TITLE: Dotun Oyelade Reporting… (Memoirs of a Newshound)
AUTHOR: Dotun Oyelade with Tola Teriba and Ayodeji Ajisope
PUBLISHER: Aikon Integral Concept, Ibadan (2022)
Reviewed by Isaac Olawale Albert
Prince Dotun Oyelade, is a broadcast journalist, publisher, and politician. But he restricted the coverage of his publication, Dotun Oyelade Reporting… (Memoirs of a Newshound), to the first two aspects of his life: journalism and publishing. He intends to write on his political life in the years to come but flagged some of his political landmarks in the work to include being Publicity Secretary to Alliance for Democracy in 1999 and Private Secretary to Governor Lam Adesina from 1999 to 2003. He was Special Adviser on Public Communications to Governor Christopher Alao Akala from 2007 to 2011 and was also Head of the media campaign team of Governor Seyi Makinde, from January 2018 to May 2019.
The interesting publication is broken into five parts of 18 chapters. The first part consists of two chapters and these have to do with how Oyelade cut his professional teeth in journalism by working at NTV. The first chapter ought to have chronologically been the third but the author made it the first invariably to teach some lessons to students of journalism education. Oyelade was in Akure in 1978 to report the visit of Olusegun Obasanjo. As he charged through the crowd with his microphone to get a scoop for his federal television channel, he was bullied back by some unfriendly soldiers guiding the head of state. It took him some time to get out of panic mode. This must have been included in the book to show that it is not easy for an early career journalist to get breaking stories as taught in the classroom; it involves unpredictable risks and embarrassments. It was actually in the second chapter that Oyelade narrated how he was employed by NTA in August 1977 under the leadership of Yemi Farounbi. His supervisors on the job included Bayo Sanda, Fabio Lanipekun, Biodun Sotumbi, Biodun Aladekomo, and Biodun Adetuberu. In the news department, Oyelade worked with Segun Oyedele, Folu Ogundimu, Segun Soroye, Mufu Akinloye; Kayode Adedire, Femi Idowu, Biodun Ariyo now Senator Biodun Olujinmi, Bankole Laotan, Tunji Oyetoso, Lekan Alabi, Biodun Oduwole, Rasheed Adegbenro, Tunde Jawando, Kola Akinleye, Bukola Famuyiwa, Kunle Adeigbe and a host of others. He used colourful adjectives to describe the innovations brought to NTA by each of these personalities. He called attention to the suspect image of the journalist working under the military, the intrigues of reporting the “Ali must go student protest”, attempts to repress the media etc.
Part two of the book consists of five chapters focusing on Oyelade’s sojourn and exploits at the TSOS/BCOS. In chapter three, he told the story of how the amity between Governor Bola Ige and Dr. Yemi Farounbi led to the founding of TSOS and how the station was provided the best possible facilities and conditions of service for attaining best journalism practice. He was recruited into the station under very rigorous and painstaking conditions but had an exemplary career there. He listed all the people he worked with in the station but singled out Yanju Adegbite, who later became the Project Coordinator at BCOS from 2011 to 2019, as the first face to appear on TSOS TV. In Chapter 4, he called attention to a number of groundbreaking reports he wrote for the station: the Lawrence Anini saga, the trial of Gen. Mamman Vatsa, the Cocoa House inferno, the death of Awolowo and Dele Giwa; the inaugural AFRC meeting of the Babangida regime etc. In chapter 5 Oyelade called attention to how the corporate identity of BCOS changed when the NPN government of Chief Omololu Olunloyo came to power in October 1983 in Oyo State. Though the regime was sacked by the military on December 31 same year, the three months period of its existence witnessed several staff of TSOS sacked and redeployed. Oyelade was redeployed to the State secretariat at Agodi where he wasted away in the conference room of the Head of Service until the civilian administration left and he was returned to TSOS which became BCOS with the merger of the TV station and Radio Oyo. Oyelade was serving as Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation in 2001 when Governor Lam Adesina asked him to combine this with the assignment of a Private Secretary. Chapter 6 is a fuller-length discussion of the merger of Radio Oyo and TSOS by the regime of Col. Oladayo Popoola to form BCOS. It also discussed the circumstances under which Chief Bisi Adesola became the first GM of the Corporation. Chapter 7, the shortest of the essays, has to do with how Oyelade went to the US on a fellowship and nearly acceded to a quest to stay back with the media outfit he visited.
Part 3 consists of seven chapters and has to do with Oyelade’s foray into publishing: another field in which he has made outstanding contributions. In chapter 8 he told the story of how it all started in February 1988 after interviewing Professor Ojetunji Aboyade, the world-renowned economist and former Vice Chancellor, University of Ife (now OAU), at the BCOS Studios. Oyelade was asked if he was enjoying his job and he told Aboyade that the glitz of the job was gone and he was ready to move on. Within a month of this discussion, Oyelade was hired to manage a publishing house jointly established by Professors Akin Mabogunje and Aboyade: Fountain Publication. He was offered an initial salary of N1000 per month in 1988 which was more than twice the salary of a Controller at BCOS at the time. He was provided a Citroen saloon as his official car and a driver. One of the books produced by the publishing house at this moment was Maryam Babangida’s Home Front which documents the experiences of senior army officers’ wives. It fetched the publishing house millions. However, Oyelade was with Fountain Publication for just a year; the owners were more engrossed in their academic activities. In chapter nine, Oyelade narrated how he had to move to Chief Joop Berkhout’s Spectrum Books where several works were produced: including Emeka Ojukwu’s Because I Am Involved. The publishing house lost the opportunity to handle Obasanjo’s Not my will when Oyelade advised the former Nigerian head of state to delete from his manuscript the aspect in which some uncomplimentary things were said about Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Obasanjo is reported to have described Oyelade as “Omo ale Ogbomoso” (a bastard of Ogbomoso) for this advice. Chapter ten has to do with how he left Spectrum Book in 1991 to register his own company, Current Publications. This soon brought him in contact with family members of Chief Adeseun Ogundoyin, the successful Oyo State-born businessman, politician, and philanthropist who suddenly died at the University College Hospital (UCH) on June 18 that same year. He was commissioned to publish a picturesque encapsulation of the active life of the accomplished business mogul for the anniversary in 1992. Chapter eleven has to do with how he published ‘The Broadcast Journalist’ in 1993 where he shared his professional experience to imparting hands-on knowledge to students and practitioners of Broadcast Journalism. Three renowned Broadcast Managers (Dr. Vincent Maduka, Dr. Yemi Farounbi, and Chief Adebisi Adesola) wrote the preface to the book and he reproduced these in the present publication as a testimonial. In 1995, he published the book Soun Ajagunbade III. In chapter 12 he provided the contexts for the publication and called attention to some critical issues in it. Chapter 13 is about how he could not complete the book on Chief Emmanuel Oyedele Ashamu before his demise. Chapter 14 is on his other publishing exploits: it focused on how he published ‘Destiny At Work’ on the Late Otunba Alao-Akala and got it launched on June 3, 2009 at Mapo Hall in Ibadan.
In 2015, he also authored the biography of the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh.
Part 4 of the book consists of only one chapter (15th) and it is on the “Current Studios & Publications”: a broadcast commercial studio for video & audio recording and post-production. The modern equipment for the studio was brought in from the United Kingdom. It soon became the leading hub for popular artistes in the 90s, not only locally but also from Lagos. Iconic actors and actresses like Adebayo Salami (Oga Bello) Sunday Omobolanle (Aluwe) Jide Kosoko, Alhaji Kareem Adepoju (Baba Wande) Idowu Phillips (Iya Rainbow) Lanre Hassan (Iya Awero) Iyabo Ogunsola (Efunsetan Aniwura); Mike Bamiloye (Mount Zion), Anike Obot and a host of other upcoming stars, musicians and producers rented cameras and other equipment to shoot films from the company. Many came back to do their editing at the studio. Dotun Oyelade’s professional antecedent as a broadcast journalist with a specialty in documentaries and reporting enabled the studio to get jobs from the government and other corporate concerns.
Part 5 is on the man Dotun Oyelade. The 16th chapter was compiled by Biola Olawale, Deputy Director of News, BCOS. It has to do with how Oyelade assumed duty as the Executive Chairman of the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS) in July 2019 with the experience of a foundation staff of TSOS in 1982 before he voluntarily resigned in 1986 to further his ambition and career. Again, he came back to the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS) in 2001 as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) under the administration of Governor Lam Adesina. The rest of the chapter lists his achievement on the job: staff manpower development, staff welfare, motivation and reward system, execution of iconic projects, an amendment to the corporation’s edict with a view to identifying certain provisions inconsistent with modern-day realities; reinstatement of officers wrongfully dismissed/retired; redeployment of staff of BCOS from the mainstream of the civil service. Chapter 17 is people’s perception of Prince Oyelade while the last chapter, the 18th contains tributes by his family members: wife and children.
The publication, Dotun Oyelade reporting… (Memoirs of a Newshound), is not an everyday autobiography but an innovative case note that has a lot of lessons for students of journalism studies. The publication describes Oyelade as a newshound. The term refers to an aggressive or energetic journalist with insightful and instructive attainments. The contents of this book stand Oyelade out in this respect; he was indeed a newshound. The Prince achieved a lot in broadcasting but he used the platform of this book to reject being called a “veteran journalist”. He worked closely with several eminent politicians (Lam Adesina, Alao Akala, and Seyi Makinde) but he said this has not made him a professional politician but a journalist in politics. Towards the end of this publication, a number of prominent Nigerians corroborated what the author reported about himself. In other words, the work under review is not an autobiography per se but an autobiography innovatively redefined. He prefaced each of the issues he raised with detailed historical background in a manner that makes the chapters instructive for students of history. I found this approach to academic writing to be very original and worthy of commendation. Students of journalism studies have a lot to learn from the publication not only in terms of the exemplary way Prince Oyelade did his work but more importantly his writing skills which he excellently demonstrated here.
*Prof Albert is Head, Faculty of Multidisciplinary Studies, University of Ibadan