It was another passing away into glory when Mr Demola Ali, ace table tennis player and Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Olympic Commission (NOC), bowed out in Lagos yesterday. Demola Ali, one of the few remaining sporting icons and a noteworthy Lagosian, was a close friend and confidant of Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas, the Asoju Oba of Lagos and they could regularly be seen enjoying a drink or watching a game of lawn tennis at the centre court of Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Racecourse, Lagos. They were occasionally joined by 88-year old Mr L. S. Balogun (LSB) and Chief Bolaji Oni, founder of Rotimi Rentals and past Chairman of Lagos Mainland Local Government.
Late Demola Ali, popularly known as Fireman, was very much loved by all members of the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club which was like a second home to him where he would convivialise with Mr Ekong, Admiral Okanlawon Oni and Mr Okafor, Chairman of RCO Properties. He was, along with other eponymous veterans, recently honoured by Mr John Momoh, Chairman of Channels Television, for his contributions to sports and sports journalism in Nigeria. He was 83 years old and is being buried today, 11th March, 2014, as announced by ace radio and TV commentator and his nephew, Mr Jimi Disu.
As we go to press crowds have started congregating at his Tinibu Square/Ali Street/Bamgbose Street/Broad Street/Nnamdi Azikiwe Street residence in Lagos. More details later. About the recent award night:
It was an emotional night, Saturday, at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers when the Sports Business and Media Awards ( SBMA ) rolled out the red carpet in recognition of Prominent Nigerians who had served sports meritoriously in their time as journalists and broadcasters.
According to Chairman of the occasion, John Momoh, CEO of Channels TV, it was quite emotional to see “physically, those men who were role models for us to follow”.
In a telephone conversation, Chief Ojidoh who called in from his Sapele base, said he was delighted to have been remembered at a time there is a dangerous tendency to forget “ the labours of our heroes past….”
While receiving their awards Chief Ajibade Fasina-Thomas, erudite image maker of the National Sports Commission and Alhaji Demola Ali ( Alias Fireman) long time PRO of the Nigeria Olympic Committee were unanimous in thanking SBMA for remembering them while they were still alive.
Top on the list of those who were honoured with the Evergreen category included the master himself, legendary Vanguard Columnist Bisi Lawrence, Peter Osugo of the then Daily Times and former Team Manager of the Green Eagles, Pa Ojidoh of the Bendel Observer fame.
Also honoured was Robert Ndabai, West African Pilot and Concord, and Walter Oyatogun of FRCN.
For the Gold Sports Journalist Icon were Paul Bassey, Sunny Ojeagbase, Fabio Lanipekun, Tony Akiotu, Isaac Ibhafidon, Muyiwa Daniel and Olu Amadasun.
Mallam Danladi Bako, commissioner of sports in SokotoState and former Chief Executive of National Broadcasting Commission ( NBC ) led the list of Active Practitioners honoured in the night.
Others were Larry Izamoje, Chairman of Brila FM, Patrick Ugbe, commissioner of sports in CrossRiverState, Mitchell Obi, African Sports Journalists boss, Emeka Inyama, board member of the NFF and Dennis Sami, chairman and editor in chief of Pilot Group of Newspapers.
In his remarks, chief host Spiff Sagbamah said he was delighted to have in the house, men who he has only heard about and not been opportune to see. “I promise that this will be a permanent fixture of this award, giving honour to whom it is due, even in their life time” he said.