By: Kayode Odunaro
On Monday July 10, 2017 about 5000 Ogun State women under the auspices of “Gracious Sisters for Yayi Movement” in All Progressive Congress, APC gathered in the specious private residence of Chief Olusegun Osoba at Ataba Close, Ibara GRA, Abeokuta to launch their support for the ambition of Senator Solomon Adeola as a governorship aspirant in Ogun State in 2019. Osoba was not at home. He was not even in the country. Some weeks back another politician similarly announced his ambition to contest for a position in the state under the leadership of Osoba. Numerous other meetings of APC Ogun state are similarly held at Osoba’s. That is a trend that was sanctioned by Osoba in his position as not only a leader in his party APC in Ogun state but also a prominent national leader of his party and nation. For many wards in Abeokuta South LGA where the residence is located, Osoba’s house is the venue for their regular meeting of APC.
Not many politicians will so indulge his supporters and loyalists particularly when they are not running for any public office. But such is the democratic and unifying nature of the two time governor of Ogun state that his house is now a rallying point for resurgence of progressive participatory democratic politics in Ogun State. As a former chief press secretary to Osoba as governor of the state, I am aware that many decisions affecting appointments and the governance of Ogun state were taken in a democratic setting under the shadow of the trees in the court yard of Osoba’s residence. For many that are associated politically with Osoba his democratic credentials have never been in doubt. Till date, I have never heard anyone accused Osoba of dictatorial or unilateral tendency in relations to his style of governance. Neither have I heard it said that he exhibit a “ know it all “, “do it all” attitude in public affairs in spite of his rich and variegated experience as a top notch journalist and successful media executive.
As a governor in Ogun State, Osoba’s development approach was biased towards the rural areas of the state and to his credit, many communities in the hinterland of Ogun State enjoys pipe-borne water and electricity courtesy of Osoba’s administration rural development initiatives. Urban renewal as well as social intervention programmes particularly geared towards qualitative education and payment of qualifying examination fees for students also felt the impact of Osoba. Many will gladly give it to Osoba as impacting on people’s lives as a governor for about 6 years. No wonder many are making his private residence a melting point for all desirous of a people’s government.
Osoba by all standards is an elder statesman that had paid his dues adequately in national development first as a renowned journalist, then administrator and politician. It has not always been smooth sailing for Osoba. Indeed the story of Osoba,s life has many up and down that has seen many associates desert him and later come back as whatever Osoba went through with people, he is not a man that harbours grudge for long and you can never see him harbor bitterness against even those that are ingrates and back stabbers. And there are many in that category of ingrates and back stabbers whose bread were once buttered by Osoba. Many that had at one time or the other fell out and strayed away from the Osoba Political Family always still feel proud to be associated with him and many had staged a comeback to the welcoming arms of a man with a good heart and unpretentious ways. Osoba has passed through some harrowing times in his political life and narrowly escaped violent death as well as survived detention and going underground in the struggle for a democratic Nigeria. In his home state of Ogun, there are probably no political leaders alive except former President Olusegun Obasanjo that has had a more variegated political history over the years than Osoba.
At 78 on July 15, Osoba as a former governor of Ogun state and an elder statesman with an unblemished record of public service, contribution to political party formation and development, is still expected to play a prominent redemptive role in the good governance of not only his state but the nation at large. In this wise, the expectation is that he will use his wealth of experience to guide and influence positively development in the political arena in his state and indeed Nigeria to enthrone true participatory democracy beginning from internal party democracy that he is noted for. Indeed it was absence of internal democracy that led to his surprising temporal exit to SDP from APC, a party he was one of its brain in the critical formative stages. Today he is back and all eyes are on him to so to speak to play an active last winning card in ensuring good governance and sustainance of democracy. At all events it is certain that Osoba has carved an enviable record as a peoples politician that endures. Certainly he is not your usual garrulous flash in the pan politician.
Born to the family of Pa and Madam Jonathan Babatunde Osoba at an Egba settlement, Egbatedo, in Osogbo on July 15, 1939, Osoba attended African Church School, Osogbo, Methodist Boys High School, Lagos. He was at University of Lagos for his Diploma in Journalism. He took courses at Oxford University, Oxford, United Kingdom, Indiana University, USA and Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
Beginning a career in journalism that spanned 25 years at the Daily Times and moving from the bottom rung to the pinnacle of the profession, Osoba naturally identified with popular causes and advocacy for the downtrodden that the profession of journalism entails in addition to its enlightening role. Osoba is accepted as a role model in the profession of journalism from his days as a reporter in Daily Times, to his managerial position at Nigerian Herald, Sketch Newspapers and Daily Times, all of which flourished under his management. Internationally, Osoba practiced the profession with BBC, Times of London, Newsweek Magazine of USA, UPI News Agency and is a prominent member of the International Press Institute (IPI) being the second African to be a member of the Executive Board of the prestigious international professional body after Alhaji Lateef Jakande, another prominent journalist and former governor.
Osoba who holds several chieftaincy titles across Ogun State is married to Aderionsola Osoba (nee
Adeyemi) with four children and grandchildren.
Chief Kayode Odunaro,
former Chief Press Secretary to Governor Segun Osoba
Media Adviser to Senator