A former military Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida, on Sunday described Olusegun Osoba, a former governor of Ogun State, as a “stubborn” journalist who made good use of his prime and ensured that he left no stone unturned in the course of his professional duty.
Mr Babangida said this in a congratulatory letter he wrote to Mr Osoba on his 80th birthday.
He said Mr Osoba also knew how to cultivate friendships and derive happiness from gloomy situations and was “embedded with various talents for solving hard situations.”
The former dictator also said the chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, “is one of the few Nigerians who are not concerned about the tribe one belongs to before writing credible information.”
Mr Babangida said Mr Osoba practiced the journalism profession when technology was still a huge challenge.
“As young minds in those days, we socialised maximally without thinking about tribe or religion. We made good use of our prime and ensured that we left no stone unturned. Even as military officers, we had good company in our ‘bloody’ civilians who complimented (complemented) our networks. Chief Osoba was one of such ‘civilian generals’ who knew so well how to cultivate friendship and derive happiness from a seemingly gloomy situation.
“He has a knack for unraveling the unknown. When we needed to feel the pulse of the Nation, Chief Osoba became handy. He was more like a bridge between us and the people,” Mr Babangida said.
“Despite being ‘stubborn’ with extremely brilliance, he has a boss that understands his ‘wiles’ and ‘tricks’, both in letter and spirit. All credit must go to his wife of quintessential orientation and unknown humility. Her ability to manage Osoba’s excesses till date deserves more than a golden award and a standing ovation,” he wrote.
As part of his 80th birthday celebration, Mr Osoba took a nostalgic journey to his early days as a reporter at Nigeria’s oldest newspaper, the Daily Times, in his new book ‘Battlelines: Adventures in Journalism and Politics.’
The book, a biography, will be launched in Lagos on July 8.
One of the three pioneer employees who joined the Daily Times in 1964 after passing their A-levels, Mr Osoba was put under the tutelage of Guy Walls, an expatriate training manager from Daily Mirror, London.
“As trainee reporters, whenever we went out on assignments along with senior colleagues, we would give our reports to Guy Walls to assess, correct and ensure that it conformed to the Daily Times house style,” said Mr Osoba, who recalled that he had earlier been advised to study Law
“The apprenticeship was successful as our output outmatched all projections. It turned out that our reports were even considered better than those of some seniors to whom we were attached.
“So impressed was Alhaji Jose (Babatunde Jose, the pioneer managing director of the Times) that two months on the job, he called me and talked me out of the idea of reading law.
“My editor, the famous Peter Enahoro [Peter Pan], was equally impressed that he wrote me and prophesied that would have a successful career in journalism.”
Those words of encouragement laid the foundation for Mr Osoba’s eventual glittering career in journalism, which kicked off with a nomination by Mr Jose to study Journalism at the University of Lagos in 1965.
That was followed by a fellowship at the Commonwealth Press Union in Bouverie House, London, in 1967.
Following his journalism career, Mr Osoba ventured into politics and was elected Ogun State Governor in 1999. He lost his reelection bid in 2003.
He is currently a chieftain of Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress and played a major role in the election of incumbent Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun.