May 1987. I sat before him not sure what he was about to tell me concerning my application for a reporter’s job in The Punch Newspaper.
The previous week, I was in the office, then at Mangoro, seeking to be employed based on the recommendation of another editor who couldn’t hire me because he had no vacancy.
While waiting to see the Editor of the paper, Alhaji Nojeem Jimoh, the former Premier of the Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo died and I took the initiative to join the reporters at the Apapa residence of the late elder statesman, close to our residence in Ajegunle, to write story from the condolence messages of dignitaries which impressed the editor and it was published. He asked me join a senior correspondent assigned to cover the condolence visits.
” We’re offering you a job,” the Deputy Editor then, Mr Ademola Osinubi informed me. Before I could complete my thank you response, he shocked me with the additional details.
” You’re going to report from Abeokuta as our Ogun State Correspondent,” he said as he waited for my expected response that I will prefer to be in Lagos, with an answer.
” Don’t worry. You can cope. We have seen your reports and the editor has approved that you should resume in Abeokuta.
” You will have an office to yourself. There a telephone and radio to send your story to Lagos. We have recalled the state editor. You are from Ogun State. Don’t worry. Congratulations,” he continued leaving me with no option to decline the offer.
Long story short, that was how the longest serving Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of The Punch, Mr Osinubi whose tenure ends on April 30,2022 ‘cajoed’ me into beginning my 14 years journey at The Punch.
I join many others in congratulating him on his 45 years meritorious service at The Punch in various capacities starting from being a reporter.
I have many fond memories of my interactions with MD as we used to call him before I left in 1999.
When I was tired of being a state correspondent, he was the one who called to ask if I wanted to return to Lagos though I had no discussion with him. From the Political desk I was assigned, I moved up gradually to become Group News Editor.
When I was suddenly removed as the Group News Editor and risked not getting the financial support earlier promised by the company for a three months training in UK, he ensured I got it before it was late to miss the opportunity.
What I learnt in Cardiff has kept me going till now in my career.
After leaving The Punch due to circumstances beyond his control, Mr Osinubi was interested in my projects and once officially approved a generous amount to support a motivational newsletter for journalists I once published. ( I promise to resume the publication soon online)
Incidentally, the lead article in the edition he called me about was “Before you leave journalism ” which he said reminded him of how he would have made a major career movement mistake by accepting a Corporate Affairs bank job offer.
In many ways, he was kind to me while I was at The Punch and I’m not surprised that at a point I was regarded as one of the “Osinubi’s boys”
He appears very gentle, but can be very firm when wants to and I’m not unaware of other colleagues who have reasons to think he was responsible for some unpleasant experiences they had while at The Punch.
Like any mortal, he had his shortcomings, but what no one can deny is that his contributions to making The Punch, which I joined at a time salaries were being owed, to becoming Nigeria’s undisputed No 1newspaper are invaluable.
He will be remembered for his loyalty, dedication, commitment, steadfastness, sacrifice and more whenever the history of The Punch is written.
Mr Otufodunrin is the Executive Director at the Media Career Development Network.
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