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As Golden Age Chooses Egbon Tunde Odesola by Dawood Ajetunmobi

   One of the very first topics that a rookie  into Journalism  profession is introduced  to is headline casting. The topic is treated in both News writing  and Graphic Communication classes. I do not know  what the syllabus  of Mass Communication  looks like now, but that was the situation  about two decades ago when I cut my journalism  teeth in the department  of Mass Communication, Moshood  Abiola Polytechnic,Abeokuta.

Then,what is special  about  headline?It is the most important part of any piece of writing - whether it is an article, newsletter, sales copy, blog entry, web page, email  etc. The headline is your first and sometimes only chance to get a reader in your writing.The headlines appeal to the readers and they read the news below if they find the headline interesting enough.

When you are writing  about  the person who has cast thousands  of headlines  that sell, especially on a particular day when many people  will have so much  to write  about his exploits in the field journalism, you need to put on a thinking  cap in casting  a headline for your article  which will earn it enough  traffic.It was hercluean  task for me before  I could  come up with the headline of this article.  However, I must confess  the above head of my article is not really  original  but an adaptation  of one of the writings of Peter Enahoro  aka Peter  Pan who edited Daily  Times at a very relative age of 23. Peter Pan while explainig that his entrance into journalism profession  was an accident  because  he didn't  deliberately choose  to be a journalism, he came out with a dramatic headline :"Journalism chooses  me"

So, when Egbon  Tunde announced on social  media  with a banner headline "GOD BROUGHT  ME TO GOLD, HBD, TUNDE",my first  reaction  was:"So, Egbon  Tunde is 50?,I soliloquised."But he does not look it,golden age must have  chosen him just  as Journalism  chose Peter Pan",I added, still  soliloquising.

I have known Egbon  Tunde, long before  I was opportune to meet him. More than two decades  ago, Punch created  a  special news page, tagged "ALAUSA ROUNDABOUT ",It was as if the page was created for him  because  his stories  always  filled the page. Through  the number  of stories he supplied for the page, I saw in him a hardworking  and a dedicated journalist. Unconscioulsy, I began to develop likeness  for him and see in him a mentor. Egbon Tunde may not know  this, his stories  then greatly  influenced  my literary  skill. At that material time, there was also a page for Young  ones in The Punch  named "Young  Punchers' Club" coordinated by CHINWE Ogbuka  aka Aunty Chy-Chy. I was a regular  contributor  to that page and  as a matter of fact, the articles  I contributed  formed  the larger content  of the book I published  when I was in ND 2 in Mapoly;"A CONVERSATION  WITH MY PEN" I have Egbon  Tunde to thank for this because each time I read his stories  in "Alausa Roundabout "I was encouraged  to also  write more for the "Young  Punchers' Club page"

Despite  the fact that I was a regular  visitor  to the former head office of Punch newspaper  at 1,Kudeti street, Mangoro bus stop,Ikeja Lagos,  either as guest of my brother, Mr Olalekan  Ajetunmobi, who worked  in the Mechanical  department  or on the invitations of Aunty Chy-Chy,yet I was unable  to  have physical  meeting  with Egbon  Odesola. On number of occasions, I  had cause to inquire  about him from the likes of late Ola Ogundolapo,Mr Adeosun the then Features  Editor now Saturday Editor  of The Nation  newspaper, Mr Josuah Agbeniga, Circulation Manager  and his successor, Mr Tomi Olorunsola but they always  told me that "Tunde is not on seat".

Our very first robust  meeting  came years later courtesy  Uncle Leo Awoyemi, former member House of Reperesebtatives, Egbon Tunde and Uncle  Leo enjoy  robust  relationship  as Almuni of University  of Lagos and members  of one of the "social organizations" in Unilag. We met at Uncle Leo's house where he (Uncle Leo) introduced me to him(Egbon Tunde) as "Tunde, meet Aljazeera (Uncle Leo hardly calls me by my name, he uses the name of the magazine  I edit to address  me),my Son".I approached our meeting  that day with caution because my mind  had been polluted  against  him as  arrogant person, bully and bossy. But through  my interactions  with him that day and subsequent ones, he emprerically proved his detractors  wrong. Tunde Odesola  is a jolly good Egbon. Egbon  Oyesiku  Adelu has spoken the truth  when he wrote  in his birthday  message that:"Tunde Baba.

Happy golden anniversary to a wonderful friend, a colleague of solid character, unwavering advocate of justice, erudite colomnist, quintessential journalist and an uncommon patriot. Never chamelionic, never amoebic, Tunde, your straightness of character is worthy of emulation. God bless you eternally, friend." I could no less agree with Oye Magandy who himself  is no less in short  supply  of the adjectives he used for his friend.

From  "Alausa Roundabout " to Ondo State Correspondent  to Osun State Correspondent  and back to the headquarters  as Political Editor, succes follow Egbon Tunde Odesola  in  his chosen career.His wits and humours coupled with clarity  of expression  and hardworking   are some of the ingredients  that got him to the top and earned him more than enough  friends and Of course, few enemies too. But when we are proud  of his enviable  and checkerd  career, hoping that his restless  but talented journalistic enterprise  will one day earn him  a substantive  post of Editor of Punch newspaper, Egbon Tunde disappointed  us. He resigned! He stopped  the music  when we  are still very much enjoying  the melody. For me, that is a personal  loss. I'm bitter against  his decision,though the explanation  he offered me when  I made enquiry showed that he is one person  that puts family  first.

But why the disappointment?What informed  my bitterness? About  a decade  ago, I read memoir  of late Ismail Babatunde  Jose, arguably  the most successful  Journalist that this country  has ever  produced. Jose, the first indigenious  editor  of Daily  Time(when Daily  Times was Daily Times), in his autobiography, WALKING  ON A TIGHT ROPE documented his journalistic  exploits  which he likened to walking on a tight  rope especially  as it related to his relationship  with Sir Ahamdu Bello, Chief Ladoke Akintola, Chief Nnmadi  Azikwe  and the politics of first republic generally. I see in Egbon Tunde what Jose told us about himself  in that book. I patiently  waited for the day you will also  treat us to your exploits  as Editor  of Punch newspaper, but unfortunately  that day will never  come. You  have denied us the opportunity.

But it is your decision  and if that is what will make you happy, so be it. But  one thing  you owe some of your admirers  is that our own  Tunde Odesola  must  not just be cosnigned  to dustbin of anynomity. Just like some of your colleagues who left journalism  did, e.g Wale  Adebanwi,formely of NigerianTribune but  now a Rhode professor  of Race Studies at  prestigious  Oxford University, United Kingdom,your name must continue  to ring bell, if not in journalism  but in academic.In no too  long a year, I want to be addressing you as Professor Tunde Odesola.

Egbon, that is my singular wish for you  on the occasion  of your 50th birthday.

Dawood Ajetunmobi  writes in from the Nigerian  Law School, Enugu  Campus

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