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

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.

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“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

Osoba came into Daily Times a year or so, as I was leaving Daily
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
, which I started with the late Olu
. 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
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

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Two things you
need to be a good reporter is nose for news and contact. Segun had both of them.
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
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

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
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

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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