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Celebrating a Veteran Journalist, Dele Momodu at 58

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, who clocks 58 today.

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.

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”.

Momodu with former Ghana President, John Mahama

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.

Better known as Bob Dee among friends and colleagues, Momodu is not a stranger to awards and honours as he has received hundreds for his work in the world of business, politics, literature, the music industry as well as 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 and fearless writer, he writes a weekly column called “PENdulum”, published every Saturday on the back page of Thisday newspaper and TheBoss 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. Of course, it also through the medium he is renouncing his support, having said that the President has failed in steering the country to greatness as earlier envisaged.

In May 1988, Dele Momodu got his first job as Staff Writer with African Concord magazine, owned by late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola. He is presently celebrating his ’30 years of living and working in Lagos. A two part volumes of the above has already being published in The Boss Newspapers.

Aare Momodu shares a joyful moment with Oba Akanni

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.

When he resigned from Classique, he tried his hand at doing business, becoming a bread distributor for his mentor, Chief Moshood Abiola, who owned “Wonderloaf”. Afterwards, he started a public relations outfit, Celebrities-Goodwill Limited, which managed the accounts of Chief Moshood Abiola, Dr. Mike Adenuga, Mr. Hakeem Bello-Osagie and other distinguished Nigerians.

Late Winnie Mandela and Dele Momodu at her home in Soweto during his visit on February 3, 2018…

In 1993, Momodu resigned to join the Moshood Abiola Presidential Campaign Organization. The annulment of the June 12 Presidential election by General Ibrahim Babangida introduced him to the world of political persecution as he was arrested and detained at Alagbon Close in Lagos where he had his first bitter taste of a junta regime.

Much as he was severely punished by the reigning dictatorship for his pro-democratic views, he remained undeterred. He was to be arrested again in 1995 and charged with treason by the government of Sani Abacha. 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 disguised 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.

Dele Momodu with Bola Tinubu during their exile days in London

Momodu started one of his most pampered babies, Ovation International in 1996 while in exile. His exile ended with the death of his persecutor, Sani Abacha, in 1998. 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 2011 presidential election which he was a candidate in. The Red Carol is held every December, and has become one of West Africa’s most popular annual Christmas events, involving musical performances, award presentations for varying charitable causes among others. 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, the popularity the event had gained prompted the hosting of two shows 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.

Prince Nduka Obaigbena , Alh. Sani Dangote , Bashorun Dele Momodu & Alh. Kashim Ibrahim Imam

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 to abuses he unleashed against him through the pages of the newspaper and music. In fact, Dele is known to even sing the same song that people think derides him. Consequently, against all odds, he initiated and spearheaded a great reconciliation that saw him bringing Davido on stage to Ovation Carol 2017 to perform. That singular act created an enigma of the world’s own Bob Dee.

Chief MKO Abiola with Dele Momodu & wife, Mobolaji during their traditional wedding in Ijebu

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. There is hardly a country in the world Dele Momodu has not visited.

Recently, Momodu added another feather to his cap of glory when he was made the Aare Agbelugba of Yorubaland by a first class king, His Royal Highness, The Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Adewale Akanbi Telu I in Iwo town.

Reverend Mother Esther Ajayi with Chief Dele Momodu

On December 19, 1992, Dele married his sweetheart, Mobolaji Abiodun Momodu, who he lavishly hosted to a 50th birthday celebration in December 2017, and they are blessed with four children: Pekan (1994), Yole (1996), Eniafe (1997) and Korewa (2004). Today, the four boys are becoming a force to reckon with in their chosen fields.

This year, he celebrates 22 uninterrupted years of providing superlative celebrity entertainment with Ovation International Magazine, in addition to Ovation TV and The Boss Newspapers online.

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, we duff our caps for you, and wish you the best as you celebrate 58 healthy years on earth. Congratulations sir!



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