Boma Al Onyanabo pens a short introduction to a wonderfully written and touching piece by Michael Orodare about our departed friend and gem. Take a moment to read about and pay respect to a truly beautiful soul, Emilia Asim-Ita.

Short Intro by Boma Al Onyanabo:

I was lucky enough to meet the enigmatic Mrs Emilia just once while working on another one of her more notable projects –  Eko United. It was a very short encounter because even then it was obvious she was so busy, I was quite surprised to learn she had been able to squeeze out a couple of minutes for me.

Ostensibly, the major purpose of the meeting was to give me a dressing down for causing so much delay on the project. I was expecting the worst to say the least when she walked into the conference room. The second thought that popped into my head was: “Boma, you don’t deserve to be in the presence of this woman.” The first was a promise to work on becoming a better person generally.

That was the kind of effect she had on people. Watching her made you want to improve yourself, her demeanor and character made you subconsciously give her your love and loyalty. Looking back, I can confidently say that was the most intriguing and lingering first meeting with anyone in my professional life.

The “dressing down” I had dreaded and expected turned out to be more of a pep talk. This wonderful woman never raised her voice or used a cross word all through and she had every right too.

It was then I realized all of us in the conference room and office were extremely lucky to have this gem of a woman in our lives.

I hope her family and loved ones can draw strength and comfort from the fact that she lived such an impactful life and was loved, honored and cherished by almost everyone who knew her. What a woman!

Michael Orodare’s Piece

A motivator, thinker and doer, an igniter of vision, and executor of dreams – those are some of the roles that Emilia Asim-Ita played in the lives of those who crossed her path in the short but impactful time she spent here.

Emilia who passed unexpectedly on Friday January 29, 2021, was an exceptional integrated marketing communication and development expert who was, according to friends and colleagues, extremely passionate about development and helping people actualise their dreams. Many Nigerians were shocked when news of her death broke on Friday January 29, 2021.

“Our captain took a bow,” read a statement from A’Lime Media Limited (AML) a strategic communications agency she founded in 2010.

Her sudden demise came a few days after a successful appendicitis surgery. John Hopkins Medicine says appendicitis, an infection of the appendix, is a medical emergency and most cases happens to people between age 10-30. The U.S National Center for Biotechnology Information named acute appendicitis as the second most common cause of surgical abdominal disease in late adulthood.

After spending a week at a Lagos hospital treating appendicitis, she sadly lost the battle. Born June 10, 1987, in Lagos, Emilia was the last child and only female among the four children of her late father Chief Robert and mother Princess Geraldine Asim-Ita.

She was educated first at Treasure Land Primary School, then at Methodist Girls’ High School, Yaba, Lagos. The same school that produced a long list of trailblazers like H.I.D Awolowo, Ibukun Awosika, the Chairman of First Bank, Folake Solanke, the first female Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), among many others. Emilia left the school in 2003 as the Head Girl who won awards and laurels for the school at state and national competitions.

She was part of the Sun newspaper team at the Mass Communication department of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) where she bagged her B.Sc and M.Sc degrees. From there, Emilia went on to pursue a career in public relations and strategic communications before delving into the development path.

“Many projects across the (Nigerian) media landscape have her input either as a visionary, executor, supporter, encourager or amplifier,” co-founder of RED Media Group, Chude Jideonwo, told Neusroom in a telephone conversation.

She identified her career path quite early and Emilia told The Nigerian Tribune newspaper in 2020 that she started building and growing brands at 16.

“I started professionally in youth marketing and youth development for 7 years (as co-founder of RedSTRAT, now RED Media and The Future Awards, now The Future Africa) and did a stint with media technology before moving to AML (which focused on PR and events only at that time) before consulting on sustainability and CSR for 9 years (co-founding ThistlePraxis) and then back to AML,” she said.

She also had a stint in television production as a Segment Presenter for ‘Mind Your Grammar’ on NTA 2 Channel 5 for a year before hosting and producing ‘YouthTalk with Emilia’ for five years and later ‘Rubbin’ Minds’ on Channels TV.

As a member of the Future Awards team, she was in charge of PR, marketing and public engagement with the media, sponsors, corporate organisations, and government.

Chude, who co-founded The Future Awards Africa with Emilia and Adebola Williams of RED Media, says she was audacious and courageous when engaging potential sponsors,

“no matter who it was”. “If I got a high level contact that was passionate about the Future Awards, I would transfer it to her because she had the skill set and the courage to follow up that conversation,” he says.

It was while doing this that she met the CEO of Core Media, Jide Adediran in 2009. Adediran told Neusroom that Emilia was very industrious and

“her dedication to our project that seeks to rescue Lagos from the shackles of our oppressor can’t be overemphasised. She was a great asset to our project and an inestimable loss.”

Emilia described herself as a woman “who loves to bring ideas to life,” but beyond that, it appears Emilia also found more fulfilment from igniting the dreams of others.

She worked on a lot of media, communication and development projects that dot the Nigerian landscape. Since meeting Emilia in 2013, Ifedayo Adegbenro, founder of AGS Tribe, told Neusroom that Emilia was the only one she could trust to excellently execute projects to her preferred standard.

“She was my go to girl for anything that made me ‘think’,” Ifedayo says. “From government projects to SMEs to multinational projects. She was my backbone. I ran everything by her.”

While Ifedayo was working on the launch of her app, it was Emilia who coined the name ‘HERconomy’ which has been a game changer throughout the campaign of the app. Japhet Omojuwa also told Neusroom that Emilia sent the email that became his first book, ‘Digital: The New Code of Wealth’.

“That makes it impossible for me to forget her,” he says.

Chude also bore testament to Emilia’s penchant for helping others find their feet and turn their dreams to reality. It was one of the rare attributes that endeared her to many.

“She was that rare person who helped people believe that they could create products,” Chude says.

She left the Future Awards team in 2010 to found AML. Chude declined to share the story behind her exit with Neusroom because the three partners agreed to share the story together. Now that Emilia is gone, we may never hear the story.

He says “when she decided she was going to do something else, we had a robust conversation about it and we were very sad to see her follow that path. But as the world can see, she turned out making that path a huge success.”

When she was with the Future Awards team, one of the things her mind was very fantastic with, according to Chude, was the development space.

“She had a very keen understanding and excitement about the development space. So it did make sense that she took a step back to focus on what was a unique passion of hers.

Emilia wasn’t just a dynamic team player. Adediran says she was “a ‘skipo’ (Skipper), and in most times, a technical adviser that never appeared on screen.

For Ifedayo, Emilia was an absolute underdog who was “always happy to be behind the scenes, not interested in the limelight, just EXECUTION

“The beauty of it is that, even though she was a behind the scene person, those who needed to know her did know her, because her work was never not spoken about,” Omojuwa say

But Chude says she was extremely comfortable in front and behind the scenes.

“She was one of those individuals who can find accomplishment and make impacts either in front or behind the scenes.

Until her last days, Emilia was as committed to her Christian faith as she was to her professional career. She was secretary and member of numerous committees on youths and girls affairs as well as secretary of the Lay Preachers’ Association at the Methodist Church of the Trinity, Lagos, her place of worship until her passing.

Olukorede Okpekpe who worked with Emilia for close to three years at AML told Neusroom that she was a lovable, comely, determined, highly professional and ambitious Christian woman.

Her last message in the church was ‘Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled’, but her death has left many hearts troubled as they question why she had to leave so early. Her mother, siblings – Engr. WIlliams, Architect Kingsley, and Pastor Gershom, as well as her uncles, nephews and cousins who survived her are yet to find answers.

She had dreams, a lot of them yet-to-be-accomplished.

Okpekpe told us Emilia was building a world-class communications brand that would cater to any clientele within the communications and development gamut. She also wanted to create a platform where premium Christian contents could be accessed (in the works via Kvibes TV, a faith-based platform).

She wanted to invest in womanhood, create a pool of funds to educate the girl child, among many others.

Emilia was, on Tuesday February 16, 2021, laid at Ebony Vaults, Ikoyi, in Lagos, her final resting place, and will not be able to execute the dreams the way she had helped many to bring their dreams to life. But she left a team at AML expected to execute them. Although they’ll miss “her extra breadth of thought which was always outside the box,” Okpekpe says.

Many agreed that Emilia would be remembered for her rare courage and how she pursued excellence in everything. Omojuwa believes there is a lot she would be remembered for beyond her courage.

“She was a people person. She touched people. They respected her, her craft, persona and ability. There is not much of a legacy if people do not remember that you were first of all a kind person who always got stuff done.”

Recounting one of the times she displayed such courage, Chude says

“the first time I ever quit a job in my life it was Emilia that told me to do it. We had a job together and she told me she was going to match up with the boss who I was extremely afraid of and she was going to tell him that we are not doing this again.”

Okpekpe says “she was a never-ending stream of solutions to all she encountered and she was constantly striving to add value.”

Whether it was publishing, broadcasting, public relations, integrated marketing, public engagement, hosting events, mentoring young people eyeing a career in comms., planning and successfully executing media and communications campaigns, Emilia did it all in just a few years.

Emilia Effioawan Asim-Ita may have left early at 33, but in those short years, she served an extraordinary life and many agree that she was an unending stream of solutions to all who encountered her.

 

 

Micheal Orodar