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30 years after I bowed out as Press Secretary to four governors

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Oloye Alabi

Today, Sunday, March 31, 2019, makes it 30 years that I vacated office as the Press Secretary to four former governors of old Oyo State (present day Oyo and Osun states).

The four governors whom I had the rare honour of serving as press secretary were the late Chief ‘Bola Ige (SAN) retired Major-General Oladayo Popoola, retired Brigadier-General Adetunji Olurin and the late Brigadier-General Sasaenia Oresanya. May the noble souls of the dead continue to rest in peace, amen.

I had been seconded on February 4, 1983, from the former Television Service of Oyo State (TSOS) now called the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State Television (BCOS-TV), Ibadan, where I was a principal editor in the Current Affairs Department to Governor Bola Ige as a press secretary.

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Also seconded from Radio O-Y-O to Governor Ige was Femi Mapaderun. We both joined Governor Ige’s incumbent press secretary, Dapo Aderinola, perhaps, Africa’s best newspaper reporter, to form a triumvirate in the Bureau of Information and Public Relations in the Governor’s Office, Ibadan, with Dr. (then Mr.) Yemi Farounbi, as the chairman. He was also the Special Assistant on Information to Governor Ige.

Before my secondment to Governor Ige, I was producing and presenting one English and two Yoruba current affairs programmes, Je Nwi T’emi/K’Aye Gbo and Spotlight. Need I add that I was the first reporter to appear on the TSOS channel as well as the station’s pioneer chairman of the chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ)?

When the now-defunct Federal Electoral Commission (FEDECO) declared the then candidate of the now-defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN), Dr. Victor Omololu Olunloyo, winner of the August 1983 governorship election in the state, his government, quite unfairly, sacked or transferred many civil/public servants suspected of being loyalists/sympathisers of Chief Obafemi Awolowo/Chief ‘Bola Ige or their Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). I was among the innocent victims of that political purge.

All those victimised staff at TSOS who crawled or negotiated their ways back into the television station knew how they ‘negotiated’ their ways back to the station. Hmmm! Without sounding immodest, it is on record that I refused to crawl on my belly or beg to be reinstated.

Thus, when the Generals Muhammdu Buhari/Tunde Idiagbon-led armed forces of Nigeria toppled the civilian governments at Federal and state levels, on December 31,1983, I was among the several Nigerian civil/public servants ordered by the new Federal Military Government to return to our former posts. God certainly vindicates the just.

A month after my return to TSOS, I was recalled by the new Military Governor of the state, the then Lieutenant-Colonel Oladayo Popoola, to my former position as Press Secretary to the Governor of Oyo State!
Till date, I describe my appointment, or is it recall now, by former Governor Popoola as the ‘eighth’ wonder of the world.

As indicated earlier, I went on to serve two successors of Governor Popoola (Governors Olurin and Oresanya) till March 31, 1989.

On my last day in office, as his Press Secretary, on March 31,1989, the late Governor Oresanya asked me to make a wish, any wish, which “I will grant to you now on this spot.”

After a minute or two, which seemed like a century, I requested the Governor to please sponsor me to that year’s (1989) pilgrimage to Makkah and Medina. True to his word, he sponsored me to the 1989 Hajj. May God continue to bless his valiant soul, amen.

In addition, Governor Oresanya gave an honour, ever given to any Nigerian departing Press Secretary, by hosting a Wining-In and Wining-Out party at the Oyo State Liaison Office, Victoria Island, Lagos State, on Saturday, April 1, 1989, for my humble self and my successor, Mr. Tunde Osunbunmi.


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