Editors like no other
A question by Lekan Otufodunrin, Media Career Specialist on FacebookÂ triggers off a wave of memorable recollectionsÂ of the contribution of editors who have mentored many accomplished Nigerian journalistsÂ
After reading a line in the profile of a new Style editor appointed by New York Times which described him as an editor known for nurturing voices of writers, I was so impressed that I shared a question on my facebook timeline asking if my friends know editors like that in Nigeria who has either helped them in their career or other colleagues.
The News York Times editor was also said to make people feel good about themselves and their work.
The writer of the profile noted that the attributes above makes an editor truly great. I totally agree with him.
The responses to my question expectedly came in torrents for days. I was not surprised, I know there are many editors like that of the NYT in Nigeria.
I have benefitted immensely from their care, tutelage, mentoring and support through the years from one media house to the other.
Those that readily came to my mind for me were Alhaji Nojeem Jimoh, former Editor of The Punch who hired me in 1987, Mr Demola Osinubi, present Managing Editor of The Punch who interviewed and recommended me for employment in The Punch when he was Deputy Editor and Â Alhaji Bolaji Kareem, former Night Editor of The Punch who after asking me few questions among a group of job seekers asked that I wait to see the Editor.
Others still at The Punch was my first News Editor, Dipo Onobanjo who took time to rewrite my stories and give me story ideas while I was in Abeokuta as Ogun State Correspondent, former Associate Editor at The Punch, Dapo Aderinola who taught me how to rewrite stories with more depth, former Deputy Editor of The Punch, Â Chris Mamah who trusted me assignments I thought I couldnâ€™t handled but always assured me I could do it and I did with his support.
Last but not the least, Managing Director, Victor Ifijeh, who I described as my Journalism Guardian Angel in a tribute to him. From working with him when he was Head of Politics Desk in The Punch in early 90s, he has taken me on his wings at various stages of my career culminating in his hiring me as Sunday Editor at the defunct Comet Newspaper and later The Nation.
As an intern I was taught the basics of news writing by the duo of Baba Femi Onayemi and Adebimpe Afunku in the defunct National Concord.
Thank God for the editors who helped me to nurture my voice as a writer and made me feel good about my work and myself.
Below is the thread of responses to my post from my facebook friends who are also beneficiaries of the care and support of editors who cared to groom them.
Doyin Lasisi Oluwakamiye
Funso Sogbamu,Omooba Adegboyega Gbadebo,Deji Odunlami were super editors@ OGBC……. wonderful people,they nurtured many of us and made us great journalists.
Late Rufai Ibrahim, first Editor of The Guardian on Sunday.
You, (Lekan Otufodunrin) Editor. I will always remember how you helped me to grow in my journalistic skills from National Interest Newspapers. You helped me to revise my stories to have the 5 Ws and H, and also help me present my articles in a factual manner. I owe what I know and do today to the foundational steps people like you helped me to grow.
Liad Tella is one, Tunji Bello is another. I am a beneficiary of both. They have a way of encouraging you, not being obtrusive, allowing you to fly in your own way but ensuring you succeed. Do you know what it means to superintend a desk or title as line editor or title editor with the following names in Nigerian journalism, Sam omatseye, FEMI Adesina, Victor Ifijeh, Olusegun Adeniyi, Louis Odion, Kayode Komolafe, Jonas Agu, Gboyega Amobonye, felix oboagwina, Waheed Odusile and my humble self? At the Concord Political Desk, Daily News, Sunday Concord and National Concord, Egbon Tunji inspired us all. As for ALHAJ Liad Tella, he is OUR FATHER in all ramifications, not only on the job, but also in our private and family lives.
Muyiwa Adetiba, Frank Aigbogun, (Vanguard) Kunle Jenrola, Paxton Olusola, Oseji (Republic) and of course I will add my Political Editor, Ogami Tunji Olawuni(Vanguard). These great men meet the conditions above.
Najeem Jimoh as Editor of Punch was great…He remains the best Editor I have worked with since 1982 in journalism…Fearless, inspiring, thoughtful, encouraging, even in the face of military repression…Such kept me on as Correspondent in Niger State in the 80’s…I was declared wanted many times for my scoops on education, health, environmental, security and other needs of the people…In fact, Punch vehicle was impounded with the newspapers and the driver and circulation officer detained…The sale of Punch newspaper shoot up by 500 per cent in the state… Always thankful to Najeem Jimoh as Editor…I tell my students of journalism, if you operate as a Correspondent, and the State Governor is not looking for your newspaper, first thing in the morning, then, you are still failing.
Alhaji Jimoh gave me my first newspaper job. He entrusted me with the job of covering Ogun State as a fresh graduate. You can do it he told me and with his understanding I did it!
I enjoyed that honor as the National Concord correspondent in Yola in the early 90s. Concord had the widest circulation in old Gongola, now Adamawa and Taraba States. It was the first staple of politicians and public officials
Features writers of my generation at The Punch under the watch of Bola Bolawole grew with confidence because of his peculiar style of leadership. He made us feel we were the best thing that happened to journalism. He breaks you in by making you critique his writings. And it worked! After a while you start having that feeling you can write it, research it, dig into it and edit the best writers around.
Ubon Jimmy Akpan
Bola Bolawole was my boss in 1989 in the features department of the Punch and apart from always making you feel as if you were the best, he had a way of trusting you with key responsibilities and making you feel up to it. Great guys.
Segun Fatuase and Lanre Arogundade are great at doing this! Can’t thank Segun Fatuase enough for his efforts on me.
Patience Akpan-Obong Hmmm … I don’t remember you at Punch, Tunde Akanni. I thought our paths crossed at Concord! ðŸ˜€ðŸ˜€
Egbon Segun Adeleke, Muka Popoola, Kenneth Ugbechie, Kester Olaifa Kester, Bola Bolawole, Joke Kujenya, Funke Fadugba, Chris Mamah, Jahman Anikulapo, Edmund Enaibe, Lekan Otufodunrin, Lanre Arogundade, Azuka Jebose-Molokwu, Kayode Komolafe, et al.
In fact, two days ago, I was strolling in the evening on the streets of Kennesaw and I thought about my journalism upbringing and thanked God as I told myself that I have been extremely lucky to have met, learnt under and interacted with the people I met while rising up in journalism!
Thanks sir. May you continue to rise and shine in the journalism firmament just as you continue to flourish in national politics.
Your Excellency, as I proudly call you, I must say a big thank you for this. You’ve just made me know that if death comes today I could happily go and meet my creator, because my times here on earth have not been without a mark. Remain blessed
Amina Brai Omoike
Besides u (Lekan Otufodunrin), Sir? Definitely. One was Kayode Idowu, then Saturday Editor at The Comet who handed over five lifestyle pages to a young, naive intern. After handling those pages for the one year of the internship, I knew I had found my career path. Then of course, Oluyinka Olujimi. As Saturday editor of Nigerian Compass, he literally pushed me off my laid back chair. He drove me to think. He drove me to do more. He personally called me every time to make me read award winning articles or watch Nigerian journalists (especially young people) receive awards saying: ‘Amina, u can do this. U are just being very lazy’. He is such an editor
Besides Alhaji Najeem Jimoh, the other two editors with whom I worked and can say they meet your description are Bayo Onanuga and Soji Omotunde at African Concord.
Bayo was the contemplative type while Soji was more boisterous (with a wrinkle around the corner of his eyes that signalled he was just doing gra-gra … fake anger). In their different ways each knew how to get the best out of us (the editorial crew). And when we did well (great stories), they celebrated us in ways that made us want to do even more.
I was a last-minute kind of writer. My stories typically arrived late because I don’t write until it comes together in my head first. And that can take a while! ðŸ˜”ðŸ˜” After initial fights with Soji (who succeeded Bayo), we compromised. I promised to give him well-written, ready-to-go stories if he allowed me the inspiration that comes from the last-minute adrenalin rush! That didn’t stop him from yelling at me when I strolled in at 3 p.m. on production day with the cover!!! ðŸ˜€ðŸ˜€ðŸ˜€
Mr Dele Omotunde, Mr Yemi Olowolabi, Mr. Dayo Aiyetan, Aunty Ibim Semenitari, Aunty Louise Ayonote, Mr Wola Adeyemo, Mr Juwon Soyinka. These are my editors from my days at TELL magazine. They are damn good writers as well. I learnt so much from reading their stories. They are deep writers! Mr. Omotunde lets you know you are special by giving you several foreign articles to read, almost on a daily basis. He then gives you stories to write. He has a way with words that’s is ingenius. He and the rest of my editors never puts you down. Never. They never deride you. In fact, as it is in raising children, I think encouragement, constructive criticism work best in mentoring younger journalists. I will never forget these people. Their style neither.
Oba AdÃ©oyÃ¨ First
Olumide Iyanda Emeka Alex Duru
Emeka Alex Duru
Awwww, Oba AdÃ©oyÃ¨ First! Quite humbled. Thanks for the willingness to learn. Always proud of you
Thanks Oba. Learnt more from you guys than I can put to words.
Adedayo Gatuso Odulaja
Sir, you are talking of editors like boss, Olumide Iyanda, oga Emeka Alex Duru, Aunty Agatha Edo and oga Kingsley Ighomwenghian.
Emeka Alex Duru
Hmmm, Adedayo Gatuso Odulaja. I hail
Adedayo Gatuso Odulaja. A reporter and ally like no other.
Dayo, you remain one of my best and ever dependable
Adewunmi Omobolanle Omoniwa
Sir, you are an amazing Editor indeed a Father. More grease to your elbow and may you live a long life to witness n eat the fruit in which you labour . Amen
Mr Kunle Solaja, The Erudite Sports Editor. He thought me news writing
You are talking about the likes of Late Joesph Sesebo he was the one who pushed me as a young graduate to aim for the sky in journalism, I can’t complete my history in the profession without mentioning Yakub Lawal, whom God used to stand by me as a young married lady and mother while others wanted me to leave the job. Taiwo Akerele was another motivating factor in my quest for excellence, he was the one I could ran to for correction and sense of direction.
Anthonia Soyingbe Duru
I am blessed to have been under the tutelage of Agatha Edo, who adopted me as her eldest child. She is a mother indeed. Will never forget July 24, 2007 when from her heart she prayed for me after I brought in an interview even as a newbie. She reprimands me like she hates me but she can never stand the sight of anyone touch Thonia. She is a mother to me within and outside the newsroom. A woman who means so many great things to me. Emeka Alex Duru, he is a father. The only man who when you err will call you to the closet to reprimand you but when you get it right he will tell everyone. They say we are not perfect but I am still looking for his imperfection. A genuine lover of people. Aunty Aramide Praise Oikelome an excellent woman, whose life is always a good reference point. Grace Edema tutored me in my early days in journalism.
Emeka Alex Duru
You are my Baby, any day, Tonia. To you and all members of your “INL Class” who served with me, I owe immense gratitude for standing with and for me while my stay in the great institution lasted. God has also made you not only a worthy colleague but, a member of the larger Duru family. Keep up the good efforts and your good name.
Thanks Tonia, you are the only person I always miss in INL. But I never told you this because I felt you don’t care…i still love you…
Tonia, forever you remain, my eldest. If there is anything like reincarnation, I will still have you in my life. Thank you for being part of me.
Aramide Praise Oikelome
Thank you Tonia Darling! Your warmth, zest and humility is simply amazing. Thanks for bringing so much sunshine!
Ubon Jimmy Akpan
Alhaji Najeem Jimoh, Punch, Chief Nwabueze Njoku and where the hell is Raymond Okiti of the Champion? Please be fair, add the legendary Ebube (Bubs o not the other one) of the Guardian?
The list is endless. Each commentator above has written about those he worked with. At NAN, Victor Adefela, the pioneer editor-in-chief of the agency remains great; the late Remi Oyo (who was later the MD of NAN) was excellent. Jacob Olukosi was fantastic.; Idiigo, Bozimo, Aribike, Danisa, etc were all inspirational. Open ended list, bros
BUKI PONLE of the News Agency of Nigeria, he was an editor , a teacher and a motivator. He infected me with the gender and health reporting passion. I will also remember Mr Ezebube, who asked me to interview the then minister of health, olikoye Ransome Kuti, that was my first assignment on My first day in NAN. That assignment gave me confidence and has formed who I am today. I will also thank the late minister who made it easy for me knowing I was a rookie
@TheRepublic – Tokunbo Oloruntola, the baba iroyin, who had earlier excelled at the Punch. He was my chief trainer as a journalistic novice at the Republic . He also introduced me into column writing by urging me to start Campus Life because of my students activist background. He was the column’s unofficial editor. Because I used to occasionally follow him to his house at Idimu to learn more, I met his friend and compound mate Niran Malaolu who became my chief trainer in page planning, headline casting – sub-editing in general. @National Concord – Soni Ehi-Asuelimem, Akin Ogunrinde and Niyi Obaremi my bosses in the newsroom where I was Chief Correspondent before moving to Features Desk. Then Nsikak Essien who gave me all encouragement to become Features Editor, position previously occupied by greats like Mike Awoyinfa. And Mike Awoyinfa too who made two of my Fela stories leads in Weekend Concord. Liad Tella comes in as house style custodian – at Concord no intro must be more than 32 words he would always remind you while going through your story @Vanguard – Hadji Kola Animashaun under whom as Editorial Board Chairman I worked as Assistant Editor/Member of Editorial Board and learnt that writing or reporting is nothing if you do not communicate with words. @VOA – Bill Eagle who despite years in the print media opened radio reporting door for me and helped mould me as an international radio reporter.
The late Nnamdi Inyama of the Guardian Newspaper will never forget how he nurtured me never he is not just an editor but a father… May his soul rest in peace