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Our leaders lack the will to change things, says Peter Osugo

By Bashir ADEFAKA
Chief Peter Osugo is a  respected veteran journalist around.  He was Sports Editor in the Daily Times and later became Editor of the Sunday Times.  The 81-year-old Delta State-born journalist spoke to BASHIR ADEFAKA in Lagos, recently.  Excerpts:

Since you retired from ac-tive journalism, what have you been doing?

I am here enjoying my retirement quietly.  I am not in public affairs, I am not in any political party, neither am I doing any serious work for the purposes of earning money.  No.  I am retired and I am resting.  I thank God that my children are around and are doing fine.  Naturally, they support my living and so, I am contented.  The problem with most Nigerians is that we are never contented but in my own case, I’m contented and I thank God for my life.

I do consultancy but my consultancy is not for money because, I put no charges  on it.  Every day of your life, you are useful to the society. If somebody or group of people seek my knowledge over a matter that I have versatility on, I am free to oblige at no cost.

Who were your contemporaries in the journalism profession?

Peter OsugoYou may not know all of them: Abiodun Oloba, he is late; Ebun Adesioye, late.  He used to be Editor of the Daily Times; Willy Harry; Emmanuel Jajah who was MD of the Daily Times now retired; Alhaji Babatunde Jose, of course you know he’s late now; Alhaji Lateef Jakande, he is still alive; Bisi Onabanjo, now late, when he was the Secretary of the Nigerian Press Club, I was his assistant.  And Bisi Onabanjo was sweet and his younger brother, also, who died in a plane crash.  They were many but I can’t remember everybody now.

You brought up Alex Nwokedi professionally and he successfully became the fruit of your hardwork.  What do you think is responsible for one working and having nothing to show for it?

Bringing up Alex Nwokedi, I felt and still feel happy, satisfied and contented.  And then it is a proof of achievement.  That is it.

But you see, many things can be responsible why people do not have fruits to show for their hard work.  It depends.  Situations are always different.  You may finish a career and go to an area where naturally you are extinct and nobody knows about you.  It depends on how you programmed your life: If you want to stick to being in public eye, then you will be heard of.  But if you become a recluse of some sort and you don’t’ want to meet yourself in the public, you may naturally not be remembered.  Unless people go into records to discover achievements and want to keep in touch; then possibly you will be remembered.

You just talked of records.  In what way has record affected, possibly or negatively, the journalism profession?

Record affects individuals, negatively and positively.  It depends on the way you take it.  If you want to get affected positively, then you follow the path of those who have produced positively in the past.  But if you follow the trend of those who produced negatively in the past, then naturally you will fall into that wing.

You and some of your contemporaries grew in the Daily Times when the paper was at its prime.  Now that the Daily Times no longer exists, what is wrong?

I think the Daily Times went into the wrong hands because, the people who took over the paper had no proper objectives.  They were only taking the Daily Times for purposes of financial compensation or whatever.  And if you have no idea about journalism and you are taking a paper that has had a record and reputation in the profession, then naturally you will just dig it into the dust and that’s what happened in the case of the Daily Times.

The people who took it over had a very different intention, which certainly is not one of the promotion of the profession anyway.  Because if it was, they shouldn’t have done what they did.  Today Daily Times is not on the streets of Lagos and other places, which is an aberration.  You know, Daily Times was set up and it was a landmark in journalism.  And most of the journalists that have come through the years have passed through the Daily Times.  Most of them had their upbringing and training in the Daily Times before they went their different ways.

So it is indeed a thing of sadness the way Daily Times has gone.  I mean because of the greed in the society, people dabbled into areas where they didn’t belong and they had no positive ambitions there.  And when they took it over for commercial reasons, may be, they were unable to realise same, they dumped it.  That was what happened to the Daily Times, unfortunately.

You were Sports Editor at the Daily Times.  What is your view of sports management in Nigeria today: Would you say it has been effective?

Effectiveness, certainly, is not the word.  And there is no where, in living memory as I can remember, that the government’s intervention in sports has led to any progressive aims and objectives.  Governance has its own area of operation; sports has its own area of operation.  It is not possible for you to use the same parameters used in governing other areas of human endeavours in sports in a country like ours.

In sports you see different kettles of fish and people who manage sports must either be technocrats or those who have the interest of sports at hearts.  Those who clamour for government to take over sports are doing so out of their own selfish reasons because, they want it so as to embark on traveling or to make names for themselves.  But sports is something you have to prove you dedication and commitment to be able to produce results.  So, dabbling into sports for purposes of self aggrandizement cannot improve sports in this country.

How did you become Editor of Sunday Times?

Being an editor is dependent on your activities as well as openings you have created in your life during service.  In my own case there was a vacancy and I was thought to be suitable, so they had to put me there in an acting capacity. I was able to prove myself and I continued there on.

That is how it is done.  It is not that you take up the job from the very beginning.  No.  In the course of your profession you will be put in different areas and depending on how you prove yourself, you would be thought fit to take up further responsibility or not.  That was how I became editor, not that it was programmed for me.  Not at all.

Would you say that you are satisfied with the way Nigeria is being run at the moment?

I cannot be satisfied because, the political groups have no ideology whatsoever.  The parties are just a conglomeration of people of the same thought.  They don’t have the interest of the people at hearts.  And they don’t have programmes, which will elevate the people of this country or create a situation where progress will be achieved.

Invariably, people of the same mind have one connotation and their main objective has always been financial.  They are usually motivated for the finances that they will achieve or comb out of the system.  The political  will is not there; ideology is completely absent and so, most of them are just performing in a vacuum.  It is only personal ambition and objective that they pursue when they get into government.

They come together based on certain philosophy which is personal and has nothing to do with the masses.

According to your description, if the present day political class is a failure, does that mean the military should comeback?

How can I suggest military rule?  No.  Military rule is an aberration in the country and I can never suggest that, because, the military are trained for particular purpose and that purpose is for the defence of the country and the populace.  The military have the knowledge of governance, no doubt about that, but they are not trained for that.  And so, there is no way I can suggest military intervention.

So, what is the way out?

As a politician, you have to get an objective, you have to get a programme of action, you have to be sponsored by your own people and you have to think back that those who sponsored you to reach there did so for particular reasons: Either because they want you to get there and ensure that all the benefits of democracy accruable to them slip into their area.

For example, if you come from a village where there is no light and you sponsor somebody from that village to go to the House of Representatives, and in a couple of years you are able to get light, it means that the man takes the interest of the people of that village at heart and ensures that benefits of democracy also slip into areas where they were not reaching before.

But in the present dispensation, as we see it, it is not as it should be and people should begin to do the right thing otherwise, the future generation will have no hope.


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.