WHY I’LL BE ETERNALLY GRATEFUL TO TUNJI BELLO – TOP JOURNALIST, LOUIS ODION
Former Edo State Commissioner for Information and multiple award winning journalist, Louis Odion, says he will forever be grateful to his erstwhile boss at the defunct Concord Newspapers, now Secretary to the Lagos State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello.
And he gave his reasons thus:’…somebody like me wouldn’t have had any opportunity in journalism if I hadn’t met people like Tunji Bello, Dele Alake, Nsikak Essien, Lanre Arogundade and Taiwo Ogundipe. Those were the people who really gave me the opportunity in journalism.
‘The first time I went to Concord, that was 1991, I was seeking employment. I went to Weekend Concord, that’s Mike Awoyinfa’s office. He was the Editor then. Before then, I was the Editor of Campus Press in Ado Ekiti, where I had my OND. When I was on campus, I was like a celebrity. I had all kinds of awards. I did photocopies of all those certificates. I kept all the stories and tendered them when I applied for the job. But when Mike Awoyinfa read the stories I brought, he wasn’t impressed. In fact, he tore the scripts in my presence.
‘But I wasn’t discouraged, and so I approached another Editor who was a Features Editor then in National Concord, Lanre Arogundade. Whenever he got my scripts, he published them. Any article I brought to him, he was always publishing to the extent that when I was doing my Industrial Training at Sunday Concord, I was being published by National Concord. Lanre would publish my scripts on Monday, Tuesday and Friday. On Wednesday, we had Midweek Concord that was edited by Taiwo Ogundipe. I was also being published there.
‘So, in a week, I could publish up to five feature stories. So, gradually, my fame rose within Concord. Eventually, the Editor of National Concord called me and asked me why I didn’t want to join them. I told them to give me time to think about it. I consulted people and they said I was still young, that I should go back to school, get my HND or a degree. So, I came back to him and told him I still wanted to go back to school. He now told me that I should go and get university admission, that Concord would offer me scholarship. But eventually I had to pay my way through.
‘Then, when I was schooling, I was fortunate to have someone like Tunji Bello who was my Editor. The fact that I was schooling and working wasn’t easy, because some of my superiors mounted pressure on me. They always said ‘you think you can eat your cake and have it, better go and face your school or face your work full time’.
‘But my boss, Tunji Bello, always encouraged me. I was growing educationally; my career was also growing. So, I was able to juggle two things together…’
Born 44 years ago, the one-time Editor at ThisDay, The Sun and National Life, after his graduation from the Mass Communication department of UNILAG, also bagged a Master’s from the same institution. Blessed with three children – Ewan, Louis Jnr and Joshua, to succeed in journalism, he adds, one must have these:’Passion for the job and talent…element of luck and you have to be at the right place at the right time. I would like to tell you my own experience when I was in Concord.
‘I joined with OND. Then, along the line, I enrolled at University of Lagos for a degree programme. By the time I finished in 1999, there was a vacuum in the establishment. Dele Alake, who was the Editor of National Concord then had been appointed Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy. Tunji Bello who was the Editor of Sunday Concord was appointed Editor, National Concord.
‘Kayode Komolafe was appointed Editor, Sunday Concord. So, they were searching for a Deputy. Then, the issue came up at the management meeting and they said this Louis guy, he is very productive and somebody said he only has OND and I was so fortunate that I rounded off in May and this vacuum was created in June. UNILAG had released our results then. So, someone now said he just graduated from UNILAG, he’s a graduate now.
‘There and then, they made me the Deputy Editor. So, what I am saying is that if I hadn’t gone back to school to equip myself educationally, I would have missed that opportunity. So, I was at the right place at the right time. As journalists, we need to keep equipping ourselves, improving ourselves and acquiring knowledge…’
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