Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024


 

OLUFEMI Oluwole’s autobiography, The Acts of Men, tells the story of a man who is determined to succeed against all odds, and the vehicle through which he achieved his dream is journalism.

The author opens the 20-chapter book with an article he wrote in the Punch Newspaper on October 11, 2005, entitled, ‘Indigeneship by Birth and Elections,’ when he highlighted the problem of ‘Where are you from?’ especially when it comes to election period.

In the article, he cites the case of his principal, Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, who also faced the same problem during his electoral campaign period in 2003.

Oluwole used the article to state that rather than asking for one’s ancestry in a community, his/her positive contributions to that community is enough justification to claim that area.

This article, which gives an insight into Oluwole’s brand of investigative/developmental journalism, showcases the kind of journalist he is.

The second chapter of the book, takes the reader back to how he joined The Source magazine by chance, despite the fact that he only followed a friend, Adeola Akinremi, for an interview at the magazine.

However, while at The Source magazine, he informed him that anyone could actually come for the interview. That was a period when the newspaper he worked for, Otunba Segun Runsewe’s National Network Newspapers had just folded up.

So while Oluwole and Akinremi both sat for the interview, he was selected, while Akinremi was not. In fact, out of all those who sat for the interview that day, only three persons were employed. With this particular incident, one can only imagine how good he is for him to have even been employed despite just taking up an opportunity to sit for an interview he had no prior knowledge of until that morning.

He then takes readers back to his secondary school days where he highlights his love for drawing and writing, which he eventually built on to become the person he is today.

In chapter three, although not all the content are his, he remembers his youthful days, especially when television stations (there were a handful of then during the period) don’t start broadcasting until 4:00p.m.
He further remembers vividly the programmes during those period and how they formed his worldview.

One of the mediums he made the most impact was at New Treasure magazine, where he, alongside others, worked on scoops and exclusive stories which turned out to be major talking point across the country.

Among the stories they worked on during this period was the revelation that some pastors were involved in fake miracles, which made the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to suspend airing miracles on public television stations at that time, or the report that President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was barely six months in office at that time, had spent N48 billion in taxpayers money travelling across the globe in his bid to bring in foreign investors.

In this fourth chapter, he also highlights his meeting with Dr Ore Falomo, personal physician to Chief MKO Abiola, and Mr Kola Abiola, on June 5, 1996, which was a day after the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.  

He also documents his meeting which Chief Gani Fawehinmi, where he states that, “If you go to his [Gani] chambers to interview him, you could be sure of signing more than three visitors’ forms and facing a photographer and video cameraman, all for the records.”

He states that it was Gani’s son, Mohammed, who facilitated the release of his editor at New Treasurer, Sonde Abbah from the grip of the State Security Services (SSS) after the Obasanjo story, while the Head of Chambers, Edwin Anikwen facilitated his (Oluwole) release after he was brought in for questioning.

Oluwole narrates his sojourn in politics in chapter five, particularly noting the role himself and Matthias Okubo played in saving the Alliance for Democracy (AD) government of Senator Bola Tinubu, the Lagos State governor then, from the onslaught of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the 2003 election.

In chapter six, the author recollects the ‘spiritual’ attack at the New Treasure, to the extent that the pastor of Latter Rain Assembly (now Citadel Global Community Church), Tunde Bakare, came to anoint the Adeniyi Jones, Ikeja office of the magazine, and the challenges led to him leaving the magazine at that time.

It was during this period that he realised that the media could no longer cater for his increasing need, and that was how he joined Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi as media aide.
In chapter seven, he returns to his younger days , highlighting his creative exploits, which helped develop his writing talent.

In chapter eight, he writes about his period as an aide to Senator Afikuyomi. He states that he joined Afikuyomi in April 2002, “and for the next four years, it was a roller coaster ride, going up and down, positives and negatives, until my spirit finally crashed and I decided to move on.”

He states further that part of the reason he left the job was that “From my perspective and that of my colleagues, we were just aides who carried out his orders. As loyal aides, we tagged along. Sometimes, it was extremely difficult for salaries to be paid for months simply because we were over 20 depending on his political trickery’ to earn a living.”
Oluwole lists some of the aides who worked with Afikuyomi and how through that opportunity, they found better assignments elsewhere.

The author, in this chapter, writes on specific instances he gained knowledge of through his closeness to the corridors of powers, especially Tinubu’s many crises, power sharing formula according to Pa Abraham Adesanya, Marwa’s legacies, Obasanjo’s seizure of Lagos LG funds, among others.

In chapter nine, he writes on how he visited Beko Ransome-Kuti’s abode alongside Gbenga Soloki. He says he had been longing to meet the human rights activist, and when he finally met him after about three hours of waiting, he discovered him to be a good listener, who would listen to what you had to say before responding.

During that meeting, he says he told Beko how he did frog-jump at Fela’s Kalakuta Shrine, and he narrated how he had gone to the Shrine to get an interview with Fela while as a member of The Young Talent Club, a popular youth club in Lagos, which sells its Young Talent magazine to secondary schools in the state, and how the bouncers descended on them when they asked to see Fela.

He also writes about Saka Saula, the late chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Lagos State, as well as a former mate, Hakeem Babatunde Gbadamosi, who died in the US at the age of 35, as well as the predictions of Prophet Samuel Adewole on the death of General Sani Abacha.

The book, which aptly captures Oluwole’s past, especially his sojourn in journalism and politics, is recommended for people who love biographies. It is also important for journalists and political aides to read and learn from it as the author had traversed those spaces and they can also gain one or two things from his experience.   

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By Joy

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