By Charles Kumolu, Osa Amadi & Olayinka Ajayi
LAGOS—PROMINENT political actors, captains of industry, and media moguls turned up en masse at the public presentation of the autobiography of former governor of Ogun State, Chief Segun Osoba.
At the unveiling of the book titled: Battlelines: My Adventures in Journalism and Politics, in Lagos, the attendees unanimously described Osoba as a patriotic Nigerian, who built bridges across ethno-religious divides.
Inferring that Osoba’s life in journalism and politics, was a lesson in tolerance, they were undivided in condemning the growing division along ethnic and religious lines in Nigeria.
At the forum which was chaired by former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, retd, there was a consensus on the need for Nigerians to focus on unifying issues instead of divisive conversations.
Those at the event included Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Senate President, Sen Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, represented by his deputy, Alhaji Ahmed Wase; Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Ogun State governor, Mr. Dapo Abiodun; Bayelsa State governor, Mr. Seriake Dickson; Kano State governor, Alhaji Abdullahi Ganduje; Ondo State governor, Chief Rotimi Akeredolu; Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Chief Victor Attah; ex-governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke; former Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi; National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; former Secretary to the Federal Government, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe; former Military Administrator of Lagos State, Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, retd; and Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu.
Others were former First Lady, Justice Fati Abubakar; ex-governor of Ekiti State, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; former Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; former interim National Chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande; Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora; ex-National Chairman of APC, Chief John Oyegun; Publisher of Vanguard Newspapers, Mr. Sam Amuka; General Manager/Editor-in-Chief of Vanguard Newspapers, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye; Managing Director of Thisday Newspapers, Mr. Eniola Bello; former Commissioner for Information in Edo State, Mr. Louis Odion; Senator Gbenga Ashafa, former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel; Prof. Pat Utomi; Mr. Kola Abiola, Sen. Anthony Adefuye; Chief Ayo Opadokun; Chief Rasaq Okoya; former First lady of Lagos State, Alhaja Abimbola Jakande; Gen. Alani Akinrinade; Prof. Adebayo Williams; and Chief Dele Momodu among others.
Osoba’s book is historical and prosecutorial—Olorunyomi
The Publisher of Premium Times, Mr. Dapo Olorunyomi, who was the book reviewer, described the memoir as historical and prosecutorial.
He described Osoba as an ace reporter and impact editor, who has done Nigeria a favour with the book.
In addition, Olorunyomi said the book added meaningfully to the body of knowledge of some historical episodes in the country.
He added that the 341-page book employed the use of lucid expressions which were expected from an outstanding reporter like Osoba.
“The book showcases the great media manager that he was at Daily Times, The Daily Sketch and Herald and all he has done in politics,” he said.
Stop promoting ethno-religious interest —Osinbajo
On his part, Vice President Osinbajo, urged Nigerians to stop promoting ethno-religious interest over national interest, saying the trend promotes extremism and crime in the country.
He said: “The likes of Boko Haram, ISIS, Islamic State West Africa Province, and many Salafist-Jihadist ideologies are expansionist ideologies that feed purely on hate. They hate any person or group that does not belong to their particular sect.
“They have no redressible grievances so there are no terms of reference for peace. They are fanatics committed to a twisted creed.
“They exploit the ignorance of the tenets of Islam, poverty, and exclusion, recruit men and women and use children to perpetrate the most heinous atrocities.
They are motivated by a satanic desire to control communities by murder and terror.
“Whether it is in Iraq, Borno or Syria their victims are men, women, and children, Muslims and Christians. Since they do not share their sick ideology, they target churches, mosques, markets and motor parks where people gather, using children as human bombs to kill randomly, regardless of tribe or faith.
“The challenge for us is to recognise this extremism for what it is. We must form alliances across faiths and ethnicities to destroy an evil that confronts us all.”
“The herder and farmer conflicts, random killings, banditry, and kidnapping in different parts of the country are extant challenges that the army has had to intervene in on several occasions.
“I want to reassure all Nigerians that these issues are being seriously tackled by the Federal Government, working with the states, through a multi-pronged approach. Nobody will be allowed to maim, kill or commit other crimes and escape.
“It is our duty to apprehend and punish these criminals and we are doing and will continue to do so,” he said.
Osinbajo, however, described Osoba as a patriotic Nigerian, who made great impacts in journalism and politics.
He noted that one of the remarkable attributes of the elder statesman was his ‘Pan-Nigerianism.’
Continuing, the Vice President said Osoba built bridges and made friends across all parts of the country.
Our diversity should be our strength — Sen Lawan
On his part, Senator Lawan said Osoba’s friendship with people across different ethnic groups, was a display of how well to associate in a diverse nation like Nigeria.
He likened the bipartisanship displayed by lawmakers during the National Assembly election to the bridges Osoba built across ethnic boundaries.
He said: “This Osoba’s book is full of lessons for Nigerians. Nigeria is a country blessed in diversity. This diversity is meant to be our strength. Nigeria today and indeed tomorrow will continue to need our unity. In the National Assembly, we have shown what we can achieve with unity. You will recall by June 11, 2019, we were elected as presiding officers.
“There was a clear demonstration of unity on that day. Senators across political lines, religious and ethnic divides voted for us. That show of confidence, trust, and good judgment are what we will continue to harness and consolidate. Nigeria must unite.
Suspicion and mistrust
“We must reduce suspicion and mistrust. No country has ever developed without trust among its citizens. We cannot be different, we must trust ourselves and as leaders. We must demonstrate a very clear sense of leadership to earn the trust of the people. What Nigerians need to do is to trust their leaders and the leaders must continue to show a clear commitment on how this country will work. We cannot continue to think as if we are in a different nation. Though tribe and tongue may differ in brotherhood we must continue to stand.”
We’re promoting strife with our diversity —Tinubu
Also speaking, Tinubu described Osoba as a patriotic Nigerian, who is honest.
He said: “Osoba is very honest and very straightforward. The story you don’t want other people to know, don’t tell him. I spent more than two hours with him during his medical challenge, he showed me every detail on what was wrong with him but his concern was the struggle for Nigeria. He was concerned about the APC registration. He was one of the main contributors to our constitution. Party discipline is what anyone will learn from Osoba. There must be party discipline. When we talk about Nigeria that is what we mean. Our unity in diversity is symbolised by the APC broom. You cannot see a single broomstick tied together. Our problem is, instead of using our diversity for prosperity, we are using it to promote strife. Be it ethnicity, religion. The broom is strong when it is together.”
All stories in the book are correct — Kingibe
Speaking at the Osoba’s book, Kingibe validated most of the stories Osoba told about the June 12 presidential election.
He said: “On all issues that he wrote on that I was involved, they are all correct. We need to understand the life of an elephant. Nigeria is a huge elephant that we cannot describe the whole elephant from one standpoint, you can only describe the part of it that you can reach. If 200 Nigerians feel a part of an elephant, 10 people should not say is not true. Everyone speaks their truth and no one has the monopoly of the whole truth. What I learned from Chief Osoba is that when somebody is telling his truth, believe in his truth. Don’t be self-righteous by saying he is not speaking the truth. In Nigeria, we also need to understand that each part is necessary for the elephant function. No part is irrelevant.”
People should stop distorting history —Osoba
Osoba, flanked by wife, Derinsola, and children, said he decided to write the book to document his experiences both as a politician and journalist.
He said that he wrote the book to reveal what some people might not know about him.
Osoba thanked dignitaries, who attended the book launch, saying he felt honoured by their presence.
“I particularly thank God to be alive after attempts to kill me by the military failed. I thank my friends for being part of my story and my family for the support,” he said.
“My major battle was to have survived in the hands of Sgt Rogers. I chose Gen Abdulsalami as chairman because he knew how I survived and how Rogers waited in the front of my house to kill me.
“Some people should stop distorting history. When Obasanjo was deceiving us, Tinubu was deceiving him also by registering many parties. Those shouting restructuring should realise that the power rests with the National Assembly. “We have to rearrange our system. The El-rufai report on restructuring should be sent to the National Assembly. If anybody thinks Buhari can change anything by decree, it is not possible”, he said.