The stage is set for the launch of a book of essays in honour of frontline journalist, Dapo Olorunyomi, the Publisher of PREMIUM TIMES.
The book is set to be unveiled at the Shehu Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja today.
Already, dignitaries and well wishers are trooping in to the venue ahead of the 10 a.m. kick off time.
The book, edited by Chido Onumah and Frederick Adetiba, has over 90 contributions from a spectrum of Mr Olorunyomi’s teachers, colleagues, associates and mentees.
Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, a long-time associate of Mr Olorunyomi, is expected at the event.
Other special guests are the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, a former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu; and veteran journalist and politician, Chris Anyanwu.
The Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, will deliver the keynote address while the publisher of Daily Trust, Kabiru Yusuf, will chair the occasion.
PREMIUM TIMES is present to provide live updates of the event.
Delivering the opening address, Co-author, Chido Onoumah, praised Mr Olorunyomi for his role during the military era and currently with PREMIUM TIMES.
“Our aim of coming together today is to celebrate courage, integrity and finest tradition of investigative journalism,” co-author, Chido Onoumah.
He said the idea of publishing the book was conceived in November 2017 during Mr Olorunyomi’s 60th birthday. “He was aware until some few weeks ago,” he added.
The event kicked off at 10. 45 am.
Among dignitaries present are; Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, Senators Ajayi Borrofice, Barau Jibrin, Sani Abdullahi.
Representing the Vice President is Senator Babafemi Ojudu.
Also present are; former EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, Chidi Odinkalu, Prof. Ropo Sekoni among others.
The chairman of the occasion, Kabiru Yusuf, Publisher of Daily Trust, is delivering his remarks.
He said each of the essays are well written and reveals different shades of his life.
“I found the most interesting part of the book to be the ones written by younger ones who Dapo has mentored,” he said.
He traced the times both worked together during the military era.
“One of the genius of Dapo is his refusal to be held prisoner by the ticking clock.”
In his keynote address, Ekiti State government, Kayode Fayemi, described Mr Olorunyomi as both ‘destroyer’ and ‘builder.’
A builder of democratic and social change and destroyer of hegemony.
He traced the role of Mr Olorunyomi in the establishment in the transport of equipment of Radio Freedom, an opposition radio transmitter, in the mid 90s.
“Dapsy risked not only his freedom but his life to ensure that Nigeria became a democratic state.”
He praised Mr Olorunyomi for his ‘pivotal role’ in transforming his role in the military era to present day contemporary media.
Mr Fayemi traced the role of the Nigerian media in pre-independence era while noting that the pace waned immediately after self rule.
He noted that The Guardian and Newswatch revived the spirit in the second republic. This was fortified with the coming of Mr Olorunyomi and others, he said.
“One thing that happened in Dapo’s time is that they threw away the caution and exhibited fearlessness.
“The media in the 1990s became democratic activists.”
He said the media provided all the necessary ingredients for the return to civilian rule in 1999.
Mr Fayemi questioned why the media is less effective in the current democratic rule compared to its fierce reporting in the military era.
He said the media needs to help produce informed citizens.
“The quality of interviews in the media have sadly declined,” he said.
He noted that the media has ‘greater role’ to play in the current era of fake news.
The governor bemoaned Nigeria’s inability to produce a female governor at a time three African countries have female presidents.
“Few intellectuals can claim to rival Dapo Olorunyomi in intellect and courage,” Mr Fayemi
11: 50 a.m. – Review of Book of essays – Testimony to Courage!!!
Chidi Odinkalu, human rights activist and lawyer takes the stage.
Mr Odinkalu, a former Chairman of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission is the reviewer of the book edited by Chido Onumah and Frederick Adetiba, and has over 90 contributions from a spectrum of Mr Olorunyomi’s teachers, colleagues, associates and mentees.
The professor and writer start by saying the book in review acknowledged that Mr Olorunyomi is student union activist. He said even though today is Children’s day, the celebrant was born an adult.
He singled out the editors and authors of the book for praise. He said with this book, the name “Dapsy” has now been ‘concreted’.
He gives a breakdown of how the essays were collected.
The book of essays was conceived after Mr. Olorunyomi’s 60th birthday in November 2017.
Contributors to the volume include renowned academics, media executives, journalists, activists and politicians who offered insights into Mr Olorunyomi’s patriotism, courage, brilliance and acts of generosity through different phases of his life.
Among the contributors are Bola Tinubu, Nuhu Ribadu, Rauf Aregbesola, Biodun Jeyifo, Ropo Sekoni, Umaru Pate, Lai Oso, Femi Falana.
Mr Odinkalu said the book has 93 essays and were collected to reflect three different phases of Mr Olorunyomi’s life.
“The essays were collected from a journalistic point of view, political foray and also from his mentees.”
He said contributions came from Nigerian men, women, Northerners and Southerners, Muslims, Christians and traditional worshippers and a few atheists.
The professor said the book reflects the true diversity of Nigeria as no part of the country was left behind in the contribution of essays.
He said one of the phenomenal aspects of the book is in the design of the theme.
Tracing the roots of the celebrant, the human right activist gave a breakdown of the biography of ‘Dapsy’.
“Combining contributions from different authors you can easily see a biographical sketch.”
He said Mr Olorunyomi’s name was sent via telegram by his father.
“He did six primary schools in six years and have lived everywhere in the country.
“The remarkable thing highlighted by almost all the authors is that they linked Dapsy’s outstanding humanity.”
Mr Odinkalu highlights essays from various contributors.
He traces the relations between Mr Olorunyomi and Nuhu Ribadu.
He advised the audience to read the “405 pages Mr Odiahs’s essay” which he described as apt.
He said essays from other colleagues of the celebrant such as Musikulu Mojeed should be included in the next edition of the book of essays.
Beyond pouring encomiums on Mr Olorunyomi’s achievements over the years, Mr Odinkalu described the book as a phenomenal contribution to Nigeria’s political history and civic activism.
He said testimony to courage should motivate Nigerians to celebrate people who have inestimable passion for humanity just as Mr Olorunyomi.
He ends his oratory filled review with a thunderous round of applauds.
Mr Odinkalu is currently the senior team manager for the Africa Program of Open Society Justice Initiative(OSJI).
In her short remark, Senator Chris Anyanwu described the book as ‘so engaging’ and ‘so rich.’
She thanked the initiators for their courage in celebrating Mr Olorunyomi while still alive.
She noted that Mr Olorunyomi deserves a national honour. She praised him for his investment in the future generation of investigative journalism.
“The time for wake up for young journalists is now. Dapo has done his part. It’s your turn now,” she charged.
Olusegun Adekunle, representative of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha said the book documents the life of a great man.
He noted that the principle of generosity, humanity and courage sets Mr Olorunyomi apart.
Sunday Dare takes the stage for a remark on behalf of former Lagos Governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“What will Dapsy’s life be without courage which we are here to celebrate?”
He said he will be making a presentation for Mr Tinubu and for himself because “I also benefitted from the illustrious life of Dapsy.”
Mr Dare describes Dapsy as his mentee.
He said according to Tinubu, Mr Olorunyomi “reminds us of our past struggles as he blends nostalgia with the pains and of the struggle for better Nigeria. Through his works, we sent the military packing and entrenched democracy.”
He went ahead to read out Mr Tinubu’s essays and contribution in the book.
Senator Babafemi Ojudu, representative of the Vice President, Osinbajo currently giving his remark.
He described Mr Olorunyomi as ‘a very good friend of Dapo.’
“Dapo will ensure that everyone that’s is yet to be spoken to as subject in a story is spoken to before he publish.
“I didn’t even know he would live up to 60, because he lived so dangerously.”
He rendered memories the times they worked together.
Appreciation by Dapo Olorunyomi
Dapo Olorunyomi, the celebrant appreciates the organizers and attendees of the event.
He, however, described the remarks by various speakers as “hyperbolic”, saying he could have achieved anything without his friends, families and colleagues.
“it is a great exaggeration about me all these things said here today. All I have done is really about the team I work with. I only contribute a little to the work.
“Truly my team are those truly those that deserve to be celebrated.”
Mr Olorunyomi thanked various contributors to the essay and the attendees.
He urged Nigerian parliamentarians to help in building a strong and accountable media.
The celebrant ends his remarks with a standing ovation from the crowd.
2:09 a.m – Event ends.