Olawale Obadeyi, Wally J: Sept. 1962 – June 2018, The Man that Belonged to a “Bigger Cult”
With heavy hearts, our team struggle with unsteady minds to put this together for a gentleman, a true friend of all, detribalised with tentacles across the country. As he usually claimed, he’s older than everyone, Wally J beat all to it for that last and final time, passed on to eternity suddenly, suddenly without a forewarn. His remains to be interred, 12 July, 2018. One death too many!
The Nigerian Advertising industry has hardly recovered from the death of its much loved octogenarian creative guru, Uncle Ted Mukoro, who died in the March, the industry has been hit by yet two other deaths of younger professionals. These were of the finest breed, suave but easy going, accommodating and quite inspiring. What a loss.
These Good souls, Unbelievable!
The industry lost Okon Iyanam, formerly of DDB Lagos, Insight Communications, Zain Nigeria (Airtel) and Globacom, where he was an Executive Director. Iyanam was described as an egg-head of sort, vast and brilliant young man who was gunning to contest for the governorship seat in home state, Akwa Ibom come 2019.
Until his death, occasioned by the bullets of suspected dare devil assassins, who riddled body with hot lead, he was the Chief Executive Officer at Bond Consulting; former Chairman, Heritage Hotel & Annex; former Chairman, Expectro Energy and former Group Managing Director, Quintessentiality Group.
The unwanted visitor came knocking on Wednesday 27, June 2018 at the deceased’s hotel in the Mowe area of Ogun State and snatched life out of the bubbly Okon, leaving in its trail tears and wailing by the immediate family, friends and associates.
Like Okon Like Wally J
In view of the “small” size and nature of the industry, most players are mutual friends of one another. Therefore, as most friend and professional colleagues were still trying to come to terms with the loss of Mr. Iyanam, alas, another death reared odious smell, now one death too many to come to terms with! A humourist, Wale Obadeyi, popularly called Wally J by his numerous friends in advertising and allied creative industries, yielded to the icy hands of death at the dusk of Friday without any premonition as he jostled from one meeting to the other earlier in the day. Like Okon Iyanam like Wally J, beyond being in the same industry, both shared some peculiarities, likeable, brilliant and the Akwa Ibom/Calabar blood. The former by birth while latter was by marriage.
Things were Looking before the Curtain Falls
‘Wale, a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) English Studies graduate of the Obafemi Awolowo University (1988 -92) on Wednesday, two days before his hurried exit, had made a social media post showing his excitement at rounding off the production of a radio series for Promasidor’s Loya Milk. June 27th, he wrote on his Facebook page, “After a painstaking recording. The Scriptwriter / Producer of The Loya Milk Show , Olawale Obadeyi , putting finishing touches to the season 2 of the programme , with our man on the console, Dandy. The programme is syndicated on 6 radio stations, across the country”. Silently, I was happy for him, in that, his agency, MaxiMargin is gradually getting there after all.
To show things were inching the up-ward way for Maximargins which officially opened for business in 2003, Wally J on that faithful Friday, had a late afternoon appointment at one of the telecoms companies on the Island, obviously his last. He made the meeting, made his presentations, came down but had to be helped into the car with dizzying eyes and failing breath!
The Enigma’s Sudden & Final Arrest to Rest
It was a cardiac arrest! He had to be rushed to a hospital. The first point of call proved a stone wall, no thanks to the country’s ill-equipped medical facilities. However, was admitted at Reddington. Alas! Time had lapsed, not much could be done to salvage his condition and boisterously precious life, as the man, ever bubbly Wally J, silently eased into eternity. Wale left behind, bemused friends and families! Sorrows and tears? No! Friends have resolved to celebrate the passage of this enigma.
Until his death, Wale was the CEO, Maximargins Communications. He had previously worked with Bluebird Communications and put in a good number of years and a built a brilliant career. He joined at inception (1995) as first copy writer on Shopfloor, rose to become a Creative Director and later Executive Director, before he exited in 2002 to set up his outfit in 2003.
He left off for a stint at Marketing Mix (2012) where he functioned as Executive Director for about three years. Wale returned to his Marximargins pet project in 2015/16 and has been diligently pushing the envelope.
Man of Many Parts
Wale who also held a 1987 University of Ife Certificate in Arts, was “huge in the arts”, his life beyond advertising, cuts across journalism, entertainment, films, theatre, radio, Voice Over (AVOA) and many more fields. Though bereft of height, Wale J’s amiable nature, rotund stature, great sense of humour created an imposing personality that’s endeared to all. He was a unique fellow.
Professionally, he churned out advertising master pieces. A chat with his colleagues at Kunle Ogunmefun’s Bluebird, where Wale spent most of his paid-employee advertising years, having started as a pioneer staff and copy writer (1995), revealed a distinguished ad man.
Deep, Very Creative & Passionate
Mr. Ogunmefun who was outside the country still expressed shock and disbelief while expressing his heartfelt sympathy in response to call put through to him. He urged we reached out to the COO. Reacting to Wale’s demise, Kayode Ebitamehi, COO, Bluebird, who joined Wale (Head, Creative) at the agency in 2001 as Head, Client service said, “His death is so painful and shocking. He is deep, very creative and had an infectious passion for the job”.
He describes him as a consummate writer but had a great aptitude for art Direction such that his long tenure churned out master pieces for Bluebird and its clients. He knew what he was doing, very relaxed, easy going and humble. His capacity to make friends is incomparable, Kayode added.
Skits & Humour
The story is told of Wally J, who upon being invited to join cult groups while on campus would tell the different groups prospecting for his membership, “I belong to a bigger cult. My father was a high ranking member of the Ogboni cult and he transferred the power and all paraphernalia to me upon his death with some definite instructions” With this, he told his usually ever amused listeners, “I was allowed to be without further troubles”. Such funny stories he regaled his colleagues and friends with every time. Never a dull moment with Wally J, all friends and associates seem to agree.
In his comment, Yinka Johnson, Managing Director, Media Integral said, “Don’t kid yourself that you would make it to seventy and above. Old age is never assured. Just leave fond memories for your friends and family which is what our friend our Wally J did”.
According to Yinka, a flood of memories ignite in his head of encounters and impressions being left behind by the deceased. “Our loss here on earth is heavens gain because you could crack the Almighty himself up with your wit, stories and interpretations”.
Too Loud to Ignore
Semore Badejo, CEO, Concrete Communication is also an art enthusiast and music lover like was, he gave Wale his first office and ever since they have been like Siamese twins. His note to BrandCrunch on Wale’s demise reads:
“Please pardon me if I choose not to talk about Wale Obadeyi in the past tense. It is because I am going to feel his presence for a long time. I now realise the import of that cliche, ”he lives on forever”.
His Constant Yabis Diffuse Tension
Semo continues, “Olawale Obadeyi and I run an unwritten, uncommon bond of friendship. I don’t think we ever had a quarrel. Trust Wale, he has a natural way of diffusing tension with his constant yabis. Too loud to ignore. Love him or hate him, he makes a statement anywhere he goes.
He actually moved into the office I vacated on Adebola Street, Surulere, years back. His friends became my friends and my friends, his. We all became one big family, hanging out every evening. Those stories of our Adebola days will soon be told, Semo declared.
“I am not sure I can write all about Wally Jay in one piece. He has a name for everybody. Let me just say here that he refuses to die in my heart. We will bury his body, but he is alive in me. Wally Jay, I bid your physical body bye, but your memories? They remain here”.
An All-Round Creative
Wally J was a published Poet, short-story writer and newspaper columnist, believed that a true Professional ‘does not interrupt when his work speaks’. His award-winning short-story, SANDSTORM IN THE RAIN has been published in LITTLE DROPS, a collection of short-stories, published by the defunct Liberty Merchant Bank, under its CSR initiative. As a newspaper columnist, he anchored MASCULINE LINE- a readers’ delight, every Sunday, published in the Guardian Life Magazine of THE GUARDIAN ON SUNDAY.
Adieu friend and brother – by the one you called Otunba O’Lekan, BrandCrunch.