By Bilesanmi Olalekan
For those who regularly listened to Ogun State Broadcasting Corporation,OGBC 2,particularly in the 80s and 90s, the name Olusesan Ekisola would always bring some nostalgic feelings. He is one of those who pioneered private broadcasting in the country through Ray Power Radio.
He was actually the first managing director of the station. However, shortly after Ray Power began gaining listnership, he left the shores of the country for the United States where he still practices his trade but this time online. He and a few others own the África Outlook, an online news magazine. So, it was natural to start the ‘interrogation’ online penultimate Wednesday from why he left the country. “Leaving Nigeria at the time was as a result of a series of events.
It was not a planned relocation but to God be the glory we are all here now and looking back at those times. It started as an invitation from the US government resulting from what the Americans saw as our efforts at Ray Power and wanted me to take a tour of similar institutions in the US which I did at the time.
I visited seven states (Virginia, Maryland, California, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Washington D. C) basically to see different sized media markets and the radio and TV stations in those markets. I called at VOA in DC, BET in LA, stayed with a family in Freeport, Illinois to get a feel for the American way of living, et.c and learned a lot about the media in the US. I guess it was, in a way, another divinely arranged opportunity to extend my understanding of the media on a much larger scale”,he explained.
He definitely must be happy hearing how the talents he groomed are now today’s On Air celebrities. He agreed but added that they already had their God-given talents. Said he: “That I had the opportunity to cross paths with legends and stars, understand that before they came to OGBC, they were already imbued with their God-given talents. I was only lucky to be at the right place to make a contribution towards their self-discoveries. Stars don’t struggle to shine. In the right environment, they come through. This is why I believe I am a blessed soul and I am indeed grateful to God for granting this most wonderful opportunity to be a part of their successes.
We worked together as one big family, not as competitors because what you have, I may not have and vice versa. We complemented each other and helped when the time of weakness descended. It was more exciting than if we had been engaged in destructive and probably unproductive competition.
I remember the time I was in Ibadan in Radio Nigeria, we had Ben Jay on The Big Beat at Noon but Ibadan decided to give my colleague and bosom friend Yanju Adegbite (we were like twin brothers) our own gigs; so Yanju took the 12:00 noon slot and my show began at 1:15 p.m after the news. I remember very well that Yanju would save some of the best records for me so I can also attract a decent audience after his show when I got on air. I also reciprocated whenever I got good tunes as well. This has left a very powerful imprint on me and I will never forget that”.
Ekisola would not disclose why he left Ray Power and then relocated abroad but, he, according to him, was honored to have worked with Chief Raymond Dokpesi, the owners of Ray Power.
”That is absolutely in the past and has been overtaken by events. What needs to happen now is to be forward looking so that more can be done for the industry.
I am honored to have had the privilege of working with Dr. Dokpesi and other stakeholders in pioneering private broadcasting in Nigeria. When people were a little skittish about investing their hard earned resources in broadcasting given the sensitivity attached to the industry in Nigeria’s political history, Dr. Dokpesi stepped boldly forward to be counted.
At that time, most people thought he was foolish and may have been expecting a fizzling out of the effort after the initial buzz generated by the idea. A major debacle came on January 15, 1994 when we were summarily adjudged as an illegal operation and were shut down for eight nerve-racking months. The veil was lifted after several efforts to save the enterprise by concerned elders and patriots across Nigeria yielded results and we were given the green light to get going. We began in earnest on September 1, 1994 and the rest, as they say, is history!”.
Why, after leaving OGBC 2 many years back, his name still rings a bell when you mention the station,I asked him.
”In all honesty, I have no idea why I have become synonymous with OGBC because the station had so many stars at that time. We had Otunba Yomi Onabolu, Kunle Olasope, Tunji Marquis, Seun Oyefeso, Willy Thomas, Femi Sowoolu, the late Felix Femi Fashina, Wole Owoseeni, Barwick Akingbogun, the late Toba Opaleye and don’t forget people like Peter Okodua, Sola Adebajo, Wale and Ayodele Sulaiman, Kemi Ilara, Dada Olanipekun, Mike Akiode, Pa Yemi Adeyemi, Kola Popoola, Mrs. Funmilayo Dina together with our father-figure and veteran of the trade Chief Adisa Balogun and the late Tunji Oyetunde, the anchor of OGBC flagship programme, Oro Sunnunkun.
It might interest you to know that John Momoh and Mani Onumonu, Eugenia Abu, Funmi Odubekun, Bolawola Makinde, Gboyega Adeseye, Lola Fani-Kayode, Kayode Akintemi, Olikoye Sotade, to mention just a very few of the great guys I worked with at that time, began their career at OGBC. The station was a hotbed of gifted people and when OGBC 2 came on stream, we had a decent pool of talents to draw from. Fresh people with fresh ideas came on board as well: Ambrose Somide, Toun Okewale, Bolanle Kareem, Biola Sanya, Yemi Adenuga nee Solaru, Yetunde Coker (aka Gbagbadi!) again to name just a few of the on-air voices.
“I started working there in 1977 just after Ogun State was created and had the privilege to rub shoulders with a great team of committed and enterprising individuals in all divisions of the corporation.
Hassan ‘of West’ aka ‘Aiye-re-yen,’ and his other colleagues who drove us around either to assignments at the station or for outside broadcast duties among many, Studio managers headed by Chief Unbreakable S. Ade Ogunnusi, Alade Onasanya, Tolani Olufunmilayo, Bunmi Tometi, Engineering crew included people like Yinka Ogunwole, Mr. Demola Odebiyi, S. Ade; News had the likes of Bimpe Awaiye, Kunle Thomas, Toye Akiode, Taiwo Osindele, Funsho Sogbanmu, Tayo Tejuoso, Chief Soniran Sowemimo, Chief Tunde Elegbede (who later became GM).
You can see that if I really have to mention names, we may just have to conclude this chat with just that because there is a whole army of dedicated workers making what is known as OGBC a reality. I left in 1993 when the Federal Government deregulated broadcasting to join the pioneering group at DAAR Communications to midwife Ray Power FM, the first privately owned radio station in Nigeria”.
Having his first son, according to him, was a landmark in his life just as the death of his sister in 1990 was a sour period of his life.
”My happiest moment was when my first son was born. He took his time and I was in training at Radio Netherlands at the time. Even my hosts and hostesses were relieved after some anxiety over what was happening after several days past our medically computed EDD. My saddest was when my sister Ebun Jakande died in 1990″.
As he has chosen not to return to his father land, I teased him under what condition could make him return to Nigeria?
“None whatsoever”,he replied flatly. He continued:” No conditionality is envisaged. I love my country, Nigeria. Remember that song, a track from Ethical Revolution by the good Prof. ‘I love my country, I no go lie…. Everyone I have met out here breathes and lives Nigeria.
East, west, north or south, home is the best. There is no place like Nigeria. I am still here because of the need to be on hand in seeing my children through their development stages out here in the so-called permissive society. I thank God for His goodness and mercy in this quest. God has been merciful and they are finding their feet in a very complex and difficult environment. By the grace of God, we are doing well. That is what has kept me here. I was not waiting for any conditions to be fulfilled before returning to Nigeria. I actually come in every year to vist family and friends”.