Thursday, 18th March 2020 will go down memory lane as a day family, friends and professional colleagues bid late Radio Lagos reporter, Pa Olatunji Owolabi a farewell as they all converged at The Factor Corridor in Ikorodu to pay their last respect to a man who has been widely described as an epitome of professionalism.
The ‘Legendary Night of Honour’ hosted by the Ikorodu Community Media Practitioners (IKOCOMP) was the first of such event to be organized by any group of journalists in the history of Ikorodu Division. According to Prince Adedamola Aderibigbe, Coordinator of IKOCOMP, the group decided to organise the event as a way of celebrating the exit of the legendary media practitioner, Pa Olatunji Owolabi who lived most of his active professional life in Ikorodu.
‘We as a group of journalists in Ikorodu Division have decided to honour one of iur own, though post-humously. We have realised that, as Journalists, we need to come together to celebrate one another and if we don’t, no one will do it for us. Coincidentally, we have decided to start with our late senior colleague, Pa Olatunji Owolabi’, he said.
The event which was well attended by notable Ikorodu based media practitioners as well as community leaders was chaired by Otunba Ayodele Elesho, a former commissioner for Information and the Agba Akin of Ikorodu. Alh Monzor Olowosago, the Publisher of Oriwu Sun Newspapers also graced the night.
Professional colleagues and community leaders at the event paid glowing tribute to the late Pa Olatunji Owolabi.
According to Chief Ayodele Elesho, ‘Pa Owolabi will be remembered for being a professional journalist who knew his job and did his job well, to the best of his ability, while alive’.
Elesho, who served as Commissioner for Information in the State narrated his personal encounters with the late veteran journalist while alive, describing him as a gentleman and a peace-loving journalist, who does not practice sensationalism in the discharge of his duties.
He also seized the opportunity to formally expressed his condolence to the widow and immediate family of the deceased. He also consoled the immediate family of the decesased to take solace in the fact that Pa Owolabi died after a brief illness, not after a prolong illness that has gulped so much money.
In his own tribute, Oriwu Sun Publisher, Chief Monzor Olowosago described the late Pa Owolabi as a gentleman and a professional journalist to the core. In his words, ‘Until his death, I never realized that he was much older than me. He always looked young and carried himself with dignity and honour. So, when I heard about his death, I was shocked, especially when I heard that he was 82 years old’, he submitted.
Speaking in similar vein, Publisher of Ikorodu News, Prince Ganny Awobajo described the late Owolabi as a brother and professional colleague, whom he had personal relationship with until his recent demise.
‘I called him my Egbon because, he was 8 yeara older than myself. Our last assignment together was at the formal commissioning of the Oriwu Sun Ultra Modern Mosque where I noticed that he was not his usual self. When I inquired, he told me he had a slight fever. It came as a shock to me that, few days afterwards, I heard of his demise’, he noted.
A director with the Lagos State Television and wife of the Alashe of Ebute-Iga, Princess Shola Kosoko equally described the late Pa Owolabi as a veteran and a legend of the journalism industry. She however regretted the fact that, he was being celebrated post-humously and not when he was still alive.
‘I met him when I joined the Radio Lagos in 1992, he was one of the veterans, along with the likes of Tokunbo Ojekunle. We never worked so closely but, he was someone I admired from distance, as an industry role model. It is however painful that we are celebrating him in death. I really wish we had celebrated him when he was still alive so that some of us can tap from his wealth of professional experience’, she remarked.
The Exevutive Chairman of Ikorodu North LCDA, Hon Adebisi Banjo described the late Pa Owolabi as a man of peace, who pursued peace and professionalism in the discharge of his duties as a journalist.
‘I met late Pa Owolabi sometimes ago when we had some issues in our LCDA, I remember the way he came in, did his job professionally without sensationalism. And, he did his job very well and the issue was resolved without any further problems’, Hon Banjo stated.
Japhet Odesanya, Publisher The Factor News Magazine and Proprietor of The Factor Corridor, venue of the event also recalled fond memories of his personal encounters with the late legend, Pa Owolabi. He however suggested that a support fund must be raised for the family of the deceased. The initiative was commended and supported by all the guests at the event.
The Executive Chairman of Ikorodu North LCDA Hon Adebisi Banjo made a pledge to support the fund with N100, 000.00, Hon Adeleke AbdulKadir also pledged the same amount on behalf of the Ikorodu Local Government Chairman, Hon Wasiu Adeshina who was unavoidably absent at the event.
Also, Chairman NUT Ikorodu, Comrade Fakolade Oluwafemi called for the immortalisation of late Pa Owolabi, as nothing, in his opinion could be as longer lasting and inspiring to others in their quest for excellent service than a befitting honour for living and deceased veterans.
Austin Awulonu, Producer of Eroz Theatre’s Bending and Bonding Live Stage Drama noted that, though he was not opportune to meet late Pa Owolabi during his lifetime but, the glowing tributes poured on the deceased was a testimony to the fact that he was a great man and an astute professional while alive.
Speaking earlier, IKOCOMP General Secretary and Publisher of The Impact Newspaper, Kunle Adelabu stated that IKOCOMP was established as the umbrella body for all community media practitioners in Ikorodu, with a view to work together as a team to celebrate and document the media edge of Ikorodu Division above other communities in the State.
Founder / CEO of Ikorodu Oga Radio and IKOCOMP Deputy Coordinator who also doubles as the event anchor , ‘Peju Akinyemi, described IKOCOMP as a strategic group of Ikorodu based professional media practitioners who were all out to provide the platform for practitioners and stakeholders to collaborate for the development of journalism and Ikorodu Division as a whole.
Meanwhile, first son of the late Pa Owolabi, Mr Sunday Owolabi has described his late father as a great family man, a mentor and an astute professional who discharged his duties without fear or favour. Junior Owolabi stated that one quality of his father he loved most was the fact that, he was fearless. He added that, through his late father’s wide network, he has been able to meet very important personalities.
The Legendary ‘Night of Honour’ was graced by widow of Pa Owolabi, Mrs Modupe Owolabi, daughter of the deceased Bolanle Onine (Nee Owolabi) and her husband, deceased first son, Mr Sunday Owolabi and his wife, Abiodun.
Pa Olatunji Owolabi who died in January was until his death a reporter with the state-owned Radio Lagos, covering the entire Ikorodu, Epe and Ibeju-Lekki axis of the state.