, Bayo to Christ. He gave salvation to us, he corrected us in love; he never thought about himself, I thank God about his life.”
Disclosing that Taiwo had premonition of his death Mrs. Olawuyi revealed how recently he told her emphatically that he would not be available for a forthcoming programme, “his is a death of a righteous man, in this I am consoled,” she stated.
Similarly, Pastor Olu Victor of Jesus House International Outreach, described Taiwo as a blessing to humanity, a helper, recalling how he saw him in a vision in sparkling white attires immediately after his transition and was told by him smiling, “I never knew my time would be brief.”
Reverend Olarinde in his testimony on behalf of Ogbomoso Christians Ministers Fellowship (OCMF) said” “It is a great loss to us, he served meritoriously in different committees of the organization, he was very good in meeting with kings and nobles, and he was not partisan in his approach.”
A cleric of the Deeper Life Bible Church also recollected his association with Debo Taiwo submitting: “After he retired last year he told me of his plans to go professional as per media work it is unfortunate he had to die this way.”
Apostle Paul Gospel Outreach (APGO) which just held a crusade in Ogbomoso and which had appointed Taiwo as protocol officer described him thus: “You were indeed a man of God,” while presenting the family with monetary gift on behalf of the Christian body as well as reading a tribute sent by Apostle Paul Adenuga, spiritual head of APGO.
Pastor Ojo John on behalf of Association of Local Government Staff Christian Fellowship of Nigeria (ALGOSCFEN) to which he was a member extolling his virtues asserted: “He was an embodiment of excellence and outstanding. What he did is already captured in the Bible in 1st Timothy. He was the pioneer treasurer (of the body), highly meticulous, he would give account to the minute details; he encouraged us to live righteously and to uphold holiness. When he retired he told me he would go into full time ministry, and when I told him we would organize a community service in his honour he said there was no need informing me that he would not be around, I only understood what he meant when I learnt of his death.”
He meant so much to many people because he touched so many lives and as we remember him today, exactly five years after his demise, I pray God will continue to uphold his family and all he held dear.