THE ENTRY OF Ayo Oshitelu into sports reporting was bound to bring one or two changes into the art of sports writing. Very seldom had the Ivory Tower released a choice product from its dizzy heights straight into the "Arena" of sports.
Apart from the incomparable Nnamdi Azikiwe, not very often had university graduates gravitated to the lowly sports desk while the editorial desk and various correspondent positions of a more prestigious flavour beckoned. But Ayo Oshitelu wanted to write sports. And how!
First of all, of course, he loved sports. He had the advantage of attending schools which had a history of grand sports activities, and he lived in the environment of such a school even in his younger days. He therefore played a variety of games.
He was a sturdy goal keeper, a dependable cricketer, and a passionate tennis player--both the lawn and the ping-pong types. He was also a natural competitor, ever willing to confront challenges and excel. It all came to him naturally. He shone without any flamboyance but with a compelling brilliance.
Apart from a fluid and unpretentious style free of the professional jargon of the day, Oshitelu infused a tone of propriety and integrity into his reports and commentaries. He made this point boldly in an incident which involved the fortunes of Nigeria against Ethiopia in a qualifying match for an international competition.
The entire sports-writing cadre of the Nigerian press was up in arms against Ethiopia over the issue--except Ayo. He told it like he saw it, and stuck to his guns.
He left many of his colleagues stunned, but they had to gradually subscribe to his position which was that patriotism was one thing, but honesty was another. It was not just "my country, right or wrong", but really "my country, right and wrong".
Some men are gentle, by nature. Some others are gentlemen, in stature. Oshitelu was a gentle, gentleman. His venture into politics was occasioned by the opportunities he saw that it offered for sound community development, especially among the youth.
But politics was definitely not his speed, least of all, the cutthroat Nigerian brand. All the same, he set a tone that others may find as a worthy legacy.
I shall miss him, of course. Grand sports writer, decent gentleman and pleasant company, but above all, he was a benefactor to me personally. I had retired as the General Manager of Radio Lagos in good circumstances and, one might say, I was somewhat fulfilled.
But I still had a yen for writing, and felt that sports beckoned for the employment of the experience I had garnered over the years of reporting on radio, and organizing in football, and boxing and table tennis etc.
So I approached several of those I identified as colleagues though they were really junior to me in the profession.
To a man, they turned me down. If I had needed that activity for financial sustenance, the negative reception I received might have been enough to cause a mental breakdown.
But then Ayo Oshitelu came on the scene. I had not even gone directly to him. Rather, I had gone to his editor who was much closer to me but had turned down my request to write sports for his paper. Ayo was the Sports Editor and was scandalized when he heard about it. He went and confronted the editor -- who shall be nameless --with me in tow.
He informed the gentleman that, as the man in charge of sports, he would take full responsibility for my tenure in the sports page and should be left with the decision. He went to bat for me in no uncertain manner, in a way that almost brought tears to may eyes. It was one of the most moving moments of my life.
That was how I came back into the media, first with sports and then with other themes. It was all through the effort of Ayo Oshitelu who never took the slightest advantage for it, and kept calling me egbon (big brother) till the last.
Today my heart Overflows with gratitude to God for his beautiful life,and the way it impacted on mine. God grant him eternal rest. - for another sixty years
Pundits generally agree in the United States, that the race for the White House in 2016 began the day after the end of the race for 2012 ended in favour of Barak Obama for his second presidency term.
The brouhaha over the "Fiscal Cliff' which is a term underlining the timeliness required for the determination of a tax law that would, in this case, shed a brilliant light on the Obama administration was part of the manifest action involved in the effort of the Democrats and the Republicans to acquire the pole position in the race.
There were no posters or rallies. But every stakeholder was aware of the swirling current beneath the apparently smooth surface.
The ripples on the surface of our political movement here is more telling. The turmoil within the party which holds sway at the National Assembly cannot but affect the climate of our politics generally. The Peoples Democratic Party does not possess the reputation of a calm nature in its operations.
Even so, the contention that seems to bedevil each organizational procedure of the party in normal times has now developed horns.
We must agree that a lot is wrong with the structure and future of a political party which boasts of the highest number of members in the country--and probably even on the Continent--when it cannot successfully hold an election of its Board of Trustees, a matter that is hardly more than routine, because of internal strife.
The melee within the party pits the State Governors against the Presidency; the State Governors against the National Party Chairman; the Chairman of the party himself against his Secretary (since removed); a former President against the sitting one; the supporters of one side against the supporters of the other side; and everybody against everybody else.
Order appears to have been trampled to the floor in a political party that once boasted of the assurance to rule the country for another sixty-- or was it six hundred --years?
Some of the personalities involved in the free-for-all atmosphere of the internal tussle within the PDP would tend to make one wish they had effected a definite disconnect from the party a while back, owing to their disruptive influence on politics in the past.
For instance, one could contemplate the severance of Chief (General) Olusegun Obasanjo from active participation in PDP affairs with only a heavy sigh of relief. Since he earned the reputation of a military head of state, who favoured democracy to the extent that he willingly returned the reins of power to civilian hands, no other head of state has escaped his scathing comments, whether it be in the direction of fiscal management or security establishment.
He started almost on the first day of Shagari, his successor's administration, with the declaration of an austerity with "a human face", and followed through with Abiola, who did not even make it to the Presidency, with the aspersion as to whether he was "the Messiah". Of course, when he engaged a man called Abacha in such antics, we all know he almost came a cropper.
Now Jonathan is at the wicket for his own innings, and he is told he must rout insurgents with fire and sword and, at the same time, engage them in a dialogue.
Obasanjo is the only Nigerian who has governed as a military and civilian ruler at different times. He received the surrender of the Biafran forces at the end of the Civil War .. " He not only handed over power to a civilian government, being a military ruler as already recounted above, he also processed the succession of his civilian administration by another civilian government.
He later took up the reins of the Board of Trustees of his party through a constitutional process he had himself tailored to his size. In a word, he has done it all! His party needs fresh ideas that can hardly be aligned with his preoccupation of self-centred passion.
In the mean time, other forces are gathering to unseat his party. The "opposition" is all set once again to ridicule itself in a burlesque of sheer buffoonery. The political parties that do enjoy a modest regard at this time as the opposition, thanks to the PDP's chicanery, are determined to put up another public show of mutual distrust, the like of which we are called to witness seasonally now, about their concerted effort to oust the PDP from power. That is their agenda from top to bottom.
They mention words like "merger" in a situation where the components contemplated simply have no common aspects or properties. Rather, the elements are as repellent, as the "like poles" of a magnetic rod.
The leaders of these parties are "potentates" each in his own right; each wrapped in the armour of his own self-importance; each with his own iron-cast agenda. As someone would be disposed to say, "I dey laugh o!"
Anyway, the first posters of the 2015 elections are out already, whether they are denied or disowned. If the PDP does not disintegrate from within, it will probably win again. And you know why.
It is for the simple reason that Nigeria is riddled with corruption. We all pay service to its eradication only with our lips. And maggots thrive in filth. Happy New year.