His memoir, launched a week to his 80th birthday on July 15, highlighted the stages where he had played creditably. Chief Olusegun Osoba’s autobiography was fittingly titled Battlelines – Adventures in Journalism and Politics.
Osoba earned respect not only as a journalist, but also as a media manager. His story on the discovery of the corpse of then Prime Minister, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, “on the road side on Mile 27 on the Lagos-Abeokuta Road,” following the country’s first military coup on January 15, 1966, put him in the limelight. “People talk about it as if it is the only feat I achieved as a journalist, “ Osoba observed in an interview. “I wrote many exclusive stories. For example, when the late Joseph Tarka ordered a Mercedes-Benz which became a controversial issue, I exclusively covered the issue. During the civil war, I had many exclusive stories. Even in my later years when I got to Sketch and Herald, I had many exclusive stories. For instance, the assassination of then Head of State, Gen. Murtala Muhammed, and the capture of Dimka (coup plotter), I did many exclusives on them. I have details of all that transpired.”
He was not just a witness to history; he was also a reporter of history. Osoba continued: “When then Military Governor of old Kwara State, Col Ibrahim Taiwo, was assassinated, I was the one who went with the Secretary to the State Government, Obatoyin, to discover his corpse on the road to Offa. The case of Alhaji Shugaba, who was then Majority Leader of Borno State House of Assembly, who was taken physically and thrown across the border like a stone, was another landmark. I witnessed the impeachment of then Governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa. There are many others but there is much emphasis on the Tafawa Balewa case as if it was the only feat. However, it was the major beginning that threw me into the hall of fame.”
He joined the Daily Times as a trainee reporter in 1964, and rose through the ranks to become the newspaper’s Editor in 1975. After a stint as General Manager of Nigerian Herald, Osoba returned to Daily Times as the managing director in 1984. His reportorial and managerial roles reflected the breadth of his services to journalism.
He was equipped for a career in journalism. After earning a diploma in the subject at the University of Lagos, he studied for a year in the UK on the scholarship of the Commonwealth Press Union in 1967. He won the prestigious Neiman Fellowship for Journalism in 1974, the first Nigerian to do so, and did a postgraduate course at Harvard University Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
Osoba’s membership of the Nigerian Constituent Assembly in 1988 marked the beginning of his adventures in politics. It is a measure of his social and political skills that he was elected Governor of Ogun State. Interestingly, he first became governor as a member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), from January 1992 to November 1993, when the Sani Abacha military administration disrupted the democratic process.
He then played a significant role as a pro-democracy activist in the battle to save Nigeria’s soul from military adventurers in politics. Osoba was again elected governor as a member of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), and held office between 1999 and 2003. He was a member of the National Conference 2014, which underlined his patriotism and passion for the country’s progress. His Nigerian national honour, the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), is a tribute from an appreciative country.
Osoba’s progressive credentials remain intact on the treacherous terrain of Nigerian politics. It is testimony to his positive political consistency that he is counted among the progressives.