Tribute to Bola Aragbaiye
By Ayodele Fagbohun
The death of Mr. Bola Aragbaiye, a veteran journalist and colourful newspaperman was received with rude shook and great alarm.
Not on account of his death at 77 years old which in biblical parlance could be a solace for christians that 70 years is man’s time on earth and that is only by God’s grace he could exceed 70.
This goes without saying that no one welcomes cold hands of death to snatch loved ones at any given time, in the nick of time.
None the less, I was thrown off balance on the sudden loss and depletion of our old generation of journalists who aptly can be described as wordsmiths on paper and the quintessence of the noble profession. When the profession is facing serious uninhibited challenge of fake news awashed in the social media and net. And more worrisome the fraternity of the pen is rendered hors de combat to fight this pandemic that threatens the survival of journalism.
Anyway, suffice to say this arrant nonsense indiscipline and strange development in journalism was never insinuated let alone sneaked in and accepted as the norm to discredit journalism profession during the good old days of Bola Aragbaiye.
I must say with respect for the dead, his noble professional colleague, Comrade Niyi Oniororo of blessed memory too deserve rest in the bosom of his master, the Lord Jesus for fighting the good cause and emancipated journalism profession from bigotries.
As a hardworking, self made and accomplished journalist not given to sheer frivolity and indolence prevailing in the political space, Mr. Bola Aragbaiye was chosen on merit from the Sketch group of newspapers as Press Secretary to the old Ondo State Governor, Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin.
Here, he worked relentlessly as the excellent public relations practitioner and administrator and adroitly popularized the programmes and policies of UPN government in the state.
There, I as a cub reporter, had the privilege of meeting this ace newspaperman who incidentally was a colleague and soul mate of my Editor, Comrade Niyi Oniororo, the Publisher/Editor of the People’s Newspaper. Oga Bola Aragbaiye used to visit us, the reporters working for the People’s News at Oduduwa Road, at Ijapo Akure residence and at Akinyemi Way, Ring Road, Ibadan where the weekly provincial newspaper was published.
This early foray into journalism afforded me on separate occasions to meet former Ondo State Commissioner, Chief Segun Adegoke under UPN administration. Publishers of the People’s News ably and fearlessly keyed into the full implementation of Ajasin lofty programmes and blazed the trail of progressive politics in every community, hamlet and farmstead of Ondo State.
To the credit of Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, the late Bola Aragbaiye, he strictly adhered to professional conduct and ethics of journalism.
It is indeed remarkable that the immediate cause for the disastrous collapse of Second Republic was perhaps political turbulence and crisis of confidence between Governor Ajasin and his deputy, Akin Omoboriowo over the 1983 state governorship tussle. Whilst the conflagration lasted, the editor, Mr. Bola Aragbaiye brought his unique professional detachment and non partisan role to bear in the administration of the state. After the coup that ousted the civilian rule in 1983, Oga returned unscathed to his desk at Sketch Press Limited having been on leave of absence from duty. He had no query to answer from any quarters. That was part of the landmark grand breaking achievements of a role model and ecumenical cynosure of journalism around contemporary world.
Au revoir, ! Elder John Bolanle Aragbaiye.