By Shola Osunkeye
My path crossed with Basorun Dele Momodu in June 1989. I had got tired of the federal civil service and I was thinking of a new challenge as well as planning my exit from the laboratory. I had also started planning my retirement from the Nigeria Stored Products Research Institute, NSPRI, Ilorin, where I was a Science Technologist.
Having contributed a few articles to The Herald, in Ilorin, where I met Dapo Olorunyomi, I caught the journalism virus. It went straight into my blood streamline. I never thought twice before I sought admission into the Post-graduate programme of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, NIJ, Lagos. This was in 1988, the year I had my last born, who is now a lawyer/TV journalist.
Luckily, I got admitted into NIJ. Midway into the programme, my friend and classmate at the postgraduate class, Mrs. Dupe Onabanjo, took me to Concord Press of Nigeria, where she introduced me to Chief Mike Awoyinfa, the pioneer Editor of the highly successful Weekend Concord.
That was where I met this phenomenal Nigerian, Dele Momodu, who was then burning newstands across the country with one cover story after another in the irresistible Weekend Concord. His stories were thrillers in print.
Bob Dee, as we call him, would squeeze water out of the rock, when it comes to news. He would turn what many people would consider as insignificant into a masterpiece which entraps you with an intro that reads like the opener of an action movie and hooks you so tight you won’t drop the paper until you have read the last word.
Though he read Yoruba in his first degree at the then University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, this wordsmith stitches words with the power of an alchemist, turning what the uninitiated see as base things to gold; the kind of masterpiece you cut and store in the safest corner of your library.
No issue is too hard for Dele to turn to gold, a precious piece you want to keep forever.
His style? I can’t find the appropriate word to describe Dele’s style. Very articulate, he could be chatty one moment, then compendious or conversational in another. Other times, he could be emphatic or epigrammatic. Whatever style he choses to tell his story, he does so with panache, using flowery language to dismantle the most complicated of issues. No matter the style, Dele makes words sing. Words wax lyrical at his command.
Oh, I almost forgot this: his column-Pendulum. You may not agree with him all the time, but this genuis does not monkey with words. Never circuitous or rhetorical, he gives it to you with strong effects; punchy.
There are so many angles to this celebrated journalist, publisher, media entrepreneur and philantropist that time and space won’t permit me to write. Indeed, I can write a book on this wonderful human being without stress. But permit me to save it for another day.
Now, Ladies and gentlemen, raise your glass and let us toast to Basorun Dele Momodu as he joins the Elders Club, CLUB 60 today.
Big congratulations, my dear brother. May God bless your new age sir. May He grant you long life in health, ceaseless blessings, endless joy, divine protection and peace that transcends all understanding.
Happy birthday, Bob Dee. Igba odun, odun kan ni o. Ire kabiti.
-Shola Oshunkeye is the President/CEO, The Crest Publishing and Entertainment Company Limited