THISDAY editor, Simon Kolawole, resigns in protest

The editor of THISDAY, Simon Kolawole, has resigned in response to Sunday’s new appointments at the newspaper which saw him removed as editor and reassigned as editorial director.

In the new appointments, Ijeoma Nwogwugwu, who was previously Editor of THISDAY on Sunday was named Mr. Kolawole’s replacement while Tunde Rahman, former editor of THISDAY on Saturday takes over from Ms. Nwogwugwu as Editor of The Sunday paper. Mr. Rahman’s deputy on the Saturday paper, Laurence Ani, was appointed the substantive editor of the Saturday newspaper.

The paper has since accepted Mr. Kolawole’s resignation. “He is free to pursue other interests,” the paper’s publisher, Nduka Obaigbena, told PREMIUM TIMES. “There is no quarrel, there is no problem.”

Mr. Kolawole was, in June 2010, appointed for a fresh three-year tenure which should lapse in June 2013. But Mr. Obaigbena, suddenly called a meeting of the board of directors of the company on Saturday to announce his plan to cut short Mr. Kolawole’s tenure, and restructure other top editorial positions at the paper.

An insider in the newspaper said shortly after the decisions were communicated to him, Mr. Kolawole turned in his resignation letter, telling colleagues that by terminating his tenure midway without even consulting him, the company had indicated that he was no longer wanted in the organization.

After he submitted his resignation letter, Mr. Kolawole turned off his mobile telephones, and had been unreachable ever since. Efforts to get him to comment for this story were unsuccessful.

“Simon was angry that he wasn’t consulted,” a source in the company said. “He felt that the company should have had a conversation with him if there was a need to cut short his tenure.”

But speaking to PREMIUM TIMES, Sunday afternoon, Mr. Obaigbena said Mr. Kolawole’s tenure had since expired, and that he should have expected his removal.

“He took over from Segun Adeniyi in June 2007 and his five-year tenure expired this June,” Mr. Obaigbena said. “Everybody knows what to expect in THISDAY. He has just been replaced in line with our style.”

When reminded of a fresh three-year tenure handed Mr. Kolawole in 2010, Mr. Nduka denied knowledge of such an arrangement, saying the editor had already overstayed in office.

But checks by PREMIUM TIMES indicate that news of the extension of Mr. Kolawole’s tenure was published in both the THISDAY edition of January 20, 2011 and on the paper’s web platform. Read that publication here.

Mr. Obaigbena also said Mr. Kolawole was informed before his removal. “There was a board of director meeting yesterday (Saturday) and the MD spoke to him from the meeting,” the flambouyant publisher said. “The deputy MD also spoke to him. So those telling you Simon wasn’t consulted are blatant liars.”

It is not clear why Mr. Obaigbena removed Mr. Kolawole before the expiration of his tenure, but sources in the paper said the move was a result of intense power play within the company and a breakdown of the cosy relationship between the editor and the publisher.

UPDATE: Highly-placed sources in the newspaper has since informed us that top managers in the newspaper had no advance knowledge of the appointments. “There was no board meeting as claimed by our publisher,” a top official, who pleaded anonymity, said. Besides, THISDAY has no board, it is owned 100 per cent by Nduka. Almost all the top managers here read about the changes in the paper this morning. 




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