At Ijebu Ode Grammar School, Ademola Osinubi was an all-round Arts student, who dreaded figures and translated his dislike for his Mathematics teacher to the subject. He loved the sight of uniforms, his school uniform, his parents’ uniforms as health professionals, and military uniforms. When he left school in 1972, his love for uniform endeared the military to him. He thought of joining the Nigerian Army. And he worked towards it.
Fate, however, had a different plan for him. An advertisement from the Nigeria Institute of Journalism appealed to his strong literary skills, and he applied, still thinking of keeping himself occupied, whilst awaiting admission into the Nigerian Defence Academy. The NIJ admitted him to study for a short-term course in sub-editing. He found the programme so enjoyable that he entered for the more demanding two-year professional and academic diploma programme, which included an industrial attachment, which took him to the Daily Times. By 1976, he was ready for the job market and the Punch, established as a weekly in 1973, employed him in readiness to go daily in 1976.
From the reportorial cadre where he was an airport correspondent in 1976, and chief reporter in 1978, to his emergence as the Group News Editor in 1985, Deputy Editor in 1986, and later as the pioneer editor of the Saturday Punch, editor of the Sunday Punch, and the Punch, Osinubi built the reputation of a diligent worker. He credits the early influences on some of the elders he worked with and those, elsewhere who served as sources of inspiration. In the former category are the likes of Sam Amuka, the first managing editor of Punch, and publisher of Vanguard newspapers, Sola Odunfa, former editor of The Punch and Jibade Fasina-Thomas, the first editor of the Sunday Punch. In the latter are the likes of Peter Enahoro, Segun Osoba, the late duo of Gbolabo Ogunsanwo and Andy Akporugo.
His career in journalism spanned the second Golden Age of Nigerian journalism – the 1970s through the 1990s – in Dickensian-speak, ‘the best of times and the worst of times’; over two decades mostly under military rule, and two decades of uninterrupted civilian administration.
In this period, journalists and the news industry were tested; only the gritty, the innovative and the competent survived; some prospered, but many fell by the wayside. As a reporter, newsroom strategist, editor, and manager, Ademola Osinubi passed the tests of competence, integrity, and excellence. As a manager in a turbulent industry, he and the board of The PUNCH nurtured a corporate entity that broke bounds amid the crashing of many other news outlets.
As a professional, he experienced the burgeoning of the newspaper business during the military, when practising journalism was fraught with arrests, sometimes closure, and proscription of publications. Yet, the media held its head, and PUNCH was in the thick of it, reporting where many feared to tread and speaking truth to power.
Shut down several times by different military administrations, the paper always bounced back. During these travails and the general adverse operating environment, Osinubi proved his mettle as a manager. He and the emeritus Chairman of The PUNCH board, Chief Ajibola Ogunshola, are credited with rescuing the company when internal and external turmoil threatened its very survival. It fell on him to translate and execute the board’s vision and policies on a day-to-day basis.
Under his superintendence, The PUNCH titles excelled, setting standards and winning laurels at home and abroad. For example, as the editor-in-chief, The Punch has won the DAME Newspaper of the Year prize a record thirteen times in the 22 years that DAME has offered it.
A stickler for professionalism, and prudent management, the financial success of The PUNCH today and its reputation for reliable reporting, critical analysis, and hard-hitting intervention in the public space are part of legacies for which he and Chief Ogunshola are credited.
As a manager, he took hard decisions necessary to keep the business going. Those who worked with him appreciate his humaneness. He shares the belief that journalists deserve to be well remunerated and provided with all the modern tools they need to work. This extended to the heavy investment in printing and other production equipment in which The PUNCH stayed ahead of its competitors. The multibillion-naira PUNCH PLACE edifice at Magboro on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway that is the envy of competitors is a testament to this visionary bearing.
The Trustees of DAME see Osinubi, 67, as a study in loyalty and single-minded commitment to a cause and acknowledge his lifetime devotion to responsible journalism evidenced in his 46-year media career. In him, they see an advocate of a free, strong, and responsible media, a defender of professional standards, and a courageous patriot who has demonstrated great strength of character at momentous phases in the history of Nigeria and of its media.
The Diamond Awards for Media Excellence Trust Fund is delighted to name Ademola Osinubi, a knight of John Wesley of the Methodist Church, outstanding reporter, accomplished media manager, and a legal practitioner as the recipient of its Lifetime Achievement Award for 2022.
-Idowu is the Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Awards for Media Excellence