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ODESOLA @50 by Omooba Wale Olayemi

The Yorubas are wise in their lineage when they say, “Bi a ti wa aye pe a ri na la ri”.

In a country where the life expectancy is put at 47, it takes the
grace of God for anyone to cross that threshold and hit the golden
age. In essence, when you are privileged to be counted among the lucky ones, it calls for thanksgiving and celebration.

So when my buddy and confidant, Isaac Babatunde Odesola hit gold recently, I thought putting pen to paper to celebrate what he stands for would be an easy one. But that was not to be the case.

As members of the fraternity of the pen, our path crossed in the
course of journalism practice. And without much ado, we bonded right from the word go because we both subscribed to people oriented journalism and concern for the human condition.

Tunde is deep, articulate, engaging and fearless. These qualities
could be situated within the context of his background. He was raised in the finest tradition of the family by a disciplinarian father and aprayer warrior mother who were deeply rooted in the Baptist church.
At an impressionable stage of his life, this rebel with a cause chose to walk where angels fear to tread. He was not particularly
comfortable with rules and conventions. Cast in the mould of
non-conformists, he found a wayfarer in Patrick Henry, whose love forfreedom and liberty, led to his demand, “Give me liberty or give me death”.

This free spirit gave birth to a passion for justice and fight for an
egalitarian society. He is not afraid of standing alone as long as he is driven by conscience that he is on the right track.
Unlike others, Odesola took his journalism seriously. For him, the opportunities offered by journalism to change society are enormous. In essence, more than a profession, journalism for him is a calling
through which social transformation and the ultimate good of the whole could be achieved.
Never to acquiesce or cringe before a demagogue, he pokes his fingers in the eyes of men of power and suffers no fool gladly. In his
encounters with power, his gaze is fixed permanently on just one singular thing – the public interest.

I could recollect a story be told of a prominent politician who complain bitterly about one of his stories that he felt did not serve his political interest. According to him, he replied him that as long as the story served the interest of the public, that was all that matters to him.

When he was the Correspondent for Punch in Osun, he was seen largely as an enfant terrible by politicians who cannot predict on whose headhis Sword of Damocles will fall, especially during the weekends, when his deep and incisive features on the political situation in the stateshit the news stand smoking hot. 

 In our discussions and engagements, one thing that often comes up like a recurring decimal was the diminishing quality of journalism practice pin our country. 

Odesola was persuaded that as herculean as the problem looks, it could be tackled by nurturing a new generation ofoethically-conscious and well-trained reporters through mentoring. To fulfill this dream, he has mentored quite a number of journalists who came across him through their mandatory internship programme.

Like all who are rebel for a cause, Tunde is a complex character who has the capacity to switch from one mood to another without necessarily causing a collateral damage. But mind you, if you cross the line, he would not hesitate to deploy his deadly venom on you without the baiting of an eyelid.

And coming from a descendant of hunters/warriors, he is not one to run away from a fight if need be. He will always meet you at your level.

As a fighter for social order and justice, he would readily employ his pen with the full compliments of words in his arsenal in his quest to get justice for the underdog or whenever he spots an impunity or infraction that is capable of hurting the society.

He is compassionate and generous almost to a fault. If you belong to his inner circle of friends, he has almost an inelastic tolerance for your excesses and would make an excuse to cover your shortcomingsbefore others.

As this rare breed turns 50, I salute his courage of conviction,
doggedness and an unusual commitment to humanity.

I congratulate Ayinba Fisgoge, the wonderful kids and the Odesola clan for tolerating this man and coping with his excesses.

My friend and brother, I welcome you to the GOLDEN AGE.

 I am so sure that your best is yet to come. Aluta continua. Victoria acerta.

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