On Tuesday May 25, 2021, Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, permanently engraved the imprint of his remarkable predecessor in office, Aremo Olusegun Osoba on the grounds of Governor’s Office at Oke Mosan, Abeokuta. He commissioned the Olusegun Osoba Press Centre- an ultra-modern facility kitted with state-of-the-art equipment for quality coverage of the activities of the government and the state.
For Governor Dapo Abiodun, it was a promise fulfilled as a quality Press Centre was one of the campaign promises he made when he asked to be given the mandate to be governor of the state. The only addition was naming the edifice after Aremo Olusegun Osoba, the second journalist to govern the state after Chief Olabisi Onabanjo, a protege of Chief Obafemi Awolowo who was the Second Republic Governor of Ogun State.
But for Osoba, the symbolic gesture was emotional as he was returning to the Governor’s Office for the first time in 18 years, after he left office, to receive the honour. His two immediate successors in office, actually haunted him and almost made Abeokuta a not very comfortable place to visit and play.
Therefore, to be celebrated was good. But to be honoured with a Press Centre in the birthplace of Journalism via Iwe Irohin Yoruba published in 1859 by the Reverend Henry Townsend of the Church Missionary Society was to be gifted a diamond.
Prince Abiodun’s celebration of Osoba was in recognition and appreciation of the latter’s outstanding contributions to the practice and growth of journalism in Nigeria, particularly for using the pen profession to foster unity rather create division in the country.
It was also in acknowledgement of a good journalist-turned-a-great-politician and administrator who left an indelible mark on the political stage of Ogun State.
For the governor and others who spoke at the occasion, Osoba’s success as a media practitioner became the launchpad of the enviable height he attained in politics and power, climaxing with his being entrusted with the mantle of leadership of Ogun State on January 2, 1992 under the General Ibrahim Babangida-led military administration and later elected governor of the state following the restoration of civil rule in 1999.
Years after he exited the scene as governor of the state, many still fondly remember him for the landmark achievements the state enjoyed in the areas of infrastructure, education, road rehabilitation and reconstruction, provision of potable water, rural electrification, promotion of accountability and transparency in governance.
Osoba did not stand alone on his day of glory in Abeokuta. He walked the red carpet with a significant number of top media personalities, many of them young turks of the profession who were inspired by him and still see him as a great mentor.
They included Oba Olufemi Ogunleye of Akinale Owu and Oba Obalanlege, the Olota of Ota in Ogun state who learnt at the feet of Osoba as well as Reuben Abati, Gbenga Adefaye, Niran Malaolu, Eddy Aina, Bayo Onanuga, Demola Badejo, Lai Labode, Tunde Oladunjoye, Stella Din, Toyin Sogbesan, Seyi Oladimeji, Sam Ibiyemi, Kunle Somorin, Lekan Osiade and a host of others who attested to Osoba’s leading role in bringing honour and dignity to journalism practice in Nigeria.
Testimonials were given of Osoba’s reportorial prowess and skills at getting “exclusives.”
A protégé of the legendary Alhaji Babatunde Jose of the old Daily Times of Nigeria, Osoba found himself in the centre-stage of the history-making processes that made and unmade Nigeria, including the first military coup of January 15, 1966 and the counter-coup of July 29, 1966, culminating into the Nigerian Civil War of 1967- 1970.
The story of how he found the body of the slain Prime Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and his daring coverage and reportage of other key events of that ill-fated period soon launched him into media limelight, according him the status of a hero.
Also credited to him was breaking the news of the arrest of Colonel Bukar Sukar Dimka, leader of the abortive coup that claimed the life of General Murtala Mohammed in 1976. Indeed, as a reporter, he was always at the place of action at the right time.
Osoba, the gifted reporter and author of “Battlelines” was Editor, Evening Times, Deputy Editor, Daily Times, Editor, Daily Times, General Manager, Herald of Ilorin, General Manager and later Managing Director of Daily Sketch, Ibadan and Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief, Daily Times of Nigeria.
He remains a reference point in good journalism practice in Nigeria.
So, for a man who so ventured and bestrode the dual worlds of Nigerian journalism and politics, and still a commanding presence in the country’s geo-political and media space even in his 80s, his being honoured in Abeokuta is, indeed well deserved for which the Ogun State government deserves commendation. Osoba, the torch of excellence still shows the way for many who want to be journalists.