Thank you all for your prayers, gifts, and best wishes on my 70th birthday. Your words indeed brought me tears as I looked back on my life. Now, I know that men also cry. Here are some of the messages, remarks, anecdotes, accolades, “Mike Awoyinfa moments” and prayers:
Our reflection and prayer for you, among other desires, is that the Lord in an unprecedented way will keep teaching you to number your days for more strategic application of your heart to His wisdom and purpose. As your days increase, so shall your vigour, depth of wisdom and authority continue to appreciate in Jesus’s name—Pastor Abraham Sam and Grace Aiyedogbon, Realm of Glory International Churches.
I am probably the happiest person here, apart from the celebrant. The reason is that the celebrant and I are just one month apart. And we started together in Ghana. We were in the same class. Today, you see the brilliance of a gentleman who started well. And the secret is from the family. I still remember his dad—tall, nice, handsome man. Very, very gentle. And a decent human being. I am glad that Daddy was able to impact that to you and you were able to impact a lot of lives today. I am so glad that you did not disappoint anybody. You excelled, and you showed that competence right from the beginning, intelligence, humility, character and real good family upbringing. And therefore, I want to encourage you the children.
You have big shoes to fill. He is not just my friend, he is my brother. He is a really decent human being. So, emulate what he has laid and stand on his shoulders and excel. You will excel. There is no doubt about it. So today, I rejoice with you my brother. And I pray that when it is 90, we shall be together too. God bless you. And Madam, thank you for looking after my brother. What he has done, he couldn’t have done without you. I pray that you will receive the reward of your good labour. Your children will celebrate you—Mr. Segun Adebanji, Mike Awoyinfa’s childhood friend is Chairman of the Board of Cornerstone Insurance, Chairman of Fidson Healthcare, former Financial Director, Nigerian Breweries, former Group Treasurer, Heineken International in the Netherlands.
I got to know Mr. Mike Awoyinfa when I was looking for a good biographer to write the story of my family—the Ibru family. And everybody I spoke to said that the best man to do the job is Mike Awoyinfa. Please, put your hands together for him. Seventy years is quite a landmark. Until a few months ago, I was also in that age bracket. But I am now an octogenarian. So he has to catch up with me because he is my running mate. —Mr. Goodie Ibru, commercial lawyer, entrepreneur, and founder of Sheraton Lagos Hotel.
At 70, I salute Mike Awoyinfa’s foray into book writing, and I encourage many more journalists to toe the same path since books virtually live forever, and reading makes a full man. I wish Awoyinfa longer life in good health and greater contributions to a profession he loves so much. I congratulate the Awoyinfa family, the media profession at large, and specifically the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Nigerian Guild of Editors and Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria on the landmark occasion—The President of Nigeria, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.)
I am delighted to join family, friends and the media industry in celebrating Mike Awoyinfa, the Osun-State-born media guru as he attains the landmark age of 70. I praise Awoyinfa for his dedication to the journalism profession and his remarkable contributions to nation-building through his insightful interventions on national issues and wise counsel to political leaders, over the years. I pray that the renowned journalist will keep growing in strength, good health and wisdom as he continues to serve his country and humanity with his vast experience and knowledge—Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State.
I am very happy today to celebrate my former boss Mr. Mike Awoyinfa. In those days, I was in the features desk in the National Concord and Mr. Awoyinfa was in the Sunday Concord. Suddenly, there was a change and Mr. Awoyinfa was brought in as the new features editor. When he came in, the whole thing changed. Those of us who were used to writing serious stories had to adapt. I remember when he reads your story and he says, “Na wa o” and begins to yawn, you better forget about that story getting published. So we had to adapt to his style. He prefers human-angle stories. For that reason, National Concord became a selling point because of the human-angle perspective he brought to features. Eventually, Dr. Doyin Abiola, the Editor-in-chief decided to create Weekend Concord and made Mike Awoyinfa the editor. And Mr. Awoyinfa was now looking for journalists to bring in as founding reporters and writers.
That was when he brought in Dele Momodu from African Concord. Some of us could not go with Mr. Awoyinfa because we were too serious-minded. We were not suited for human-angle stories. We are more political. Myself, Richard Mofe-Damijo, and Wale Shokunbi who became the features editor, we chose to remain at the features desk. Others like Omololu Kassim joined Mr. Awoyinfa and Weekend Concord became the leading-selling paper. For me, anything Mr. Mike Awoyinfa touches in journalism turns to gold. I remember when Chief Orji Kalu was trying to set up a newspaper which was to be called the New Republic. Mr. Awoyinfa and the late Pastor Dimgba Igwe—may God bless his soul—changed the perspective of the paper and called it Sun. He became MD and Dimgba the Deputy MD. I was one of the founding journalists but I was already in politics. So I couldn’t join them in Sun. Were he to be in a well-managed country, Mr. Awoyinfa should have collected several awards, including national awards, for his contribution to journalism. But in Nigeria, they don’t regard our talents as anything. So when I was told about this surprise birthday, I jumped at it and said I must celebrate my boss, my great inspirer, a man I would say is the great grandfather of journalism in Nigeria. May God bless you and your wife too.—Mr. Tunji Bello, Lagos State Commissioner for Environment.
Excerpts from ‘Awoyinfa and the Parade of Giants’
By Dare Babarinsa, The Guardian, 28 July 2022
All these landmark birthdays would have provided opportunities for Mike Awoyinfa, one of the builders of the Nigerian Press, to do great stories in his heyday as the editor of the rousingly successful Weekend Concord. Awoyinfa, who marked his 70th on July 23, came into the national limelight when he became the first editor of Weekend Concord. The paper was a more elaborate linear successor to the old Lagos Weekend, published by the old Daily Times. Under his leadership, the Weekend Concord became a roaring success and was regularly hitting the 500,000 copies weekly print run.
Awoyinfa re-invented himself when he collaborated with his old colleague, Dimgba Igwe, to establish the Sun group of newspapers financed by the flamboyant, but shrewd businessman, Orji Kalu. The Sun also became a roaring success. It is a measure of Awoyinfa’s success that many of those who served under him, Femi Adesina, Dele Momodu, Eric Osagie, Tunji Bello, Shola Osunkeye, Funke Egbemode and many others, continue to make giant forays in the field of journalism and public life. Congratulations Brother Mike. May God grant you the grace of better days ahead. (To be concluded)