Friday, 7 August 2015

Why I left Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s job---Eric Osagie | + “What People don’t know about me”

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Asabeafrika's Gbenga Dan Asabe with Eric Osagie, MD, The Sun Publishing Group

We hereby serve you the concluding part of the Eric Osagie interview which was conducted inside his posh office at Coscharis Estate, Kiri-kiri road, Apapa-Lagos penultimate Tuesday evening. Here, the debonair Managing Director of The Sun Publishing Ltd who took over from Presidential spokesman Femi Adesina in June revealed what makes him thick and why he thinks most young journalists need to chase the work and not the money.
He equally revealed the story behind his short stay in Edo state as Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s SA on Public Affairs and Strategy. Enjoy the excerpts on your Africa’s number 1 Celebrity encounter blog Asabeafrika.
Eric Osagie to Asabeafrika....'A columnist should be a good commentator & Analyst
You have been a famous columnist in the last 20 years; can you tell me the difference between being a columnist, an editor and a media CEO?
They are interrelated like an orchestra. Like they say ‘You can’t whistle a symphony’. So, as a columnist, it comes with its own challenge. You look for a topic then you now decide to then deliver it, you need to learn how to deliver the killer punch. For me, I try to balance both sides. You know there is a subject, there is a thesis and you must locate the conclusion of the story. Being a columnist comes with its own challenge. Sometime you suffer writer’s block. Sometimes you don’t know what to do. And anytime I put something out and I have abuses, it means I have delivered. And if I have some praises, it is fine. But if nobody is commenting on what I have done, it just simply means I have not done anything at all. If you are a columnist and nobody is either angry or happy with you, it means you have not done anything. And if everybody is happy with what you have done, you have just done PR. But if you have done something and some people are screaming your head out and wanting to stick a punch to your stomach, it means that you have done well and they accuse you of all kinds of things. That is the challenge; some will say ‘Oh, they have bought you, they have paid you’ but when you do something right in their face you now ask them ‘did you pay me for that?’ no. Then as a columnist you get notices and some doors are opened for you and privileges come but those are by the way. 
The GDA with Eric Osagie's Chairman, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu
Public commentary is a very hazardous business because you can’t please everybody, and you are a public person, some people want to abuse you, some people want to hug you but at the end of it all, what is very fundamental is the way you deliver. I like to look at myself as a stylist. There is a difference between being a public commentator, an analyst and a columnist. Column is about style; column is not putting your photo there and writing, you are just doing analysis. But a columnist can combine both public commentaries and analysis together in a beautiful way. You must be entertaining, you must play with words. So, I am in that sense a stylist. I want to entertain because I want you to read something that is a bit breezy. That is for the column. Being an editor or editor in chief, right now I really don’t do much of editing except when it is a Page One, I have to see it, and I have to take decision on the first page because that is the is the summary of the newspaper. I have to see the editorial, I don’t breath down on people but I give direction on where we are going and what needs to be done to get there. I don’t know who said it, that ‘democracy begins and ends in the newsroom’. What it means is that you can shout democracy in the newsroom but there is nothing like democracy.
Another of Eric Osagie's mentor Alhaji Aliko Dangote with the GDA
“He is my Governor and he remains my friend and boss for life. When we met recently, I said to him ‘there is nothing like former boss. Once somebody is your boss he remains your boss for life’ and he is doing his best because the wrought that was on ground was simply enormous. So, the fact that I am not there does not make him a bad governor”.
Everybody can have their say but the editor-in-chief has his way most times but not all the time, you must let those who you have saddled with duty also do their own job for at the end of it all, you take the responsibility for the good and the bad. So, it is a synergy when you are editor-in-chief. When people come up with ideas which appear good, I don’t breath down and say because I am editor-in-chief I want this, but I will give you the reason why mine may be superior argument. But if yours is superior we take it. Talking about the management side of the media I can say I am also a business man, by the time you become the Managing Director, you worry about the salary, you worry about the way bill, you worry about other inputs. You worry about everything about the company; for an editor, he worries basically about the paper but as the Managing Director, I worry about the paper and the organization. But today we are training editors to also look at the business side of the business. It is not that we are training them; they now know that they have to worry about it because it is a business unit. So, my duty as MD/E-in-C is to lead the company to the part of profitability. What I do basically is to coordinate the different arms from editorial, marketing, circulation to the least of our asset bearing entity to ensure that we have profitability and ensure that the company continues to stand. Like I told you, DAILY SUN has continued to enjoy support from both the Nigerian public and the chairman and the founder of the group to the first founding fathers and pioneer MD. I am the 4th Managing Director here and I tap from the experience of all of them because they all brought unique dimension to running the office. When I finish my own tenure I will hand over to the next person because you can’t be there for ever, it is like ruling a country; you do your best and leave the rest.
Eric Osagie MD & E-in-Chief, The Sun Newspaper
There was a time you got a political appointment with Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo state as SA on Public Affairs and Strategy only for you to drop the job shortly and return to the newsroom; if the opportunity re-present itself, would you take it?
In life you never say, never!; you can never say never because at the time I went to Edo state it was also in a sense, a rescue mission. The comrade Governor is a friend and he is still a very good friend. And by the time we supported him in our own little way to go to Edo and rescue the place, by the time he won it was like ‘look you guys encouraged me to go there. Now, I have won and you are not going to sit there in Abuja and tell me to go on. So, come’. I went in there and for one reason or the other, there was no animosity or quarrel but I just felt that I needed to come back to the terrain I know and I became wiser for it because I learnt so much there. The kind of experience I got within those 9 months of serving was second to none. He is my Governor and he remains my friend and boss for life. When we met recently, I said to him ‘there is nothing like former boss. Once somebody is your boss he remains your boss for life’ and he is doing his best because the wrought that was on ground was simply enormous. So, the fact that I am not there does not make him a bad governor. He is working very hard and I keep supporting him in whatever way I can. Our duty is to support the government to deliver to the people. I am from Benin in Edo state. It is our vision.
Eric Osagie to the GDA....'I dont take grudges to bed
You have not answered my question; will you ever go that way again?  
Like I answered, you never say never in life. Anything is possible but that is not my immediate priority. My priority is to give my best shot to this job which has been entrusted to me by the chairman of this company Dr. Orji Kalu, a great Nigerian and a wonderful person.  That is the job I am doing at the moment, who knows tomorrow? But that is not a priority for me. I have just gotten in here. I was at Telegraph for 9 months and I gave my best shot. I am here at the moment giving my best shot. I just give my best shot at any time and leave the rest. Let God decide the rest.
“If I am angry with you, you know. If I am happy with you, you know. I am an open book. I can scream my head at you but the next moment I have forgotten because I don’t take a grudge to bed. I was reading somewhere that the reason people hate is because hating is free, if people need to spend money to hate, they will not hate anybody;
Eric Osagie to the GDA...'I love hardworking people'
A lot of people see Eric Osagie as a no nonsense columnist/public commentator but who are you by you? Can you tell us who the real Eric Osagie is?
One, I don’t think I am a celebrity.
(Cuts in) But you are not to decide that, that is done by your fans across the world
Well, I am not. I am just myself. I am a very simple person. I am strict to the extent that I like procedures. I like things done well. In all the places I have worked, those who have problem with me are those who don’t work hard. I don’t have problem with those who work hard. If you work hard, you become my friend. We can go and share a drink after the work is done. As a person, I don’t keep grudges. If I am angry with you, you know. If I am happy with you, you know. I am an open book. I can scream my head at you but the next moment I have forgotten because I don’t take a grudge to bed. I was reading somewhere that the reason people hate is because hating is free, if people need to spend money to hate, they will not hate anybody; you can say I am a very simple, straightforward, easy going person, devoted to his work, devoted to his craft and I can tell you that journalism is serious business. Media is serious business. Business is serious business. What I do basically is when you have a job you must do it very well and that is the challenge I bring on board as the helmsman here.
One of the People Eric Osagie admires, Dr. Seye Kehinde, Publisher of City People with the GDA
Eric Osagie...'I am like an open book'
Do you have a role model?
I admire people who have gone from difficult situations to great admiration. If you talk of role models, for example I like the doggedness and creativity of Seye Kehinde (Publisher of City People Magazine) Why? A young man saw an opportunity when nobody gave him a chance and built a brand. That for me is somebody I will admire. But before that, Mike Awoyinfa is somebody we will continue to revere, why? He is a creative stylist. In those days at Weekend Concord, if you wanted to please him, you give him a good story and he will take you up and have lunch and introduce you as his friend, you have a drink. In those days, we use to leave the office and we are just having a drink and ideas hits us; and when the idea hits us, tomorrow it is the next cover. And we were very spontaneous in it. So, a man like that will qualify as one of my media heroes. He taught us virtually the tabloid thing. Whatever inherent talents we had he brought them out. So, you will continue to admire a man like that, who created a brand. Before him, there was no Saturday newspapering of such magnitude and he did it with his late twin brother (Dimgba Igwe). So, people who create something from nothing are my heroes in the business. People who expand the frontiers of journalism are my heroes. So, how would you not admire a man like Seye Kehinde who created a brand in the soft sell media? There are others who have their very best in the business. Mayor Akinpelu also did his best by organizing a team that brought FAME and of course Dele Momodu also created a brand with the OVATION thing.
Yet another Eric Osagie's mentor, Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai with the GDA
These for me are respectable people; people I admire and you can’t help taking away something from them which is doggedness, resolute and faith. I like creators, people who find their paths where there is no path. Anybody can go to government and take government money to do things but what did you create? I like the entertainers, I like pioneering spirit. Those who will say ‘it can be done’ when many say ‘it can’t be done’ I love challenges. Telegraph was not where it should be and it was a challenge that I was called to come and re-brand it. I could have sat in my comfort zone as Deputy MD but I said let me take up the challenge. Today, people are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel and the person who took over I am sure will do her best because she is a hard nose professional as well. I admire people who from nothing got to something. I admire a Mike Adenuga, I admire an Aliko Dangote. They said per second billings can’t be done and Glo did it; I admire people who take up hard assignments. Somebody like Nasiru (El-Rufai) somebody like Aminu Masari and even someone like President Buhari who tried for four times until he won. Some people would have given up. I am not making a political statement I am also saying I admire dogged people who achieve what many feel cannot be achieved.
If you find your self with 1500 up and coming journalists in a ball room today, what will be your chief message to them?
Be passionate about this business; don’t be passionate about money. If you pursue the business well, other things will follow. Seek ye first the kingdom of news and other things will follow.
The GDA with Eric Osagie

Gbenga Dan Asabe

Africa's Number One Celebrity Encounter Blog


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