Segun Osoba, the former governor of Ogun State opened up about his early days as a reporter at Nigeria’s oldest newspaper, the Daily Times, in his new book ‘Battlelines: Adventures in Journalism and Politics.’
Osoba was one of the three pioneer employees who joined the Daily Times in 1964 after passing their A-levels, and he was put under the tutelage of Guy Walls, an expatriate training manager from Daily Mirror, London.
“As trainee reporters, whenever we went out on assignments along with senior colleagues, we would give our reports to Guy Walls to assess, correct and ensure that it conformed to the Daily Times house style,” Osoba said recalling that he had earlier been advised to study Law
“The apprenticeship was successful as our output outmatched all projections. It turned out that our reports were even considered better than those of some seniors to whom we were attached. So impressed was Alhaji Jose (Babatunde Jose, the pioneer managing director of the Times) that two months on the job, he called me and talked me out of the idea of reading law. “My editor, the famous Peter Enahoro [Peter Pan], was equally impressed that he wrote me and prophesied that would have a successful career in journalism.”
“Journalism was already in my blood and there was no looking back. Those were the days when I was a man-about-town riding my Vespa Scooter motorcycle with registration number LK 1444. I covered political stories, especially the parliament, but often veered to other beats wherever there was news to report.
“What helped me to succeed in those years was an early investment in acquiring a telephone at home, which was a rarity in those days particularly for a young reporter. And I had a small notebook which I always carried with me. It was filled with addresses and phone numbers of contacts, politicians and newsmakers.
I built this extensive database from my years as a young reporter. My private telephone line was one of the tools that helped me to excel as a reporter – a source of easy and regular contact with powerful sources of news. I was the only reporter in Lagos in 1964 that had a telephone in his house” he wrote.