How we made Journalist-Governors in Nigeria—Lateef Jakande

First Civilian Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande (The Narrator)

The Journalist in Political Power…
The former
governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef’
Jakande
is a veteran journalist who rode into the political platform with a
media credential: He joined the
Nigerian Tribune in 1953 as
the editor and later became the longest serving managing director of the paper.
With the Tribune as the platform,
Jakande became a media statesman, becoming the president of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), chairman
of the governing council of the Nigerian
Institute of Journalism (NI]), and
the president of the International Press Institute (IPI), among others. By
1979 when he quit journalism to contest for the governorship of Lagos
State and won, Osoba and the late Chief Olu Aboderin stepped into
Jakande’s media shoes. In turn, Jakande went on to distinguish himself in  power as the “action governor’ who initiated
and executed various ambitious projects now considered as landmarks yet to be
surpassed. Jakande attributes his successes in power to his media background, a
similar credential which he believes should see journalist Segun Osoba soaring
to heights of political achievements. He profiles Osoba from the perspective of
a journalist in power.


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Segun Osoba…The Journalist-Governor
 ‘The Osoba I know’ by Alhaji Lateef Jakande… 

I know Segun
Osoba
quite well, even though he was a much younger colleague. He is
very precocious and smart in the good sense of the word. As a journalist, he
was a good newsman with a sharp nose for news. He is not a features man. He is
more of a newsman than a features man.

The Book that revealed too much about Aremo Olusegun Osoba

He had the knack
for relentless pursuit of a good story. He worked very closely with my
colleague, Alhaji Babatunde Jose who was and is still his mentor.
Segun and I didn’t have a close professional
relationship until the latter years when he came close to me on the board of
the Nigerian Institute of Journalism
(N.I.J.) and Newspaper Proprietors
Association of Nigeria
(N.P.A.N.) By then, he was with the Nigerian
Herald
as the general manager.

The GDA with Newsman cum Politician, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande

The relationship
then and the level of confidence that developed between us were such that when
I was taking office as the governor of Lagos
State
, I sort of shared my media kingdom between him and the late Chief
Olu Aboderin
. Segun took over
as the chairman of the board of the N.I.J.
while Olu became the president of the
N.P.A.N.
 Segun did a lot in
the institute in the area of enhancing the quality of training. His performance
was a source of pride to me because I virtually singled him out as my
successor. He did not disappoint me. He was also active at the International Press Institute. He contributed to the building of the institute and his
footprints are still there. You can put it down that Segun is a sound journalist.

The GDA with Co-Author, Mike Awoyinfa

One very
outstanding scoop that Segun was
noted for was the discovery of the body of the late Prime Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa who was
shot and dumped in the jungle by coupists. That was the biggest scoop of the
day in the 1966 coup, because after the coup, nobody knew for sure who was
dead or still
alive.

The GDA with Co-Author, Dimgba Igwe (Of blessed memory)

After the coup,
many wondered whether the prime minister was dead or had merely been kidnapped
and held somewhere. Segun put paid to
that speculation. Breaking the news took a lot of courage. It was a very
dangerous period in the nation’s history and for a newspaperman to be able to
go to the various spots until he found the body of the assassinated prime
minister was an act of great courage. Segun’s
adventurism could have cost him his life because soldiers could easily have shot
him. But then the reportorial adventurism was in character with Segun. I think that was one of the
reasons that he became Alhaji Jose’s
favourite.

Great Babatunde Jose….Favored Osoba for Easy Succession at Daily Times


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Most people are
familiar with the famous coup day story where Segun was a key character. As the then deputy editor of the Daily
Times,
Segun was the only editor
who reported for work on a day of a coup, despite the curfew imposed, to report
the coup and produce the paper while the main editor was nowhere to be found.
The fact and details of the case, as everyone knows, are still shrouded in
controversy. But in Jose’s judgement
as the managing director of the company, Segun
demonstrated the type of editorial leadership that is
required of a good journalist. But, of course, there were people who felt that Jose was partial in favour of Segun. I am not in position to
objectively declare whether Jose was
partial to Segun or not, because as
far as the internal politics of
Daily Times was concerned, I was
an outsider. I was at the Tribune then, and therefore cannot be
considered an eyewitness. But whether Jose
was partial or not, I think that anybody who had followed Segun’s media career would admit, even if reluctantly, that Segun deserved whatever he got in that
place. He was hardworking, courageous and a precocious journalist.

Aremo Olusegun Osoba: The Newspaper Enigma

As events later
demonstrated, Segun was not just a
journalist, he was also an accomplished media manager. It is one thing to be a
good journalist but quite another to be a good manager. But Segun was both. He learnt very fast. I
think one key attribute to his rapid development was that he identified his
models and went after them. I am sure he could always repeat word-for-word
everything that Jose said. And, of
course, he had high regard for those of us who were the generation of Jose.

Aremo Osoba: At home with Royalty (With Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Adewale Akanbi-TELU 1

When he was
appointed managing director of the Daily Times, I believe he ran the
paper just as Jose would have liked
to do it. Before then, he had successfully demonstrated his management skills
at the Herald and Sketch where he headed a turnaround of the organizations. But his tenure at Herald was not too long because he was
there more for a rescue mission, which he accomplished successfully. I think
that success paved the way for his appointment to head Sketch at Ibadan. He did even better at Sketch than
at Herald because he had more resources to work with-manpower, materials
and money. And he had more time.

Aremo Osoba, at home with the Soap Box (With Ex-Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State)

The making of a
Journalist-Governor

Ex-Governor Segun Osoba of Ogun State

A journalist who
comes into political office as an elected state governor comes with certain
attributes. First, journalists have a critical approach to issues, which helps
the journalist-governor considerably
in addressing issues that may arise. The journalist has probably spent most of
his time telling people what to do, telling the government what they should do.
This sharpens his mind in the process. He is therefore at home with the
critical issues that need to be addressed.

Co-Author, ‘Segun Osoba: The Newspaper Years; Mr. Dimgba Igwe (Of blessed memory)

Therefore a
journalist who is properly oriented sees the seat of governance as a challenge
to do what he has beer telling people all through his career to do. A
journalist in government therefore has the advantage of being able to forestall
and pre-empt not only the opposition but also his colleagues whenever they
attempt any mischief. Why? Because as a journalist, he is familiar with the
personalities, styles, tactics and typical intrigues played by different levels
of people. The media, more than any profession, is a vantage pedestal to gain
greater insight into personalities and happenings in the society. He has seen
it all. He has been an eyewitness to many events.

King Mike Awoyinfa, King of Tabloidism and Co-Author, ‘Segun Osoba: The Newspaper Years’

In other words,
a governor who is a journalist is in Position to pre-empt whatever others might
wish to do. He should know what to expect from the press. In governance,
perception is very vital. The ability to manage the media is very critical. In
attending press briefings, a governor who has been a journalist should be able
to anticipate every question that may arise and respond to it ahead of time in
his speech.
Also, he finds
himself moving freely with the media more than    perhaps
any other governor, maybe because he understands the workings of the media. The
governor-journalist knows the difference between the sub-editor and a reporter
and an editor. He knows the limitation of the reporter at a press conference
and he wouldn’t make the error of blaming the reporter for the headline given
to a story, which he may have reported.

Tha Authors, ‘Segun Osoba: The Newspaper Years’ speaks with the GDA

I found myself
in the position of a journalist-governor and I was able to use that position to
advance the cause of governance. I was relaxed with the press, even with the
opposition newspapers like the Concord publications then. At every press
conference I addressed, I always asked the Concord journalists to ask
their questions, if any. It was done jocularly and in a relaxed manner.
In my view,
therefore, anybody in journalism who aspires to be a governor should see the
field of journalism as a preparatory ground for good governance. That is what
probably makes most journalists successful in governance. That is the tradition
toed by the late Chief Bisi Onabanjo, Segun Osoba and myself. Of course,
before us, we had our masters: Zik, Chief Awolowo and you may
even talk about Herbert Macaulay and others. In each of these cases, you find
that because he has been dealing with the public all along, he is no stranger
in governance.

Aremo Osoba…Made it in the Editor’s class and Guber class (With Uduaghan, ex-Delta State Governor & Balarabe Musa, ex-Kaduna State Governor)

Journalists:
Good or Bad Managers?

Mike & Dimgba in rare pose with GDA….’They Manage Tabloidism’

I don’t agree
with the notion that journalists are not good managers. In my view-and this has
been empirically demonstrated by the Ziks,
the Awos, the Onabanjos, the Osobas and
even my humble self—journalists can be good managers. Again there is no reason
why a good journalist cannot be a good manager because a journalist has to know
the people he is working with. If he is reporting a police beat, he has to know
about the police force. The beauty of our profession is that a good journalist
is an all-rounder who knows a little bit about everything else. So, that puts
you in a better position than everyone else.

Mike & Dimgba….Journalism is about books, books & books

Again, take it
back to governance. A good journalist that had served well in the media would
have been so exposed to the workings of government that he would find very
little that is new in governance. It was either you had investigated stories
about hospitals before or you had examined critically the educational policies
and their effectiveness. In doing the reports, a good journalist usually had
access to the best authorities in the various spheres of influence. So, very
little is new to him in government. All you have to do is to learn more by
practical experience. Already the critical instinct is sharpened such that you
don’t take anything at face value without exploring the underlying factors. But
like I noted before, the greatest advantage he has is the ability to anticipate
the opposition and the media as well as the fact that he has the journalistic
gift of critical cynicism which makes it hard for him to be deceived.
However, being a
journalist does not spare you from media criticism. In my experience, it is not
true that the media is soft on fellow journalists. What happens is that because
a journalist is able to anticipate the media, he is able to deal with media
issues, deflate or defuse explosive media situations which would usually engulf
those who are not knowledgeable about the media.

Aremo Segun Osoba…Still a good family man despite social life

Osoba’s first coming into power was under a
military dispensation, so there was little room for initiative. But what can be
said of Osoba is that apart from
being a journalist, Osoba is a
personable personality. He has an easy way of getting on with people without
hurting them too much. That explains why even under the military regime he made
friends with the military and     was able
to do what he wanted to do as governor in spite of the military situation.
Zik and Awolowo
as Journalists…

Zik….Motivating and Highly Strategic

 

Although Zik and
Awo
were different characters, I think that their journalistic backgrounds helped
both. Azikiwe was by calling and by nature an inspirer, somebody who
knew how to motivate people to do something. He knew how to arouse people into
action. In fact, that was what he used the West African Pilot for,
because the motto of the paper was: “Show
the light and the people will find the
way.”
Zik was just that
type of person and I believe that even in government he did that. He was able
to rise to the challenges of governance and the transition from colonial to
independent governance. Both in government and outside government, Zik
was the type of person who could inspire people to do anything. He was gifted
in that area.

Awolowo….Conservative but highly determined…

Chief Awolowo on the other
hand was a planner and executor. He was a man of action and thorough. His
journalistic training enabled him to research meticulously and to pursue what
he regarded as truth to the very end. He wrote a number of books and had a lot
of political experience and knowledge, which he acquired from his days as a
reporter in the Daily Times. The circumstances were not too hospitable
at that time but he went through it. Maybe that strengthened him and prepared
him for the hard life which brought him into prominence.

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 call Mrs. Gloria Oriakwu
on 080-33-44-5125)

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