One of the very first topics that a rookie into Journalism profession is introduced to is headline casting. The topic is treated in both News writing and Graphic Communication classes. I do not know what the syllabus of Mass Communication looks like now, but that was the situation about two decades ago when I cut my journalism teeth in the department of Mass Communication, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic,Abeokuta.
Then,what is special about headline?It is the most important part of any piece of writing – whether it is an article, newsletter, sales copy, blog entry, web page, email etc. The headline is your first and sometimes only chance to get a reader in your writing.The headlines appeal to the readers and they read the news below if they find the headline interesting enough.
When your are writing about the person who has cast thousands of headlines that sell, especially on a particular day when many people will have so much to write about his exploits in the field journalism, you need to put on a thinking cap in casting a head for your article which will earn it enough traffic.It was hercluean task for me before I could come up with the headline of this article. However, I must confess the above head of my article is not really original but an adaptation of one of the writings of Peter Enahoro aka Peter Pan who edited Daily Times at a very relative age of 23.Peter Pan while explainig that his entrance into journalism profession was an accident because he didn’t deliberately chose to be a journalism, he came out with a dramatic headline :”Journalism chooses me”
So,when Egbon Tunde announced on social media with a banner headline “GOD BROUGHT ME TO GOLD, HBD, TUNDE”,my first reaction was:”So, Egbon Tunde is 50?,I soliloquised.”But he does not look it,golden age must have chosen him just as Journalism chose Peter Pan”,I added, still soliloquising.
I have known Egbon Tunde, long before I was opportune to meet him.More than two decades ago, Punch created a special news page,tagged “ALAUSA ROUNDABOUT “,It was as if the page was created for him because his stories always filled the page. Through the number of stories he supplied for the page, I saw in him an hardworking and a dedicated journalist.Unconscioulsy,I begin to develop likeness for him and see in him a mentor.Egbon Tunde may not know this, his stories then greatly influenced my literary skill. At that material time, there was also a page for Young ones in The Punch named “Young Punchers’ Club” coordinated by CHINWE Ogbuka aka Aunty Chy-Chy. I was a regular contributor to that page and as a matter of fact, the articles I contributed formed the larger content of the book I published when I was in ND 2 in Mapoly;”A CONVERSATION WITH MY PEN” I have Egbon Tunde to thank for this because each time I read his stories in “Alausa Roundabout “I was encouraged to also write more for the “Young Punchers’ Club page”
Despite the fact that I was a regular visitor to the former head office of Punch newspaper at 1,Kudeti street, Mangoro bus stop,Ikeja Lagos, either as guest of my brother, Mr Olalekan Ajetunmobi, who worked in the Mechanical department or on the invitations of Aunty Chy-Chy,yet I was unable to had physical meeting with Egbon Odesola.On number of occasion, I had cause to inquire about him from the likes of late Ola Ogundolapo,Mr Adeosun the then Features Editor now Saturday Editor of The Nation newspaper, Mr Josuah Agbeniga, Circulation Manager and his successor, Mr Tomi Olorunsola but they always told me that “Tunde is not on seat”.
Our very first robust meeting came years later courtesy Uncle Leo Awoyemi, former member House of Rep.Egbon Tunde and Uncle Leo enjoy robust relationship as Almuni of University of Lagos and members of one of the “social organizations” in Unilag. We met at Uncle Leo’s house where he (Uncle Leo) introduced me to him(Egbon Tunde) as “Tunde, meet Aljazeera (Uncle Leo hardly calls me by my name, he uses the name of the magazine I edit to address me),my Son”.I approached our meeting that day with caution because my mind had been polluted against him as arrogant person, bully and bossy. But through my interactions with him that day and subsequent ones, he emprerically proved his detractors wrong. Tunde Odesola is a jolly good Egbon. Egbon Oyesiku Adelu has spoken the truth when he wrote in his birthday message that:”Tunde Baba.
Happy golden anniversary to a wonderful friend, a colleague of solid character, unwavering advocate of justice, erudite colomnist, quintessential journalist and an uncommon patriot. Never chamelionic, never amoebic, Tunde, your straightness of character is worthy of emulation. God bless you eternally, friend.” I could no less agree with Oye Magandy who himself is no less in short supply of the adjectives he used for his friend.
From “Alausa Roundabout ” to Ondo State Correspondent to Osun State Correspondent and back to the headquarters as Political Editor, succes follow Egbon Tunde Odesola in his chosen career.His wits and humours coupled with clarity of expression and hardworking are some of the ingredients that got him to the top and earned him more than enough friends and Of course, few enemies too. But when we are proud of his enviable and checkerd career, hoping that his restless but talented journalistic enterprise will one day earn him a substantive post of Editor of Punch newspaper, Egbon Tunde disappointed us. He resigned.He stopped the music when we are still very much enjoying the melody.For me, that is a personal loss.And I’m bitter against his decision,though the explanation he offered me when I made enquiry showed that he is one person that puts family first.
But why the disappointment?What informed my bitterness? About a decade ago, I read memoir of late Ismail Babatunde Jose, arguably the most successful Journalist that this country has ever produced. Jose, the first indigenious editor of Daily Time(when Daily Times was Daily Times), in his autobiography, WALKING ON A TIGHT ROPE documented his journalistic exploits which he likened to walking on a tight rope especially as it related to his relationship with Sir Ahamdu Bello, Chief Ladoke Akintola, Chief Nnmadi Azikwe and the politics of first republic generally. I see in Egbon Tunde what Jose told us about himself in that book. I patiently waited for the day you will also treat us to your exploits as Editor of Punch newspaper, but unfortunately that day will never come. You have denied us the opportunity.
But it is your decision and if that is what will make you happy, so be it. But one thing you owe some of your admirers is that our own Tunde Odesola must not just be cosnigned to dustbin of anynomity. Just like some of your colleagues who left journalism did, e.g Wale Adebanwi,formely of NigerianTribune but now a Rhode professor of Race Studies at prestigious Oxford University, United Kingdom,your name must continue to ring bell, if not in journalism but in academic.In no too long a year, I want to be addressing you as Professor Tunde Odesola.
Egbon, that is my singular wish for you on the occasion of your 50th birthday.
*Dawood Ajetunmobi writes in from the Nigerian Law School, Enugu Campus*