Sunday, 19 February 2017

My Relationship with Awo, Zik & Sardauna—Segun Osoba’s ex-boss + How he ‘stormed’ Sardauna’s hotel during Hadj

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The Newspaperman, Aremo Olusegun Osoba with ex-Chief Justice of the Federation, Dahiru Musdapher

When in 1954, I was an assistant editor of the Daily Times, whenever the editor went on leave I would act for him. My main function as assistant editor was to produce the front and back pages besides other editorial functions. One day the Chairman Cecil King came from England and said: “Jose, you are Zik’s protege and Zik is going to the East, aggrieved after his disappointment in the Western House of Assembly, following his failure to become premier of the Western Region. Zik is going to the East as Leader of Government Business. I want you to go to Enugu and cover him. He is proud of you. You can cover him. You will be like Daily Times’s ambassador in the East”
I protested because I was next to the throne as editor. But King said that didn’t matter. “You go there as our representative”. He said. “At present we are not well circulated there. You go there, appoint distributors or agents who will be on commission. Then appoint reporters in what you consider strategic places”

I asked what would be my title and King turned to the general manager and said: “You just go there”. From the job description I called myself Regional Representative. I had the power to appoint and fire reporters. The drivers that were bringing the papers to the East were appointed in Lagos but if any of them misbehaves, I will recommend to the general manager to discipline or fire, but if I find very grave bad judgment on their part, I might take instant action that was deemed necessary. That was how I went to the East. Two other British young men, graduates of Oxford University, were appointed representatives in the West and in the North.
The Legend, Babatunde Jose...The Author of Osobaism...
In 1955, the chairman came to Nigeria and invited me and other senior staffers to Lagos for consultation. After the meeting with him, he invited us to launch but I absented myself. After the lunch we continued the meeting and King remarked: “By the way, Jose I did not see you at lunch and I observed that throughout the meeting you did not drink tea”.
The Newspaper Guru, Aremo Segun Osoba with ex-American President Jimmy Carter
I told him I was observing the Ramadan fast and he did not say anything. That night the general manager phoned me at home. I was lodging in my father’s house. He said the chairman wanted to see me tomorrow at 7.30 a.m. He would leave at 8 o’clock for the airport. So I went there and the chairman said: Jose, I am enormously pleased with your spiritual development. I used to know you to be in love with Star beer. If you want to spend your life on the solid foundation of spiritual development, we should encourage you. When is the next hadj? You will go to Mecca, to Jerusalem, to Cairo, then you will go to Turkey, to Istanbul to see great mosques.”

Encounter with Sardauna of Sokoto…
Just like Jose met Sardauna, Osoba meets Lamido....
So I accepted. I was very pleased. So I went to Mecca with a generous booklet of traveler cheque to spend. The hotel where I stayed was coincidentally where the Sardauna of Sokoto stayed. He came with a planeload, with his ministers. He left parliamentary secretaries and permanent secretaries to run the government.
The Book, 'Segun Osoba: The Newspaper Years'  by Mike Awoyinfa & Dimgba Igwe
He was away for ten days and we stayed in the same hotel. And I was reporting what was happening. And the Sardauna was getting reactions from Nigeria that there was a young man in that place, Babatunde Jose, reporting for the Daily Times. He is filing stories about you almost on daily basis.
Sharing ideas with King Mike Awoyinfa & Lord Dimgba Igwe
So Sardauna sent for me, asked who I was and I told him I was Babatunde Ismail Jose. He was so pleased that he almost co-opted me into his entourage but I told him I was well funded for the assignment. That was why I could afford to stay in this hotel. After the hadj, he returned to Nigeria but I continued my travels to Jerusalem and Cairo. I couldn’t go to Istanbul. I ended up in Cairo then returned to Nigeria.
The papers were being flown to the chairman in England every week and he was reading my reports.
Mike & Dimgba...Lives in a world of books & biographies
When I returned, the general manager told me the chairman had said I should be posted to Kaduna as Regional Representative. The chairman had written a letter to that effect, explaining that Sir Ahmadu Bello “is playing an important role in the future of Nigeria. From my own assessment, Jose having cultivated Awolowo in West and Zik in the East should be posted to Kaduna to cultivate Ahmadu Bello”.
Aremo & Beere Segun & Derinsola Osoba with their family
So, I was posted to Kaduna and when I got to Kaduna I went to see the Sardauna to tell him I had been posted there. He asked me to see him when I must have settled down. I got a house on a road that leads to the government quarters which gave me easy access to government officials. When I was in the East and in the North, I had an Opel Kapital as my official car, which was the official car for parliamentary secretaries. The company bought it for me. The Daily Times had always enhanced the status of its senior men.
Dimgba Igwe shares a joke with the GDA

A Newspaper’s role is to influence
The GDA met the Authors; 'Segun Osoba; The Newspaper Years' Mike Awoyinfa & Dimgba Igwe
Something you will ask and if you don’t ask I will tell you, which is the background to my attitude to publishing. In those years, in the ‘40s and the ’50s when I started journalism; we were products of the British style of journalism. Lord Beaverbrook of the Express, Cecil King of the Mirror-these were powerful
newspaper proprietors. At that time, proprietors were the men the prime ministers were hobnobbing with. The editors were powerful. They could make and unmake prime ministers and governments.
Mike Awoyinfa: King of Tabloid Journalism & Co-Author, 'Segun Osoba: The Newspaper Years'
That was the kind of journalism under which I grew up. So, my concept and my belief were that a newspaper is not just to inform or educate or entertain but to influence people’s minds. That was my definition of a newspaper. The primary purpose of a newspaper is not just to inform, educate and entertain. This is elementary, this is pedestrian. Its real purpose is to influence people’s minds. So, the man who developed me, Cecil King, was in that category. That was the pattern I followed. This is what influenced me. Authority.Power. Newspaper was power. And we showed it.

Osoba as a Newspaper manager
Aremo Olusegun Osoba: The Veteran Reporter
Just as Cecil King was my role model, Segun took after me even as editor and newspaper manager. As editor, I had to look at him from outside, because I had then resigned. I don’t know how long he was editor. But I remember he left for Herald as general manager and there was no Jose in Herald to teleguide him. He was assessed and given the job as general manager and he raised the standard of the paper and its circulation. Then he was brought to Ibadan as general manager of the Sketch and later he became managing director. I had no hand in the board of the Sketch or the Herald. He proved himself, he propelled himself by the grace of God and the judgement of his employers.
Aremo Segun Osoba: The Newspaper Man
 And when the Shagari government was overthrown and Buhari and Idiagbon took over I was invited by the government to advise on the reorganization of Daily Times, New Nigerian, NTA and FRCN. Gen. Obasanjo, immediately after I left the Daily Times, had appointed me as a member of the Constituent Assembly to represent the media, which I did. And a year after, that was in 1977, he appointed me chairman of the NTA when the board of the NTA was reconstituted.
Mr. Dimgba Igwe, Co-Author, 'Segun Osoba: The Newspaper Years' shows GDA more books in their library

 So in advising on the reorganization of the Daily Times, the man my mind went to was Segun Osoba as managing director. And I could justify it. I made him editor of the Daily Times and some people said it was a hazy, hasty decision. He did it for a while. Then another publishing organisation, though smaller in size, the Herald, appointed him general manager at a stage when they were just developing. He built up the company. Then the Sketch wanted the man’. He also developed the Sketch and turned it into a profitable company. So, I said time had proved me right. Of the young people I knew, worked with or groomed at the Daily Times, Segun is a man who has proved himself and proved me right. I recommended him and he was appointed managing director of the Daily Times.
Osoba the Newspaper Man with late Sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo & First Nigerian Civilian President Shehu Shagari
As managing director I think he took after me. He cannot be my replica. Nobody can do that. But he tried to make the paper independent or appear independent and circulation continued to rise. But for the negative part of the Buhari-Idiagbon government policy which impacted on public trust, readers’ trust, he did his best.

Journalists as Governors
His Excellency, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, former Governor of Ogun State
If you are a journalist and you reach the top as Osoba did as governor of Ogun State, you have certain advantages. One is the advantage of a man who has been a ringside observer of events. Think of boxing. From the ringside you can watch fights closely and know the strengths and weaknesses of the fighters. From watching the political players so closely, you can learn from them. It teaches you how to conduct yourself. I think Osoba and Lateef Kayode Jakande (who also was a journalist-turned governor of Lagos State) benefited from their experience as ringside reporters and observers of political players. And they used that to the maximum effect. Watch out for Osoba! The last is yet to be heard about him.
Back of the Book Reveals more about the Authors

(Excerpts from the book “Segun Osoba: The Newspaper Years” by Mike Awoyinfa & Dimgba Igwe. To get a hard copy of the book, kindly phone Mrs. Gloria Oriakwu on 080-33-44-5125)

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