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At DAME 2021, Bonuola laments activities of social media, insists on regulation of industry

By Gregory Austin Nwakunor
21 December 2021   |   3:10 am
The former Managing Director of The Guardian, Mr. Oyinlade Bonuola, popularly known as Ladbone, has called on the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and the Nigeria Union of Journalists..

President, Africa Public Relations Association, Yomi Badejo-Okusanya (left); Principal Consultant/Chief Executive, NECCI Limited, Nkechi Ali-Balogun; President, Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Mallam Mukhtar Sirajo; Chairman, Lagos Chapter, NIPR, Comfort Obot Nwankwo; immediate past Chairman, Segun Mcmedal and Yeye Agnes Sobajo at the Lagos PR Industry Gala and Awards LAPRIGA 2021 in Lagos… Saturday. PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI

The former Managing Director of The Guardian, Mr. Oyinlade Bonuola, popularly known as Ladbone, has called on the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and the Nigeria Union of Journalists to do something to regulate the industry.

He spoke at the 30th Diamond Award for Media Excellence (DAME), which held on Sunday, December 19, 2021 at the Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON) Centre, Onikan, Lagos.

At the event, where he was honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award for his immense contributions to the media, he lamented the activities of social media, which have threatened journalism profession.

Recalling the spate of fake news that has taken over the country, especially, from the social media, he called on the three professional bodies to do something about it.

“We must go and learn how they do it elsewhere,” he said. “I want to tell practitioners never to be tired of re-examining our business.”

He is also hopeful of the return to thatera where sub-editors had power “to alter headlines, rewrite” and had authority to check facts.

While dedicating his award to Alhaji Babatunde Jose, Alex Ibru and Segun Osoba, he commended the tenacity of Lanre Idowu, the brain behind DAME award that has gone on for 30 years.

He said, “it is not easy to organise such a programme year-after -year.”
He also commended the corporate world for sustaining the project.

According to the organisers of DAME, Bonuola was given the award “for his commitment to responsible journalism evidenced in his output in the last 50 years. In him, we see a defender of professional standards, an advocate of a strong and responsible media, a courageous patriot, who is ever ready to lend his voice to the search for meaning and morality in public life.”

The statement continued, “there is a pastoral air to Mr. Oyinlade Bonuola, which understates the depth of his pen. He is so simple you can miss him in a crowd. As editor of The Guardian and later the managing director, he walked hurriedly as if it was sinful to have a leisurely walk. Eager to deliver the paper on a daily basis to its audiences without compromising its integrity, he was a man who had little time for fritter away. From the work force, he demanded earth-shaking stories that would make the reader call more and more for The Guardian.”

EDUCATED at Ijebu Ode Grammar School, and trained as a sub-editor at the Daily Times, “he belonged to old puritanical school of letting your work speak for you. There, away from the limelight of the reporter, he was part of the standard-enhancing team that polished raw copies of reporters into bright gems that kept the reader asking for more. His stint on the features desk brought him some recognition but the transforming period in his career came with the birth of the influential column, Caught out; A critical look at The Nigerian Press, in the late 70s. There, he brought out all the years of training received at The Times and in the UK on the use of language, the packaging of news stories as the credible interpreter of the day’s intelligence. Readers looked forward to it in The Sunday Times under the editorship of Tunji Oseni. Colleagues studied it. An early attempt at media accountability had begun.”

From the Daily Times, Bonuola moved to The Guardian in 1982. Together with the likes of Dr. Stanley Macebuh, Messrs Femi Kusa, Ted Iwere, Sonala Olumhense, Onwuchekwa Jemie, Ladbone transformed rookies into respected news hunters and opinion molders as The Guardian redefined newspaper in Nigeria.

Starting out as the Associate Editor, later Editor, Editor-In-Chief, Managing Director, and Executive Consultant, Bonuola spent almost two decades at The Guardian giving his all to Nigerian journalism. From The Guardian, he left to start The Comet in a second attempt to groom a new corps of committed journalists and expand the frontiers of Nigerian journalism. The effort was not as successful as the previous one at The Guardian. He was for a season, publisher of Nigerian Compass before settling into the life of a consultant and columnist.

The revolution of ideas, which Bonuola and others began at The Guardian, remains alive. The army of disciples they trained and mentored has continued to shape and direct the path of the Nigerian media in more ways than one.

DAME honoured its first set of Lifetime Achievers in 2007 with three giants in the profession, Babatunde Jose, Alade Odunewu and Sam Amuka. Since then, the list has continued to grow. The late Publisher of The Guardian, Dr. Alex Ibru, was honoured at the 20th edition in 2011. Bonuola is the 29th awardee.

Sir Folu Olamiti, Gbenga Omotosho and Gbenga Adefaye were named the first honourees of DAME Fellowship awards.

ALSO speaking, Lanre Idowu said the journey started on March 20, 1992 in Lagos.
While speaking on the award, Idowu said over the years, “what the scheme has been doing falls squarely on the need to appreciative efforts of individuals.”

“The culture of appreciation remains important to building self-belief and encouraging best practices in our society. That means the younger ones will have role models to emulate, people to look up to and where that is replicated beyond the media across different sectors,” Idowu said.

He added, by this, “the society that will be the winner for it.”

OUT of the 24 categories advertised this year, 13 were not given out because the panel of judges felt they could not find deserving winners for them.

The Guardian emerged winner of Child Friendly medium, because of what the organisers said was the newspaper’s treatment of issues concerning children.

They noted that the paper was chosen not because of the child friendly mentions in the paper, but entire reportage and editorials, which lament the plight of Nigerian child.

The daily was also second runner up in five other categories, namely the Best Designed Newspaper and Best Designed Media website, Editorial Writing, Newspaper of The Year and the Editor of The Year.

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