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Jose: Celebrating excellence and industry

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Babatunde Jose


It is 10 years today that Alhaji Babatunde Jose departed this earthly life, aged 83. A Remembrance Prayer for him, organized by his family, is taking place at Jubril Martin Memorial Grammar School, Iponri, Lagos. Predictably, those of us who pride ourselves as products of his training and mentorship, what we are wont to call Jose School of Journalism and Newspaper Management, will troop out to join the family, friends and associates in prayers and in paying homage to the fond memories to a unique leader.

Chaired by the National President, Anwar Islam Movement, Alhaji M. Ojelade, the Fidau will be conducted by Anwar-ul-Islam Chief Imam, A. B. Yusuf and addressed by Professor T.G.O Gbadamosi, President, Muslim Community of Lagos State.On the occasion of his 65th birthday anniversary 28 years ago, I wrote in these pages a piece captioned, “Jose: Celebrating excellence and industry.” It is reproduced below:

“The exceptionally gifted newspaper administrator, Alhaji Babatunde Jose, was 65 years last week. The builder and modernizer of the Daily Times deserves all the felicitations. His life has been packed with selfless service to humanity. Not surprising, he is easily touched, and indeed moved to the depth by the plight of his fellow men who are lonely, homeless and anyone who may have suffered the rough edge of injustice.

The ease with which the humanity in him is aroused is a virtue many who may not have crossed his path personally do not know about him. All that many saw and for which he is held in awe is the immense “power” he commanded—I would rather use authority—as the Editorial Director of the Daily Times.He is a gifted editorial writer and a man with uncommon capacity for hard work and matchless devotion to the fortunes of the Daily Times. Every breath of his carried more of Daily Times than of carbon-dioxide he exhales. He was a brave leader to follow to battle. Effective and balanced. His star shone in the firmament and many would like to bask under its radiance, and many, indeed, had the privilege. He looked after his staff, and whenever the company could pay more, he did not hesitate to do so. His reporters and sub-editors were the envy of their peers. He had tremendous respect for his editors, those of them who were good. And he gave them free hands. Those not good, he would not waste a minute to remove. And there were no apologies. Professionalism was professionalism. Business was business. Business had to flourish and there should be no peril to professionalism.

A man of vision, he made the Daily Times grow rapidly and it became an unrivalled empire under his leadership. Our sing song was, Daily Times, the biggest newspaper, Africa South of the Sahara. He gave priority to training of staff, sending scores of them for training, locally and overseas. This was the legacy that gave him the most joy. Those who passed through his hands today man major and significant newspapers in the land.

On Thursday, last week, many of us his boys were gathered at the University of Lagos to “give honour to whom honour is due”, to use the words of Maman Daura, erstwhile editor and later managing director of the authoritative New Nigerian who chaired the occasion. It was also to pay homage to industry as well as an effective, visionary and resourceful leadership. These attributes have seen Jose to the zenith of other endeavours in which he found himself after leaving the Daily Times 14 years ago.

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s rise on our feet and cling glasses to celebrate a man of stature and generousity of spirit, a man with imperishable legacies.In his response at the lecture organized in his honour at the university, he spoke, overwhelmed by the presence of his old boys at the Times, friends, associates and clerics. He was enraptured by the beautiful lecture by Yemi Ogunbiyi, who had seen Jose in Kano when he was eight years old and hadn’t the least inkling that he would ever be privileged to step into his mighty shoes. As Jose listened to Dr. Ogunbiyi, oblivious of the world outside the lecture hall, he pulled at his brush-shaped white beard, indicative of age and a packed life. In gratitude for the day, he said “academics are the jewels of journalism.”

Jose used the opportunity of the lecture to explain his dream of the Nigerian Press 20 years from when he became the managing director of the Daily Times. He elucidated and dwelt at length on his policy to bring learned men to journalism in his company. It is a programme for which he will long be remembered and for which academics will be grateful. The arrival of men of letters was an inevitability, but it was Alhaji Jose who can be said to be the first person to see it coming. Would Nigeria have had any choice given the giant industry intellectualism has become, and the colossal sum of money sunk into it since Awolowo launched his relentless battle against illiteracy and ignorance in 1955. Whether academics are and will continue to be the jewels of journalism in the near future is another matter. For, it will be asked, what is journalism, what are its goals? Academics we do not need to define. It is not just in journalism, but in practically in every field of endeavour that academics will be regarded as jewels. It is the entire world that regards them so and will continue to court them.

It is a subject that will continually engage the thought and admiration of Alhaji Jose for a long time to come, and the attention of the world. Each time the newspaper wizard orchestrates this thought, something strikes me and that is that Alhaji Jose has had a stirring within him which impels him to look for something that will raise journalism to the sphere of matchless excellence and what he has come to see as the ready instrument for it is intellectual sagacity. He has listened to lawyers, to their advocacy, and he has seen politicians who dazzled their audience with effortless oratory. If journalism could benefit from the cultivation of intellect it would lead to excellence.

Intellectual cultivation, in my view, was necessary to match the phenomenal rise in intellectual development in the society in general otherwise there would be gaps in communication. But the stirring in Jose was more, and what he was looking for, I believe, was greater.Knowledge, indeed, is the crowning jewel of journalism. It is knowledge that points the way. It is knowledge that engenders refinement, that brings excellence and upliftment. It is knowledge that builds. It is knowledge that ensures understanding and engenders harmony. The world is wanting in understanding, harmony and excellence, development and upliftment because it is lacking in knowledge. If journalism is the tool to bring these about in the various societies, and redirect societies, then it must be manned by men of knowledge, the knowing ones. This is what, in my view, Alhaji Jose has made an objective and truly a worthwhile goal even though he is not clarified about this. He has thus transposed one for the other, fixing his gaze on learnedness to provide knowledge. But knowledge is knowingness, not learnedness or erudition its crown. Knowledge, which stems from weighing and examining intuitively, is borne out of experiencing. To know something is different from to study and become familiar with something. To know thus means to see. Experiencing gives knowledge, knowledge maturity and maturity refinement. Abilities are unfolded and there is development; there is prosperity, greatness and inexplicable joy, to mention only few of the accruals. The world has seen many learned men who lack knowledge and there have been many unlettered men of unfathomable wisdom.

Maman Daura spoke of his experience with Jose on “three or four boards” where whenever there were problems, Jose’s originality came to the rescue, delivered in simplicity. Simplicity is identical with clarity, ability to grasp and comprehend. Where does originality come from? Learning leads to erudition, but not to knowledge. Erudition is the manifestation of the cerebrum. This is the seat of the intellect. The cerebrum is the instrument of the man but it is man himself that carries knowledge in him and within him and passes it through the silver cord, solar plexus, cerebellum and finally to the cerebrum. In the man of knowledge, cerebellum, which keeps memories, is very active. The man of knowledge is original and has depth.

The cerebrum provides the words for impressions. It is the bridge between the man and the world. It is expected, therefore, that the more developed it is the more words are available to man, and the more voluble the person becomes. But mere words arising from scholarship do not solve problems, nor do they advance the cause of mankind a jot. On the other hand, the man of knowledge perceives intuitively. Pictures upon pictures flow before his gaze, some he cannot even find words for—he stammers at best or he is quiet. He is silenced by the magnitude and majesty of what he has been permitted to behold. He can’t but be filled with immeasurable joy, and gratitude. What is perceived is meant to be transferred for physical manifestation with the cooperation of the cerebrum which primary duty is just that, and to pass outward impressions and influences assailing it to the man within. Today, there is no such cooperation between the cerebrum and cerebellum, due to over cultivation of the former, that is, cerebrum, which for thousands of years has become the object of celebration and accolades, while the cerebellum has been driven into inactivity—and that is the key instrument of man, the receptive part of his faculties. Hence, because he does not receive he is not guided, and he stumbles from one problem to the other. He is wholly dependent on the cerebrum, that is, the frontal brain, which gathers impressions from outward activities, unable to grasp beyond the constraints of the materials from which it was formed as nothing can go beyond its point of origin.

The origin of cerebrum is physical. Because of over cultivation and over use, the cerebrum becomes increasingly enlarged –large brain—while the cerebellum, hardly used is stunted or paralysed, hence what has come to be known as small brain, a situation that is contrary to the ordinance of Nature, indeed the Creator!

This is why those who have devoted themselves to ensuring the supremacy of the cerebrum with intellect as its veritable product, have difficulty coming to recognition of the great mechanisms that govern life and what promotes eternal values. Those yet untainted according to higher knowledge available today on earth, are artists. Their works have eternal values. There are a handful of others who have come to recognize truth as absolute, eternally unchanging and is above revolutions, upheavals, economic, political and social changes. It is in the truth that explanations for the changes and revolutions lie. Look at the countries of the world. Problems ranging from debauchery, dishonesty, shamelessness, political and economic quagmire are escalating. What we have succeeded in producing is technology of all kinds—aircraft, television, telephones, computers and household utensils to mention only a few —to facilitate life in this world, which is alright, except that they have not taught us to live in peace with ourselves and our neighbours. The inventions themselves were revealed to the simple and natural people who received in their dreams. There are no inventions as such but revelations. Today, however, the revelations are closed to the arrogant man that we are.

It will not be long when the whole world will see that the fall of man came about when he gave pride of place to the cultivation of the cerebrum at the expense of the cerebellum, and that by working assiduously to promote the primacy of the intellect, he has for thousands of years been spreading poison in the world and causing disharmony in Creation—poisoning from where there does not seem to be a way of escape for us mankind, as we are already seeing from day to day in dreadful harvest of our past and present deeds.

I have not addressed the subject fully. An opportunity may yet arise. The purpose of today’s exercise is to invite us into deep contemplation of one of settled notions and concepts, using the occasion Jose’s birthday affords and pay glowing tribute to a great man who permitted a handful of us to sit at his feet to learn and to train. Happy birthday, Sir.”
**This was published in this column 20 December, 1990. Sweet memories run through us to overflowing today as we gather to send loving and prayerful thoughts to him that the Grace and Mercy of the Most High be upon him.


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Babatunde Jose
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