I was in Abeokuta on Tuesday, May 25, to attend the commissioning of a Press Centre at the Government Secretariat, Oke Mosan in honour of Chief Olusegun Osoba, two-time Governor of Ogun State (1992 -1993) and (1999 -2003). It is curious that the Ogun State Government since 1976 when the state was created had no press centre for journalists reporting on the activities of the state government. The main infrastructure, before now, where press meetings could be comfortably held in the Nigeria Union of Journalists Press Centre at Oke-Ilewo, opposite the old secretariat. This NUJ centre is a multi-purpose arena. It is one of the most popular Amala and Suya joints in Abeokuta! When Governor Dapo Abiodun assumed office in 2019, he promised to build a modern-day, state of the art media centre for journalists in Ogun State, to facilitate their work and promote the freedom of information. He has kept his promise. I was one of the guests.
Immediately after The Morning Show on Arise TV, on May 25, I hit the expressway. I was curious. I also wanted to honour Chief Olusegun Osoba, after whom the new edifice is named. Chief Osoba may have been a two-time Governor (Social Democratic Party and Alliance for Democracy), he may be known today as a co-founder and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), but his main bona fide is in journalism – the profession where he proved his mettle and rose to become a living legend of the art and craft of newspaper reporting. At 82, Chief Osoba identifies himself first and foremost as a newspaper reporter. He was the man who as a Daily Times correspondent discovered the bullet-ridden body of Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa in January 1966. He also reported the civil war. He was the only reporter of his time who had a telephone at home. He also had a Vespa scooter. He broke stories, gained many scoops and took the paths where angels of the trade feared to tread. Reporter, sub-editor, deputy editor, editor, General Manager, Managing Director from Daily Times to The Herald, to The Sketch newspaper and back to The Daily Times in 1984, Osoba’s story is well told in his autobiography, Battlelines: Adventures in Journalism and Politics which, in my view, is a must-read. Osoba, the first Nieman Fellow in Journalism from Nigeria, is highly revered, deservedly.
Governor Dapo Abiodun has built a befitting media workstation to honour him. Even if they were not in the same political party, there is no other person more deserving of the honour. In the past week, as Prince Dapo Abiodun marks his second anniversary in office, he has been showcasing his achievements in various sectors of the state economy and how well he has fulfilled his campaign promises and delivered on them. I was asked to say a few words at the event, and I made it clear that I am impressed. Ethnic one-upmanship is the biggest problem in Ogun State. By playing neutral and liberal politics, Prince Abiodun has been able to stay above the fray.
The high moment of the event was when Chief Olusegun Osoba disclosed that the last time he got a good reception at the Ogun State Secretariat was his last day in office in 2003. For eight years, his immediate successor declared him a persona non grata. For another eight years, another successor fought him. And yet, 18 years later, he returned to see a Press Centre being commissioned in his honour. He said he wore an “aso etu”, a special Yoruba garment, to show how important the event was for him. Many lessons to be learnt from Osoba and Dapo Abiodun’s examples. Thank you, Governor Abiodun. Congratulations, Chief Osoba.