- Pioneer Publisher, Alex Ibru To Be Celebrated
BY Ifeoma Asika, Correspondent Campuses
A book on how The Guardian was founded and eventually became the “Flagship of Nigerian journalism and media enterprise in the 1980s, is due for public presentation in Lagos on April 7, 2021.
At the event, founding Publisher and Chairman of The Guardian Newspapers, late Chief Alex Uruemu Ibru, will also be singularly honoured for his excellent and inspiring proprietorship by his former employees, almost four decades after his successful creation of an iconic media business.
The near-700-page book is written by Aaron Ukodie, the newspaper’s first Communications Correspondent and O’seun Ogunseitan, the newspaper’s trail-blazing Science Editor and environment-issues writer.
In writing the book, the duo brought together more than 300 of Nigeria’s best and brightest journalists over the last four decades, and particularly those who worked at The Guardian between 1983 and 1993, with a view to comprehensively tell the story of the newspaper and details of its founding.
The book, copiously documents the unique five years of planning and arrangements which led to the berthing of The Guardian newspaper, on February 27, 1983, as a weekly newspaper and five months later, in July 1983, as a Daily. The book revisits and reports on the newspaper’s stresses, strides and achievements in its first 10 years. It also substantially honours and celebrates the memory and labours of some of Nigeria’s media stars of yore, some of whom are still beacons of today’s media.
The Guardian emerged from a media and business collaboration between a then 35-year-old Alex Ibru and an already notable journalist then Segun Osoba. The quiet, powerful, and well-connected duo brought in a radical media tag-team of Dr Patrick Dele-Cole and Dr Stanley Macebuh. The team was stringed together with Lade Bonuola, who was already then a nationally-celebrated newspaper columnist and media production guru. The all-powerful mix of men and resources, teamed up with a coterie of outstanding Nigerian academics who came straight from the very best of Nigeria’s ivory towers then, to deliver arguably till date, the most globally revered Nigerian national newspaper of all time. The newspaper was as bold as it was incisive and trail-blazing.
More than 100 former staff of The Guardian, including reporters, advert and marketing executives, administration and production personnel, as well as correspondents, editors, editorial board members, and directors of the newspaper company, contributed to the richness and depth of the book.
The book includes first-person accounts from living members of the founding team, such as interviews with the likes the Lady Maiden Ibru, the late publisher’s wife and active participant in the formative years of the newspaper. Other key persons reported in the book include Dr Patrick Dele Cole, Dr Yemi Ogunbiyi, Lade Bonuola, Femi Kusa, Kingsley Osadolor, Yaya Awosanya, Sunmi Smart-Cole, Nick Iduwe, Wole Oke, Emeka Eluem-Izeze, Senator Ayogu Eze, Ted Iwere, Prof Onwuchekwa Jemie, Prof Femi Osofisan, Prof. Jide Oluwajuyitan, Lanre Idowu, Segun Adeniyi, Etim Etim, Greg Obong-Oshotse, Professor Al-Bishaq, and Ambassador Debo Adesina.
The former Ogun State governor who was also Managing Director at Sketch newspaper and later Daily Times, and whose restless youthfulness may have triggered the berthing The Guardian in the first place, Aremu Segun Osoba wrote the foreword for the book.
The book contains reflections and recollections of almost 40 former staff who in the first person pronoun narrated their remarkable days at The Guardian. Ordinarily, their contributions are like bringing together almost 40 personal biographies to create a single concise, telling and moving story.
Octogenarian Prof Onwuchekwa Jemie, who was also the pioneer editorial page editor, of the newspaper and celebrated author and renowned teacher of Communication and Contemporary literature who read through the book, described it as a “fantastic” documentation of “hair-raising adventures” and a “Great read for the Nigerian readership, old and young…”
The Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, is expected to be the special guest of honour at the public presentation which will also be graced by several Ministers and a host of Nigerian governors led by Gov. Babajide SanwoOlu. Scores of Senators and members of the House of Representatives and many leading politicians, serving and retired top brass of the Nigerian military, and barons of business and industry, are expected to join the topmost of the hierarchy of the Nigerian media, to grace the occasion that promises to be the biggest and most memorable celebration of one nostalgic era in Nigerian history
Twenty per cent of the proceeds of the public presentation of the book, will be donated to a special national endowment for the care of needy and or distressed journalists nationwide, including a Flagship Trust Fund for Journalists. The book project earlier this year berthed the Flagship Trust Fund for journalists of The Guardian of that era and they disbursed almost N5 million in support of some of its members. Pioneer head of The Guardian’s Insight Team, today’s Senator Ayogu Eze, who is also the protem Chairperson of The Guardian Flagship Trust Fund for Journalists hints at the possibility of expanding the existing structure to cater for likely needs of some distressed Nigerian journalists and media practitioners after the book launch.