Mr. Mayor Akinpelu is the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Global Excellence magazine. Fun loving and brutally frank, the popular journalist whose friends fondly address as Lord Mayor disclosed how to be comfortable in the profession to YES INTERNATIONAL! Publisher/Editor in Chief, AZUH ARINZE, in his office at Oregun, Ikeja, Lagos. He also opened up like never before on why FAME magazine died, and more…
Ability to identify news; ability to build and sustain contacts and ability to write.
What makes a good publisher?
Ability to identify talents, ability to create an enduring business model and then ability to harness all these variables.
What sells a paper?
Good stories! That is what sells papers. But the difference is that things are so fluid now that it is difficult to actually determine what a good story is. As a publisher, you will know that sometimes you will publish a story that is supposed to be innocuous and then it sells and then you will make so much effort to do a story and you will be surprised that it doesn’t sell. But based on experience, I think sex, gossip and lifestyle sell.
Why do we have too many journalists who are unsuccessful?
The reason is very simple. It is the business environment. Nigeria is a very big country, the population is huge, but the population of buying Nigerians is quite few. So, because of that, there’s not enough revenue generation within the industry. We have brilliant journalists. I was discussing with Mr. B of The News and he was saying that print journalism will die in the next couple of years, which I didn’t really agree with. Because yes, there’s a threat from the social media, but it will still survive. However, there is no doubt that it’s (print media) bleeding. Even abroad where people buy newspapers. Because in the Nigerian context, normally, as a newspaper outfit, you have basically two ways of generating money – from the streets, from your sales and from advert revenue. You will realise that in Nigeria, because of the economic situation, people cannot afford to buy newspapers. It is sad, but that’s the truth. When we were in Prime People, we were doing an average of 140,000, 150,000 copies weekly. We were selling then for N1.50k. So, it was affordable and that’s why you could decide to buy two, keep one for yourself, put one in the pool for anybody that wants to read, so that they won’t disturb you when you are reading. Gradually, it moved to N3, to N10, to N50, now it is N200; some are even N300. So, people cannot afford it. It’s not that exorbitant, but in terms of people’s preferences, N200 or N300 is too high. Why I said preference is because the same people can still spend the same N200 to buy ice cream or buy bottled water. But when you look at newspapers all over the world, it is designed for it to be cheap, to be affordable so that everybody can have access to it. But you now realise that sometimes people want to read, but they will look for other people who have for them to share and all that and when you look at advert revenue, it has dropped. Those days, Sunday Times used to do 600,000 copies. Now, I don’t think that the entire media in Nigeria does 600,000. So, if you can’t make money from the streets and the advert support has dwindled, you have a problem. And when there’s a problem and you don’t generate enough money, then you won’t be able to pay your staff very well. We don’t pay well, not because we don’t want to pay well, but because we cannot afford to pay well. Those who pay very well don’t pay those salaries. They owe salaries for 10 months or one year and it has become an embarrassment and as far as I’m concerned, a salary that you don’t pay does not exist. Yes, because if you are paying huge salaries and you have not paid for one year, as far as I’m concerned, you are not paying anything. So, that’s the problem and because of that journalists now have to depend on other means or businesses to survive.
The reason for that is very simple – journalists are not good businessmen; journalists are idealists, but whether we like it or not, one thing I’ve noticed or one thing I’ve discovered, based on my experience, is that we have a lot of brilliant journalists. Yes! But they are terrible businessmen. They think that 2 + 2 is 4 in the business world, but it doesn’t work that way. So, at every point in time, you must always look at the bottom line. I will give you an example – Dele Olojede is one of the most brilliant journalists in Nigeria. He not only distinguished himself here, he also distinguished himself abroad. But he could not do anything with NEXT! Yet he had the kind of money that no journalist has ever had in Nigeria. He could not sustain it because the business environment here is different from what obtains abroad. What obtains abroad is if you do a damn good paper, you are going to make money; people will support you by buying it and want to read it; advertisers will support it by giving you adverts. Only tabloids abroad do not rely on adverts because a lot of the advert community will not support them; they will rather go for the broadsheets. But what they would lose from adverts, they would gain from sales. So, you will see somebody doing 2 million, 3 million copies a day, which is huge. But here we don’t have that kind of environment. People will not really buy the newspapers and when people do not really buy the newspapers and you have a high cost outlay and you are not making money from the streets and you don’t have enough advert support, how do you survive? It’s not rocket science. So, you will see that you can be successful and then 5 years, 10 years down the line, you cannot sustain that magazine. It’s because of the business environment. Most journalists just want to do a damn good paper. Every other thing to them is secondary. That is why they excel more when they are working under a business environment; a businessman will establish a newspaper, employ people, like in The Guardian setting, and then he’s handling the business aspect of it and the journalists are handling the aspect of producing a damn good paper. Then, the synergy will work. But when you as a journalist, you are the one also overseeing the business aspect of it, except you know what you are doing and at every point in time you continue to look at that business aspect of it, you will just realise that you get frustrated and you have a stillborn baby in your hand.
What must a journalist do to be comfortable?
It’s very simple. Work very hard, build a name, make friends, sustain your contacts. If you have all these, you can never be poor as a journalist. But the problem with a lot of journalists now, especially our younger colleagues, is that they think that making money is blackmailing people; they think that making money is harassing people. You can never make money doing that and I know so. With due respect, I’ve been in this business for so long and in different environments and I know that the secret of surviving as a journalist is what I’ve enumerated. One, if you work very hard as a young journalist, you will make a name for yourself. When you make a name for yourself, people will go out of their way to cultivate you. Not that they like you, but because you’ve been able to make a name for yourself. When they cultivate you, you will be able to make extra income apart from your income. It is not bribe, it is not harassing people, but they will go out of their way to cultivate you. Then, when you have these contacts, you sustain those contacts. And when you sustain those contacts and you have their friendship, you can never lack, because we are talking of people of means and power here and when they are your friends, you may not be very rich, but you will always be very comfortable, because they will be doing things for you. You are already their friend and they trust you. But if you don’t do that, if you don’t work very hard, you think just like a journalist, you are an editor or you write a column and then you go to everywhere and drink free beer and then you make some small money on the side, you buy some few things and you enjoy yourself, yes, you will be able to do that, but you can never be big doing that. I can tell you that. You can only be big when you turn yourself to a brand. I will give you an example – Lanre Alfred is a boy that I like. Just like you.
There are a lot of our young colleagues that I can’t stand; I tolerate them, but I can’t stand them. Because I know that I’ve passed through this route and what they are doing is not how to do this thing. All the friends that I know now, all the people that I know now, I knew them when I was a reporter. My name, my brand is as big as my magazine; if not bigger than my magazine. I didn’t build the brand with the magazine. I built it before the magazine as a reporter and most of my big friends now were people that I knew as a reporter. When we were in Prime People and Vintage People then, our publisher then, Mr. Muyiwa Adetiba, introduced this idea – if you write 3 stories in a week, you will get a bonus. Mr. Kunle Bakare is alive, Mr. Adetiba is alive, so you can ask them. All of us, including one of our friends who is in America now; I’ve forgotten his name. We used to get bonus, because we were always excited to get 3 stories in a week. It is when people read you and they like what you are doing that you become a brand. That is when they will want to associate with you. Everybody loves fame and power, so as a journalist, you may not have money, but you have fame and people will want to key into that fame; they will want to be able to do parties and invite you; they want to tell people that they know you. So, they will go out of their way to cultivate you. But if you are an intelligent man, you will know that what you just have is goodwill. Goodwill is like a bank account, you can cash it. What you need to do is to make sure you guard that goodwill jealously; continue to nurture it. On the long run, when you are not as agile or efficient as you used to be, that goodwill will come in handy. That is the truth. To come back to Lanre Alfred. He used to work with City People, and then he now went to ThisDay. He writes society in ThisDay, and he’s proved himself. He writes very well, his language is very good. He’s lucky though that he has a platform that is very good, because ThisDay is a big brand. He was able to key into that brand and he has a damn good column. He was just writing about the rich and famous. Naturally, they went out of their way to cultivate him. He has put everything he’s been writing into a book, just like the kind of book that you did and when he sent me a card, I was impressed to see Femi Otedola there, Mike Adenuga there, the I.G there, all manner of people. It’s not everybody that can invite those people to events. Even Governors of states have to work really hard to bring all those people under the same roof for an event. But they will oblige him because he has been able to build a name for himself, he has been able to write a damn good column and people like to associate with that. That is how you can do it. I just shudder at the amount he made at the event. It is money earned legitimately because you have worked very hard, you have been able to build a brand, you have been able to come up with the concept of doing a book, have contacts, nurtured those contacts and then it is payback time for those contacts, to show appreciation, to say look, you are our friend, we are proud that you are our friend and we are here to support you. That is how a journalist can make money.
What do you like most about being a journalist?
What you can achieve with it. For example, several times I had wanted to leave because I’m tired, I’m bored. I don’t like doing something for too long and journalism is not giving me the kicks anymore, but I don’t have any other business, so I have to stay. But what I enjoy most about it is that because you are a journalist, you benefit from a lot of things which other professions may not afford you. In other words, you want to see a big man, or you want to see a political figure, he will agree to see you, not because he likes you, but because of what you represent and what you do. People will go out of their way to cultivate you. Not because that is the way they do to everybody, but because of what you do – that you are a journalist. I remember a few years ago when I did my 50th birthday, I did it big, I spent a lot of money, but I made profit because practically everybody was giving me things; giving me a lot of money. So, at the end of the day, I didn’t feel that I had done anything because it was an opportunity for them to show that you are our friend and we appreciate you and we want to support you. Journalism gives you that and that’s what I enjoy most.
What I don’t like about being a journalist is the lack of appreciation of what you are doing. For example, somebody wants to do a wedding ceremony, you will sit quietly in your office, the person will send you an invitation card; that you should come and cover this wedding. You deploy your staff, you spend money and energy to produce that wedding, to celebrate that wedding. You put it on the cover of the magazine – oh, wedding of the year. These people will enjoy it, they will buy copies, give it to friends and family members. Oh, have you seen this magazine this week? Ah, our wedding is there. One year down the line, two years down the line, there’s a problem in that marriage and the marriage collapses! You report it and people will start writing you; people will start phoning you, abusing you, cursing you. I will give you an example. We did a story recently, I am not the editor of the paper, I did not do the story, I was not the one that did the story. But someone sent me a text message, abusing me, telling me that she’s going to kill me; that by the time she finishes with me, I will not recognize my name, I will do this, I will do that. Except I’m not born of a woman. She’s going to use this juju to kill me. I just laughed, because I know that that is the nature of the business. You will attack a government, you will get arrested, you will be detained, but the same people that you fight for, who will sit in their houses and not fight for their rights, who will not even bother to say this is what is going on, will turn back to abuse you and say Nigerian journalists are useless, they have collected bribe, they won’t attack these people. All the things we’ve done, all the sacrifices, all the detentions, all the time we were fighting the military, nobody cares. So, it is the lack of appreciation of what we do. That’s what I don’t like.
Having done a lot of stories in your career, which of them do you still have fond memories of and why?
I will pick two. The first one is the Tejuosho/Okoya wedding. Prior to that time, I was a young reporter. I started my journalism career in The Guardian – The Guardian Express. At The Guardian Express, because it was an evening paper, under Nduka Irabor then, we had a very beautiful team. Everybody from the stable of The Guardian Express then rose to become a publisher. Good team! And Nduka Irabor, excellent editor. But in The Guardian Express then you had to do everything – you have to write society, you have to write business, you have to write entertainment, you have to write crime, you have to write sports, you have to write everything. I spent only a year there and I joined Prime People. As at the time I joined Prime People, Prime People was the hottest; as a matter of fact, it was the only soft sell magazine at that time. Punch, Vanguard still did a little bit of soft sell, unlike now that all weekend papers are soft sell. So, they had the place entirely to themselves and they were enjoying themselves. But what were the kind of stories they were publishing then? We used to call them strange stories and our star reporter then was Oriri Ejeba, Jnr. A metaphysician that would come up with all kinds of ridiculous stories – village where they don’t talk, this one where they have one strange custom and people were enamored by those stories. And I didn’t like those stories! I felt it shouldn’t be like this. So, I went to my publisher, Mr. Muyiwa Adetiba, I said sir, I know that this is our core story, but we can do things differently and I think that I can change this paper. He said what do you have in mind? I said society stories. He said, but would people want to read things like that? I said yes! There’s National Enquirer in America; that’s the largest circulating paper in America. People would read it and Mr. Muyiwa Adetiba now said okay, fine! First, give me a society column. So, I was writing People and Parties. But my first major society story was the Tejuosho/Okoya wedding, when Lanre wedded Moji and we splashed it and it became a hit. And my publisher told me, this is good. Let’s do a follow up. Let us come up with the cost and we did the costing – we said oh, the wedding of the year cost so, so amount of money – the cars, the food, etc and with all humility, the society stories that we do now, that’s how it started. Before then, we were doing strange stories. That’s how we started doing society stories. So, that’s one. The second one is the Ojukwu/Bianca story. Ojukwu/Bianca story because it was huge at that time. Kunle Bakare and I did the story. It was huge at that time and why it was huge was because there was a contact I had then; she was close to Ikemba. We were able to see the lady and the lady was able to get us all the details that we needed. In fact, it was arranged for us to be able to enter the Ikemba’s house and identify where Bianca’s portrait was and we got all the details. Then, Kunle went to the village to go and talk to the family and they were telling us that the story was rubbish; it’s not possible. Bianca then was the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria and I was very close to Ben Bruce and they were telling us that it’s not possible. And eventually when people discovered that it was true, it became a major scandal. Bianca was removed as the Most Beautiful Girl; Bianca’s father went gaga and was mad. Those two stories, I still remember, and they sold! Bianca’s story, I think we did about 150,000 copies.
What is the greatest thing that journalism has done for you?
It has made me to be able to wine and dine with the rich and famous. I’ve met men of power, know them one on one. I’ve been able to do things that normally I wouldn’t have been able to. I’ve been able to do so many things. I have been able to pick a phone and call somebody that normally I wouldn’t have been able to call, if not for what I do. I love the fact that journalism has been able to open a lot of doors for me, which has made my life better and able to pay my bills and all that.
I can’t place my hand on that. I think to be fair; journalism has done practically everything that I wanted. Because I wanted to own my own business, it afforded me that; I wanted to be a major player in the profession, it afforded me that; I wanted to live as well as anybody in any profession, it afforded me that. I will even say that I’m one of the lucky few that journalism has given everything because I know those that went to the same university with me; somebody that read Law and somebody that read Banking; my colleague that works in a bank, and my colleague that’s a lawyer. When you look at it on the average, my lifestyle is as good as anyone else’s in any other profession; based on the people that we started out together. So, I wanted to live well, it afforded me that; I wanted to be a major player in the profession, it afforded me that; I wanted to be an important person, it afforded me that. So, I think journalism has given me everything.
The idea to do FAME, how did you come about it?
It came by accident really. That’s why I tell our reporters, they just want to be famous, they just want to be comfortable without working. As reporters, we will sleep in the office, write so many stories, write a lot of columns created by us. Not that somebody will say go and do this story. I was writing a lot of columns. One of the columns I was writing then was Silver spoon. The idea behind Silver spoon was to interview the sons and daughters of the famous. Because then, remember that I said when I joined, I didn’t like the idea of strange stories. So, what I was doing then was that I would write society and then I will also travel to do some of those strange stories. Somebody would tell you that there’s a story in Ondo State…In fact, there was a time I went to Ondo State to go and interview one woman that lives in the bush like an animal. The woman did something, she was banished and she lived alone in the bush and somebody told us and I travelled and I almost died. But that’s a story for another day. The place is after Igbokoda, so you can only access it with boats and then our boat developed a fault at about 7, 8pm. We were there, abandoned. They were waiting for another boat to come and rescue us and you know when a bigger boat is coming, the waves will upturn the smaller boats and we were almost upturned. So, one of the columns I used to write was Silver spoon – and I interviewed a lot of these big boys now. So, one day, somebody wrote me a letter to say I should come and interview Dr. Iyayi. Dr. Iyayi is the American-trained son of the Iyayi brothers in Benin. He just came from America then to take over the father’s business, so I was told to come and interview him. I travelled to Benin to do that. I was put in a hotel and then we did the interview in the afternoon, in his office or something. In the evening, he came to visit me in the hotel to share drinks and while we were drinking, we were also discussing. I think I was in Prime People or Vintage People then. You know that we moved from Prime People to Vintage People because of the crisis, so we moved the column. He now asked me how much it will take to do a magazine like this. At that time, I said it will cost about N2 million. He now said can we do it together? I will have 50 percent, you will have 50 percent, but you will run the magazine, I will bring the funds. I said oh, beautiful! He now said okay, let’s work on it. So, when I got back to Lagos, I shared the idea with my brother, Kunle Bakare. I said look, this is what I discussed with somebody and that means we can really do something like National Enquirer; let us start planning towards it. So, we started buying National Enquirer to study it. Because the concept of National Enquirer is different from what we do now. The concept of National Enquirer was supposed to be a magazine in a newspaper format, but smaller. And that was what we were planning then. But there was no technology then, unlike now. Because the colour was supposed to be on newsprint. Magazines then used to be on hard paper or bond paper, but newspapers used to be newsprint. That’s why when we started FAME; it came out in black and white. That was how it started. But unfortunately, Dr. Iyayi did not get in touch with me, but the seed had been sown. Already we had started thinking about it; we had started working on it. So, it was in abeyance. Then, it came up again when May Ellen Ezekiel started Classique. May Ellen approached me and said look, she wanted me to work in Classique and I said I cannot leave Mr. Muyiwa Adetiba to join another magazine. She now said Mayor, you see, I like you, you are loyal, I like loyal people and all that. I wanted you, but I like people that can say I’m loyal to this person; I don’t want to leave that person. I now told her that it’s not as if I don’t have ideas of my own; that there’s a magazine that I want to do, it’s just that I couldn’t do it before her. She said if I don’t mind, can I share it with her? I said yes, so I discussed it – a magazine in a newspaper format; what the concept will be. And MEE was excited and she said ah, that is good, that will work, I’m interested. How much are you looking at? Because when it was conceived, it was supposed to be N2 million, we now said okay, since N2 million is not forthcoming, let us look for a million. We will now get five people to bring N200,000 each. MEE said oh, I’m interested; I will talk to Folake. Folake is the wife of Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka. Folake and I will be two, you try and look for three other people that can bring the N600,000. I remember I spoke to Tayo Ayeni, I spoke to a couple of people then. But the problem we had was that we couldn’t get three people, because if I talk to this person and the person agrees and says okay, I will bring my N200,000, by the time I’m talking to another person, he will say who are those in the game? I will say this person and he will say no, I don’t want to work with that person. This one too will say I don’t want to do anything with this person. So, it was in abeyance again. Then, one day, my publisher, Mr. Muyiwa Adetiba – you know then as a publisher, you get invited to all kinds of events. It’s not like now that things are so difficult. Then, almost every day, there must be cocktail and dinners and all that. And because I cover the society beat, I used to represent Mr. Adetiba. So, Mr. Adetiba said there was an event in Xerox and I was supposed to represent him. You know then I was struggling reporter, so I got there late. As I was going in, MEE was coming out. So, MEE just asked me, my brother, how far with that your project? I said I don tire o! That I couldn’t raise the funds and I’ve been everywhere. She said ah, don’t lose hope o! That’s the way it used to be. It is when you least expect, that is when the money will drop; that come and see me in the office, let me give you a note to somebody. So, after that, I went to see MEE, in her office on Allen (in Ikeja, Lagos). I got there, we discussed the profession, we discussed this and that, so many things. Finally, she said let me give you a note to a man – the man is one of my directors; he’s a difficult man o, but he likes media and he might invest. So, she gave me a note to Mr. Tayo Adesanya. I went to see Mr. Adesanya in Victoria Island. I got there on a Friday, he was going for the Jumat service. I said oh, I have a message for you from May Ellen Ezekiel. At that time, he wanted to open one place, so maybe he thought the message was concerning the coverage of that place and all that. So, he just said okay, see my GM. I got to the GM, gave him the letter and when the GM saw that it wasn’t something he could work on, he said you would have to come back. Oga has gone to the mosque. When he comes back, I will discuss with him and we can call you. So, I had to leave to go and pick a cab.
As I was trekking to Eko Hotel, because then I used to move around in chartered cabs. As I was going to Eko Hotel to go and charter a cab, the man saw me as he was coming back from Jumat service. He said young man, have you seen my GM? I said yes sir. He said so, what did you discuss? I said he said I should come back. He said come back for what? Come! We got there, he read the letter and said MEE said you have one fantastic idea, where’s the idea and I showed it to him. I want to do this, I want to do that. He listened and all that. Then, he asked, like how much are you guys looking at? I said N1 million. That we were looking at N2million before, but if we see N1 million, we will do it. He said okay, he will get in touch with me. So, one day like that, we were in Vintage People then; as I got to the office, I got a message from the receptionist that Mr. Tayo Adesanya called and said he will be expecting me tomorrow at V.I. I was excited. So, I just dashed there the following day. When I got there, I was ushered into his office and the man just said, do I have a proposal? I said yes sir. He said I should drop the proposal, so I did. So, when I came back for another appointment, he now said sit down, I sat down and he said well I’ve looked at your proposal, but it can’t work. And you know then I used to be short-tempered. I was not this matured then (Laughs). I used to be very short-tempered. So, I just got angry. I said sir, you mean you invited me from Ikeja to Victoria Island to tell me that it won’t work? I said I don’t like people insulting me. And I stood up and I wanted to leave. He now called me; he said young man, come back, you are too much in a hurry. Sit down! I sat down. He said I did not tell you that I’m not interested, I said it cannot work. He said for example, you said you needed N1 million to do this project. Inside this your N1 million, you didn’t make provisions for cars, you didn’t make provisions for different things. He said no, if you want to do something, do it properly. He said but we are going to have a deal. I said what’s the deal sir? He said I will give you 40 percent, I will take 60 percent. I won’t give you physical cash, but I will give you everything that you need and I will give you N250,00 cash as startup capital. But I will buy everything that you need; don’t bother yourself about that. I think we need about N3, 4 million. We are going to buy cars, we are going to buy circulation vans. Nigeria was still good then, so we were able to buy vans and all that. And N3 million in those days could be about N20 million now. I said fair deal; that I don’t even want to touch money. Give us everything that we need, one month after we will be on the streets. But the only thing is that I want more than 40 percent. We now started negotiating – because at that time we were three. A lot of things had also happened. Initially, it was supposed to be between Kunle and I, then Kunle joined Classique and because MEE was the one that was trying to help me source for the fund, MEE told me that look, you have to leave this man for me. Go and get someone else. She suggested FAJ (Femi Akintunde-Johnson). Go and talk to FAJ. We spoke to FAJ, FAJ agreed and then along the line, Kunle did not like the idea that how can you say that something that I’ve been working on, because I’m working for somebody, I should not be part of it again? That’s how we became three. So, we now agreed and he gave us 45 percent, so that we can have 15, 15, 15 percent each. But because of what happened in Prime People then, I said look sir, we will take the 45 percent, but on one condition. He said what’s the condition? I said it has to be one man, one vote on the board, so it will be three of us and you and your wife. Because I was naïve then, I didn’t understand business then. I thought because we are three, we can always out-vote him. Not knowing that it is the person that has majority shares that owns the company. He owns 55 percent, we own 45 percent and that was how FAME started.
How did you feel when after some years you were eased out of the company?
Extremely disappointed and bitter, I won’t lie to you. I was very bitter! I won’t lie to you. I was very bitter. Bitter, because, like I said again, I was very young then. I didn’t really understand so many things. I was short-tempered. So, because I was the one that conceived the idea and I was the one that raised the funds, though we were partners, I was seeing myself as oga. I was not seeing the three of us as partners. I was seeing it as if it’s my company. I was just throwing my weight around, which the other people didn’t like, especially FAJ. So, instead of the three of us to be tight, I was alone; FAJ and Kunle were tight. Everybody deferred to me, but they didn’t really, really like what I was doing. So, when the chairman decided to have control; chairman too thought that these are young men that I helped to start their own business. I can say this is what I want. So, one day, we got to a meeting and the chairman gave us one employment something to sign. I said sign, for what? Oga, we are not employees, it is our business. We refused to sign, so chairman knew that okay, this one is the hot head there. They out-smarted me, the rest is history and I left. So, I was bitter. I was bitter that look, my friends and partners should have protected me. Which was true, because what I was fighting for was not for myself, but the three of us. Because eventually when I left, the chairman moved again. The chairman first moved against me – this Mayor and his gragra. The best thing is let us remove him. That was how he came about the idea that we should rotate editorship. So, as the Editor/CEO, they just removed the power from me, I left. He now moved against them. The rest is history. Encomium came, FAME died and that was that.
Initially, if you noticed, when I left, I was away for three years. But when there was a problem between Kunle and FAJ on one hand and the chairman on the other hand; they now felt okay, this man, this is where you are going, so they outsmarted him. They were able to convince all the staff, they started Encomium and FAME didn’t come out for about 2 months. The chairman, on his own, couldn’t do it, so overtures were made to me. I went to meet with him and I negotiated with him. My negotiation was that I will come back to do the magazine on only one condition; two reasons actually. One, I don’t want FAME to die, because that was my first project. Secondly, I want to show my colleagues that look, I’m still the master of this game o (Laughs). That was why. So, there was no love-lost between myself and chairman when I went back. I refused to sign any cheque because there were a lot of issues then. I just wanted to do the magazine, do the awards that we were doing and show them that we could come back. But the first day that I went back, I told myself that it’s a 2-year project. Immediately it was 2 years, I resigned and started Global Excellence and the chairman wrote me a very beautiful letter, thanking me for rescuing the magazine; that he respects me a lot and bla, bla, bla. So, it was after we left that they could not cope and they could not cope because he did not do the right thing. For example, if he had pallied us, the magazine would probably have survived. But immediately everybody stepped out, he just forgot about us. We had 45 percent o, but he didn’t bother. Nobody called us for anything and all that and they could not sustain the magazine.
NB: First published December 2013
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