Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, the Akarigbo of Remoland, Oba Babatunde Adewale Ajayi and the Aare Onakakanfo, Iba Gani Adams led the cream of the Nigerian society on Friday at the foundation laying ceremony of the Tribune House located along Lagos – Ibadan Expressway in Isheri, Ogun State.
Speaking at the event, the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, represented by his deputy, Mrs Yetunde Onanuga, eulogized the legacies of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, stating that the paper is still surviving after almost 70 years because of the vision of those that midwife its birth.
The Governor stated that great credit should be given to Mama HID Awolowo for not only toiling to keep the sage’s family intact after his demise, but also preserving his investment.
According to the Governor, “The Nigerian Tribune newspaper has grown to an enviable position of being a champion in the media industry. The paper has become a tool for the formulation of policies by government at all levels.
“That we have enjoyed sustained democracy for close to two decades is to the credit of the media in which Nigerian Tribune has played a prominent role. I will hereby commend the management and staff of African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc for being alive to the great task entrusted on them.
“It will not be out of place to use this occasion to charge the media to be mindful of the roles expected of it as the 2019 elections beckons.
Going down memory lane, the Ooni of Ife explained that as a youth, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was well accepted among the Yoruba leaders of his time. “When Chief Awolowo came back home, before establishing the Action Group, he had established the Egbe Omo Oduduwa. The Ooni of Ife of that time, Oba Adesoji Aderemi and other notable monarchs appointed Chief Obafemi Awolowo as the Secretary of the Egbe Omo Odua. What Chief Obafemi Awolowo did in ten years what no politician has been able to do since he left.
“Instead of the politicians of our time to exceed what Chief Obafemi Awolowo did, rather they are still using his name in their daily politicking. All through the time Chief Awolowo was secretary of the Egbe Omo Oduduwa, he was exemplary and this led to his emergence as the natural leader of Yoruba land with the establishment of Action Group. Up till now, nobody has been able to fill the vacuum Baba left as the undisputed Asiwaju of the Yoruba people.”
The Ooni of Ife used the opportunity to pray for the Awolowo family, and urged the family to remain united as they have always been.
In her welcome address, the host and Chairman of African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc, Ambassador Tokunbo Awolowo Dosumu explained that Chief Awolowo lived his life for the greater goal of societal development, an ideal which the Tribune has remained committed to.
In her words, ‘One of the resounding legacies of Baba Awolowo which has ensured that the voice of the downtrodden is heard is the Tribune Newspapers. 69 years ago today, on Wednesday November 16th, 1949, the first copy of the Nigerian Tribune rolled off the press at exactly 1:25AM. A few months earlier, African Press Limited was incorporated as the publishers of the paper with a distinguished Board of Directors that included Oba Adesoji Aderemi, the then Ooni of Ife, Mr. Rabiu Jagun, Mr. Obafemi Awolowo and HID Awolowo. African Press Limited will later metamorphose into African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc.
“The pioneer Chairman was Oba Adesoji Aderemi and the pioneer Managing Director/Editor-In-Chief was no other than Chief Obafemi Awolowo himself. He was the one who wrote most of the Editorials himself. He was then surrounded by a steller cast of administrative personnel and writers. Some of the children of those administrative personnel and writers are here today like Mr. Femi Akinsanya whose father was the pioneer Business Manger, Mr. Ade Akinsanya.
“That frist edition of Nigerian Tribune carried a lead story with the headline ‘Chemist protest’. The story was about a protest by students of the Pharmaceutical School, Yaba, Lagos against what was considered insufficient allowance. The paper also carried a picture of the first corporate headquarters of the Nigerian Tribune, a rented house in Adeoyo in Ibadan. The company eventually moved to its own property at Imalefalafia, Ibadan in 1978.
“Now fast forward in 2017, the company commissioned her Abuja office and production of newspapers to cater for the Northern axis. Today, to mark our 69th anniversary and also flag off our year long programme of activities in celebration of our 70th anniversary, we are gathered here to lay the foundation of our new office in Isheri, Ogun State.
“The truth is that Tribune has never had its own office in Lagos, this is going to be our first property for the Lagos axis.
“When Nigerian Tribune commenced production in 1949, it faced serious competition from the Lagos daily newspapers lkke the West African Pilot, Nigerian Daily Times, and Daily Service. Yet, despite this competition, it was able to carve its own nitch in the market, and today, of all this papers that I have mentioned, Nigerian Tribune is the only one still standing.
“Three reasons accounted for this feat; firstly, the papers solid management foundation and hardworking editorial team led by Papa himself, and the tradition has continued up till today to Mr. Edward Dickson time.
“Secondly, the paper had a clear focus and an editorial policy which completely identified with the aspirations of the people. Thirdly, the paper stood fearlessly in defense of justice, freedom from oppression and exploitation. The foundation of Tribune was therefore not built on mercantile or pecuniary gains. It was built on a solid ground of service for the people of Nigeria, in terms of enlightenment, mobilization and integration. The paper has clearly redefined the notion that nothing good can come out of Nigeria.
“We members of the Board, Management and staff of ANN Plc have today decided to extend the frontiers of the company’s operation. We have decided to establish our very own significant presence close to the important economic hub that Lagos is. We are convinced that this will go a long way to ensure the company’s survival for the next 70 years and beyond. “
The Aare Onakankanfo of Yorubaland, Chief Gani Adams, who also graced the event said that the Tribune has moved to greater because it has kept to the vision of its founder.
He therefore urged the management of the company to continue the work, as laid down by the founder of the institution, Chief Awolowo, noting that the late chief is monitoring the progress of the company, as well as the affairs of all Yorubas that believe in his ideology.
Also speaking at the epoch making event, the Managing Director, African Newspapers of Nigeria PLC, Mr. Edward Dickson said that the celebration was a double joy for the Tribune House as the marked the 69th anniversary of its establishment.
“We are particularly excited that this is the day the Almighty God has made and we are indeed glad in it. It is indeed a day of double joy for us at the Tribune House because today marks the 69th anniversary of our coming into being, serving the egalitarian needs of our society,” the MD stated.
Mr. Dickson added that It was pertinent to recall that barely a year ago, the Tribune newspapers commissioned its 4-storey Abuja office to the glory of God and the expansion of the Obafemi Awolowo/HID Awolowo legacy in the northern frontiers of our country.
Also speaking at the event, the Managing Director of Punch Newspaper, Mr Ademola Osinubi said that the decision of the management of ANN PLC to have a more visible appearance in the Isheri, Ogun State bordering Lagos State, was a wise one which would translate to further development strides of the company.
Speaking on the sideline of the event, Ademola Osinubi noted that it was encouraging to know that Tribune had made a decision to come closer to Lagos, while noting that Ibadan is a headquarters of a province while Lagos is the commercial headquarters of Nigeria.
“You can not hope to be a national paper and remain in the province. Ibadan is still a province, a headquarters of a province. Now its relieving to know that Tribune as decided to move to the commercial headquarters of Nigeria. And I’m sure that will translate to all kind of developmental strides for the company and the workers,” he said.
He wished the institution, its management and worker would continue to make the newspapers to be an institution that uphold the sanctity of human life and the dignity of human life as well as “ serve as a bastion of democracy in line with the dreams of the founding fathers and also an instrument of upholding government to account in Nigeria.”
He noted the resilience, doggedness, commitment of Tribune in the industry over the years while recalling his experience inTribune as the place he started his journalism career.
“I started my journalism career inTribune in 1974, I was employed as reporter sub editor. Our MD/EIC then was Alhaji Latef Jakande, we have an editor then called Mr Ika Yakubu, our news Editor Tope Orimoloye. There were so many of us then that I can still remember; it was a happy, strong united family then.
“Then there was a strong character there, Baba Alapa, he was an encyclopedia of sort in the Tribune then, he had this serious disciplined being. I’m saying all this to let you know how far Tribune has come over the years. I left because of no other thing but because I wanted to return to School in September of 1974,” he said.
The General Manager of Vanguard Media Ltd, Mr Gbenga Adefaye who spoke on behalf of the media establishment in Nigeria said it was significant that Tribune clocked 69 and was making waves despite the harsh economic climate in the country.
The Akarigbo of Remoland, Oba Babatimde Ajayi, in his goodwill message stressed that Tribune had remained the voice of the voiceless in Nigeria.
The Oba said he was happy that an office of the oldest newspaper in the country was being built at Isheri in Ogun State, very close to Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria.
The Archbishop of Lagos, Ecclesiastical Province (Anglican Communion) and Bishop of Remo Diocese Most Rev. Michael Olusina Fape also noted the ups and downs of he newspaper declaring that it has surmounted all obstacles because it is pro-people.