Osoba: Journalism’s Avatar by Ray Ekpu
On the morning of May 25 this year I was just lazily trying to switch from sleep mode to wake-up mode when the phone did the job for me with the alacrity of a technological device that we have all come to cuddle like a baby. It was the voice of Mr Waheed Odusile, a former President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) who is now the Commissioner of Information for the Government of Ogun State. He was sorry for the late invitation but he would appreciate if I could attend the commissioning of a Press Centre in Abeokuta in honour of Chief Segun Osoba, a media avatar who was also the Governor of Ogun State twice.
Despite the impropriety of being invited to an event on the morning of the event I would have been exceedingly happy to honour a man who has been an important factor in my journalism odyssey and who has remained a staunch supporter of press freedom. But I had an engagement already scheduled for that day so I missed the party at a place, Abeokuta, where the first newspaper in Nigeria Iwe Irohin, was born in 1859. Osoba had been the Governor of Ogun State between 1992 and 1993 under the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and from 1999 to 2003 under the Alliance for Democracy. But this column is not about his duty tour in the murky waters of Nigerian politics. It is about his eminence as a practitioner in journalism’s vineyard and how his staying power as a journalist is, or ought to be, a source of inspiration to young journalists. Osoba, a reporter of immense worth worked the phone as vigorously as a paid telephone operator, and had a string of formidable contacts among the high and mighty.