Gbolabo Ogunsanwo, former Editor of Sunday Times, a great columnist who coined the words, “Tarka me I will Daboh you,” and “cement armada” whose death has attracted reactions from Nigerians, battled with stroke at the end of his life.
This was revealed by Tunde Rahman, a spokesman to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Rahman, in his reaction to a tribute written by Tunde Ipinmisho, another former Editor of Sunday Times, wrote:
“Thanks for this tribute Mr. Ipinmisho. I knew and had a profound relationship with Oga Ogunsanwo. I’m not too competent to talk about his journalism career, though I heard and read of his great exploits, of his brilliance. He was that Sunday Times Editor under whose watch the paper recorded close to a million sale every Sunday. I also read a few of his past articles.
I was quite young when he was editor and did not meet him when I joined DTN in 1991. But I could talk about his warmth and humaneness. He related to me more like we were professional mates, though the gaps in age and journalism brilliance were evident. After reading one of my articles on one occasion, he humored me, saying he did not know some beautiful prose-writers were still around.
When he took ill some three years ago, he reached out to me and I reached out to H.E. Asiwaju Tinubu who offered advice on the ailment and supported him heavily. That support was from Asiwaju’s pocket. Asiwaju also asked me to do a letter to Gov. Ambode to draw attention to his plight. The governor also did the needful in foreign currency. There were some complications later which he was managing. Only last week, however, Oga called me to say he had developed full stroke. He was as sharp and witty as ever. We lost him. May his soul rest well in the bosom of the Lord.
May we be blessed with more of his ilk in our noble profession.”
Tributes to Ogunsanwo
Like confetti, tributes have been pouring on Ogunsanwo from different quarters. Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State said Ogunsanwo “really exemplifies excellence, courage and forthrightness that our State is known for. Indeed, he was a role model that nurtured many reporters who have also become legends in the pen-pushing and leaders in other spheres. He carried himself with dignity and was considered as conscience of modern Nigeria.”
Chief Tola Adeniyi, another veteran, 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.”
Aremo Segun Osoba told NewsmakersNG in 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.
In the words of Chief Ebenezer Babatope: “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.”
Eric Teniola also told newsmen: “Ogunsanwo 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 punchy.
“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.”