July 15, 2024

For Oga Biodun Oduwole @ 70

For Oga Biodun Oduwole @ 70
Spread the love

By Lasisi Olagunju

Some 28 years, three months ago, I sauntered into Tribune House, Ibadan, in search of employment. There was no vacancy for anyone but God created one for me through two helpers of destiny: the then Editor-in-Chief, Mr. Biodun Oduwole, and Mr. Folu Olamiti, who was that time Editor, Nigerian Tribune. You’ve heard the Nigerian establishment speak of the Lagos-Ibadan press. In the late 1980s through the 1990s, those two gentlemen were at the core of the Ibadan content of that axis. They were the real big boys of the media. The system knew them as rivals but they agreed on my case and my employment was immediate. Both are now senior citizens with all the grace and reverence that come with age and ageing. Mr. (now Pastor) Oduwole turned 70 last week.

google.com, pub-3120625432113532, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0

I never had a bad experience with him in the years he was the big boss. He looked after me and my career. He was the kind of editor any journalist would pray to have at the beginning of their career: educating the educable, training the trainable. But for him, leadership wasn’t a popularity contest and so, he made some very hard decisions. Like all men, he had his strengths and weaknesses. He would not be human if he didn’t.

Wine connoisseurs know this truth to be self-evident; that when wines add years to their age, whatever astringence there is gives way to a new bouquet of pleasing tastes. I saw Oga Oduwole for the first time again last Friday in almost two decades. It was at his 70th birthday reception in Ibadan. He looked very well taken care of, looked 20 years younger than 70. I prostrated. He heaved me up. My friend, Festus Adedayo, went down too. He lifted him up. Our friend, Modupe Olubanjo, ex-Sunday Tribune Deputy Editor, now senior manager with Globacom, was on her knees. Our boss looked at us and looked away, then muttered: “You guys are almost making me shed tears…” We laughed, took a deep look into Brilliant Abbey, our grand old boss, and gave way for other guests to have a feel of the man who made indelible contributions into the making of whatever we have grown to become.

The joy of all good bosses is in seeing their protégés in excellence. His boys have become men. His biological children are great too; we saw them and thanked God for the grace we saw. We walked up to one of them, a really big boy, and told him that the man he called dad was our mentor and boss. As we did this, I caught Oga’s eyes following the crowd of his friends and fans. It was his day of joy, and it showed right there in the glint in his eyes.

Turning 70 is a very significant milestone in the life of man. It is always an occasion to receive all kinds of gifts, endorsements and assessments and wishes. When Second World War British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, turned 70 on November 30, 1944, the New York Times noted in a piece that “like all 70-year-olds in Britain he became entitled to an extra ounce of tea in his weekly ration.” But man shall not live for tea alone, and so, the newspaper went further to quote Lawrence Hunt, an American lawyer, who wrote in The Daily Telegraph of that morning that Churchill’s advanced ag“still remains a young man with a bright future.” e notwithstanding, politically and intellectually, he I beg to apply Hunt’s verdict to Oga Biodun Oduwole while we look forward to celebrating his centenary in peace and plenty.

Congratulations, sir.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *