So many Nigerians have been paying tribute to the late editor of Sunday Times and a celebrated columnist, Gbolabo Ogunsanwo, who died at 75.
Ogunsanwo died on Friday in Lagos after a brief illness. Some of those who have paid tribute to the late Sunday Times Editor were Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, and leading lights in Nigerian journalism, namely former Ogun State Governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba; ex-Minister of Transportation, Chief Ebenezer Babatope; a former manager of training at the Daily Times, Chief Tola Adeniyi; and another veteran journalist, Mr Eric Teniola.
A statement by Kunle Somorin, Chief Press Secretary to Abiodun, on Friday, said Ogunsanwo rose to the peak of his career as the “first editor to hit one million copies in sales per edition.”
Abiodun also described the late journalist as a witty columnist, urging current media practitioners to find comfort in the good works of the deceased.
“He really exemplified excellence, courage and forthrightness, which our state is known for. Indeed, he was a role model that nurtured many reporters who have also become legends in pen-pushing and leaders in other spheres,” the statement quoted the governor as saying.
Abiodun said Ogunsanwo would be sorely missed and prayed that God should receive his soul and comfort his family.
Adeniyi described the late journalist as brilliant and intellectually sound, adding that his death was a shock to him and that the media industry would miss him.
He also noted that the late editor was a creative writer, who coined words “out of ordinary things” in his writings.
Adeniyi, who said he had spoken to the family members of the deceased, stated that the Nigerian media would greatly miss the late journalist.
He said, “He was a humourist. His writings were both intellectually and scholarly sound. He died on Friday in Lagos on his way to the hospital. He was the editor of the Sunday Times and also acting editor of The Daily Times in 1974.
“During his time as the editor, the paper was selling between 950,000 and one million copies in a day. It was unprecedented.
“We would miss him. The media industry has lost a colossus.”
Osoba said on a telephone conversation that Ogunsanwo’s death was “most unfortunate.”
“He was a dynamic and go-getter journalist; one of the greatest writers of his time. May his soul rest in perfect peace,” he added.
Babatope said he was shocked by the news of Ogunsanwo’s death, adding, “He was a true friend of mine. It’s a bad day for me. I’ve been down since I heard about the death of Gbolabo. It’s terrible. May his soul rest in peace!
“He made a tremendous contribution to the progress and development of Nigeria. Gbolabo was a true Nigerian. He loved his country. He wrote very well. He had a beautiful column in the Sunday Times of old, called ‘Life with Gbolabo Ogunsanwo’. It was a very beautiful column he was writing at that time. Nobody can fault everything that Gbolabo Ogunsanwo did to aid the progress and development of Nigeria. We are all going to die; we are all getting old, but we should pray for the repose of the soul of Gbolabo Ogunsanwo. We pray that God should bless his soul and bless his memories.”
Teniola said that the late Ogunsanwo was a versatile journalist and columnist.
He said, “He featured prominently during the Yakubu Gowon era. He operated mostly between 1972 and 1976. He wrote mostly on political views and was against corruption. He had a powerful column in the Sunday Times, though he was also the editor of the paper. At that time, there were very powerful columnists in Sunday Times but his writings were unique because they were spirited.
“But he devoted the last five years of his life to working for God; he was into church activities. He was a nice gentleman and had a lot of powerful friends. He kept his friends till he died. He was an incorruptible man; I remember he was asked to become the publicity secretary of a political party and after spending about a week, he left. He said he could not operate in that environment. So, he was a very principled man. He was a dogged writer and was a very powerful one. He became an editor at a very young age, shortly after he left university.
“Most of the writings that we remember now were written about 45 years ago. He didn’t like violence, though he was a radical writer. Having a column at that time was a powerful thing, so you can imagine what he was writing at that time to have been made an editor and have had a powerful column at a young age. He had a mastery of the English language.”
The late Ogunsanwo was generally described as taking Sunday Times to a height never reached thereafter by any weekly paper in Nigeria. He was said to have belonged to a small circle of ethical journalists whose style of writing ruffled bad leaders and earned him the respect of the public. After a visit to Tanzania, while Julius Nyerere was the president of the East African country, Ogunsanwo reportedly returned home and berated Nigerian leaders. He faulted their flamboyant lifestyles, condemning how some Nigerian politicians looted public funds to build private empires, in comparison to the moderate lifestyle of Nyerere.