The Sun News » PressClips - Voice of The Nation Sun, 04 Oct 2015 23:43:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Oh, no! Onosode! Fri, 02 Oct 2015 23:00:52 +0000 ON vacation right now in the serene English town of Ipswich, armed with the manuscripts of my next project—a forthcoming book on Nigeria’s Boardroom Leaders talking, sharing their interesting experiences, unique perspectives and lessons learnt in the board­room—which I have brought along with me to work on, you don’t want anything else to distract you. [...]]]>

ON vacation right now in the serene English town of Ipswich, armed with the manuscripts of my next project—a forthcoming book on Nigeria’s Boardroom Leaders talking, sharing their interesting experiences, unique perspectives and lessons learnt in the board­room—which I have brought along with me to work on, you don’t want anything else to distract you. But how can you hear the news of the death of the great boardroom guru Gamaliel Onosode and not respond?

Oh, no! Onosode! Onosode is gone. Gone the way of all mortals. Gone with his bifurcated hair. Gone with his great mind, his elocution, his good English ac­cent, his erudition, his wealth of management experi­ence, his high ideals and principles, his love for God and the things of God, his love for country and his love for family.

I feel a mixture of grief and regret here. Regret that not too long ago, the old man had sent me a message from his sickbed, through his secretary, saying he could not feature in the book of interviews with boardroom gurus because he was too sick and too old now to grant a lengthy interview on a subject he knew so well and a life he has led as chairman in the boardrooms of Cad­bury, Dunlop, Airtel—you name it. Before he felt sick, he had asked about his unfinished biography: “Mike, is it when I die before this our book finally comes out?”

He sought us out to write his biography—my late friend Dimgba Igwe and I. Some scholars had already written something on him, but he wanted our own ver­sion of his life and times, believing that we are “men of affairs.” Those were his exact words. For hours, for days, for weeks, for months, we sat interviewing him in his modest home in Surulere. Onosode is a biogra­pher’s delight. It’s just too early to refer to him in the past tense. He is man of candour. A man who does not hide anything. He was just spilling to us every aspect of his life, including a youthful adventure years ago re­sulting in a daughter. The typical Nigerian would have hidden this story but Onosode told us that as a man of God, he should tell the truth and the world should know that he is a human being after all, with all his strengths and weaknesses. He told us about his lovely wife and their lovely children, how he proposed to her on the day Nigeria gained independence on October 1, 1960. He told us about his humble beginnings, his education at Government College, Ughelli and how he went to the University of Ibadan to read classics, schooling with the likes of Chinua Achebe, Christopher Okigbo and Wole Soyinka. He remembers them all and he had stories to tell about them. The son of a Baptist preacher, he told us about how he watched his father cry on the pulpit one Sunday. How many things can I remember now? He told us about how he escaped death so many times and how at a time he was flown abroad at the point of death to undergo surgery. At 82, Onosode must have died a grateful death, because as he told us, he never ex­pected to live that long. For him, it is not how long you lived, but how much good you did, how much value you added, how impacted on the life of your society, your country and the world at large. He was a great achiever by all parameters. And he led a good life.

For us as authors, it is a thing of great pride and joy that two Nigerian management giants Gamaliel Ono­sode and Dr. Michael Omolayole wrote the preface and foreword to our biggest bestseller, 50 NIGERIA’S CORPORATE STRATEGISTS—Top CEOs Share Their Experiences in Managing Companies in Nigeria. Their endorsement really helped in pushing the book to become a bestseller, such that we have printed three edi­tions, all of them sold out. This is what Onosode wrote in the preface:

The authors’ approach to this book, 50 NIGERIA CORPORATE STRATEGISTS, is very sound. These case studies of real life in our own contemporary setting are arrestingly instructive and remind me of a little book which, I was told, was very popular in the Nigerian first generation universities as the University of Lagos. It was called, Nigerian-Expatriate Management Relation­ships. It was coauthored by Tony Wilmot and myself. It was apparently a classic. I am told that that book is no longer left in the general library but is securely locked away and may be accessed only on special request now.

The reason I recall that is this: when you pick up management books, the principles are very illuminat­ing. But I think it is good to see how those principles have been applied in our environment. The culture of a people is very important in management. Much of the Japanese experience (in terms of management tradition for example) has been attributed to their own culture. To the extent that pressure is brought from outside to dilute that culture, elements are introduced that weaken the fabric which had held that management style in place. We are beginning to see that happen in Japan because of the intense pressure America has brought to bear on Japan. It has spilled out into not only a change in attitude in management but also in the financial mar­kets as well.

I think that is why a study like this is very impor­tant. How have universal management principles been applied in the Nigerian environment, given our stage of development and the reality of the world as a global village? There is a sense in which we may have been left behind in the eighteenth century—in a rudimentary state—whereas many other people are getting ready for the next century.

So, that is why I think this book is useful. Students of management, not only Nigerian students of manage­ment, would find it extremely useful. It would make them see that these are not just the highfalutin and seemingly abstruse principles they learn from erudite treatises from Harvard, Oxford and Stanford but these principles are also being applied here and that in the course of such application, we have to distil some new approaches to deal with our peculiar responsibilities and the peculiarities of our society because in many ways, our society is really peculiar. I recall once, for instance, how former military Governor Mobolaji was lamenting the challenge of managing in public office. “I can understand it,” he lamented in words to that ef­fect. “You sack somebody in the morning because of gross dereliction of duty, before the day is out you are confronted by a huge crowd of his dependants coming to plead for him, telling you that you you’ve taken bread out of their mouths. So what do I do? It’s an impossible situation.”

What should he do? To a manager elsewhere, hiring and firing create no scene. I don’t think a manager in the UK or USA will ever encounter that sort of thing. But here, we have to cope with the extended family dimension in employment situations. Before you sack somebody, you have to agonize over it, even if the per­son richly deserved the boot. The punishment is well deserved but what is going to be the impact on his im­mediate and extend family? These are real problems with which managers have to deal in our own environ­ment but which are taken for granted elsewhere.

I commend the idea of the book which is sound and creative and should be extremely useful in the hands of both students and practitioners.

–Gamaliel Onosode, Lagos, 1999.


Let me end this piece with what I consider Gama­liel Onosode’s favourite biblical quote. It is taken from John 12:24-26. It goes: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my ser­vant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him.”

May the soul of Gamaliel Onosode, our friend, daddy and a noble citizen of Nigeria rest in peace in the bosom of the Lord whom he served faithfully on earth.

  • For enquiries on all our books, call Gloria 08033445125
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Buharification of Dimgba Igwe Fri, 25 Sep 2015 23:52:26 +0000 (The President’s speech at the launch of ’50 World Editors’) TODAY ought to have been a great day, a day of celebration, a day when a writer was supposed to have seen his dream come true, but for the co-author of the book we are celebrating today, all we are left is memories of what [...]]]>

(The President’s speech at the launch of ’50 World Editors’)

TODAY ought to have been a great day, a day of celebration, a day when a writer was supposed to have seen his dream come true, but for the co-author of the book we are celebrating today, all we are left is memories of what would have been, the memories of a life that was cut short while jogging, while trying to keep fit and live long on that fateful Saturday morning of Sep­tember 6, 2014. Very tragic and ironic we would say.

May the soul of our brother, Pastor Dimgba Igwe rest in peace. For 10 good years, Pastor Igwe and his friend, ‘twin brother’ and business partner, Mr. Mike Awoyinfa travelled around the world, gathering materials for this book, 50 World Editors: Conversations with Journalism Master on Trends and Best Practices.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the pub­lication ’50 World Editors’ is one epic book that teaches journalism from the practical experienc­es of the editors of some of the world’s biggest and respectable newspapers like the New York Times, The Times of London, Wall Street Jour­nal, The Financial Times, New York Post, New York Daily News, New York’s Newsday, Chica­go Tribune, El Mundo of Spain and so on. From the quality press to the tabloids of the world, they are all featured in this book. It is a treasure-trove of a book that will benefit and educate not just journalists but politicians, administrators, CEOs, managers and virtually everyone who has something to do with the Fourth Estate of the Realm. It features the need to understand how journalists and their editors think, how they perceive news, how they write news, how they cast headlines, how they choose their front page stories and what lives they have led in the pursuit of a career in newsgathering and news reporting.

From the print media, the project extends to the broadcast media and the news agencies featuring institutions and news leaders like the BBC, CNN, Channels Television of Nigeria, Re­uters, AFP and what their editors and even chief executives have to say.

I am happy that in the list of 50 World Edi­tors, there are five Nigerian media leaders and icons featured. They include the leg­endary Alhaji Ba­batunde Jose and his protégé Mr. Segun Osoba, the reporter extraor­dinaire and news­paper adminis­trator who made his mark at the Daily Times Newspapers. Also featured is Dele Olojede, the first Nigerian journalist to win the Pulitzer Prize in journalism in faraway America, proving that Nigerian journalists are world class, have what it takes to compete at the global level and can make it anywhere in the world.

At the entrepreneurial level, there is Nduka Obaigbena, publisher of Thisday and John Mo­moh, who has made his mark by creating a Nige­rian news television brand through his Channels Television. In addition, there is Bayo Onanuga, publisher of The News newsmagazine. All of them tell their captivating and inspiring stories in this book.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, today I salute the passion, the zeal and the commitment of the two authors, Mike Awoyinfa and Dimgba Igwe in writing this book which must have cost them a fortune, having to travel around the world to get these interviews with editors and media executives who have lived a good journalism life and who have a wealth of experiences to share and to teach others. And experience, as they say, is the best teacher. Indeed, this book is a labour of love for journalism, their chosen profession.

It is so sad that Dimgba Igwe is no more, is not with us here today. His death, about this time last year really shocked the nation, particularly the millions who read his SIDEVIEW column every Tuesday in The Sun. Like all Nigerians, I was so touched by the senselessness of his death that I had to break from my election campaign to visit the homes of the Igwes and console Mrs. Igwe that day. She should be consoled by the fact that her late husband died as a true Nigerian hero and a powerful columnist who could not suffer gladly any acts of foolishness, corruption, injustice and unrighteousness in high places. In times like this, we miss his advice and political commentaries. Like myself, Dimgba Igwe be­longed to everybody and at the same time be­longed to nobody in his ability to call a spade a spade. He was that frank.

Pastor Dimgba Igwe’s death is a parable of Nigeria, a country where crime and impunity have become the norm such that people com­mit crimes and vanish into thin air, believing that they won’t be caught. But I tell the crimi­nals: sooner all later, the long arms of the law will catch you. Even if you escape judgement of man, you cannot escape the judgement of God. It is so sad to hear that for over three hours, the late Dimgba Igwe was moved from one hospital to another, all unable to save his life until he bled to death. This is not acceptable in the new Nige­ria which we all hope for and dream about.

Let me at this point salute Mike Awoy­infa and Dimgba Igwe for creating their own school of journalism which has produced and mentored many successful journalists, editors, editor-in-chiefs, managing directors and pub­lishers which include my Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Femi Adesina. I see the two jour­nalists not just as role models in journalism. For me, theirs is a story of the Nigerian dream, a Nigeria where two journalists from different tribes, one Yoruba, the other an Igbo, yet they have for years stood and lived together as one, glued together by the spirit of friendship and brotherhood. I urge Nigerians to learn from the friendship of Mike Awoyinfa and the late Dimgba Igwe. I urge their fellow journalists to emulate them by writing books that will inspire Nigerians, add value and help move the nation forward.

I planned to be at the book launch personally, but for the fact that it coincided with an official visit to France. I commend this book and rec­ommend it to all. I have no doubt that the book will do well and it will go places. Even though Dimgba is gone, I know this will not be the end of the Mike Awoyinfa and Dimgba Igwe part­nership. I urge Mr. Awoyinfa to carry on with the dream they both shared and prove to the world that a friend in need is a friend indeed. He should prove to the world that in spite of our differences, partnership and collaboration can still be made to work in Nigeria as long as we trust ourselves and act selflessly.

I thank you all for listening. God bless Ni­geria.

Publisher’s Note: To get a copy of ‘50 World Editors,’ call Gloria on 08033445125


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A letter to my friend in heaven Fri, 18 Sep 2015 23:00:36 +0000 MY friend, my brother, my Ogbeni Dimgba Igwe. One year after your painful exit, the wound is yet to heal. And I don’t know whether or not it will ever heal, even though they say time heals every wound. I was far away from you when the news of your death broke. Your death hit [...]]]>

Awoyinfa 50 editors

MY friend, my brother, my Ogbeni Dimgba Igwe. One year after your painful exit, the wound is yet to heal. And I don’t know whether or not it will ever heal, even though they say time heals every wound.

I was far away from you when the news of your death broke. Your death hit me like a thunder­bolt, like the arrow of the unknown enemy lurking in the dark, like the bullet of an assassin. Your death was like my own death. Yes, I died the day you died. Except that the Good Lord took pity of my soul, revived me and brought me back to life, because He knows there is so much to do and the business you started with me must not be left unfinished.

Your death brought me a harvest of pity. Ev­erybody was pitying me. Everybody felt sorry for me. Everybody was wondering: “How will Mike cope? How will Mike live without you, my bo­som friend and my rock of ages?” I was down and out, screaming: “My pillar is gone, my pillar is gone. Who will be my friend now?” In my agony, I heard my wife consoling and rebuking me, say­ing: “Jesus is your pillar. Jesus is your pillar.”

I was angry with the same Jesus. Why did Je­sus allow this to happen? Why must a man who served God with everything he had be allowed to die such a shameful and painful death? Why didn’t God intervene? These are normal questions or abnormal questions that people ask when trag­edy strikes. We all question God. In certain situ­ations, we question God. I am sure God will not blame me for questioning Him.

My friend, my brother, Ogbeni Dimgba Igwe. Our story is straight from the Bible. Our friend­ship is like the friendship of David and Jonathan. You were like Jonathan. And I was like David. Yes, David. The same David. The king who saw a beautiful woman bathing from the balcony of his palace and went haywire. The king whose story would have hit the front page of the tabloids amid screaming headlines. Oh, how I would have loved to write that headline!

I remember our days in the Weekend Concord. Oh, those glory days. We were the Kings of Tab­loids. We were the masters of the art of casting headlines. The more sensational, the better for us. From Weekend Con­cord, we went to create The Sun, using our same winning formula. The Week­end Concord was the father of The Sun. Without the Weekend Concord, maybe there would be no Sun today. Maybe, it will be a newspaper with another name, an entirely different name. We created the paper and the brand, The Sun in Ni­geria with our DNA and our stamp on it. We did our best. And the rest is history.

We gave our lives and our best to jour­nalism. We loved journalism with pas­sion. From Weekend Concord to The Sun, we proved that thunder could strike twice. We were not just journalists, man­agers but teachers of journalism. To­gether, we wrote our first book, The Art of Features, which is being used in all journalism schools as a training textbook.

Today, our new book is being presented to the world. You are supposed to be here but you are not here, my friend. Your seat is empty. You were the one expected to stand on this podium, talking, explaining why we wrote this book. Now, I must do everything that you used to do.

We used to play doubles in the ten­nis game of life. But now, I must play singles. It is not easy playing alone, all, all, alone. I feel so lonely, but life must go on. I must do all the things you did in your lifetime. I must play to win. And I must win for you and I, my departed friend.

So, the big question: Why did we write the book, 50 World Editors, the book we are launching today? It all boils down to passion, love and commitment to jour­nalism, the only profession we know and are ready to live and die for. It all boils down to curiosity, hunger and thirst for knowledge. For 10 years, we trav­elled around the world, researching this book which we consider our magnum opus. We were like that philosopher who claimed to know nothing. And so he decided to travel around the world in search of knowledge. In our case, jour­nalism knowledge. We wanted to meet editors of the great newspapers in the world, to hear their stories and to share in their journalistic wisdom. The idea is to come up with a book that the younger generation of journalists will read and be educated. We wanted a book strong on practical experience of celebrated editors who had led a good life in journalism. We interviewed great editors like Sir Harold Evans, the editor of editors, the most famous editor of the Western World. We interviewed Jill Abraham, the woman who broke the glass ceiling to become the editor of The New York Times and the first woman to occupy that position. We interviewed another powerful woman, Charlotte Hall, the editor of Orlando Sentinel. We interviewed Hamid Mir, the brave Pakistani journalist who inter­viewed Osama Bin Laden a couple of times, at a time when no one knew where to reach him. In Nigeria, we interviewed Alhaji Babatunde Jose, the grand old fa­ther of modern Nigerian journalism and his protégé, Segun Osoba, the reporter’s reporter. We interviewed Dele Olojede, the Pulitzer-winning Nigerian journalist. The list goes on and on. A list of 50 solid editors around the globe, with each editor taking a chapter of the book to talk about journalism, our beloved profession.

Most of these interviews were con­ducted when we attended journalism conferences around the world mainly IPI—the International Press Institute and WAN—World Association of Newspa­pers. While the conferences were going on, we had our own plans, to look for cel­ebrated journalists and to interview them. The result is the book we are launching today.

I thank you all for coming to share with me this great occasion. I promise to keep alive the Dimgba Igwe dream. I promise not to disappoint or betray my friend. As long as Mike Awoyinfa is alive, Dimgba Igwe is alive. In his memory, I hope, by the grace of God to launch a book every September in his memory. The Dimgba Igwe Memorial Book Launch would be an annual affair. For me, nothing has changed. Whether Dimgba is here or not, I will not allow his name to be for­gotten. Death will not separate or break our friendship. Even in the grave, he will still be my co-author. Every book I write will bear his name and my name. That is how we started. And that is how we are going to end. Dimgba Igwe will live forever. Thank you for coming. Thank you for all your prayers, particularly my friend, Pastor Sam Aiyedogbon of Realm of Glory, a prophet sent by God to pray and minister to me in my hour of pain and sorrow. Thank you all and see you next September at another Dimgba Igwe Me­morial Book Launch. May God keep us alive till we meet again.

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Buhari, All Stars to honour Dimgba Sat, 12 Sep 2015 01:28:27 +0000 (50 World Editors Book Launch) By Musa Jibril President Buhari would lead an array of governors, political leaders, captains of industries and the high and mighty in Nigeria to pay homage to two Nigerian journalists from different tribes whose enduring friendship even in the face of death, has become a model for the Nigerian dream [...]]]>

(50 World Editors Book Launch)

By Musa Jibril

President Buhari would lead an array of governors, political leaders, captains of industries and the high and mighty in Nigeria to pay homage to two Nigerian journalists from different tribes whose enduring friendship even in the face of death, has become a model for the Nigerian dream and an echo of the old national anthem which says: “Though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand.”
For over 30 years, starting from Sunday Concord where they met under the legendary editor, Dele Giwa, Mike Awoyinfa and Dimgba Igwe had taken friendship and brotherhood to a record high, until death struck and took Dimgba Igwe away.  He was jogging along the street on Saturday in the early hours of September 6, 2014 in his Okota neighbourhood in Lagos, preparing for a lecture on community development he was to give among his kith and kin from Igbere town of Abia State when a mystery vehicle knocked him down and vanished into thin air.  Up till today, the killer and the vehicle have not been found.
For four hours, Igwe battled for dear life as he was moved by his wife and close relations from one hospital to the other, all unable to help him.  By the time he was eventually taken to the Lagos State Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, he bled to death.  A doctor sadly came out of the operation theatre to announce: “Sorry, Mr. Igwe couldn’t make it.  We lost him.”
Instantly, the news of his death travelled around the world first through the social media, turning the homes of Igwe and Awoyinfa who live next to each other on Dele Orisabiyi Street, Okota, into a Mecca of sorts visited by political leaders and influential Nigerians who came to commiserate with the two families.  Among those who visited was Buhari, the then presidential candidate of the APC who had to break away from the campaign trail to commiserate with the Igwe family.  A teary-eyed and crestfallen Buhari listened as Awoyinfa told the pathetic story of how his friend was killed with the system unable to help a man whose life could have been saved anywhere else but Nigeria.
Awoyinfa, who was holidaying with his family in Ipswich, England, had to break his holiday and took the next available flight home.  It was the first time he was travelling out of Nigeria without Dimgba Igwe.  And it was the last.
Among the high-profile visitors were the former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola and his predecessor, Senator Bola Tinubu.  There were array of other governors too who came visiting or sent their representatives.  From religious leaders to captains of industry to party stalwarts, the sirens kept blaring along the bumpy road of Dele Orisabiyi which was made partially motorable by the state government but is now back to the hell that it was before Dimgba’s death.
To immortalize his friend, Awoyinfa has instituted the annual Dimgba Igwe Memorial Book launch whereby every September, a book will be launched which will still be co-authored even though one of the authors is no more.  Mike Awoyinfa said: “The fact that my friend is not here does not change anything.  He would be writing with me from the grave.  Every book I write, from now till I die, will bear his name.  For me, Dimgba Igwe’s name will never die.”
On Tuesday, September 15, starting from 10a.m. at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, the first memorial book launch will take place with the presentation of 50 World Editors, a book of interviews with editors of the world’s most influential newspapers, all sharing their experiences on the lives they have lived covering and editing the news.  They include editors from the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, Newsday (New York), Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, The Guardian of London, The Mirror, The Mail, BBC, CNN and the rest of them, including Nigerian media icons.  The book launch is expected to be a big media event, attracting who is who in the news media in Nigeria and the world through the International Press Institute (IPI) whose representative would pay tribute to Dimgba Igwe, an active member of the IPI.
Also expected to pay tributes to Dimgba Igwe are giants and moguls like Mike Adenuga, Aliko Dangote, Dele Fajemirokun, Orji Kalu, Elder Ekeoma, Babatunde Fashola and Senator Bola Tinubu whose biographies Mike Awoyinfa and Dimgba Igwe have written or are working on.  They would share their experiences on the Dimgba Igwe they know.
More tributes would come from governors, friends, associates, church leaders, fellow journalists, schoolmates, people he had mentored and readers of his Tuesday SIDEVIEW column in the Daily Sun, a paper which he created from the scratch along with Mike Awoyinfa and managed to a record level of profitability unheard of in the history of Nigerian journalism.

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Shettima and the Financial Times Girl Fri, 28 Aug 2015 23:00:20 +0000 TODAY, let’s remember all those heroes perse­cuted, martyred, lampooned, criticised, chastised for predicting doom, for challenging orthodox thinking, for saying truth that sounded like false­hood, for shifting the paradigm. They include prophets, preachers, philosophers, astronomers, sailors, scientists, social scientists, geographers, mathematicians, writers, thinkers and journalists. Let’s start with Columbus, the explorer who sailed round the [...]]]>

TODAY, let’s remember all those heroes perse­cuted, martyred, lampooned, criticised, chastised for predicting doom, for challenging orthodox thinking, for saying truth that sounded like false­hood, for shifting the paradigm. They include prophets, preachers, philosophers, astronomers, sailors, scientists, social scientists, geographers, mathematicians, writers, thinkers and journalists.

Let’s start with Columbus, the explorer who sailed round the world to prove that the world indeed is spherical. Before Columbus, Pythago­ras had reasoned that the earth couldn’t be flat when the sun, the moon and other heavenly bod­ies were spherical. One reasoning proving the earth’s roundness is that if a ship is on the ho­rizon, you cannot see its lower side because of earth’s curvature.

For saying the truth and challenging ortho­doxy, Socrates, the wise man who paradoxically claimed “I know that I know nothing” was made to face trial and drink hemlock.

One of the things many still revere in Chief Awolowo is his sagacity and clairvoyance. As a young reporter in the early ‘80s, I can still re­member Awo’s warning about the economic doom ahead, the iceberg threatening to hit and destroy the Nigerian economy, unless we diver­sify, unless we cut down on our profligacy. To­day, his ardent followers will tell you that like Nostradamus, Awo even foresaw and predicted the emergence of APC, through an accord of pro­gressives from the North and the West.

So, what has all this got to do with Gover­nor Shettima of Borno State and the Financial Times girl? I was reading my friend the colum­nist Mohammed Haruna the other day writing about February 17 last year being “one of the most unforgettable days” in the life of Shettima, the embattled governor directly in the eye of the Boko Haram storm. The man who should be a good case study on leadership in the time of war. Haruna alluded to Shettima’s visit to Aso Villa to brief the former leadership on the Boko Ha­ram siege and to complain that though the armed forces “are doing their best, given the circum­stances they have found themselves, Boko Ha­ram are better armed and better motivated than our troops.”

For reporting the bitter truth, Mohammed Ha­runa writes, Shettima “suffered excoriation not only from the president himself, but also from some of the president’s men, who tried to sound angrier than their principal. Shettima’s offence was to have spoken truth to power.”

The governor was even lampooned as an “illit­erate” who did not understand the mysteries and intricacies of how soldiers fight and win wars. But in the end, Shettima was vindicated as one military boss after another at their pullout cere­monies delivered devastative attacks on their cor­ruption-infested institution where money meant for buying ammunition to fight the war were di­verted, leading to poor morale and near mutiny by demoralised soldiers. Like Usain Bolt, truth is constant, truth always wins the race, no matter the odds. You saw it on Monday at the IAAF athletics championship in Beijing.

Shettima is on the same vindication plane with a journalist from the Financial Times by name Gillian Tett—the girl who first predicted in 2006 that the world was going to suffer a global finan­cial crisis but the experts lambasted her for be­ing a doomsday prophetess and a naysayer. In one of our travels, my late friend Dimgba Igwe and I met and interviewed Gillian, the financial journalism guru. She is featured in Chapter 34 of our new book, ‘50 WORLD EDITORS: Conver­sations with Journalism Masters…’

She looks smallish, but beneath her pretty girl­ish looks Gillian Tett, a mother of two, is a pow­erhouse of business and financial journalism. So powerful that the online newspaper, The Daily Beast, in 2010 asked: “Is Gillian Tett The Most Powerful Woman in Newspapers?”

Her strings of awards are intimidating: Win­cott Prize For Financial Journalism (2007), Busi­ness Journalist of the Year (2008), Journalist of the Year (British Press Awards 2009), Financial Book of the Year (for her book, Fool’s Gold), British Academy President’s Medal.
At the Financial Times where she is a fast-rising star, she combines two top posts as Assis­tant Editor and as US Managing Editor. From her busy schedule, she has written two acclaimed books on the world’s financial system. The books are: Saving The Sun—How Wall Street mavericks shook up Japan’s financial system and made billions and Fool’s Gold—How Un­restrained Greed Corrupted a Dream, Shattered Global Markets and Unleashed a Catastrophe.

But what stands her out, as I mentioned, is that she was the journalist who in 2006 predicted the global financial crisis, even though she was lampooned as a scaremonger and prophetess of doom. She did have the last laugh though when the world was gripped in financial turmoil. In Davos while covering the World Economic Fo­rum in 2007, she recalls an unforgettable mo­ment when “one of the most powerful people in the US government at the time stood up on the podium and waved my article, the article that predicted the problems at Northern Rock, as an example of scaremongering.”

A PhD holder in social anthropology from Cambridge, Tett came into journalism as a plat­form to write about human right abuses which she saw in Tajikistan in the Soviet Union while researching for her thesis. She joined Financial Times in 1993 and was converted from political journalism to financial journalism. In 1997, she was posted to Japan as a bureau chief from where she wrote Saving the Sun.

In 2003, she returned from Japan to write the highly influential Lex Column of the Financial Times. A polyglot, Gillian Tett speaks French, Russian, some Japanese and Persian. Every jour­nalist and every lover of journalism must read her interview.

*50 WORLD EDITORS will be launched on Tuesday, September 15, 10.00a.m., at the Nige­rian Institute of International Affairs, Lagos to mark the anniversary of the death of the co-au­thor Dimgba Igwe killed last year on September 6 while jogging to keep fit on a Saturday morn­ing in his Lagos neighbourhood.

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50 World Editors Talking Journalism Fri, 21 Aug 2015 23:00:20 +0000 (A homage to Dimgba Igwe) BY MUSA JIBRIL (Guest Columnist) THE first time I heard about the global journal­ism book, 50 World Editors, was mid-2012. I had followed the authors, Mike Awoyinfa and the late Dimgba Igwe, to interview one of the Nigerian media icons featured in the book. Tidbits from their discussions got me curious. [...]]]>

(A homage to Dimgba Igwe)

BY MUSA JIBRIL (Guest Columnist)

THE first time I heard about the global journal­ism book, 50 World Editors, was mid-2012. I had followed the authors, Mike Awoyinfa and the late Dimgba Igwe, to interview one of the Nigerian media icons featured in the book. Tidbits from their discussions got me curious. Their excite­ment was contagious. It got me wondering: Why would one book take these two journalism masters several years to write? And, how could a book unleash the spirit of Sokugo on grown up men, sending them roving around the world every year in the name of talking to editors?

For three years, I waited for answers. Waiting for the book. When recently, I had the privilege of holding in my hand a copy of 50 World Edi­tors: Conversations With Journalism Masters On Trends and Best Practices, I felt like a man who had found 14-carat gold.

There was something nostalgic about the book. It transported me back to my undergraduate days in the Department of Mass Communication, Ahmadu Bello University. It was in 1999 I first came across a book written by one of the authors, made available by our lecturer, Dr. John Opoko who, at the beginning of every semester, habitu­ally recommended useful texts on mass com­munication by Nigerians authors. That semester, the text was relevant for Writing for Mass Media. A how-to text on article writing. Later, I chanced upon another book, The Art of Feature Writing, a DIY on feature writing written by the duo. In 2011, I met them personally for the first time.

Back to the new book. Why am I gaga over it? Not because I have received a copy straight from famous authors—you know, the frenzy about getting autographed copies from celebrity writ­ers. Not because I am one of the privileged few who got an early copy. I am delighted because of its utility as a reading text to fill knowledge gaps.

Like a scripture that teaches a way of life, 50 World Editors is a catechism for those desirous of a ‘life lived as a news hound.’ Information on the 628-page book concretises the otherwise abstract knowledge imparted in the classroom context. Hands-on wisdom and valuable know-how doled out sumptuously by 50 global icons in the field of media – that is the book.

I know the agony mass communication stu­dents pass through in the quest for useful texts for assignments and literature review of their theses. In the library or in the bookshop, what you find is a farrago of foreign books, and invari­ably, a dearth of home-grown texts. Available books are mostly academically pedantic. That ac­counts for the loopholes in students’ knowledge bank. After four years of university study, they arrive in the newsroom a complete tabula rasa. Drilled thoroughly about the “five Ws and H” as the building blocks of news writing, but come up short when given reportorial assignments. They are sometimes an editor’s worst nightmare.

This is where 50 World Editors is handy. What is news? This is one question that resonates through the 50 chapters of the book. A question that begets 50 panoramic definitions. News in full spectrum, defined in new-fashioned terms by those whose business is news business. What essentially is a tabloid? This is another question asked over and over which yields a rich descrip­tion and dichotomy of the tabloid vis-à-vis the traditional newspaper. Other questions: What is a human interest story? What does it mean to re­port? What makes a good reporter? What makes a great editor? Who is an investigative reporter? These professional questions answered by the news gurus make the book a practical handbook that should get serious students delirious.

More questions: What advice will you give upcoming journalists? What is your typical day like as an editor? Such questions give the aspir­ing reporter a good idea about the world ahead of him.

The experience contain therein is the closest to field reality students can get about the profession in the comfort of the classroom. Students get to hear about the hazards of the job. On the pages of 50 World Editors, they read riveting recounts of dangerous moments in the lives of profes­sional journalists like Pakistani Hamid Mirs who interviewed Osama bin Laden at the cost of “life-threatening tests”; BBC’s Alan Johnston who was kidnapped for four months by terrorists in Gaza; AFP’s Beatrice Khadige who was detained by militias in Lebanon for two hours as she listened to morbid debates about whether to kill her or not; and Lebanese May Chidiac, whose leg and arm were blown off by bomb planted under her car seat. Yet they all lived to tell their stories to the authors, Mike Awoyinfa and Dimgba Igwe.

50 World Editors is a book of lessons for both the pro and the trainee reporter. Lessons unteach­able in the context of the classroom; lessons learnt on the job; lessons better learnt vicariously. On the pages of the book, media oracles talks about their defining stories, their motivations, their roles in the media ecosystem, their struggles and their triumphs in the socio-political and economic system. The biographical element affords students the oppor­tunity to learn real-life lessons from real professionals cherry-picked by the authors from iconic news media brands around the world: BBC, CNN, Guardian, Mail and Mirror of UK, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Denver Post, International Herald Tribune, The Washington Times, Financial Times, El Mundo, Channels, Reuters, Hindustan Times. What an eclectic collection!

This instant classic book is an invitation to see far ahead by stand­ing on the shoulders of 50 news media giants. It’s a compass to finding professional direction in the tangled web of the news media. In­corporated as a study text, the book will complement the theoretical teachings of the classroom. It makes a student’s academic preparation creamier. A fine book, of which I have one regret: It should have been published in my days as an under­graduate. Or during my brief stint as a graduate assistant.

The new book only reinforced what I already know about the authors. They are teachers. Their successful journalism careers make it difficult for me to say that they missed their callings. Journal­ist teacher or teacher journalist? They combined the two. They are journalism legends. But the teacher in them is legendary. At a lecture series organised in 2012 to mark Mike Awoyinfa’s 60th birthday, Femi Adesina, presidential spokesperson, had recounted how the pair mentored and shaped his journalism career. He even talked of the Awoyinfa School of Tabloid Journalism, whose proud alumni include Dele Momodu, publisher of Ovation International and Eric Osagie, the current Managing Di­rector and Editor-in-chief, The Sun Newspaper.

This is no mere rhetoric. At close quarters, Mr. Awoyinfa infects you with a febrile creativity that challenges your muse; if Mr. Igwe touches your work, he breathes a life into it in a way that is awe-inspiring. Let me tell you something about their teaching methods. For Mr. Awoyinfa, it starts with you getting a call from him. He briefs you about the assignment. He explains the perspectives. A brief background to tide you over on your way. He wishes you good luck. Once your story berths in his email, he calls you to acknowledge receipt. After reading, he calls you again. Usually for commendation, big or small. For a job well done. God bless you. Thank you. Keep it up. With Mr. Igwe, the approach is different. He invites you for your assignment. And it is better you go with your notepad. He takes his time to spell out all the grounds you need to cover. When your story gets to him, he works through it and sends you an edited copy. Again, he invites you. What difference did you notice? He wants to hear from you. He listens carefully and points out whatever you have missed. At the end of the day your mind is filled with knowledge. By your next assignment, you record a marked improvement. I guess this has been their ways since the Weekend Con­cord days.

It was Francis Bacon who fa­mously said: “Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.” That is the category where 50 World Editors belongs. It is a book “to be read wholly and with diligence and attendance.” It is truly a treasure trove, an invita­tion to feed your muse with manna from the masters. A ‘Torah’ from journalism rabbis.

*50 WORLD EDITORS will be launched on Tuesday, Septem­ber 15, 10a.m., at the Institute of International Affairs, Lagos to mark the anniversary of the death of the co-author Dimgba Igwe killed last year on September 6 while jogging to keep fit on a Saturday morning in his Lagos neighbourhood.


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Musings at the Realm of Glory Fri, 14 Aug 2015 23:48:27 +0000 IS this a church? Yes. But not as we know a church to be. Look at the lights. So colourful. A visual pyrotechnics. The stage is set as if it is a night of musical awards. Everything is bright. Everything is colourful. Everything is beautiful. But it is not an award night. We are right [...]]]>

IS this a church? Yes. But not as we know a church to be. Look at the lights. So colourful. A visual pyrotechnics. The stage is set as if it is a night of musical awards. Everything is bright. Everything is colourful. Everything is beautiful. But it is not an award night. We are right in the house of God. And me, I am seated at the front row, at the extreme right hand of God. What a place to sit! We shall come to that later!

I have come, with my better half, on this blessed Sunday morning, to worship for the first time at the Realm of Glory church in Okota, Lagos, where my friend Pastor Sam Aiyedogbon is marking the 25th anniversary of the founding of his church. It’s truly a story of God’s faithfulness for a church that started in a sitting room that has today grown into a crowded cathedral such that my children who followed me had nowhere to sit.

I have come to worship God and to share in the bliss of this great occasion. But the spirit of journalism would not leave me alone. Even in the House of God, I can’t help smelling news. No place is too holy for a journalist to report news. Not even heaven. Spirit of the living God, let me make heaven. And let me be a reporter in heaven with my friend now gone to the Lord.

Spirit of the living God, I am calling on you now. Fill me up like an empty vessel that I am. From the tissues of my brain to the sole of my feet, fill me. Fill my head with the wisdom to think aright. Fill my mouth with the words to speak to your people. Fill my body with good health that translates into wealth. Fill my pocket with money, you who promised me “treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places.” Fill me, fill me now, dear Holy Spirit. Like Oliver Twist, fill me till I want no more.

Now, why am I invoking the Holy Spirit this morning? It was the great man of God, Apostle Anselm Madubuko who, as a guest preacher at the Realm of Glory last Sunday berated Christians for neglecting and not giving the Holy Spirit the due respect. In his sermon, the apostle reminded us all about the trinity of God and the fact that the Holy Spirit is a key part of the tripod without which nothing happens.

“The Holy Spirit is the breath of God,” he intoned. “The Holy Spirit is the doer. Let’s not neglect Him. Jesus could do nothing for 29 years until the Holy Spirit came into Him.”

He could have mounted the pulpit to preach the message and blow his trumpet. After all, it’s his church and he is the chief celebrator and celebrant—two often confused words. Pastor Aiyedogbon, supported by his able, beautiful wife Grace decided instead to lay back and let his seniors in the Lord take over the preaching. First to preach was Reverend Wilson Badejo, the veteran preacher and former General Overseer of the Foursquare Gospel Church fame. Like Jesus his master, Badejo believes in storification as the best way to preach. He told the congregation the story of his own spiritual journey from his days as a radical student union leader who was nearly shot in the heat of the students’ riot at the University of Ibadan that claimed the life of Adekunle Adepeju, a student.

“Uncontrolled freedom is madness,” he told his largely youthful congregation as he recalled the horrific tragedy of the shooting of Adekunle Adepeju who fell next to him at the battlefield. “I tried to pull him but my eyes were filled with tear gas. I wept like a baby. It could have been me. The bullet whizzed past my ears and hit Adekunle. I missed death by a hair’s breadth. With that, I started my Christian journey.”

Turning to Pastor Aiyedogbon and his youth­ful congregation, Reverend Badejo prayed: “The ministry that God has given you does not include the burial of youths. You all will fulfil the number of your days on earth. Pastor Sam, there is more and more still to do. And the Good Lord will grant you the unction to function. We shall hand over this baton to able people.”

I was hearing Apostle Anselm Madubuko preach for the first time and he impressed me with his interactive preaching strategy. He would not even admit he had come to preach. “I came to bring a word, not to preach,” he says. “I am not a man of God. I am a son of God.”

To Pastor Sam Aiyedogbon and the church of the Realm of Glory, he said: “You ain’t seen nothing yet. Get ready. Do not be afraid. Jehovah has said He will help you. There is wealth in the atmosphere. The Lord has said He will give you treasures of darkness and hid­den riches. Jehovah is your source.

“Money is not in the church. The richest man in the church has nothing. As long as you know your balance, you are broke. Can you ask Bill Gates or Dangote: What’s your balance? But all church people know their balance. God wants to take us out of that realm. Money does not come by prayers. If you are fasting and praying for money, you are wasting your time. Money is not in the open place. There are two sources of money: God and the devil.”

Apostle Madubuko’s sermon was centred on the power of the right hand of God. From the Book of Psalms to Isaiah to the Acts of the Apostles, Madubuko gave various references to explain the import of God’s right hand and the special privilege in sitting by the right hand of God. You can see why I counted myself lucky sitting by the extreme right of the front row in the presence of the Almighty God.

Now hear this! According to Apostle Madu­buko, Nigeria’s former leader President Good­luck Jonathan failed because “God did not hold his right hand. That was why he failed. Men of God were holding his right hand but God didn’t hold his right hand. Your right hand is sacred. Your right hand is special. This morning, there is a struggle for your right hand.”

On that note, I rest my case! And I pray that this time around, God will hold our new leader, President Muhammadu Buhari by the right hand so that he would lead us right as he strives to right the wrongs of the past.


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The man who moulded me Fri, 07 Aug 2015 23:46:07 +0000 HOW else can I say thank you to the man who took me under his wings as a 7-year-old kid, trained me and gave me the foundation to be who I am today? How else than to write a column, a column of grati­tude to Pa Isaiah Lee Fadeyibi, the man who moulded me, guided [...]]]>

HOW else can I say thank you to the man who took me under his wings as a 7-year-old kid, trained me and gave me the foundation to be who I am today? How else than to write a column, a column of grati­tude to Pa Isaiah Lee Fadeyibi, the man who moulded me, guided me, shaped me, poured his spirit inside my vessel and made me who I am today. He clocked 80 on July 20, which explains why I am paying this tribute.

He is to me what Alhaji Sanusi Dantata was to Aliko Dangote, one of the 20th richest men on earth. Dangote says of his uncle, Sanusi Dantata: “As a kid who didn’t know his left from right, I was under his tutelage. I was almost like a tabular rasa, an empty vessel of sorts. And he poured his business wizardry into me. He poured everything into me. He made me who I am. I would not have been where I am today or who I am without him. I honestly think so. From him, I learnt a lot about hard work. I also learnt simplicity, took after his level-headedness and his low profile style. People always talk about my humility. But I tell you, nothing can compare with him. When you see him, you will see humility and self-efface­ment in motion.”

When I read this Dangote quote, I could easily res­onate with it. For me, Pa Isaiah Fadeyibi is my own Sanusi Dantata—my elder brother, my teacher, my mentor, the man without whom I probably “would not have been where I am today or who I am,” if I may borrow from Dangote, the billionaire.

Like most kids, I was a rascal. And my rascality was becoming a source of concern to my parents. To save me from myself, my father decided to send me away to live with his nephew, Isaiah Lee Fadeyibi, a 24-year-old elementary school teacher and a bach­elor posted to Aboso, some 18 kilometres away from Tarkwa in Western Ghana where I was born. My fa­ther brought him up. Now, it was his turn to bring me up too. Looking back, it was the best decision ever. From the rascal that I used to be, I transformed over­night into a sad, quiet, obedient boy surrounded by books and solitude. As a teacher, Brother Isaiah had a library filled with books enclosed in a glass showcase. In my loneliness, all I could do was to take solace in devouring those books. Book after book, my eyes opened to the beauty and the magical wonders of liter­ature. Page after page, I embarked on a literary expe­dition in the world of fantasy along with the characters in the books. I read books like the Three Musketeers by Alex Dumas, Tell Freedom and Mine Boy, two books by the South African writer Peter Abrahams. I read Allan Paton’s Cry The Beloved Country. I read Tom Brown’s Schooldays by Thomas Hughes. I read Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. I read the Ghana­ian poet Benebengo Blay who first inspired my poetry writing. I read so many other books whose titles I can­not remember now.

But my childhood favorite was King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. I remember the chivalric tales of brave Sir Lancelot and the magician Morgan le Fay. I remember Queen Guinevere. I remember Sir Gawain. I remember the Grail Quest—the knights looking for the Holy Grail being the mythical chalice from which Jesus drank at the Last Super before He was crucified. The Holy Grail, according to Arthurian legends was believed to have special magical powers which necessitated knights going on the search for the Holy Grail. It had the key to happiness, prosperity and eternal youth. Like Alfred Lord Tennyson, I remem­ber I wrote my own childhood poems centred round King Arthur’s life and death.

Under Brother Lee Fad, I became a teacher’s son. And a teacher’s son was expected to excel at school. Brother Lee really made me work hard on my studies. He gave me all kinds of assignments from mathemat­ics to English to Geography. In the middle of night, while preparing for his own exams, he would wake me up to join him in studying. He kept his cane at arm’s length in case I dozed off. My saddest moment was when he would sometime ask me to go to school in the morning on empty stomach. He was preparing me for the tough times ahead but I hated it. I needed food to concentrate in class. But my father had this adage: “It is with hunger that you acquire good educa­tion.”

Feeling homesick, one day, I escaped from his “enclave” and “stowed away” in a bus from Aboso to Tarkwa to meet my parents. I just jumped into the municipal bus one evening after school without a tick­et. I just sat there, praying no one would ask for my ticket. Luckily, the bus conductor passed me by with­out asking for my ticket. On getting home, my father ensured that I was put on another bus and returned to Aboso that same night. Meanwhile, Brother Lee had set up a search team which combed every nook and corner of Aboso looking for me. My return was one big relief. Luckily I was not punished.

Oh, I remember those musical years of my youth. In our house were packed the school’s musical instru­ment. I seized the opportunity to teach myself how to play the flute and the trumpet. Every night, the sound of my trumpet would echo through the town. One night, Brother Lee heard me blowing the trumpet. He was so impressed that he made me play at the morning assembly. It was one proud moment for him. Today, if you find me listening to Miles Davis, Wynton Mar­salis, Christian Scott and a host of Jazz trumpeters, this was where it all began. I lived in a world of music and books. Brother Lee’s books helped me a lot. It opened the doors for academic excellence and double promotions. My essays were read aloud in class. At prize-giving days, I was garlanded with prizes.

From a teacher, Brother Lee became the headmas­ter of Anglican Middle School in the goldmine town of Prestea. And wherever he was transferred, I fol­lowed him. In 1965, I passed the Common Entrance exam to go to Sekondi College at a younger age without completing my middle school. And there, I suffered an academic setback. I wasn’t doing well in my first year. Eventually I was expelled along with 35 other poor-performing students. We were blown away by the “Monsoon wind,” to use the school jar­gon for such expulsions. I was to be sent back to com­plete my unfinished middle school but Brother Isaiah waded in and mercifully found me another college: Axim Secondary School where I was admitted after passing a test. And there, the Good Lord turned my situation around and I began to find my groove again and excel in academics to the point where I even won a prize in Fante language of Western Ghana, beating the Ghanaians in their own language.

Then the Ghanaian government came with their Aliens-Must-Go law. My parents all left but Brother Lee stayed behind to ensure that I finished my School Cert exams which I passed in Grade 2. From Ghana, he followed me to Nigeria, to my hometown Ijebu-Je­sha where I did my Higher School Certificate and had the best result to the glory of God. From there, I went to the University of Lagos to study Mass Communi­cation and passed out in 1977. And the rest is history.

Ever since my father died on November 11, 1984, I have known no other father than my brother, Pa Isaiah Fadeyibi now 80. I wanted a lavish party for him, but he opted for something sober which was characteris­tic of him. We joined him at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, Ijebu-Jesha for a special thanksgiving service to God. In church, he was praised for his service to God. A garland was put around his neck for being a Sunday school teacher who dedicated his life to teaching chil­dren to fear God and to imbibe good values.

I am writing this column to thank you sir, and to thank all teachers and all mentors without whom we won’t be who we are and where we are today. Even if no one rewards you here on earth, your reward is in heaven. Be consoled by Matthew 5:12 which says: “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great.”

25 Years of Glory

All roads lead to the Okota Roundabout, Lagos where the Realm of Glory Church will be celebrating “God’s faithfulness” tomorrow. From a small seed planted 25 years ago, the church has blossomed into a tree with many branches. I thank God for what he is doing in the life of my friend Pastor Sam Aiyedogbon. I pray that the church will keep marching on to fulfill the founder’s mission to impact the world for a better society through Christ our Lord and Saviour.

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Sad man of Nigerian Journalism Fri, 24 Jul 2015 23:36:10 +0000 A writer writes late into sunset, into darkness, into old age. So I learnt. This is how the poet Dylan Thomas puts it: “Do not go gentle into that good night. Old age should burn and rave at close of day. Rage, rage against the dying of light.” At 80, how I wish he is [...]]]>

A writer writes late into sunset, into darkness, into old age. So I learnt. This is how the poet Dylan Thomas puts it: “Do not go gentle into that good night. Old age should burn and rave at close of day. Rage, rage against the dying of light.”

At 80, how I wish he is still writing his ‘Sad Sam’ column as is the trend in the journalism world out there far beyond our shores where old journalists still ply their trade till death do them part. Like wine, their writing tastes mature, tastes better and better with age. They have seen it all. For them, there is nothing new under the sun.

But my old columnist and hero Sam Amuka-Pe­mu popularly known as Sad Sam in his writing days stopped the music long, long ago and went into silence and oblivion, far from the madding crowd of today’s young, garrulous columnists throwing jaw-breaking words around like reckless boxers in the ring of life. Hahahahahaha! Don’t mind me.

So, why did Sad Sam stop writing at his old age? He was 80 on June 13 and a book of essays is to be launched in his honour next Thursday at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Lagos. Why did the music stop? This was the question I was dying to ask him.

As a young man, he had done everything I did. He turned column-writing into everything, into an art, into an adventure, into drama, into a narrative of the life of ordinary people, interesting people, telling their untold stories. In those days of innocence, Sam Amuka as Sad Sam used to go about town, venturing into sometimes dangerous and forbidden places, looking for stories to turn into a column. Such an audacious and daring jour­nalist he was!

“A good journalist must be daring,” he told me. “You must not be afraid of anything. You must not be afraid to ask any question. In journalism, there is this maxim that ‘knock many doors, there is a story.’”

But to Amuka’s regret, “that credo is dying nowa­days.” It has been replaced with what he calls “arm­chair journalism” which is responsible for “so much weakness and untidiness in journalism of today.”

He looks at today’s papers and spots so many gram­matical errors—errors that should not have gone into the paper.

Old age brings along nostalgia: the dreams of the good old days gone by. Amuka is no exemption. “In our days, journalists were more thorough than today,” he says with a tinge of regret. “In our days you were groomed as an all-round newspaper professional. Newspapers then were more professional than what we have today. You had to learn it. These days they don’t bother to learn the trade. They don’t take the pains to learn how to produce a newspaper.

“When a reporter files his report to the news editor who sends it to the sub-editor, the sub-editor takes the report and breaks it into pieces to get his own angle. If he needs any extra information, the reporter would be there to supply it. The sub-editor invariably rewrites the story. Professionally, the sub-editors in the Daily Times were highly skilled. We don’t have that now. To­day, if a reporter makes a mistake, that mistake would end up published in the newspaper.”

He continues: “We had the culture of sub-editors. They are the behind-the-scene journalists who, un­like reporters, are not known because they don’t have bylines. They are the custodians of house style and good grammar. They are the ones who through edit­ing and corrections help largely in grooming the young reporters on how to report accurately in good readable prose. Today, sub-editors are endangered species in the newsroom. That very important aspect of newspaper work is dying and we are all suffering from the absence of sub-editors.”

Still waxing in nostalgia, the sad man of Nigerian journalism still kept looking at the rear mirror trying to capture his past of over half a dozen decades in journal­ism all gone:

“When I started newspaper work, people were more careful. You didn’t take people’s name in vain. Repu­tation was highly guarded. When I look back, those were the days of innocence. The country changed with the war—when soldiers went to war and came back. That was a watershed in our history. Everything else changed.”

About that time, Amuka wrote one of his most popu­lar columns titled “Night in Kakadu”. Kakadu was the hottest nightclub in Lagos where Fela and other reign­ing stars of the era used to play. There he encountered a prostitute and out of the experience with the prostitute he wrote a column.

“In those days, I was a young man about town, who was just observing the society and having a big laugh,” he recalls. “We told the truth about real life encoun­ters—interesting life encounters. I wrote about inter­esting people I met. I remember the column ‘Night in Kakadu.’ It was an experience I had with a young pros­titute. She was drinking and we got to talk. Here you find a girl opening her heart to you, telling you about what led her into prostitution, her disappointment with the society. I wrote about that sort of thing. Real life encounters. As a columnist, I just said what I liked. I went out to town, reported as I saw them and expressed my views. With Sad Sam, I had a big laugh. I had fun. I am still having fun, but I cannot say the things I see anymore.”

So, why did he stop writing? The question again. This time, he gave reasons he quit column-writing.

“I stopped writing my Sad Sam column because I grew old. I lost my innocence. Times change. Things I wrote then when I was doing a column, I couldn’t do them now. We are talking of over twenty-something years ago. It got to a stage where people expressed confidences to you and you couldn’t let them down. I grew old for the column.”

The Sam Amuka interview was conducted while working on the book Segun Osoba—The Newspaper Years by Mike Awoyinfa and Dimgba Igwe, published by Corporate Biographers Limited. He paid tribute to Osoba as the quintessential reporter, one of the best this country has ever produced.

“Osoba’s métier was news,” he declared. “He was a newsman to the core. That is what he is known for. As for me, I am features man. I have very little reporting background. But Osoba’s niche was newsgathering. He wasn’t a features man, and he wasn’t a columnist. He was a newsman.”

In an age where news is now mainly sourced online, Amuka still loves the crispness and the freshness of a daily newspaper which he compares to the birth of a new baby every new day. It’s a life-long love affair that doesn’t wane with age.

He says: “For us in this business of journalism, every day is a new day. Holding an edition of a newspaper is like holding a new baby. It is exciting. You get fulfilled. A time would come when you would realise that money is not everything. If it was, those people with money won’t be asking you have their names eight point in the newspaper, to see their pictures in newspapers. News­paper has power, has influence on the society.”

There was this series I was doing in this column titled ‘100 Heroes of Nigeria at 100.’ Remember it? I was going round interviewing Nigerians who themselves are heroes and asking them to pick their heroes. I met Sam Amuka at a conference and asked him to name his hero. His answer dazzled and confused me: “My he­roes are Mike Awoyinfa and Dimgba Igwe. And I mean what I am saying. For two of you to pioneer Weekend Concord, make it successful and to repeat your success in creating The Sun newspaper from the scratch make you my newspaper heroes. And when you left The Sun, you reinvented yourself by churning out books. I love how you have been able to stick together through thick and thin.”


To mark the anniversary of Dimgba Igwe’s death, WORLD EDITORS, a book of interviews with 50 edi­tors around the world co-authored by Mike Awoyinfa and Dimgba Igwe will be launched on September 15 at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos. Our chairman of the occasion? Who else other than our hero: Sam Amuka-Pemu formerly known as Sad Sam? The sad man of Nigerian journalism.

For all of you who wished me happy birthday on July 23, thank you very much. May we all grow and pass 80. Like our Daddy and Granddaddy Sam Amuka-Pemu who has made his mark as a journalist and entrepreneur.

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A side of Peterside Fri, 17 Jul 2015 23:29:07 +0000 Hey, I love jazz. The title of today’s column sounds jazzy, sounds like a track from my favorite jazz artistes. Artistes like Miles Davis and John Coltrane. A side of Peterside may sound jazzy but I am not talking jazz. I am playing a different music all together. A music like that of the revolutionary, [...]]]>

Hey, I love jazz. The title of today’s column sounds jazzy, sounds like a track from my favorite jazz artistes. Artistes like Miles Davis and John Coltrane. A side of Peterside may sound jazzy but I am not talking jazz. I am playing a different music all together. A music like that of the revolutionary, Fela An­ikulapo-Kuti, the angry, sax-wielding afrobeat king in his early years wail­ing in a mixture of Yoruba and pidgin: “You can’t gag me. You can’t padlock my mouth. My agadagodo (padlock) is not in your hands.”

Like Fela, let’s hear it from Atedo Peterside, the man who inspired today’s column. Let’s hear it from the economist and the investment banker extraordinaire who at 33 redefined investment banking in 1989—the very year I tried to do some­thing revolutionary in my own field of journalism with the Weekend Concord—a newspaper that took a different path from the crowd. Let’s hear it from Atedo Pe­terside, the philosopher-businessman who says instead of keeping mute, minding his business and enjoying his wealth, he would rather play, sing and shout out loud the troubles with Nigeria, the problems of Nigeria, so that Nigeria would change radically for good—economically and po­litically.

“Why am I shouting out?” he asks in one television interview. “In life we all make choices. The easiest thing for me or any businessman is to just do your business and shy away from making any comment, in getting involved in reforms, in getting involved in arguments on how to improve your country. It’s a choice I made a long time ago. I started com­menting on public affairs, on politics, on national issues more than 25 years ago. And I have never stopped. It is not unique to me. It is not as if I am doing anything wonderful or unique. There are business­men around the world who do the same thing. And there are businessmen around the world who are scared to discuss poli­tics. It is the choice you make.

“You can only take part and argue about controversial policies for the future of your country if you have the confidence that you have done nothing wrong with yourself. There is nobody giving me an inflated government contract. There is no­body giving me kerosene import or what­ever oil subsidy scam as they call it. So nobody can call me and say: ‘If you say anything again, I will withdraw this con­tract.’

“If there is anything that you gave me and you are not happy that I am com­menting on my country, take it away from me. Whatever you think you gave me, take it away from me and I am happy. I will sooner give up everything and have the freedom to express myself in my own country. Why would I give away my free­dom of expression in the name of taking a contract from government or anybody?

“For me, I never contemplated just spending the rest of my life as a busi­nessman doing business and counting the money in my bank balance and the big­ger the money in my bank balance, the happier I get. And if I think something is going on in my country, I will keep quiet because my balance is growing? That was a choice I abandoned many years ago.

“And also, there is a common thread running through the bulk of the comments I make and the bulk of the debates I join. Beneath most of them is economic reform. I am not tied to any government. My only relevance to any government is to pull them in the direction of meaningful eco­nomic reform.

“It is clear that I am not taking elective office. Let me tell you the reason as well. If you want to speak boldly about the eco­nomic reform, if you want to take on any vested interest in terms of economic poli­cy and debunk their argument, if you want to challenge political parties and run down their manifestos and all that stuff, then I don’t think you can be seeking elective of­fice. Because they would be waiting for you. The only time you can speak your mind and argue all the policies that you think are best for Nigerians, not caring whether it contradicts a party’s manifesto or not, not caring which minister is upset, not caring which governor is upset, is be­cause you are not holding elective office.

“But I can tell you it is difficult to sepa­rate politics from economics. Economists who try and say ‘I am not involved in politics at all’ invariably shy away from the big decisions. Because politics and economics are intertwined. So if I am an economist by training and I want to pursue for my country economic reform, half of the things I am saying will also be challenging the establishment in terms of politics. Because if you have wrong poli­tics, it affects the economy and vice versa. You cannot be an economist trying to help your country to achieve rapid economic reforms and then you are completely scared to make any statement that sounds remotely political.”

Let me sum up a few things going on in Nigeria that Peterside is against. He is against a situation in Nigeria where the cost of governance is so high that 70 percent of the nation’s resources goes for maintaining and sustaining government.

“Why should some people who hap­pen to be in government consume 70 per­cent of the nation’s resources and leave the other 160 million Nigerians out there hungry? How long can this continue? Because when you talk of this cost of governance, it translates into a handful of people using governance as an excuse for them to appropriate to themselves the bulk of our resources and leave the rest of us with the leftovers. It is a matter of time if those who are elected into office don’t correct it, the elite would come together again and force them to make the correc­tions. It would happen. And you know what? Fallen oil prices would make it to happen.”

Number Two. Peterside wants NNPC scrapped completely. Hear him waxing lyrical on this track: “We cannot have an arrangement where NNPC as a corpora­tion would receive our oil revenues, de­cide how much of it they keep for them­selves and send the balance to the nation. That is the cause of the problem. Why do you need NNPC at all to receive our oil revenue and decide how much of it to pass on to the nation?

“I am advocating radical solutions to the point of saying that we should phase out NNPC. When I say scrap NNPC, you can’t do it one day. I am saying have a pol­icy of saying that this corporation should cease to exist. And you progressively be­gin to take items from it one by one. And you either advertise them, sell them off, close them down. You can start with the refineries. Take the refineries away from them. They have never managed them anyway. They have never managed them well in three decades. What will change in the next decade? What I am saying is: Take items from them one by one and find solutions to each of those items. And eventually you wind down and you have nothing left in NNPC.”

Boardroom Guru

As every reader of this column knows, I am writing a book on “Board­room Leadership and Corporate Gov­ernance in Nigeria.” So far, I have interviewed iconic boardroom gurus and chairmen like Christopher Kolade, Chris Ogbechie (Chairman of Diamond Bank), Biodun Sobanjo (Chairman of Troyka Holdings), Sam Ohuabunwa (Chairman of Neimeth formerly Pfizer) and Sir Steve Omojafor (former Chair­man of Zenith Bank). The stories I am getting are so inspiring. It’s like I am going to the real Business School again, hearing it straight from the mouth of Ni­geria’s business masters. At the end of each interview, I ask: “Is there any busi­ness guru you will like to be included in this book?” And each time, I hear the name Atedo Peterside reecho. I put a call to Atedo Peterside on his birthday this week and he was in faraway Vienna. He thanked me and promised to grant me an interview when he returns. Watch out folks! For another “side of Peterside!”

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SLOT STORY: How I built a phone franchise from zero Fri, 10 Jul 2015 23:40:55 +0000 There was nothing like childhood “flair for business.” All Nnamdi Ezeigbo cared for as a kid was to read his books, excel in his exams, leave school and hopefully find a decent job where he would be earn­ing a meaningful salary. With a degree in electrical and electronic engineering plus a master’s, the world was [...]]]>

There was nothing like childhood “flair for business.” All Nnamdi Ezeigbo cared for as a kid was to read his books, excel in his exams, leave school and hopefully find a decent job where he would be earn­ing a meaningful salary. With a degree in electrical and electronic engineering plus a master’s, the world was his oys­ter—so he thought.

After his NYSC where he served at Guinness, Ezeigbo’s eyes were on the big oil companies like Chevron, Shell and Mo­bil where he was dreaming to find a dream job. Two years of staying at home and writing all kinds of applications, he soon realized that it’s a cold, cold world out there, where looking for a job is tougher than finding the proverbial haystack nee­dle. “After two years of staying at home and finding nothing to do, I thought of do­ing something on my own,” Ezeigbo says as he recalls his first, tentative steps into the unknown world of entrepreneurship.

Today, Ezeigbo would bless the day he took the momentous decision to go “start something on my own,” a move which turned out to be the game changer of his life. If he had found a job in the corporate world, say in a big oil company, Nigeria would probably have lost an en­trepreneur extraordinaire, a creative spirit who has mastered the art of selling mobile phones to a country blessed with a heavy population—the biggest on the African continent—that makes business thrive. If he had gotten a job in an oil company or wherever, the corporate world would have subsumed this genius, this brand strate­gist who has built a strong, loyal customer base, this franchise owner whose brand name SLOT is now being rented by others to profit from, because of the solid image, reputation and strong values Ezeigbo has built into his company. For the records, he is Nigeria’s pioneer franchisor in telecoms business, if not the overall franchise busi­ness leader in Africa’s populous country.

Today, in cities and towns in Nigeria where he doesn’t want to invest directly perhaps due to insecurity, economic, po­litical or whatever reason, Ezeigbo has franchised out his brand name.

Those applying for the SLOT fran­chise usually undergo rigorous checks to ascertain whether they can be trusted with the brand name. So far, most of the people who won the franchise happen to be people who had worked in banks and corporate organization, hence understand business. “Those are the kind of people we work with. We build the structure to conform with our standards, we set up the stores, we train the staff, they spend mini­mum of one month with us, we send our managers to manage the store for a period. We make sure it is just the replica of what we have in our organic stores,” Ezeigbo explains.

Whether it is the organic store in the ever bustling Computer Village in Ikeja or the SLOT franchise in Kano or Ado Ekiti, a typical SLOT store in Nigeria is a red-hot beehive where lovers of phones and electronic gizmos troop in to buy because they believe that buying from SLOT will give them peace.

“I came into this business because I saw the need to create value,” Ezeigbo says. “And that is what consumers want. Consumers are not just buying devices. They want value. What we have discov­ered about Nigerian customers is that they want to buy from a place they can trust. So, we are not just selling devices, we are also selling our reputation. We are selling peace of mind.”

The apprentice computer repairer

After staying home for two years in frustration and not finding a job, Ezeigbo followed his heart. He put aside his de­gree certificates and his hubris to become an apprentice computer repairer. “I was led by a passion for computer,” he ex­plains. “I needed to do what I like to do. I joined a friend who had a computer outfit. I spent six months with him learning how to repair computers. We were friends at the NYSC camp. When I was looking for something to do, something I had flair for, which is computer engineering, I joined him. I had left the university with a degree in electrical and electronic engineering with a flair for computer. So it was easy to actually adapt and kick off as a young computer engineer.”

It was in the process of serving as an apprentice computer repairer that Ezeigbo experienced the cut-throat practices go­ing on in the industry whereby custom­ers were being ripped off due to their ignorance. “As at that time, everybody was struggling to make money. Nobody was adding value. It was like: how much were you able to extort from the customer today? I couldn’t really understand why it should be like that. Something inside me objected to that. I was telling myself: It shouldn’t really be like this,” Ezeigbo says.

In one instance, the computer “had a simple problem with the cooling fan. And the cooling fan as at that time was just N300. But these guys took N30,000 from the customer. And when it comes to tech­nical issues, people are ripped off a lot be­cause they don’t understand what it takes to fix a computer. So when you tell them N30,000 or N40,000, everybody wants to pay. Because they want their computer to work. But I was not happy with the sys­tem.”

From that moment, Ezeigbo decided to be a customer advocate. And this caused a misunderstanding between him and his friend “because there was a value mis­match.” The disagreement soon reached a boiling point with Ezeigbo being fired by his friend. He left his friend “to squat with a bookshop owner on the same street” be­cause he had no money to rent a shop. The sympathetic bookshop owner gave him a small space to continue his computer re­pair business. He was there when a cus­tomer he had once fixed his computer and served well came looking for him. Ezeig­bo narrates:

“He went to my former office, asked for me and he was told I was no longer there. He wanted me badly to fix his com­puter, so he was directed to my new place. When this man came looking for me, he discovered I was in a bookshop and he said: ‘Nnamdi, what are you doing here? You are too big to be here.’ I told him what happened between me and my friend and he said: ‘No, get a shop and I will pay.’ And that was how I got a space that we called SLOT Systems today. The office is still there today at No. 19 Ola Ayeni St. I was at the ground floor. He gave me some printers to sell and use the money to pay for the space. That was how I was able to raise N230,000 to pay for that space. The year was 1999. That was how I was able to pay for that space called SLOT Systems which is the head office right now. We eventually bought the place for N100 mil­lion. And that is our headquarters. That was how I started.”

In choosing the name SLOT, Ezeigbo wanted “a simple name that would tally with what I believe.” According to him, “Slot is basically about position, is about being at the right place at the right time. It is not an acronym. Slot is an English word which means to create a slot for some­thing—to create a position. If you want to play your cassette or CD, it must go into the right slot. So, we feel we are occupy­ing a position. If you don’t have a square peg that goes into a square hole, then it won’t fit.” As he grew to understand busi­ness, he wrote a mission statement which states: “Our mission is to build an indig­enous company based on sound ethical principles. And then to create value for our shareholders and customers.”

Today, SLOT has 50 franchises all over Nigeria. And still counting! His story is a classic story of entrepreneurial triumph from zero to hero. I was interviewing Ezeigbo for a book called “50 Entrepre­neur Success Stories.”

“An entrepreneur is the man who im­pacts the society positively,” Ezeigbo says. “He is somebody who is involved in creating jobs. An entrepreneur creates value for the society. Not every business­man is an entrepreneur. A taxi driver for example is a business owner. He is creat­ing value for his family. But when you extend your value creation to your com­munity, you country, by creating jobs and impacting on people’s lives, then you an entrepreneur.”

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BOARDROOM GURUS TALKING Fri, 03 Jul 2015 23:00:28 +0000 JULY.  Lovely month of my birth.  Woke up in the middle of the night from this interrupted sleep looking clairvoyant.  An eerie voice woke me up.  A spark of ideas.  I wouldn’t call it brainwave.  It’s more than a flash of inspiration.  It surely must be the voice of the Old Man in the sky, [...]]]>

JULY.  Lovely month of my birth.  Woke up in the middle of the night from this interrupted sleep looking clairvoyant.  An eerie voice woke me up.  A spark of ideas.  I wouldn’t call it brainwave.  It’s more than a flash of inspiration.  It surely must be the voice of the Old Man in the sky, the old editor of editors, my divine muse telling me what assignment next to pursue in this great mission to capture the unwritten literature of corporate Nigeria.
My divine publisher was telling me in a dream: “Boy, your next project is a book on BOARDROOM LEADERSHIP—A Nigerian Perspective.”
I am so thrilled by this new assignment.  It looks so formidable.  It looks so difficult.  But as my late friend Dimgba Igwe would say, “If a project is difficult, it means it is good.”
Dimgba never believed in the easy option.  He believed in travelling the hard road, the “road not taken” as Robert Frost writes in his poem:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Yes, I know a book on “Boardroom Leadership and Corporate Governance in Nigeria” would have excited my friend.  It is one subject he would have embraced.  I believe he is cheering me on and praying for me in the bosom of the Lord where he is resting.
I am happy to say that ever since he left, God has been opening doors, making way where there is no way.  Day after day, I am being bombarded with ideas.  There are so many books to write.  A book on Corporate Governance and Accountability couldn’t have come at a much better time, now that this Augean stable called Nigeria is being cleared and new codes of conduct for doing business are being written for a lawless country where things have fallen apart and business is polluted with the so-called “Nigerian factor.”
In a project like this, you draw a list of boardroom leaders you are interested in featuring to share their experiences and perspectives about life in the boardroom.  You draw a list of questions you want them to address.  That is the beauty of journalism.  All you have to do is to do your homework and come up with relevant questions.  A journalist, by virtue of his training, is one who seeks answers to questions.  He or she doesn’t have to be an expert.  He fields his questions and leaves it for the experts to come up with answers.  At the end of it all, the journalist absorbs enough to become an expert himself.  That is the trick.  That is how we wrote our first bestseller: 50 Nigerian Corporate Strategists—Top CEOs Share Their Experiences in Managing Business in Nigeria and the follow up, Nigeria Marketing Memoirs.
As a test run to the new project, I sent a text message to the boardroom guru, Dr. Christopher Kolade, explaining what I want to accomplish in the book “Boardroom Leadership—A Nigerian Perspective.”
You can imagine my ecstasy when I received a reply from Dr. Kolade expressing his interest.  We agreed to meet the following day.  All night long, I couldn’t sleep.  I was as excited as the day I interviewed Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg in company with Chief Orji Kalu, publisher of The Sun.  It is one unforgettable moment.  Dr. Kolade is not just a moral authority but a respectable boardroom guru with boardroom experiences in both public and private sectors.  I had solid one hour with him during which he regaled me with his boardroom memoirs packed with rich anecdotes and lessons you will never find in any textbook.  Oh, the Lord is good.  All the time.
I asked him to tell me: What kind of place is the boardroom?  Why does a company need a board?  What is the role of the board?  What is the role of the chairman of the board?  What qualities must a boardroom leader possess?  What is the role of the non-executive members of the board?  How must the chairman relate with the managing director?
We talked about the regulatory role of the board in enforcing ethics.  We talked about the board establishing the right tone and standards in top executive remuneration.  We talked about diversity in the board and the plus and minus of bringing women into the boardroom.  We talked about tips in organising an effective board meeting.  I asked him to compare the public sector board and private sector one.  We talked about corporate governance.  We talked about transparency and accountability.  We talked about politics in Nigeria, the agenda of change and how this can be translated into the boardroom.  We talked about the role of the board in choosing a new MD or CEO.  We talked about the key issues in the Nigerian boardrooms today.  There were so many questions on my mind, but Dr. Kolade had another meeting.  And he was not about to allow this Oliver Twist of a journalist to eat extra into his time.  With Dr. Kolade setting the tone for the book, I couldn’t have had a better flying start.
I have lined up other boardroom gurus to be featured in the book and partly in this column.  There is the original “Guru” himself, Dr. Mike Adenuga and Alhaji Aliko Dangote, two of Africa’s and the world’s richest men.  Others are Tony Elumelu, Jim Ovia, Adebayo Ogunlesi, Kola Karim, Abdulsamad Rabiu, Christopher Eze, Olusegun Osunkeye, Otunba Subomi Balogun, Cletus Ibeto, Biodun Sobanjo, Femi Otedola, Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija, Felix Ohiwerei, Chief Kolawole B. Jamodu, Chief Michael Ade Ojo, Chief Orji Kalu, Chief Dele Fajemirokun, Wale Tinubu, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Chris Ogbechie, Michael Omolayole, Gamaliel Onosode, Oba Otudeko, Keith Richards and many more.
This list is not final.  If you think there is a boardroom guru I have omitted, kindly let me know.  Till next week when we see again, I leave you with a wise quote from boardroom guru and chairman to many companies Dele Fajemirokun: “As a rule, I don’t go to the boardroom to win, because if any other person brings a more subtle and progressive point, I will buy it.  It is not a kill-or-be-killed affair.  Two or three heads are better than one.  Someone who is even lesser than you intellectually can see what you may not see on an issue.  And you have to be humble enough, courageous enough to accept a brighter idea from someone lower.”

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Bishop’s ‘Tutuorial’ sparks fireworks Fri, 26 Jun 2015 23:00:35 +0000 Dear Mike, your excerpt on the book ‘God is not a Christian’ by Bishop Desmond Tutu is quite interesting. However, it is also pitiable for it shows that a man may attain the utmost height in ecclesiastical appointment and yet be totally blind to divine revelation. Men prefer to hold a view of God based [...]]]>

Dear Mike, your excerpt on the book ‘God is not a Christian’ by Bishop Desmond Tutu is quite interesting. However, it is also pitiable for it shows that a man may attain the utmost height in ecclesiastical appointment and yet be totally blind to divine revelation. Men prefer to hold a view of God based on their totally depraved human under­standing than accept the overwhelming evidence of in­spired scripture. Human philosophy and morality are no platforms for interpreting God. God is His own interpreter and only those who are of the truth can rightly discern spiritual truth – Evangelist Okex Kalu, Enugu, 08056093023

I just finished reading your piece and I am somehow ashamed based on my Christian upbringing to say I agree with Desmond Tutu. God is way bigger than just one faith. I would really love to lay my hand on that book. –Arinze Esomnofu

If only the pastors and the so-called General Overseers would read your article and preach in this light, our coun­try will be a better place. Kudos to you and Bishop Tutu for letting them know that God is for everyone. —Nnamdi Anyanwu.

My five-year-old daughter Condoleeza read the title of your piece and asked: “Daddy, is God a Muslim?” Help me answer her question! – Emeka, 08023682297

“To claim God exclusively for Christians is to make God too small and in a real sense is blasphemous. God is bigger than Christianity and cares for more than Christians only. He has to, if only for the simple reason that Chris­tians are quite late arrivals on the world scene. God has been around since even before creation, and that is a very long time.” As a Rabbi of this age, I can’t but admire such rare and courageous open-mindedness which is clearly corroborated by that great scientist and astronomer Carl Sagan that the “present human culture is a kind of arrogant newcomer” into the world – Rabbi Nat, 080735721252

Even a good native doctor will be with God before some of us that call ourselves Christians or Muslims. The God in me greets the God in you. Amen. 08031169614

What Archbishop Tutu is telling us is that God is for all. Accepting this means religious tolerance which every nation needs for meaningful development. Jason Onyeak­agbusi, Awka, 08037273705

To Archbishop Tutu, I say: May the universal and un­limited God bless you richly for the article on “God is not a Christian.” May He grant you the wisdom and cour­age to tell us more critical and liberating truths – Gabriel, 08102929889

The same argument was why they killed Jesus for say­ing in John 14: 61 that no one “cometh to the Father except by me.” So if Jesus is the only begotten Son of the Father, it simply means that God will not accept anybody without the person accepting Jesus as Lord and personal saviour – E.O., 08060450453

On the face of it, Archbishop Tutu’s book appears “pro­vocative” but on a second thought, one sees easily where the renowned bishop is headed. Yes, “God is not a Chris­tian,” just as God is not a Muslim. God is not a pagan. God is not an atheist. We should not limit God into a par­ticular faith or belief since He created all of us in the first instance. If God is a Muslim, He would not have created Christians. God loves ALL his creations equally. That is why He is God. He is not a human being to discriminate – Dr. Chizoba Christopher Ogbunugafor, Surulere, Lagos, 09099373344.

Salvation and paradise are strictly based on our rela­tionship and service to God and humanity. Allah is a God of all people regardless of our vehicle of communication with Him – Yusuf U. A. MD/CEO, Lincoln Technologies

Bishop Tutu was merely emphasising the fact that it is not enough for Christians to carry the Christian tag as if that is all that is required of them. Rather, they should live it by making the required impacts that would make it pos­sible for them to win souls for Christ. The word Christian means Christ-like behaviour. Unfortunately, this is con­trary to what we have today – Iroka Sampson, Keffi

After reading your piece on Bishop Tutu, I ask: Why is the world afraid of Jesus? Bishop Tutu has a politi­cal agenda, not scriptural agenda. Someone is lying. It’s either the Bible, God, Jesus and His disciples were wrong and the world right or they were right and the world is wrong –

Desmond Tutu is correct. God couldn’t have been a Christian because He is holy, spiritual and divine. Chris­tianity’s motive is mundane, economic, exploitative, ex­pansionist, slavish, invasive, colonial and apartheid. The West used it to enslave Africa, trade Africans in chains as articles, invade and colonise African communities by force, killing the natives who did not allow them easy ac­cess. Today, Africa use it to exploit fellow Africans. To Africans, especially Nigerians, Christianity is the second machine outside government to make illegal wealth and live corruptly and immorally. The so-called Christian leaders promise their gullible followers a good life in heaven while they enjoy theirs on earth – Hypocrisy in action. Ozo Nnaka, Ukpor, 07051503636

True, God is for all, but saying God isn’t a Christian is what I can’t come to terms with. All the same, it is good to explore our thoughts beyond ordinary boundaries – Victor Bello, 08032204716

Dear Mike: Thank you for this beautiful reading. The book, to me, isn’t provocative. Truth, most times, is bitter. It is completely infantile and laughable for ANY religion to personalise or restrict God and His heavenly and uni­versal might, wisdom, mercy, grace and kingdom to itself. If all humans were like Bishop Tutu, the world would be a kind of paradise. Now I know why he got the Nobel Peace Prize – Rashid Adisa

This article came at a very auspicious time in which religious bigotry and fanaticism has been arrogated to an instrument of war and social upheaval. It is very wrong for any religious group or sect to think that God belongs to them alone or those who did not accept their belief are eternally condemned into abyss. This is very wrong. If the adherent of the various religious faith can imbibe the culture of tolerance, all the frictions in the name of fight­ing for God will abate. God is for all and does not belong to anybody or group. All the religions of the world es­pouse the same principles of righteousness, justice, equity, fair play, kindness and all the attributes of God’s spirit in man. – Thaddeus Iberosi

It’s a pity that Desmond Tutu has fallen into apostasy. That is what politics does to people – Don Peter Okoro, 08031386142

I believe the title of the book must have been carefully chosen to create a kind of shock therapy among the read­ing audience so that we can get out of religion and em­brace the truth – Engr. Ayo Fatola, 0808073264


I met him through my late brother and friend Dimgba Igwe. Ever since, Elder E.E. Ekeoma, the chairman of Nepal Oil and Gas from Igbere, Abia State, has been a friend through thick and thin. He was 55 on June 25. Here is wishing him long life, good health and glorious years ahead.

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‘God is not a Christian’ Fri, 19 Jun 2015 23:00:56 +0000 I am reading this provocative book which I brought from Cape Town titled God is Not a Christian by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. You know him, the outspoken Nobel Peace laureate and the first black Archbishop of Cape Town. I have nothing to say than to invite you to join me as I bring you excerpts [...]]]>

I am reading this provocative book which I brought from Cape Town titled God is Not a Christian by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. You know him, the outspoken Nobel Peace laureate and the first black Archbishop of Cape Town. I have nothing to say than to invite you to join me as I bring you excerpts from this thought-provoking book about God, Christian faith and other religions. Your comments are wel­come:


Most Christians believe that they get their mandate for exclusivist claims from the Bible. Jesus does say that no one can come to the Father except through Him, and in Acts we hear it proclaimed that there is no other name under Heaven that is given for salvation (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Those passages seem to be categorical enough to make all debates superfluous. But is this all that the Bible says, with nothing, as it were, on the side of inclusiveness and universality, and does the exclusivist case seem rea­sonable in the light of human history and development?

Fortunately for those who contend that Christianity does not have an exclusive and proprietary claim on God, as if God were indeed a Christian, there is ample biblical evidence to support their case. John’s Gospel, in which Jesus claims to be the exclusive means of access to the Father, right at the beginning makes an even more cosmic and startling claim for Jesus, as the Light who enlightens everyone, not just Christians. (John 1:19) In Romans, St. Paul points out that everyone stands condemned as under sin before God—both Jew and Gentile (Romans 3:9). This, which is central to the teaching he intends to convey, is found in an Epistle focused on the wonder of God’s free acquittal of all. God’s grace, bestowed freely through Jesus Christ, would be untenable if there were no universality about God’s law… An important hermeneu­tical principle calls us not to take the Bible texts in isola­tion and out of context, but to use the Bible to interpret the Bible, thus helping to ensure that our interpretation is read out of the Bible in exegesis and read into the Bible with our peculiar biases.

To claim God exclusively for Christians is to make God too small and in a real sense is blasphemous. God is bigger than Christianity and cares for more than Chris­tians only. He has to, if only for the simple reason that Christians are quite late arrivals on the world scene. God has been around since even before creation, and that is a very long time.

If God’s love is limited to Christians, what must the fate be of all who existed before Christ? Are they con­demned to eternal perdition for no fault of their own, as they must be if the exclusivist position is to be pushed to its logical conclusion? If that were the case, we would be left with a totally untenable situation of a God who could be guilty of such bizarre justice. It is surely more accept­able and consistent with what God has revealed of his nature in Jesus Christ, and it does not violate our moral sensibilities, to say that God accepts as pleasing to Him those who live by the best lights available to them, who are guided by the most sublime ideals that claim that all truth, all sense of beauty, all awareness of and desire after goodness has one source, and that source is God, who is not confined to one place, time, and people.

My God and, I hope, your God is not sitting around apprehensive that a profound religious truth or a major scientific discovery is going to be made by a non-Chris­tian. God rejoices that His human creatures, irrespective of race, culture, gender, or religious faith, are making ex­hilarating advances in science, art, music, ethics, philoso­phy, and law, apprehending with increasing ability the truth, the beauty, the goodness that emanate from Him. And we should also join in the divine exultation, rejoicing that there have been wonderful people such as Socrates, Aristotle, Herodotus, Hippocrates, Confucius, and others. Isn’t it obvious that Christians do not have a monopoly on virtue, on intellectual capacity, on aesthetic knowledge? And wonderfully, it does not matter. Is God dishonoured that Mahatma Gandhi was a Hindu? Shouldn’t we be glad that there was a great soul who inspired others with his teachings of satyagraha, who inspired the Christian Martin Luther King Jr. in his civil rights campaign? Do we really have to be so ridiculous as to assert that what Mahatma Gandhi did was good, but it would have been better had he been a Christian? What evidence do we have that Christians are better? Isn’t the evidence often overwhelming in the opposite direction?

Don’t we have to be reminded too that the faith to which we belong is far more often a matter of the acci­dents of history and geography than personal choice? If we had been born in Egypt before the Christian era, we would have been perhaps worshippers of Isis, and had we been born in India rather than in South Africa, the chanc­es are very, very considerable that we would have ended up being Hindu rather than Christian. It is worrisome that so much should be made to depend on the whims of fate, unless it is to make us more modest and less dogmatic in our claims. God can’t want people to be Christians and then seem to stack the odds so very considerably against them and then proceed to punish them for their failure. Such a God is too perverse for us to want to worship Him. I am glad that the God I worship is other than this…

Many Christians would be amazed to learn of the sublime levels of spirituality that are attained in other religions, as in the best examples of Sufism and its mys­ticism, or the profound knowledge of meditation and still­ness found in Buddhism. It is to do God scant honor to dismiss these and other religious insights as delusions, which they patently are not. We make ourselves look quite ridiculous, and our faith and the God we claim to be proclaiming are brought into disrepute. I have met great exponents and adherents of other faiths, and I stand in awe of them and want to take my shoes off as I stand on their holy ground. I have no doubt that the Dalai Lama is one such, and you can’t but be impressed by his deep serenity, and the profound reverence that Buddhists have for life which makes them vegetarian, refraining from all killing, and constrains them to greet you with a profound bow as they say, “The God in me greets the God in you,” a greeting which we Christians could make our own more truly since we believe that every Christian is a tabernacle of the Holy Spirit, a God-carrier.

To acknowledge that other faiths must be respected and that they obviously proclaim profound religious truths is not the same thing as saying that all faiths are the same, however. They are patently not the same. We who are Christians must proclaim the truths of our faith hon­estly, truthfully, and without compromise, and we must assert courteously but unequivocal that we believe that all religious truth and all religious aspirations find their final fulfillment in Jesus Christ. But we must grant to others the same right to commend their faith, hoping that the in­trinsic attractiveness and ultimate truthfulness of Christi­anity will be what commends it to others. That as they see the impact Christianity has on the character and the life of its adherents, non-Christians would want to become Christians in their turn, just as in earlier days pagans were drawn to the church not so much by its preaching as by what they saw of the life of Christians, which made them exclaim in wonder, “How these Christians love one an­other!”

I am not aware of any major faith that says human be­ings are made for a destiny other than the high destiny of being in uninterrupted communion with the divine, how­ever this may be defined, whether the summum bonum, the greatest good, is to be absorbed into the divine, or to exist as distinct for all eternity in nirvana, or paradise, or heaven. I am not aware that any faith has declared that it is acceptable that human beings should be victims of injustice and oppression. On the contrary, we have been able to walk arm in arm with adherents of other faiths in the cause of justice and freedom, even as fellow Chris­tians have vilified and opposed our witness.

I hope I have done enough to convince diehard exclu­sivists that the Christian cause is served better by a joyful acknowledgment that God is not the special preserve of Christians and is the God of all human beings, to whom He has vouchsafed a revelation of His nature and with whom it is possible for all to have a real encounter and relationship.


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The world is his laughter Fri, 12 Jun 2015 23:00:21 +0000 HE laughs to live and lives to laugh. His world is a world of laughter, laughter and more laughter. Laughter like a brook flowing gleefully across the path of s tones a nd t hunder. L aughter c as­cading like Victoria Falls. Laughter il­luminating the darkness of our country to bring us hope, light and [...]]]>

HE laughs to live and lives to laugh. His world is a world of laughter, laughter and more laughter. Laughter like a brook flowing gleefully across the path of s tones a nd t hunder. L aughter c as­cading like Victoria Falls. Laughter il­luminating the darkness of our country to bring us hope, light and joy.

My son, brother and friend, Femi Adesi­na is a man of laughter and a man of peace. Some say they have not seen him angry. But twice, I have seen him transfigure into an angry man. The first transfiguration was when, as deputy managing director of The Sun, some people below him were try­ing to undermine him. At a board meeting, he erupted like the impetuous Peter in the Bible. And I was so proud.

The second was when he was contesting to be the President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors and there were pressures for him to step down for another candidate but he would not sell his birthright for a mess of pottage like Esau.

Today, I am here to celebrate one of our own. A good man. A humble man. Our beloved Femi Adesina. The man who has just been appointed the Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to President Buhari. The first man to get an appointment under this new administration. In marketing and in life, being first means a lot. Everybody remembers the first man to step on the moon but nobody cares about the second or the third.

It was in the late ‘80s when a young man walked ner­vously but confidently into my office where I was Week­end Concord’s pioneer editor. We had just created this Saturday newspaper making waves in the country. And suddenly arrived Adesina who had just come out of the university and jobless. He was armed with an impres­sionistic piece he had written about the “People of Pepple Street,” a street in Ikeja where Fela and his people lived a hedonistic life of sex, music and marijuana. With that, Femi Adesina instantly became a part of Weekend Con­cord’s “new journalism” school where reporting was an art and reporters were required to write straight from the heart like poets, novelists and sculptors of news, turning the ordinary into extraordinary, elevating news and fea­tures into the realms of the sublime. We did all that and more. We elevated the ordinary man on the street and even put beggars and lunatics on front page for the right reasons. We celebrated the wedding of two beggars living under the bridge. On a Saturday before Easter, we put on front page, a lunatic Rastafarian who wakes early in the morning, ringing his bell and telling Nigerians to “repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Our reporter Omo­lolu Kassim followed at dawn this itinerant prophet and cornered him for an interesting interview. We went after stories that the mainstream papers ignored. We also res­urrected the big stories of the week and gave them depth and further illuminations. Journalism was one big laugh­ter and we laughed all the way as we created our brand of human angle journalism.

Weekend Concord was the place to be. Ask Dele Momo­du, Shola Oshunkeye, Aliu Mohammed, Ben Memuleti­won, Chika Abanobi, Yetunde Francis, Sanya Oni, Sun­day Umahi, Femi Adesina, Eric Osagie, Omololu Kassim, May Ellen Ezekiel, Sam Omatseye, Wale Sokunbi and Lat Ogunmade. The late Dimgba Igwe was there as my deputy. And Dr. Doyin Abiola was our “mother hen.” It was a great time to be a journalist, an unforgettable pe­riod of youthful exuberance. For us, journalism was an adventure. You just had to go and look for something new and dramatic. It wasn’t just about reporting what govern­ment officials said. It was journalism of the people, for the people, by the people. We provided a platform for the common people to talk and to taste stardom.

Unknown to me, Femi Adesina, a student of English from the then University of Ife had been following my writings on campus and teaching himself journalism based on reading the articles of the journalists he adored. In the world we live in, every child wanting to go far needs a roadmap and a role model to emulate. Without a Diego Maradona, there would be no Lionel Messi today to fol­low his path and take football on a higher plane.

When I was mentoring Femi Adesina, little did I know that this young man would follow my footsteps, occupy every position I have occupied and even rise above me. To God be the glory. Today, another son, Eric Osagie whom I also mentored has taken over from Adesina as the MD/Editor-in-chief of The Sun. To God be the glory! In those days, it was said that Osagie and I used to decide the front page of the paper at the beer parlour. Ha ha ha ha ha ha! I can’t stop laughing! As editor, I had to learn to manage star writers who all wanted to hit the front page as many times as possible.

At the 60th birthday party for my younger brother Otun­ba Wale Awoyinfa recently, Femi Adesina surprisingly showed up. It was there I decided to do this column. I re­membered my son Jide Awoyinfa had earlier interviewed Femi Adesina for a journalism book he is writing. He had also interviewed Sam Omatseye, Dele Momodu and Steve Nwosu. Of the journalists he interviewed, Jide said of Ad­esina: “He is the man that really knows you in and out.”

It was from interviewing my son that I arrived at the above headline: “The world is his laughter.” Let me leave you with the portrait of Femi Adesina from the eyes of Jide Awoy­infa.


“Uncle Femi Adesina is a unique man. A man who is always happy, always smiling, always laughing. You can hardly see him angry. You can never read his mind because he always laughs out everything. If I ask him a question, he would start by laughing and laughs all through his answers. That kind of person, you will be able to relate with him. He draws you in. He treated me like a friend and like a son. I approached him first being scared and nervous. But the way he laughed made me re­lax and I was able to ask him ques­tions without being intimidated. He has this friendly looks. He encouraged me. When you have this character, doors open for you. I am not surprised the way he is moving up and up. The sky is his limit.

“I had come to interview him but he also had questions for me. He asked me: ‘Are you really interested in jour­nalism? Is it because of your dad? Do you have the pas­sion for the job? Journalism is a good job. It is not about what you studied. It is about your interest and flair for journalism. I like your courage and interest. Keep it up.’

“He said things that really encouraged me to choose journalism as a career. That to make it in journalism, I needed to work hard, to read wide, to open my eyes, to sharpen my nose for news, to be creative. I was so proud when he mentioned my dad as the one who taught him a lot of things in journalism, such as the art of casting head­lines.

“To Mr. Adesina, everything is funny. Anything you say to him is funny. He doesn’t need to go to a comedy show to start laughing. Laughter comes to him naturally. For him, life is a joke. He takes life easy. Even if he has a problem, you will not know. In just two hours of inter­viewing him, I learnt so much. There is something mag­netic about him. He is a natural magnet. He just keeps drawing people around him who all like him. You just end up liking him.

“He told me I need to sacrifice a lot. I need to be hard­working: ‘Don’t let your father’s image overshadow you. Go out there and carve your own niche. Create your own brand. Acquire as much knowledge as possible. Knowl­edge is a principal thing. Be humble.’

“I was with him for two hours and it was like ages. Within two hours, I learnt a lot. His story is a testimony. If you are humble, God will elevate you. That is what I have learnt from Mr. Adesina. When I was leaving, he gave me something generous which I will not like to men­tion. I wish him the best in his new assignment. I know he will not disappoint because he is a man who has paid his dues. Anytime you see me laughing, just know that I am borrowing from Uncle Femi, a man whose medicine is laughter. Laughter, they say, is the best medicine.”

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The God of new beginnings Sat, 30 May 2015 03:09:36 +0000 ON this first day of a new beginning, a new political dispensation, we come before you, we stand before you, we kneel before you, you God of new beginnings.  You God of change yet changeth not. Our voices soaring high like larks in the azure sky, we chant your praises, you that live forever to [...]]]>

ON this first day of a new beginning, a new political dispensation, we come before you, we stand before you, we kneel before you, you God of new beginnings.  You God of change yet changeth not.
Our voices soaring high like larks in the azure sky, we chant your praises, you that live forever to be praised, you who feed on praises and whose only food is praise and praise and praise.  You are worthy to be praised every day, every time, every moment till eternity where you reign eternally.
Our religions may differ, but our God is one and God of all.  The only one God with different names.  Some call you Allah.  Some call you Jehovah.  Whatever name you are called, you are our God, our Chineke, our Almighty Father, the protector, the great provider and the redeemer of our nation.
We thank you Father for this new day, for this new dispensation because nothing happens without your approval.  You are the God who makes possible the impossible.  You made this choice possible.  You made this new day possible.  We won, because you won first.  Because our God is a winner, we believe we have many victories and many glorious days ahead of us.  We shall rejoice in them.  We shall prosper in them.  In them, we shall regain everything we have lost to the years of the locusts and cankerworms.  The Egyptians that we saw, we shall see them no more as we march to our Goshen, to our Canaan, to our realms of prosperity.
It hasn’t been an easy journey.  Nothing good comes easy.  As I sit preparing this message, all is quiet in my neighbourhood.  My neighbours’ generators that used to cough, roar, drone, cry, weep, wail and disturb the neighbourhood all day and all night long have remained silent in the last days of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration which ended poorly and anticlimactically yesterday.  No light.  No petrol.  All is quiet in the park.  All is quiet on the usually busy streets where few vehicles now ply.  All is quiet in the land except at the few petrol stations where there are long queues and there is confusing noise of Babel and quarrels by the petrol pumps.  Our land is quiet but it is the quietness of the graveyard.  The quietness of Nigeria under an old regime dying.  A national swan song of tragic proportions.
Let me quote from Path of Thunder the last testaments of Christopher Okigbo, Nigeria’s most celebrated poet who died fighting for Biafra: “AN OLD STAR departs, leaves us here on the shore/Gazing heavenwards for a new star approaching;  The new star appears, foreshadows its going/Before a going and coming that goes on forever.”
Beloved, our God is a God of new beginnings.  Old things must pass away for new things to take over.  Just as we have the Old Testament, so do we have the New Testament.  Just as we have the old Adam, so do we have the new Adam.  After disaster comes rebuilding.  After God angrily punished the world with flood in the time of Noah, He ushered in a new beginning, an era of rebuilding.  There is nothing wrong with starting all afresh.  There is nothing bad in going back to the drawing board with a view to retooling the Nigerian project.
As a new man takes over Nigeria, let us first thank God for giving our former leader President Jonathan the spirit of peace in conceding defeat.  But for God, the story of Nigeria might have taken a different turn.  May God continue to teach other African leaders the spirit of sportsmanship and how to gracefully throw in the towel when they lose elections.  Well done and God bless you President Jonathan for this one step, for this one good moment which is your biggest achievement as president.  It takes a child of God to make peace.  The Bible says “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”
My God and my Father.  You who make and unmake kings.  Just as you replaced Saul, the father of Jonathan with David, let President Buhari, even in his old age, be the new David, the unifier of the southern and northern kingdoms of Israel.
And just as Joseph became a great prime minister in Egypt who wisely and prudently managed the economy of Egypt in the period of famine, so do we pray that Buhari will steer Nigeria successfully through this economic dire strait confronting us.
Like Moses who lived and led his people till old age, may President Buhari’s eyes not dim.  May his brains not die.  May he not fall sick and die in office.  We are tired of our leaders dying in office.  Death in office will not be our portion again.  May you renew him like an eagle.  And may he inspire us with a leadership that is honest, purposeful and righteous so that we can all rebuild our country.  May he do the right things as well as do things right.  May he be father of all and not a sectional leader.
Bless him with the wisdom of Solomon to rule wisely.  Bless him like Abraham and make him the father of our nation, just like Mandela of South Africa.  And may God bless the new first lady and put her quietly in her rightful place.  May we not have a Jezebel in our hands seizing the reins of power as was the case in the days of old.  And may we not have a Marie Antoinette asking us to eat cake when there is no bread in the land.  We shall not go hungry in this land of plenty.  We shall not lack.
Jehovah, we ask that you bless our land, secure our land, heal our land  and prosper our land.  Everything we have lost would be restored in this season of restoration.  All our kidnapped girls and our missing citizens would be found.
We ask that you cleanse our land from the spectres of bombings and killings and destructions that put our country in bad light.  No longer would our children and our citizens disappear.  No longer would the blood of Nigerians be shed in the name of terrorism.  No longer would fear and insecurity rule our nation.  No longer would corruption and stealing be glorified in our land.  No longer would thieves and looters of our treasury walk free and triumphantly in our land.  No longer would we continue to live at the mercy of oil cabals.  No longer will we continue to depend on refined oil imported.  No longer will we continue to remain in darkness upon darkness while our economy remains comatose.  No longer will our children go abroad in search of better education.  No longer will we head to India or wherever in search of solutions to our health problems.
The God we serve who is the God of new beginnings will not leave us.  He will abide with us.  He will teach our leaders to do the right things for this great nation.  As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so will the Lord surround Buhari with a team of good, incorruptible, capable men and women who have something to offer Nigeria.  God will deliver us from false economists and “chop-chop” ministers who have been hoodwinking us with their hocus-pocus.  God will deliver us too from false prophets who have been prophesying for their mouths and stomachs.
It shall be well with Nigeria.  In this new era, this new season, God will revive our lost hope and lost pride.  He will fill us with the love for our country and love for one another.  He will revive our educational systems and institutions.  He will revive our hospitals and usher in good health policies.  He will revive our refineries.  He will take us back to the land and we will reap bounteously from agriculture.  We shall eat from the fruit of the land.
Our roads will no longer be dead traps but roads paved with the smoothness and the goodness of the Lord.  Our economy will bounce back.  Our oil will be king again in the global market.  Our trains will be back as trains and we will not just be taken for a ride as has been the case.  Our land will be secured from the enemy within and without.
This is my prayer for Nigeria as we start this journey of a new beginning.  May the God of new beginnings hear our prayers as we pray in Jesus name and with the blessings and intercessions of all the Holy Prophets.  And for you reading this and saying amen, may the God of new beginnings begin a new thing in your life, in the life of your children and in the life of your family.

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The City People Star Fri, 22 May 2015 23:38:47 +0000 THIS week’s column belongs to my kid brother, a first-class journalist, an entrepreneur, the City People star who recently clocked 50. Let me start off by saying that, apart from the Guru, who dazed me with a characteristic fat cheque and a very moving letter thanking me for being a lifelong supporter and promoter of [...]]]>

THIS week’s column belongs to my kid brother, a first-class journalist, an entrepreneur, the City People star who recently clocked 50.

Let me start off by saying that, apart from the Guru, who dazed me with a characteristic fat cheque and a very moving letter thanking me for being a lifelong supporter and promoter of the Mike Adenuga brand, one man who also made my 60th birthday anniversary memorable is the affable Seye Kehinde, the organiser of a “Mike Awoyinfa 60th Birthday Colloquium on Tabloid Journalism.”

Didn’t they say one good turn deserves another? Even if he had not celebrated me as a tabloid master, nothing would still have stopped me from celebrating this iconic publisher of City People, this celebrator of celebrities, this man who identified his own niche in the newspaper market and pursued it with passion and vigour until he attained success as a newspaperman and businessman.

In a country where looking for a job is as tough as searching for the proverbial haystack needle, the likes of Seye Kehinde are among the heroes of enterprise who should be celebrated for creating a product that stood the test of time, offering journalists a place to work and get paid. Ordinarily, journalists are not known to be good businessmen, but the likes of Seye Kehinde, John Mo­moh of Channels, Sunny Obazu-Ojeagbase of Complete Football fame and Larry Izamoje of Brilla FM have all shown that journalists also have a nose for news and a knack for business.

You think you are humble. Wait until you meet Seye Kehinde. You think you have the passion, the commit­ment to journalism. Wait until you meet Seye Kehinde — a missionary and an evangelist of the soft-sell brand of journalism.

In those days when I was the editor of Weekend Con­cord, The African Concord news magazine edited by Bayo Onanuga had their office next door and we seam­lessly interacted. Seye Kehinde was a reporter at The African Concord then. I remember the spirit of cama­raderie between the staff of Weekend Concord and Afri­can Concord; how we used to be each other’s brother’s keeper in coming up with story ideas and eye-catching headlines. Each time he is searching for an elusive head­line, Bayo Onanuga would simply walk into my office and by the grace of God a headline would emerge. We all learnt a lot from each other in those glory days of MKO Abiola’s Concord media empire.

Then things fell apart at African Concord. The maga­zine had come with a smoking, hot story where a con­fused military President Gen. Ibrahim Babangida was put on cover, admitting failure and lamenting the fact that he no longer understood the Nigerian economy which was running on autopilot. The military responded by closing down the paper and offering to reopen it if only Bayo and Co would apologise to President Babangida. The publisher Abiola wanted an apology from the journalists to appease his angry friend, Babangida, but the heroic journalists refused. Instead, they handed in their letters of resignation in one of the proudest moments in the his­tory of Nigerian journalism.

From Bayo Onanuga, Babafemi Ojudu, Kunle Ajibade, Seye Kehinde and the whole of The African Concord crew, I learnt about the courage to dare. Under Baban­gida, they tried to “shake the system” with stories that even angels feared to tread on. Stories like: ‘Domkat Bali, My Regret’, which sold like hot cakes. Another exclusive was the Major Gideon Orkar abortive coup of 1990, when no paper had the picture of Orkar, the face of the coup. Bayo and Co had to travel to Shaki where Orkar once was with the Second Mechanised Brigade. There, they stole from a local photographer Orkar’s pic­ture and led with it which other papers copied.

In our forthcoming book “50 WORLD EDITORS— Conversation with Journalism Masters” around the world, which would be launched in Lagos around Sep­tember on the first anniversary of the death of my co-author Dimgba Igwe, Bayo Onanuga said ironically that in journalism, “sometime you need to do certain things in an unorthodox way. If you follow orthodoxy, you will never get anything done. You must be creative. But not to do it in a criminal way.”

The African Concord crisis gave birth to The News magazine. Even though he was a partner and a share­holder in the new publication, which was doing very well at the time, Seye Kehinde felt unfulfilled. He had his own picture of the kind of publication he had always dreamt of as an undergraduate. Fired by the ambition to carve his own niche, he broke away from his friends to start City People in 1996.

“I believe journalism is all about people, stories of people who have done well, those who have failed and those who have not performed at all,” he says, justifying the name City People. As an avid reader of biographies, “I thought it won’t be a bad idea to set up a paper that would be about people. I realised that news was too dry and too harsh. They were always talking about budget or figures and I realised that, for you to be relevant, you need to add a bit of human content to it.

“When I was a student at the University of Ife, I used to joke with friends that someday I hope to do a maga­zine that will talk about people, entertainment, people in showbiz, fashion, politics and business. I drew what City People will look like and I kept it. In 1996, the same friend that I sat down with kept on reminding me about the magazine I always talked about. He is a finance ex­pert. Together, we did the calculation and we realised it was something possible. What I came up with was actu­ally an improvement on the initial draft.

City People is God working through me. At an early age, I perfected how to relate with God. When I want to do something, I don’t rush into it. I turn it over in my mind. When I started, I didn’t see too much challenge from the market. There were some papers in the market but I believed I could compete successfully. I believed in myself.

“Today, I thank God for journalism. It has made who I am. It has catapulted me to the level at which I am today. I have found fulfillment in it. I believe that whatever you have decided to do in life, keep at it. I have learnt a lot of things from life and from journalism. It has made me understand my environment and my country better. I have met great people on this job and I believe the sky is the limit. I have found contentment in journalism. I am someone who is not too ambitious. All I want to do is to run a good business and contribute my quota to the change in the society. I think I have done my own bit. What I need to do is to improve on what I am doing so that I can touch more lives.

“I am a very reserved person. I am a very shy person. I am one of those who feel that I don’t think I need to cel­ebrate my private life on the pages of the newspapers. I was brought up to be an easygoing person. We celebrate those who are doing well, but I didn’t meet my seniors in the profession celebrating themselves. Having this kind of platform, what I have is the privilege to celebrate oth­ers.

“By the time you start celebrating yourself, you are abusing the platform that you have. People need to know about people who are doing wondrous things in the soci­ety. I live a normal life like everybody. I don’t believe that I need to celebrate myself or take space in the papers talking about myself.

“For the young people, there are certain things you need to do in life. One, what is your purpose in life? What is your vision, mission, purpose and goal in life? What is your dream? Don’t be afraid to realise your dream. Dream big. Don’t take ‘No’ for an answer. Know yourself, know what you want to do. Decide on what you want and stand by it. He who stands for noth­ing will fall for anything. Finally, follow your passion. If you follow your passion, feel good about it and put in your best, you will be better off for it.”

Once again, happy birthday, my brother Seye Kehinde. May your star continue to shine in the city and among the people who read City People.

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Nigeria now sitting in limbo Fri, 15 May 2015 23:33:00 +0000 I want to write this column, but I don’t have the en­ergy. By energy I don’t mean physical energy. I mean all the other energies without which there is no life. I want to write but there is no electric en­ergy. And I can’t power my generator because there is no fuel. And there is [...]]]>

I want to write this column, but I don’t have the en­ergy. By energy I don’t mean physical energy. I mean all the other energies without which there is no life. I want to write but there is no electric en­ergy. And I can’t power my generator because there is no fuel. And there is no energy to power my water too.

The other day, I queued up for four hours waiting for petrol. I was queuing up with human beings and jerry cans of all races and colours—black, white, yellow, all look­ing for petrol. Amid the bedlam around the fuel pump, I had waited patiently like Madam Patience. And when it reached my turn, my good luck turned into bad luck. The petrol station attendants suddenly put an end to sell­ing petrol. All our begging and supplications hit deaf ears. Angry and frustrated, I had to kick my car and drive to the unknown to continue my search for fuel. That is the picture of Nigeria of today, as we wait for May 29 to usher in a new dispensation.

I have read books on leadership which harp on finishing strong. But Nigeria of today is a good case study in finishing weak. It’s so sad that this government is finishing so poor­ly, so badly, everything drifting to the point of anarchy—a country where governance has stopped functioning because an election has been lost.

Finishing strong. This was the theme I discussed with my friend and founder of Realm of Glory church, Pastor Sam Aiyedogbon when he came visiting on Wednesday morning. Ever since my friend died, this man of God has not stopped praying for me and asking after my welfare. I asked him to address the state of the nation. These are his thoughts:


Nigeria is in limbo as at now. A limbo is when you are neither here nor there. A limbo is when you are neither in heaven nor in hell. You are hanging somewhere. You can’t be said to be alive here. And you are not dead either. The situation in Nigeria now is a limbo situation because the out­going administration of Goodluck Jonathan now has this at­titude of: Why should we be responsible for anything? It’s like that negative mentality of “if I am not good enough to be voted into power, why should I care about whatever is happening?” Because right now, there is no system in place working anyway. Whereas the incoming administration of the President-elect Gen. Muhammadu Buhari has not re­ally got in there, so you can’t hold him responsible yet. The handing over is yet to be done. It’s like we are not in any­body’s hand. So that is what I call a limbo situation.

In this kind of limbo, it is the people that are left to suffer. And I am sure part of the shock is that by the time General Buhari takes over, he is going to realize that things are worse than he ever imagined. And that poses a greater challenge. I think we are in for some shocking revelations that will show us what the past administration has been patching, how bad it really is. That is going to call for everybody’s understand­ing.

If it is going to be bad as we are even feeling it now, then to expect a magic or a miracle overnight would not be realistic. I remember part of the questions you Mike kept asking at the onset of the race is that: Are we going to put up with this situation for another four years? And you said you cannot afford to be neutral. That we are not going to allow things to continue this way for another four years. Your voice kept coming to me. And where I applied that on my part, what I didn’t want for another four years is the people I call “Pen­tecostal Masquerades.” They were doing cash-and-carry prayer and prophesy in Aso Rock. It got to a point where some Christian organizations became appendix of PDP, like the religious wing of PDP. And I have people in Abuja who tell me how big pastors have turned Aso Rock to a market where they put money in the mouth, they prophesy, they take prayer contract. For me, I was asking God: Is this how it is going to continue? My own concern was the religious as­pect. It such a shame. It was so disgracing to hear that some billions were given to some Pentecostal pastors—whether in PFN or whatever. And nobody came out to deny it.

What I am glad about is that for me, I don’t carry um­brella, I don’t carry broom. If you are called to be a spiritual leader, I believe your disposition to a larger extent should be able to accommodate all across board. Because if you are in APC and you are in my church, I must not disfavour you even if I am inclined to another party. A man of God, a spiritual leader should not be partisan. Because the moment I pitch my tent to a particular party, then I may not be fair to all. I may not be able to avoid playing up my sentiments directly or indirectly.

It was a concern that this misrepresentation of the min­istry of the Lord, this bastardisation, this corruption of the pulpit and the sacred calling that has been so commer­cialised. Is it going to continue for another four years? I was more concerned about that than infrastruc­ture. Because I believe corruption thrives in a so­ciety when the spiritual sector is corrupt. I wrote about this in Thisday in 1996 when I started writ­ing for them. I believe where God focuses on and the people God holds responsible first are people in the religious sector. Because every governor and president belong to one religion or another to a large extent. So they listen to somebody that is either an imam or a pastor. If the spiritual leaders were upholding the values they should uphold, teaching what they should teach and doing what they should do, these political leaders directly un­der their influence should be able to do better. But we are in a situation where it is the religious lead­er mounting pressure on the political leader and prophesying what I would call “prophelying.”

In the Book of Ezekiel, Chapter 22, God itemised three sectors in the society responsible for the fall­ing apart of the society. He talks about the princes who are the political leaders, then the priests who are the religious leaders and the prophets who are like spiritual seers. God was holding the three of them responsible for the state of the nation. The one to blame the most were the religious and spiri­tual leaders. That was what led to God saying: “I sought for a man in the whole land to stand in a gap and I couldn’t find.” He wasn’t talking about poli­ticians. I don’t think politicians have been God’s problem. It is His own people failing and missing the mark. Micah Chapter 3 says something inter­esting: There are prophets, when you put something in their mouths, like you put credit in your phone, they prophesy and say “God bless you.” When you don’t, they say: “God damn you.”

I am happy that, the religious charade that was going on in Aso Rock, you can’t do that with Gen. Buhari. And I am sure the Vice-President elect Osinbanjo too. He is also a pastor. Nobody can go to him and say bring money for prayer contract.

I believe Buhari has what it takes. My only concern was the violence that accompanied the 2011 election. And I re­member you Mike said to me: “What if Buhari is a Saul of Tarsus who has changed to Paul?”

But as far as Buhari’s resume and antecedents, his pedi­gree is concerned, I think it is clear that he is set to take Ni­geria to a better phase. Things are going to be better. Num­ber one, he is not a pushover. He doesn’t have a godfather that he is answerable to. They call him Baba himself. So when you don’t have a Baba you are bowing to, that is the first thing. The problem with Nigerian politics has been the problem of godfatherism. But this is a man you can’t push around or push over. Everybody knows what he stands for. It is good people who know your values and know what you stand for. It will even make them to decide what to propose to you or not to propose to you. People know that there are certain things you can’t do around him. Everybody would sit up. And that is already putting us on the path to glory. Part of what has bedeviled our polity is impunity, is reck­lessness, the feeling that whatever you do, there is not going to be any consequence. And nobody is going to checkmate you. You can’t tell Buhari there is no difference between being a thief and being corrupt. That alone is a leap in the right direction.


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Oh, Pacquiao Fri, 08 May 2015 23:00:47 +0000 LET me call you brother, my brother, because a brother is who and what you are. Any man who puts his trust in God, who prays first before a battle is my brother. Any man who came from nothing to something, who came from zero to hero is my brother. Any man who, having found [...]]]>

LET me call you brother, my brother, because a brother is who and what you are.

Any man who puts his trust in God, who prays first before a battle is my brother. Any man who came from nothing to something, who came from zero to hero is my brother. Any man who, having found money, uses money well to fight and alleviate poverty in the world, is my brother.

That is why I chose you over and above the other guy who worships money, who glorifies money, who even calls himself “Money” and flaunts his riches in a ritual of vanity. Vanity upon vanity.

You may have lost the fight, but you have not lost my love for you, my faith in you, my trust in you and my belief that you are still the champion. A champion in my heart and in the hearts of so many in the world. Not just in the Philippines where you are the star and a superstar.

In life, everyone goes through a disappointment. Dis­appointment is a fact of life. It happens to everyone. Something must always go wrong. Whether we like it or not.

Beloved, the Manny Pacquiao that showed up against Floyd Mayweather was not the Manny Pacquiao that we know or we used to know. It was not until after the battle had been lost and won that we knew what went wrong: that Pacquiao had suffered an accident, had injured his shoulder in training, three weeks before the fight. And with all the big money at stake, he thought he could risk it against an unbeaten champion like Floyd Mayweather. We later learnt he even asked before the fight to be given a pain-relieving injection which was denied him. But that is not an excuse for losing.

The truth is that Floyd Mayweather has won. He re­mains undefeated. And he should not be denied his glo­ry. His victory should not be diminished by the lame ex­cuse of Manny Pacquiao’s breaking his arm in training.

I salute you Floyd Mayweather. I congratulate you. You are truly a champion. From now on, I will learn to respect you and not write anything bad about you. Last week, I wrote a piece titled “Floyd Badweather” indi­rectly predicting a defeat for you, but it turned out to be “Floyd Goodweather.” Congrats!

Shortly after your victory over Manny Pacquiao, my phones started ringing. I got all kinds of text messages from Floyd Mayweather fans all mocking me and asking me to write a rejoinder.

That is what I am doing now. Like President Goodluck Jonathan, I concede defeat. I congratulate all you May­weather fans, starting from my wife and my son Kehinde who were on the side of Floyd Mayweather. For the first time, we had a divided house. The non-boxing fans in the house supported Mayweather while those with box­ing in their genes wanted Pacquiao to win. Nobody slept. Everybody kept vigil. Just to watch this fight. A fight like no other. A fight that had been hyped to the extent that even non-boxing fans were eager to watch. From all over the nation, people were calling to ask: “What time will they be fighting?”

Outsiders came to join us to watch the fight. We all sat waiting as the night melted into day. It started with two boring, uneventful opening fights. Then came the actor and singer Jamie Foxx rendering a disastrous ver­sion of the American national anthem. In four decades of watching boxing, I have never heard the Star Spangled Banner so massacred on a night of boxing. Haba! And for God’s sake why were they playing the national an­them of Mexico? Is Manny Pacquiao a Mexican? Or is Floyd Mayweather also a Mexican? Yes, I have watched Mayweather entering the ring, dressed like a Mexican in one of his fights, wearing an oversize hat.

Now, don’t let me take anything away from Floyd Mayweather. He proved himself a great fighter and a consummate ring strategist. From him, I learnt a few lessons. Not just in boxing but about life in general. A man must protect and defend himself at all times. Floyd Mayweather is the best defensive boxer ever. It was ob­vious in the match against Pacquiao. He was always on the move, bobbing and weaving, dodging and dancing his way out of trouble to the point where a frustrated Pacquiao was just punching the empty air and chasing shadows. Poor Pacquiao!

Lesson No.2. To win in the game of life, you must have a strategy and you must be able to execute your strategy successfully. Mayweather’s strategy was to use subterfuge. He was slowing down the aggres­sive Pacquiao and prevent­ing him from punching through constant holding. He wasn’t after a knock­out. He just wanted to be ahead on points. As usual, he didn’t waste his punch­es, always delivering when necessary and right on the button. Once again, May­weather has proved that he is a ring technician, a man who knows what to do at any time, a boxer who keeps adjusting and synchronising as the fight moves on.

From his muscular built, it shows that Mayweather really worked hard and prepared well for this fight. He went the old school boxing way, an axe in hand, chopping woods in the forest and building strong muscles with which he subdued the not-so-muscular Pacquiao in this particular fight. The les­son here is that hard work pays. Not just working hard but working smart. Mayweather is one smart guy, a thinking fighter and a psychologist. Even when Pacquiao’s blows are hurt­ing him, he shakes his head to disorient the opponent, saying: “You are not hurting me.”

From the Mayweather versus Pacquaio fight, I have confirmed what the Bible affirms in Ecclesiastes 9:11. That “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

This is the time of Mayweather. This is the season of Mayweather. This is the weather of Mayweather. Ev­erything is going well for Mayweather. But it is not over for Manny Pacquaio. He is not finished. God has not yet finished with him. He will be fit again. He will get back his broken arm. He who fights and runs and runs in a fight like Floyd Mayweather, lives to fight another day.

I am sure there would be a rematch. And it would be a better fight than this overhyped one where a lifetime’s fortune was paid out, just to see two half-naked men slugging it out in 12 rounds of boxing. I have watched far better fights than this one. And I disagree with Floyd Mayweather that he is the best or the greatest boxer that ever lived.


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Floyd Badweather? Fri, 01 May 2015 23:00:43 +0000 AFFICIONADOES of the “sweet science” of boxing will tonight feast on their dream fight. The long-awaited fight. T he fight that many thought would not be possible. As a boxing fan, I have yearned for it, wished for it, prayed for it. And finally, it is here. Tonight in Las Ve­gas, Floyd Mayweather, the unbeaten [...]]]>

AFFICIONADOES of the “sweet science” of boxing will tonight feast on their dream fight. The long-awaited fight. T he fight that many thought would not be possible.

As a boxing fan, I have yearned for it, wished for it, prayed for it. And finally, it is here. Tonight in Las Ve­gas, Floyd Mayweather, the unbeaten boxing champion will finally walk into the ring to face the man he has con­sistently avoided: Manny Pacquiao. The pride of Philip­pines. The bionic fighter, slugger and a brutal puncher with a fist of iron.

This is boxing at its best. It’s the best versus the best. The best defensive boxer against the best attacking boxer. The thinking and adjusting fighter versus the ever-surg­ing fighter always coming at you to rip off your head. The vain, boastful, undefeated champion who knows all the tricks in the book of boxing against the one who has tasted defeat yet is still the man to beat the undefeated. This is a clash of contrasting styles. It is a tough one. And anyone can win.

Great fights have come and gone. Fights I keep rolling back the tapes to watch on Youtube. Fights like Cas­sius Clay versus Sonny Liston, Muhammed Ali versus Joe Frazier I, Thomas Hearns versus Sugar Ray Leonard, Sugar Ray Leonard versus Marvin Hagler, Mike Tyson versus Evander Holyfield. But none of these fights can match the expectations of Manny Pacquiao versus Floyd Mayweather. It’s a fight between a man who came from nothing to something versus a man who from day one has been trained not to lose a fight. It is a fight between vanity and humility. It is a fight between the loud and the quiet. It is a fight between a fighter with the bad boy image and a fighter who looks meek, humble and prays before a fight. It is a fight between the orthodox fighter and the southpaw. It is a fight between the defensive at­tacker and the attacker’s attacker.

Mayweather is the defensive genius who has gone to win world titles in five divisions, not defeated for 20 years and earned half a billion dollars in career earnings.

On his part, Manny Pacquaio is the boy who started as a street urchin, turned into boxing to become a legend of boxing and a Congressman. He too has won in many divisions of boxing. He is a symbol of hope among his countrymen, a man who works to fight poverty and helps the poor by donating part of his money to help alleviate poverty. When it comes to boxing, he is sensational, he is unstoppable, he is indomitable, he is the Pacman.

For the first time, boxing experts are divided as to who will win. Some favour Pacquiao who is coming in as the underdog, while some think Mayweather is simply too smart to fall to Pacquiao’s “reckless” and relentless on­slaught. The two boxers have trained and trained. And they are ready to go. For the first time, Mayweather is subdued. He is not boasting or talking trash as before, because of the respect he has for the man he is facing. A man he has avoided so many times. A man he has given all kinds of conditions from regular Olympic-style drug tests to taking the lion’s share of the money. Everything he asked for, Pacquiao has conceded. All in the interest of making this fight happen.

Now, the die is cast. No place to run. No place to hide. You have to face the enemy. The two strong men have to meet in a Darwinian survival of the fittest and a place in boxing history. Win or lose, the two boxers will have their places in boxing. They are both champions. True champions.

I love the two of them. I love Mayweather. And I love Pacquiao. Both of them are good at what they do. Two masters in the art of inflicting pain. Two warriors trained to brutalize. Two champions who have watched the op­position fall many times to their brutal and devastative punches. Two entertainers who have thrilled boxing fans and are set tonight to thrill us more and to take their fight­ing prowess to the next level.

In the past it used to be that heavyweight champions rule the boxing ring. Not anymore. Today, the heavy­weight division is lacklustre, if not dead. The boxing champions of the world are small men fighting big fights. Mayweather and Pacquiao are the best of the small fight­ers who have set the box office records with their fights commanding outrageously big money never dreamt of in the days of Jack Johnson, Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey, Muhammed Ali, Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson and all the boxing greats the world has known.

For those who ordinarily could have turned criminals or used their God-given talent negatively, boxing has of­fered an escape valve to riches. Boxers like Mike Tyson and Sonny Liston were champions nurtured from the un­derworld of crime which could have killed them or get them rotten behind bars. Instead they found fame and fortune in boxing where they are legalised to inflict pain or even kill inside the ring.

This is one fight I cannot afford to miss. If it means keeping an all-night vigil to watch it, I will. I want to be part of history. I want to witness this historic fight. I want to be able to tell my grandchildren about the night Mayweather faced Pacquiao.

Who do I support? In whose camp do I belong? Well, just like I supported Buhari all the way to defeat Presi­dent Jonathan, I am sticking out my neck for Manny Pac­quiao to win. I will bet on Pacquiao to turn Mayweather into “Badweather.”

But you never can tell. This guy Mayweather is bad. And when you are bad, it means you are good. He knows every trick in the book. He is the consummate boxing artiste. He is undefeated. Failure is not in his dictionary. He knows what to do to win. He has his own strategy. And he is going out there to execute his strategy. But in the world we live in, no man is unbeatable. Every man has his master. Win or lose, they are both boxing greats who have carved their names in the annals of boxing.

May the better fighter win. And may the sweet science of boxing be the ultimate winner.

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