Osoba Wants Jakande’s Library Opened for Research on Nigeria’s Media History

Osoba Wants Jakande’s Library Opened for Research on Nigeria’s Media History

An appeal has gone to the family of Late Governor of Lagos State and renowned journalist, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, to open up his library for research to unravel important information regarding the formation of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) as major parts of the history of

An appeal has gone to the family of Late Governor of Lagos State and renowned journalist, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, to open up his library for research to unravel important information regarding the formation of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) as major parts of the history of the Nigerian media.

“I want to appeal to Alhaja (Jakande’s wife, Mrs. Abimbola) and the family, to open Alhaji’s (Jakande) library upstairs in his house. It is a room full of documents and I will urge the Nigeria Press Association to sponsor researchers to unravel the formation of the NGE and the NPAN because all that information is there”, said Chief Segun Osoba, former Ogun State governor in his tribute.

It was a day the media industry in Nigeria hearkened to two lines of our National Anthem that say; The labour of our heroes past, shall never be in vain, as nine Icons of the industry, now deceased were honoured in a programme captioned “An Afternoon of Tributes For Departed Media Leaders”.

The audience was however, not restricted to media giants and practitioners alone, it was witnessed by an array of political leaders and captains of industry.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State and Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State who is also the Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum led an array of dignitaries to the event christened: ‘An Afternoon of Tributes Honouring the Departed, Inspiring the Living.’

There was also unprecedented turn out of large numbers of media stakeholders including publishers, editors and reporters at the Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos, venue of the event.

The day of tributes was in honour of Ahaji Lateef Jankande, former governor of Lagos state and pioneer president of NGE and NPAN; Malam Wada Maida, past president of NGE; Prince Tony Momoh former Trustee NGE and former Minister of Information; Malam Ismaila Isa Life patron of NPAN; Chief Gbolabo Ogunsanwo, former Editor Sunday Times; Mr. Bisi Lawrence, Former General Manager Lagos State Broadcasting Corporation; Mr. Edddie Aderinokun, former Editor Daily Express; Mr. Ben Egbuna former Director-General of the FRCN and president of the African Union of Broadcasters and Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah, former Publisher Leadership Newspaper.

The event was organized by the Nigerian Press Organisation comprising the Nigerian Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NAPAN), the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON).
Vice President Osinbajo in his Keynote address paying tributes to the late media legends described them as giants of their craft whose significance in the public reveals larger than their chosen vocations.

He said the media landscape has changed significantly because “We are in the age of technology revolution where the dissemination of news has completely been democratised by the media environment, which was once the preserve of states and corporations. The very meaning of the term media owner has changed and no longer refers to people with the profile of those who studied journalism. In this era of citizen journalism, everyone now has a voice whether through blogs, websites, online publications and podcasts.

“The democratization of information unleashed by the information age has also introduced related risks with implications for economic and sociopolitical stability”, he added.

He noted that individuals and private interests now control means of information dissemination that were once exclusive preserve of corporations and governments. These capabilities are increasingly used in all sorts of maligning ways by those that habour ill-intent. Fake news is being trafficked on a scale that is capable of warping the perception of reality by huge numbers of people and inducing social conflict.

Prof. Osinbajo challenged media leaders to use the considerable influence they have to seek ways of achieving a consensus on the responsible use of social media. But that is a matter for a much fuller discussion. For the moment, these developments converge with this period of turbulence in the life of our nation, there is really only one question that matters – are we building up our country or are we tearing her down? This is a question that we must ask ourselves in every sphere of endeavour.

“It is the plumb line with which history will judge our generation. Because there is really only one divide at this point. It is the line between those who are committed to constructive action and those who are pursuing a destructive course.

On the crisis in the country, Prof. Osinbajo said even though things were not perfect the cure for the imperfections “is most certainly neither destruction nor a heedless descent into anarchy being promoted by some voices”. According to him: “We all have a share in the much-needed work of rebuilding, redesigning, reforming and healing our nation”.

“The giants we are celebrating today understood that journalism operates in a social context and cannot be value-neutral. This same cognitive commitment is incumbent upon all media practitioners. We are at a time in our national odyssey in which retailers of discord and merchants of strife are working assiduously against our collective potential as a people”, he explained further.

Prof. Osinbajo praised the media for its role in building Nigeria’s democracy stating: “The media has been at the forefront of all our epochal struggles from the fight against colonialism to the struggle to entrench democracy. A third struggle is now underway. It is the quest to deepen democracy and to realize our collective possibilities as a just, prosperous and progressive nation. I remain unyielding in my belief that we have a common destiny and that we, the constituents of this nation, are stronger together. I believe that all of us have a stake in advancing the cause of justice, equity and progress. This is a task that is incumbent on all of us.”

NPAN President and Chairman of Media Trust Limited, Mallam Kabiru Yusuf in his opening remarks stated “in the past 15 months, 9 media titans have passed on. We have done our mourning in private and it is now time that we remember and celebrate them.”

He lightened the atmosphere when he referred to how they were challenged for not having women on the list: “When we made it public that we wanted to honour these fallen heroes, some people asked ‘Why are there no women amongst them’? But we should be happy that there is no women among the dead”, he said as the hall erupted in laughter.

Mallam Yusuf said each of the late journalists impacted and influenced many lives in the media, business and politics. He said their huge impact made them to be the thought of in the present, rather than in the past.

He paid tribute to the departed media icons: “It will be hard to find another Nigerian journalist who has done it all like Lateef Jakande. He was the oldest in the group of the nine late journalists. I remember him from the early 1990s as a slightly bent old gentleman still publishing Lagos News out of his John West offices on Acme Road, Ikeja. Sam Nda-Isiah was the youngest but in 20 years or so as a columnist and publisher, the intensity of his engagement is unparalleled.

“I never met Gbolabo Ogunsanwo but as editor and columnist of the Sunday Times in the 1970’s, he had become the gold standard by which such work is measured. I will say the same of Ben Egbuna as a broadcaster. As a freelance reporter of Voice of Nigeria, I saw his work beyond the famous golden voice.

“Tony Momoh we all know, not only as an able editor but later Minister of Information. He was simply indefatigable. I used to see Bisi Lawrence and Eddie Aderinokun in the company of my old boss, Abidina Coomassie, who published Today’s Newspaper. Ismaila Isa (Funtua) and Wada Maida acted as the seniors and mentors of northern journalists of my generation.”
The President, Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mustapha Isa, said at least a day should be dedicated yearly to celebrate media leaders who are still alive.

He said, “The Nigerian Guild of Editors has resolved to celebrate our own when they are still with us. Why shouldn’t we tell the whole world about Uncle Sam, the Publisher of Vanguard on June 13 which is his birthday? Why can’t we gather like this on July 15, to celebrate Aremo Olusegun Osoba?”

The main tributes on each of the media icons were read by different media personnel
Prince Nduka Ogbaigbena remembered how he met Maida who had served as the Chief Press Secretary to the then Major General Muhammadu Buhari, with whom he worked with others to revive the Nigerian Guild of Editors in 1989, and thereafter became the president of the guild.

“After serving out his time at the News Agency of Nigeria, Maida moved quietly into private practice and was one of the early investors in Daily Trust, ensuring that the north had a voice. He was the key investor of Peoples’ Daily Newspaper.”

According to him Maida started his career when he was appointed information officer in Kaduna State, where he served from 1971 to 1978 and as zonal editor from 1978 to 1981. From 1981 to 1983, Maida was based in London as foreign correspondent in charge of Western Europe for the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). He became chief press secretary to Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, the military head of State of Nigeria, from 1984 to 1985.

From 1985 to 1994, he served as editor-in-chief at NAN and was appointed managing director in 1994. Maida was a pioneering editor at the news agency and was recently appointed chairman of the board of NAN.

Tony Akiotu, FNGE and General Manager of DAAR Communications said Bisi Lawrence was a king among men. “There was hardly any dull moments with Bisi Lawrence. He was a man of courage, integrity and honour. With him, there was no time for cutting corners,” he said. He also said Lawrence had a great knowledge of vast issues.

Lade Bunuola, FNGE and consultant The Guardian Newspapers recalled that Gbolabo Ogunsanwo was very good at intercollegiate debate when he was a student in high school but later took to writing. “He wrote with severity to put politicians on their toes” adding that not only did he write powerfully, “he had a great sense of humour”, Bonuola said.

Gbenga Adefaye, Provost, Nigerian institute of Journalism, read the tribute by The Chairman of Vanguard Media Ltd, Sam Amuka (Uncle Sam) on Malam Isa Funtua who he described as one of the most misunderstood and misreported men when he was alive, a description Amuka said never deterred him from giving his best to the country.

He said: “Funtua was a successful man with a thriving construction company before the advent of this administration and has used his vast resources to serve the needs of the profession which included the building of the Nigeria Institute of journalism headquarters in Victoria Island at no cost to the institute”. Uncle Sam, who is 85 years old, rounded off in a solemn manner, “I hope to see you soon my friend.”

A highly capable administrator, Isa Funtua started his career in the Katsina Native Authority, where he eventually rose through the ranks working in the defunct North Central State. He later joined United Textiles Limited Kaduna, where he was the personnel manager showcasing “great managerial finesse” over 10,000 workers. He was a member of the 1994 Constitutional Conference under General Sani Abacha. He then retired into private business where he became a director of several companies. He was the founder of Funtua Textiles Limited and managing director of the Democrat Newspaper.

He was also the founder and Chairman of Bullet Construction Company (one of the largest indigenous construction companies in Nigeria), responsible for building several federal buildings. He was a Life Patron of the International Press Institute and the Newspaper Proprietors Association.

While Mr. Azubuike Ishiekwene, the Editor-in-Chief of Leadership Newspaper, in a compelling statistical analysis, said the oldest of the icons being celebrated was 91 years old while Nda-Isaiah was 58. “The average age of the nine heroes was 79 years. So Nda-Isaiah died 20 years earlier than his time.”

Ishiekwene said Sam Nda-Isaiah, who passed on, on Friday, December 11, 2020 was a man of big ideas, infectious zeal, boundless energy and a patriotic spirit. Ishiekwene noted that Nda-Isaiah did not love his country in words only, as he recounted that in the over two and a half decades that he segued from his profession – pharmacy, to journalism, he invested himself in the art of speaking truth to power, a gift he inherited from his journalist father and honed through years of dedicated practice and personal education.
“Sam Nda-Isaiah was a bridge-builder and an ardent believer in a one, united and strong Nigeria. A down-to-earth pundit and straight shooter, he said in many of his writings that he believed that Nigeria is stronger and better together.

“He saw from his many personal travels and expansive self-education that countries with large populations and focused, disciplined leadership are able to get a whole lot more done for citizens and secure their place in the world. China was his ever-present example.

“Not that he under-estimated the challenges of a multi-ethnic nation like Nigeria, but Sam Nda-Isaiah believed that given the country’s potential, and with the right leadership, there was nothing it could not achieve.”

Ishiekwene recalled that after years of punditry, he threw his hat in the ring in 2014 and, in a bold, courageous move for which he will forever be remembered, contested the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC), a party whose formation he played a frontline role.

“He lost the ticket, but his ideas were not defeated – ideas for a change in the bankrupt, beggarly status of state governments and the renewal and transformation of the country. He continued to canvas these ideas as a party man, a businessman and a visionary till the very end.

“It is remarkable that perhaps the only birthday that Sam Nda-Isaiah marked in pomp and circumstance was his 50th. He did it, not necessarily to announce himself as he was already an established publisher, businessman and politician at the time. He hosted the event to unite the fragmented and hopelessly divided opposition when he perceived that only a united front could end nearly 20 years of the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) arrogant and rotten rule.

“We recall that, that birthday, nine years ago, was the first time some of the opposition’s biggest prizes – General Muhammadu Buhari (as he then was) and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu – would be meeting face-to-face after a futile and catastrophic merger attempt in 2011.”

Also speaking on the significance of the event, Mr. Lanre Idowu, the CEO Diamond Publications in paying tribute to Mr. Eddie Aderinokun said, “culture of appreciation is what one is doing to appreciate the remarkable things in the industry and remember the things our media heroes have contributed to the industry”. Mr. Idowu commended late Aderinokun for being a great poet and journalist.

John Momoh, OON, FNGE Chairman of Channels Tv described Ben Egbunam as a pure blooded journalist and a visionary.” He believed in doing the right thing and doing things right,” Momoh added that Egbunam was a “man of devoid of guile.”
Furthermore, Mr. Ray Ekpu Director of May Five Media spoke about when Tony Monoh was asked which religion he professed, he said he was not an atheist but a Christian when they did things right and also a Muslim when they did things right. He described Momoh as a man of simplicity and dignity.
In attendance at the event were the families of the late Icon, Deputy Governor of Ogun State, Noimot Salako-Oyedele, Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, Chairman Emeritus, Punch Nigeria Limited, Chief Ajibola Ogunshola, Chairman, Punch Nigeria Limited, Mrs Angela Emuwa, Chairman Leadership Group, Mrs Zainab Nda-Isiah, Publisher, The Guardian Newspapers, Maiden Ibru, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, Channels TV, Mr. John Momoh, Publisher, ThisDay Newspapers, Mr. Nduka Obaigbena, Founder, Zenith Bank, Mr. Jim Ovia and former Provost of Nigeria Institute of Journalism, Mr. Gbemiga Ogunleye.

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