Tuesday, 11 April 2017

What we lost with journalism of Osoba era—Sam Amuka-Pemu + Why Osoba drinks only Coke

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Chief Sam Amuka-Pemu, Publisher, Vanguard Newspapers

Sam Amuka-Pemu chairman and publisher of the Vanguard Newspaper has become a Nigerian newspaper legend. Amuka-Pemu started his journalism career in the early 60s and edited Sunday Times before moving to pioneer The Punch Newspaper in the mid-seventies with the founder, Chief Olu Aboderin. He wrote the famous ‘Sad Sam’ column which had a large following in the late sixties and the seventies. With his bogus cap and a pipe shooting out of his lips) Sad Sam regaled his readers with his incisive and satiric commentaries. Sometimes, he veered from commentary to reportorial columns—reporting on people he had met and events in which he was a participant. In Europe and America, columnists write even in their old age,but not so in Nigeria. The old columnists of yesteryears have all retired from column writing. And  that includes Sam Amuka-Pemu who stopped his column decades ago to focus on the business side of journalism.

“I stopped writing because I grew old” he says in his office at the Vanguard house. “I lost my innocense.Times change. Things I wrote when I was doing a column, I couldn’t do them now. I grew old for the column. In those days, I was a young man about town, who was just observing the society and had a big laugh.”
Sad Sam....
Segun Osoba was another “young man about town”of that journalistic era, although a younger colleague to Amuka-Pemu. The veteran Amuka Pemu remembers Osoba as a journalist whose metier is reporting. In this chapter, Sam Amuka shares his reminiscence of Segun Osoba whom he still calls, jokingly, “My little boy”

‘Osoba’s sixth sense for news’
Aremo Segun Osoba....The Enigmatic Journalist
“Segun Osoba came into Daily Times a year or so, as I was leaving Daily Times.
By the time the Nigerian Civil War started and the Federal Government took over the Daily Times, I was already out. I was in Punch Nigeria Limited, which I started with the late Olu Aboderin. We were doing a magazine then called Happy Home. That was what I left Daily Times to start. Segun was a reporter then at the Daily Times. I didn’t work with him directly. I was either the features editor or editing Sunday Times at the time Segun was a reporter in Daily Times. He was famous then as a newshound.
In the whole newspaper community, especially Daily Times, he was respected as someone who had nose
The Book of Osoba Chapter One Verse One
for news.
He had two things going for him. One, he had a sixth sense for news. Besides that, he had contacts. Even now, if I feel something is going to happen in this country, I would ask Segun. Because he would have run to one person or the other and they would have told him. That has been Segun’s life. If he makes friends, he keeps them till God-knows-when.
Late Journalism Great, Alhaji Babatunde Jose....The Man who loved Segun Osoba

Two things you need to be a good reporter is nose for news and contact. Segun had both of them. Segun was a first class reporter who got scoops. That was why Alhaji Babatunde Jose liked him. He was very brave as a newspaperman. There was this incident of a coup and Segun and Jose produced the newspaper, even though the editor was not around.
The Legendary Authors of the Book, 'Segun Osoba: The Journalism Years' MIKE & DIMGBA
He hasn’t lost any of his journalistic qualities. He is bright and sharp. I call him “sharp boy.” Even as a politician and a governor, he considers himself first a newspaperman. Being in politics was to him a form of sabbatical. That is why he has been named a newspaperman. He kept his contacts. Even as a governor, when you call Segun, if he got your message, he would call you back. The tendency for people who get into political positions is to forget their friends, but Segun was not like that. Segun never left his friends. That was why when his daughter wedded in Lagos, everybody that mattered in Nigeria was there. That is the fruit of Segun’s networking ability. He is that type of person.
The GDA with the Authors MIKE & DIMGBA
I call him “my little boy”. In those days, he used to do a lot of Parties. He was the toast of the town when we were bachelors. We liked women then. I know he drinks only Coke. He is a teetotaler. As we all grow, we abandon our younger weaknesses.
As a journalist, he had  passion, enthusiasm and some daringness. A good journalist must be daring, You must not be afraid to ask any question. In journalism, there is this maxim that “knock many doors, there is a story”. But that credo is dying nowadays, replaced by more of armchair journalism. And I suspect that that is part of why there is so much weakness and untidiness in
journalism of today.
Chief Sam Amuka-Pemu aka Sad Sam
The fact that you have education is not enough. Integrity is important. It takes a lot of guts and integrity to protect contact. Because, if you let a contact down, you are finished with regards to any future dealings with that contact. That is where Osoba is different from many people. He nurtured and kept his contacts.
Osoba was a very go-getting person. He is still a go-getting person. If he wants something, Segun knows what to do. I think that has served him well in politics. His opponents feared him. His friends too hold him in high esteem. They know what he can do.
Dimgba Igwe shares a joke with the GDA
As a manager, he managed Daily Times successfully, just as he managed Herald and Sketch newspapers. In the days of the military, he was always having one fight or the other with the government. He had it at Herald where he was relieved of his post. I remember he was to be part of the Guardian newspaper
Mike Awoyinfa talks to the GDA as Dimgba Igwe looks on
dream. He and Alex Ibru had talked about it but after waiting for a year and nothing happening, Segun being Segun, decided to move on to a new challenge. He moved on to manage Sketch. And we all saw what he made of Sketch. He always had this knack of taking a makeshift, mediocre newspaper and turning it around. From Sketch, he came back to Daily Times as managing director and to follow in the footsteps of his mentor, Alhaji Babatunde Jose. Daily Times for him was a triumph. We all know the problems he had in Daily Times. At a point he was about to be removed as managing director by the military regime that had acquired majority stake in the newspaper, but overnight, he was no longer removed.
Aremo Segun Osoba with former CJN, Dahiru Musdapha
Segun simply pulled strings in the highest quarters. That is Segun for you. He had contacts, influence,  connections. Osoba’s metier was news. He was a newsman to the core. That is what he is known for. As for me, I am a features man. I have very little reporting background. But Osoba’s niche was news gathering. He wasn’t a features man, and he wasn’t a columnist. He was a newsman.
In our days, journalists were more thorough than today. They were more skillful. In our days, you were groomed as an all-round newspaper professional. Newspaper then was more professional than what we have today. You had to learn to do it. These days they don’t bother to learn the trade. They don’t take the pains to learn how to produce a newspaper.
Dimgba Igwe of Blessed Memory takes the GDA round the book Library
When a reporter files his report to the news editor who sends it to the sub-editor, the sub-editor takes the report and breaks it into pieces to get his own angle. If  he needs any extra information, the reporter would be there to supply it. The sub-editor invariably rewrites the story. Professionally, the sub-editors in the Daily Times were very highly skilled. We don’t have that now. Today, if a reporter makes a mistake, that mistake would end up Published in the newspaper.
Sam Amuka-Pemu....Angry for the loss of journalism values
We had the culture of sub-editors. They are the behind-the-scene journalists who, unlike reporters, are not known because they don’t have bylines. They are the custodians of house style and good grammar. They are the ones who through their editing and corrections help largely in grooming the young reporters on how to report accurately in good readable prose. Today, sub-editors are endangered species in the newsroom. That very important aspect of newspaper work is dying and we are all suffering from the absence of sub-editors.
When I started newspaper work, people were more careful. You didn’t take people’s name in vain. Reputation was highly guarded. When I look back, those were the days of innocence, This country changed with the war-when soldiers went to war and came back. That was a watershed in our history. Everything else changed.
Segun Osoba the Net worker with Late Sage Obafemi Awolowo and first Civilian President Shehu Shagari
For us in this business of journalism, every day is a new day. Holding an edition of a newspaper is like holding a new baby. It is exciting. You get fulfilled. A time would come when you would realize that money is not everything. If it was, those people with money won’t be asking you to have their names eight point in the newspaper, to see their pictures in newspapers. Newspaper has power, has an influence on the society.

Why I stopped the Sad Sam Column
Sad Sam?
I stopped writing my Sad Sam column because I grew old. lost my innocence. Times change. Things I wrote then when i was doing a column, I couldn’t do them now. We are talking over twenty years ago. It got to a stage where people express confidences to you and you couldn’t let them down. I grew old for the column.
The Authors of 'Segun Osoba: The Newspaper Years' Mike Awoyinfa & Dimgba Igwe in their Power House
In those days, I was a young man about town, who was just observing the society and having a big laugh. We told the truth about real life encounters-interesting life encounters. I wrote about things I experienced, about interesting people I met. I remember one column titled a “Night in Kakadu”. It was experience I had with a young prostitute. She was drinking and we got to talk. Here you find a girl opening her heart to you,telling you about what led her into prostitution, her disappointment with the society. I wrote about that sort of thing. Real life encounters. As a columnist, I just said what I liked. I went out to town, reported things as I saw them and expressed my views. With Sad Sam, I had a big laugh. I had fun. I am still having fun, but I cannot say the things I see anymore.
Back of the Book shows Profile of 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 call Mrs. Gloria Oriakwu on 080-33-44-5125)

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