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

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”


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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


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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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