Why I resigned & returned to Daily Times within a month—Peter Enahoro

Mike and Dimgba…Authors ‘Segun Osoba; The Newspaper Years’ with the GDA inside their Lagos Library

I think I was
very lucky in that I met at that time a group of people in the Daily Times who
lived the life of journalism. Journalism was more a way of life than a
profession. I was just lucky to be in that set. Amongst them were people who
had gone on to other things. Sonny
Okongwu
, Herbert Unegbu, the late
Rabo Abaide, Oliver Jackman, Willie and
Alex Nwokedi, Peter Osugo, Nelson Ottah,
Aig Imoukhuede.
The idea of
closing from work and going home didn’t occur to anyone. We often came to work
together, eat together, and go out together at night. So, that kept me in the
office where I was learning.


(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Peter Enahoro….The Man who wanted to leave journalism but was arrested by the News room
My tenure at the
Daily Times was punctured for a year. I left the Daily Times for
a year. What happened was that there were no conditions of service, there was
no union and I was involved in a protest in fighting for a better condition.
The drafting of the protest letter to Cecil King, publisher of the Daily
Mirror
in England and chairman of
the Daily Times took place in my house. We knew he was coming around
December when he used to come to pass the budget for the following year. So, we
said we would protest. In those days, if you left the Daily Times, you
practically felt you had nowhere else to go because the Daily Times was
head and shoulders above the rest in terms of service condition.
So we organized
this protest. I took the paper and had it typed secretly at the department of
information.

The Book which explained how journalism was practiced in the Osoba Years

The day Mr. King came, the letters were
distributed. It took the senior management completely by surprise. Thirty-three
of us signed it. The editor was very, very hurt that it could happen under his
nose and he didn’t get a whiff of it. The editor was Gab Idigo. Mr. King looked at it and said: “I don’t recognize any union here.” This was the great socialist from
England telling us that we were not a
union. He said it was a local affair and that Mr. Roberts should deal with it. He was not going to deal with it. Mr. Roberts then said to the African
management: “How could this happen and your people don’t know anything about it?”
A meeting was
called and the meeting was extremely rowdy. Gab Idigo was angry. Abiodun
Aloba
was angry. They all protested that we had disgraced them before
the white people, that we didn’t trust them and so on.

Mike Awoyinfa & Dimgba Igwe, Authors ‘Segun Osoba; The Newspaper Years’

Those were the
days when you’ll walk to your editor for pay rise and he would ask you: “What do you young man need money for?”
He would just dismiss you from his office. There was no formal leave. You just
worked and worked. We said all these things had to be regularized.

The GDA with the Authors, Mike & Dimgba

At the meeting,
heated words were exchanged between certain people, between Nelson Ottah and Sonny Okongwu in
particular. The meeting was suspended when the late Chief Osula who at that time was the only African executive
director, said that after what he had heard, he felt the senior management
should meet and discuss the letter. That we the young ones had grounds for
complaints and he supported us. And that was a very powerful intervention.
During the break, there were more quarrel, more arguments. As we assembled and
reassembled, they said three people were to be asked to resign. One was Nelson Ottah, the other was Sonny Chu Okongwu and a third person.
All this was around 1956. I joined the Daily Times in 1955.

Peter Enahoro’s own book ‘How to be a Nigerian’

So, the three of
them were asked to resign. Then the meeting was closed and everybody got up to
leave. I started feeling very uneasy. As I said, the protest letter was drafted
in my house. I took the letter to the department of information to have it
typed out. At that time my brother was the minister of information in the
Western region and I just concluded that the only reason I had not been added
to the list was because I am Chief Anthony Enahoro’s brother. That was how I felt. I was so guilty that I was
not asked to resign. From that day on I was not happy with the Daily Times.
My Resignation…

Peter Enahoro….Bold and Innovative

 

In those days, I
used to go and sit in the House of
Representatives
. My main duty was to cover the foreign news. We didn’t have
Reuters at that time. My job was to
sit down and listen to the radio and take down notes from BBC broadcast from
7a.m till about 12 noon. After listening to the 12 o’clock news at home, I will
then set out for the office to write my story. But when the House of Reps was
meeting, usually, after hearing the 8 o’clock news in the morning, I would set
out for the House of Reps to go and
listen to the debates. I had a motorbike. So, this day, there was a hotel on
the way called Grand Hotel. It was
the fashion in those days to go there on Wednesdays when they had Mixed Grill. It was a treat. We go there
and pretend that we were wealthy to order Mixed
Grill
. On this day, I sat there and sat there and sat there. I just didn’t
want to go to the office. I hated myself for not having resigned. I was
confused. So, I just rode my motorbike, after a couple of drinks, at a great
speed into the Daily Times compound. And as I looked up, there was Percy Roberts, the Managing Director. I
think I was filled with hatred or something. There and then I made up my mind
that I would resign. I walked straight past him, went to my desk and started
typing my letter of resignation. He came over, saw what I was typing and said
to Aig Imokhuede who was the acting
editor: “Make sure he hands that in”. I
looked up at him and said: “Mr. Roberts,
this is serious”. And I resigned and
left.

The GDA and Tabloid King Mike Awoyinfa share a laughter over journalism talk

New job as ADM
for Radiofusion Services

Peter, just like his brother, Anthony

After my
resignation, I went to Ibadan where I
worked briefly as Assistant District Manager for Radiofusion Services. The job was fine and the salary was good. I
have always had the luck of earning good salaries, compared to my
contemporaries. On this day I was in Lagos,
well-dressed in my suit, feeling like a millionaire. I visited the Daily
Times
and the editorial adviser, an Englishman, Jeffrey Taylor with whom I had worked, looked at me and said: “When are you going to give up this charade
and come back to join us? You have a talent and you are wasting your time”.
That deflated me
like hell. I thought: ‘here I am, a
successful young man, assistant district manager and this man has just deflated
me like that’
. But I always respond to things like this. So, I said: “Hang on a minute. If I said I wanted to
come back to the Daily Times, you
won’t have me, would you?”
He said: “Of course, you know very well that we
think highly of you. Why waste your talents?”
Quite honestly, I never
thought I had a talent. I just knew I worked. That’s all. The idea of it being
a talent didn’t cross my mind.

Babatunde Jose….The Man who re-appointed Peter Enahoro

Alhaji Jose was by now the
editor of the Daily Times and Jeffrey Taylor went upstairs to talk
to him. Alhaji Jose then called me up
and said: “I hear you would like to
rejoin the Daily Times. We
would be glad to have you back. Your brother, Tony Enahoro, played a role in my
career and I would like to have you back”.
I went to Ibadan and resigned. Of course, my mother was very distressed. I
seemed to be a shiftless person. Every time I had a good position, I would
throw it away. She didn’t quite get over the fact that I resigned from the
government. So, I came back to the Daily Times and things started to
move from then on.
Alhaji Jose picked me to act as chief sub-editor on
one occasion when the chief sub-editor at the time was on vacation and I got a
letter of commendation from Mr. Roberts. I also got a bonus for the
months that the chief sub-editor was away. On his return from vacation, I went
back as a sub-editor.
Editing the
Letters Page

Peter Enahoro…He left Daily Times but Daily Times didn’t leave him

One evening, the
features editor was suspended. He was involved in a scandal that one shouldn’t
talk about. I happened to be the only one in the office. The senior hands were
not around. Alhaji Jose walked into the office and asked whether I could
handle the letters page since the features editor was on suspension and no
senior hand was around. I said yes, and he asked me to go and select and edit
the letters. At that time, before I took it on, it was the practice to publish
two or three letters in a page, and I found bundles of letters that had been
written and were not published. So, I sat through the night, sifting them out
to just two sentences, some one paragraph, to give everybody, as many people as
possible a chance. And the reaction was something I didn’t expect. Everybody
said: “What a wonderful job!” They
said it was interesting to read the letters, that I chose the right letters;
some contradicted the others and so on. I turned it into a debate page.
Editing the Features Page

Aremo Olusegun Osoba…The Star Journalist of Peter Enahoro’s days


(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

After about a
week or so, Alhaji Jose said: “Do you
think you can edit the features
page
as well?”
I said I would try. So, again, I was given the file of features
and I found the subjects that I thought were current and interesting were
usually ignored. Instead, we had this stiff approach to features. The Daily
Times,
I wanted to be seen as a serious paper. They featured things that
nobody could digest-unreadable stuff. I put those aside and I took those I felt
I would like to read. I selected them and they were easier to edit as well,
because I could understand the subject. Some of them I couldn’t understand at
all. And that was how I was confirmed as the features editor. The features
editor was sacked.
Editing the Sunday Times

Aremo Osoba the journalist with late Sage Obafemi Awolowo & Aremo Osoba the Politician with Nigerian’s First Civilian President, Shehu Shagari

I was 23 when I
was asked to edit the Sunday Times
in 1958, to succeed E.T. Willie Harry. In those
days you knew who was going to be the next editor. The next editor of Sunday
Times
was going to be Peter Osugo. But he went to Australia to cover the Olympics. He returned and on his return,
he went almost straightaway to America
at the invitation of the state department. So, I was asked to act as the editor
of the Sunday Times during his absence. So, in the two months or so that
he was away, it was decided that I should stay on as editor when he came back.

The GDA speaks with late Co-Author, ‘Segun Osoba; The Newspaper Years’ Dimgba Igwe

That is why I
believe that you need luck to make a break. When people say they’ve worked
hard, that’s why they became what they are, I say yes, hard work is part of it
but you have to have the lucky break. If you don’t have the lucky break, you
can work your guts out, you won’t get the chance. All my life, it’s been pure
chance, pure chance. I was 23 and altogether I had been in real journalism for
about two years.
How I changed
the Sunday Times

Peter Enahoro….An Enigma of the Osoba Newspaper Years

My mission as
the editor of the Sunday Times
was to make the paper as simple as possible. Peter Obe, the Daily
Times
chief        photographer worked closely with me. We would go out of our way
to look for a pretty face. We didn’t have Page
3
girls in those days. The page wasn’t very daring then. The Sunday
Times
used to carry sometimes “Ebenezer
Williams column”
which was very, very popular and powerful in the country.
It used to be put on the front page sometimes. But I took it out. I tried to
put a human face on the page. I would discuss issues but with a human touch. I
was lucky to have the friendship of some people on the Daily Times who
wanted me to succeed. We carried more human angle stories. I remember very
vividly the story of a naval ship, which we had bought, that was not
serviceable or something. The Sunday Times carried it and generated big
impact. I did stories like that of a rapist and a fellow who got to jail
several times for rape. I had an interview with him and did a story where he
tried to explain his bad habit.

The GDA in straight encounter with Mike Awoyinfa, Co-Author, ‘Segun Osoba: The Newspaper Years’

There were
campaigns and crusades. I had a car accident and while I was at Igbobi Orthopedic Hospital, I discovered that one of the patients there
was a boy who had been bed-ridden for years. He couldn’t leave his bed all
because he didn’t have a wheelchair. So, I did his story and I asked the
readers of the Sunday Times to raise money to buy the wheelchair and
that went down very well with the public.
For myself, I
was also doing interviews. I wrote a lot. I never worked so hard in my life
before or since. We would start production from Thursday. Quite often, I
wouldn’t leave the office at all until Saturday after the final edition of the Sunday
Times.
I would sleep in the office and send my driver home for a change of
clothes, tidy myself up and change. We were only three people at one time.

Aremo Osoba (R) ex-CJN Dahiru Musdapha (M) and Egba Chief, Alani Bankole

Most of the times,
we were two people – the late Ayo Adefolaju and I. Then we were
joined by one Miss Elizabeth Olamuyiwa. But we were using Daily Times staff
outside Lagos if we needed. Then we used people like Isaac Thomas and
Peter
Obe the Daily Times chief photographer also worked with
me.
Back of the Page reveals the authors
There was a time
I was writing altogether three stories myself. I did a series called “Legend
of our land”.
I will set out from
Lagos
on a Sunday to go and
investigate a legend, write the story, take photographs. By Wednesday, I would be back. And on Thursday go to work and then Saturday, come home to unwind and life
started again. That’s why I say we lived a life. It was a style of life. At the
later stages, I was married but the work pattern didn’t change much, which
could not have been easy for my wife at that time.   

The GDA with the Authors ‘Segun Osoba: The Newspaper Years’ Mike & Dimgba in very relaxing mood

(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)

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here