DELE MOMODU: Excellent Entrepreneur, Fearless Fighter

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By Eric Elezuo

Instructions, they say are set of guidelines which if carried out will lead to notable achievements. It is believed that when achievements are not made, it means that instructions are either not carried out or there are no notable mentor to give instructions. Most men who had gone far in life are products of instructions well taken, and among such rare breed is the Chairman/CEO of Ovation Media Group, Bashorun Dele Momodu.

Born Ayòbámidélé Àbáyòmí Ojútelégàn Àjàní Momodu on May 16, 1960, Dele Momodu as he is fondly known is a journalist/publisher, businessman, philanthropist, actor, politician and motivational speaker. He is the CEO and publisher of the tripod Ovation publications notably Ovation International, a magazine that has given publicity to people from all over the world, mainly in Africa; Ovation TV and The Boss Newspaper online, which he officially launched in 2015.

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The accomplished journalist, whose first name was derived from Ayobamidele, meaning “my joy has followed me home”, is the last of three children. He lost his father at the age of 13, thereafter relying on his loving mother, who taught him not to despair even when times are tough and relatives for support. His mother eventually died on May 18, 2007. Although his mother’s source of income was from petty trading, and she had two older children to care for, she laboured hard to sustain her family, and in the words of Momodu, “She didn’t give up on me”.

A graduate of University of Ife, (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife) 1982, Dele Momodu holds a degree in Yoruba and a master’s degree in English Literature (1988). He lectured at the Oyo State College of Arts and Science in Ile-Ife, between 1982 and 1983 while on National Service. Between 1983 and 1985, he was private secretary to the former Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Chief Akin Omoboriowo. In 1986, Momodu served the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade Olubuse II, managing the Motel Royal Limited owned by the monarch. Following Momodu’s resignation from the Motel Royal, he went on to study for his post-graduate degree in English literature. He was during this time contributing articles to the likes of The Guardian, Sunday Tribune and other Nigerian-based publications.

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Momodu is a stranger to awards as he has received hundreds of awards and honours for his work in the world of business, politics, literature, the music industry and the fashion industry. On 30th July, 2016, Dele was awarded with an honorary doctorate degree (PhD) from the University of Professional Studies, Accra, Ghana, earning him the title “Doctor of Humane Letters”.

A fiery writer, he writes a weekly column called “PENdulum”, published every Saturday on the back page of Thisday newspaper. The articles are praised for highlighting issues in Nigeria, as well as discussing popular topics, current events and famous people, often in a polemic/critical style. It was through PENdulum that Momodu lent his prominent voice for the APC presidential candidate at the 2015 general election in Nigeria – the current president, Muhammadu Buhari.

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In May 1988, Dele Momodu got his first job as Staff Writer with African Concord magazine, owned by late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola. A year later, he was transferred to Weekend Concord as a pioneer staff. He wrote the first cover story for the paper in March 1989. He also contributed to other publications such as the National Concord, Sunday Concord, Business Concord and the Yoruba newspaper Isokan. In May 1989, he became Literary Editor, and within six months, he became News Editor of the Weekend Concord.

Between May 1990 and September 1991, he edited May Ellen Ezekiel’s Classique, a celebrity magazine, an appointment that made him the highest paid editor in Nigeria. He resigned and tried his hand at doing business as a bread distributor for his mentor, Chief Moshood Abiola, who owned “Wonderloaf”. Following this, Momodu started a public relations outfit, Celebrities-Goodwill Limited, which managed the accounts of Chief Moshood Abiola, Dr. Mike Adenuga, Mr. Hakeem Belo-Osagie and other distinguished Nigerians.

In 1993, Momodu resigned to join the Moshood Abiola Presidential Campaign Organization, and after the annulment of the June 12 Presidential election by General Ibrahim Babangida, Momodu was arrested and detained at Alagbon Close in Lagos.

He had his first bitter taste of junta regime as he was severely punished by the reigning dictatorship for his pro-democratic views but was undeterred. He was to be arrested again in 1995 and charged with treason by the government of Sani Abacha, then a dictator. Momodu was accused of being one of the brains behind the pirate radio station, Radio Freedom (later Radio Kudirat), after the cold-blooded murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola. Momodu managed to escape by masquerading as a farmer through the Seme border into Cotonou, in Benin Republic, from where he fled to Togo, Ghana and eventually to the United Kingdom. For three agonising years, he could not re-enter his homeland, Nigeria. He has since been absolved of all accusations made by the Abacha administration. It was also during these agonizing periods in the wilderness that his superlative mind conceived the project that was to turn the face of entertainment and celebrity writing.

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Momodu started Ovation International in 1996 while still in exile. After the death of Abiola in prison, and the subsequent death of his persecutor, Sani Abacha, Momodu ended his exile. Since then, he has expanded Ovation International, and it is now one of Africa’s most popular celebrity magazines. Ovation International is also reputed to be the only bi-lingual magazine in Africa, having editions printed in both English and French.

Dele Momodu has held an annual event every year since 2008  known as the Ovation Red Carol (later changed to Ovation Carol and Awards), except in 2010, due to the impending presidential election. The Red Carol is held every December, and has become one of West Africa’s most popular annual Christmas events, often involving musical performances, drama, fashion shows and award presentations for varying charitable causes. From 2008-2012, it was held in Lagos, Nigeria, but was held in Accra, Ghana, in December 2013.

In 2013, former president of Ghana J. J. Rawlings attended, with Wyclef Jean as the headline act, along with many other international performers, including M.I, Ice Prince and Burna Boy from Nigeria. In 2015, two shows were held for the first time – one in Lagos, Nigeria and the other in Accra, with Nigerian performer Wizkid headlining both events, as well as American singer Evelyn “Champagne” King for the Lagos show.

A magnanimous leader, he took in quick strides the campaign of calumny launched against him by David Adeleke, also known as Davido, when he stood to defend his cousin, Sophie Momodu, who had a baby for Davido and was being maliciously treated. With open arms, he took back the singer, remembering not the abuses he unleashed against him on the pages of the newspaper and also music medium. In fact, Dele is known to even sing the same song that people think derides him.

With offices in Ghana, Nigeria and England, Momodu has a workforce of over 200 persons; the same he pays regularly unlike many media owners.

He is a traveler of great repute, and has traversed the length and breadth of the globe, making friends with the who is who in today’s world politics, entertainment as well as business.

On December 19, 1992, Dele married his sweetheart, Mobolaji Abiodun Momodu, and they are blessed with four children: Pekan (1994), Yole (1996), Eniafe (1997) and Korewa (2004).

This year, he celebrates 20 uninterrupted years of providing superlative celebrity entertainment with Ovation International Magazine. A lover of his brand, you will never see him without the traditional OV branded on his attire, especially on his cap.

The world couldn’t ask for a better media mogul.

Sir, for your dexterity, ability to make the best of a bad situation and stay on top of your game, impacting lives and sharing what God has blessed you with, you are our Boss of the Week. Congratulations!

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