Celebrating a great boss, a teacher of journalists, a true professional – Bayo Onanuga

Semiu Salami
Semiu Salami
Bayo Onanuga

Apart from my brief stints as an intern with the Ogun State Broadcasting Corporation, OGBC and Ogun State Television, OGTV, all in Abeokuta in the early 90s, the exposure that I received as a trained journalist was really during my decade of sojourn at the Independent Communications Network Limited, ICNL.

As a fresh graduate who just finished his mandatory national youth service, my first job was with TheNews Magazine, that was when we were at Ibiyemi Street, Isolo, Lagos.

Though my urge was to be taken in as a reporter in the newsroom, the opening at that time was only available at the Advert/Special Project department.

After a brief ‘chart with one of the founders of TheNews, Dapo Olorunyomi, popularly known as Dapsy, he offered me the job with an assurance that immediately vacancy exist in the newsroom, I will be redeployed.

As a Mass Communication graduate, I faced by assignment with vigour and determination to standout among my peers, so much so that within about four months, I received my redeployment letter, and pronto, I was sent to the Business Desk then headed by an astute business guru, Ayo Arowolo.

That was my first time of covering the business desk, I guess, I did wonderfully well along with Biodun Fagunjade, Segun Abifarin and a host of others.

During my sojourn with TheNews Magazine, Dapo Olorunmi, Seye Kehinde, Kunle Ajibade(a.k.a Prof) and of course, the doyen of the field, an indefatigable mentor, a teacher, hardworking and extremely intelligent and brave editor, Otunba Bayo Onanuga.

To those privileged to have passed through Mr. B, as he is fondly called, there will be no doubting the fact that he’s a man who teaches journalists under him with the patience of a stoic and the firm belief of a monk. Once he discovers a potential in you, he makes you develop confidence that you can do better. Of course, he, a sharp dresser himself, would never cease to encourage journalists to dress well, since this is part of confidence building.

When he listens to your side of anything, Mr. B would be brushing the tuft of hair under his lower lip with the back of his forefinger, narrowing his eyes behind his pair of glasses as if peering into your heart, detecting whether you are making sense or belching nonsense! His patience to nurture people into growth is legendary.

An editor’s editor, Bayo Onanuga can turn the most egregious piece of writing to mellifluous prose. Then, he would call you to his office (he would never dress a member of his staff down in the presence of others), and tell you what you did not get right and then let you know how you could improve.

He possesses a clear professional vision, sees ahead of his contemporaries and, thus, takes proactive steps to avert disaster. For over 15 years, he had been telling us about online publication, that “this is the future of the media.” I have been a witness to how, as editor-in -chief, he navigated TheNEWS through perilous seas and balanced the ship on an even keel.

Bayo is never afraid of any threat or blackmail. He called the bluff of Ibrahim Babangida and, instead of apologizing to the military dictator over a cover story that African Concord carried, Onanuga resigned. Despite an uncertain future, he and his colleagues, started TheNEWS. Still on his bravery, he was always calm when people who were subjects of unfavorable stories, hired fiery Senior Advocates and slammed the company with huge law suits. He would dare them to go to court because “we stand by our story.” I know that his memoirs, when it is ready, will shake everywhere…

A birthday is an an exercise at numbering our days on this side of eternity. It is a moment of personal reappraisal or stock-taking, deep reflection, or a stage of counting the teeth with the tongue.

Happy birthday, Omo Ijebu Alare. May you live long in the service of mankind


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