By Eric Elezuo
Celebrating a media man of great repute like the enigmatic Shola Oshunkeye, calls for detailed attention, painstaking research and above all analytic prowess. This is so because the front page news maker has practically seen it all in the world of journalism, and his style is impeccably distinct.
From the early days when he effortlessly claimed the centre spread of the charismatic Weekend Concord with his Vox Pop story where he interviewed about 20 delectable ladies, including NTA’s prolific Sarah Sanda, to loud applause of his bosses, Mike Awoyinfa and the late Dimgba Igwe, to his prowling beat on ‘The Many Wives of King Sunny Ade’, Oshunkeye has come of age, riding the waves of story telling and news writing like a colossus.
A proof of Oshunkeye’s dexterity, having learnt from the very best including Dele Momodu,Omololu Kassim, Wale Sokunbi, Femi Adesina, Aliu Mohammed, the late Gbola Adebayo, Uncle Lat Oyemade, Timothy Oyeola, Felix Asimone, Emmanuel Otaru, Gbenga Opebi, and Lanre Ajeboriogbon. Eric Osagie, the late Sunday Umahi, Chika Abanobi, Blessyn Okpowo, Ose Oyamedan and Yetunde Francis (now Mrs. Oladehinde) joined us later. Waziri Adio, Bolaji Abdullahi, Lanre Issa-Onilu, Sam Omatseye, Kunle Ajibade and Seye Kehinde, is seen in the laurels that trailed his illustrious career.
The charismatic writer, who is currently the President/Chief Executive Officer of The Crest Publishing and Entertainment Company Limited is the 2006 winner of CNN African Journalist of the Year, and has also won the 1996 edition of the Nigerian Media Merit Award for Best Print Journalist.
Today, which is incidentally the diamond jubilee anniversary of his wife, Funsho, we celebrate the great achiever, who turned 65 on April 20.
“I had gotten tired of the Federal Civil Service and I was thinking of a new challenge, as well as planning my exit from the laboratory. I had also started planning my retirement from the Nigeria Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), Ilorin, Kwara State, where I was a Science Technologist.
“After contributing a few articles to The Herald newspaper in the Kwara State capital, where I met Dapo Olorunyomi, presently publisher of PREMIUM TIMES, I caught the journalism virus. It went straight into my blood stream and my life never remained the same again. I never thought twice before I sought admission into the postgraduate programme of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ), Lagos. This was in 1988, the year I had my last born, who is now a lawyer/TV journalist.
“Luckily, I got admitted into NIJ for the one-year programme in 1989. However, midway into the programme, my friend and classmate at the postgraduate class, Mrs. Dupe Onabanjo, took me to Concord Press of Nigeria, where she introduced me to Mr. Mike Awoyinfa, the pioneer editor of Nigeria’s first Saturday newspaper, Weekend Concord. From its birth till the time the military killed it and its publisher, Basorun M.K.O Abiola, at the height of the June 12, 1993 presidential election crisis, the breezy human-interest tabloid ruled the roost as Nigeria’s highest circulating newspaper. It was selling as many as 600,000 copies at the time.”
Oshunkeye was born 65 years ago, precisely on April 20, 1956, in Ilesa, Osun State, Nigeria, and has a cummulative 32 years of journalism practice in topflight national newspapers and magazine in Nigeria and Ghana.
Before his adventure into the world of reportage, he had spent 17 years of meritorious service in Nigeria’s Federal Civil Service.
A product of the University of Lagos, where he studied Science Technology, Oshunkeye began his journalism career in 1989 with the Concord Press of Nigeria, as a Senior Correspondent with Nigeria’s first Saturday newspaper, Weekend Concord. He was promoted the paper’s Deputy News Editor in December 1991, and within the next two years, moved up first as Assistant Editor (March 1992), and as Associate Editor (October 1994).
Following the proscription of Concord Press and the travails of its publisher, Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola, in the hands of the military, Oshunkeye was appointed Editor of Weekend Classique, a Lagos-based tabloid, in June 1994. He returned to Weekend Concord as Associate Editor in October 1994 after the ban was lifted. On December 1, 1999, he was named Editor of the best-selling newspaper.
In May, 2001, Oshunkeye, who holds a Post Graduate Diploma from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, NIJ, resigned his appointment as Editor, Weekend Concord, and, on June 1, 2001, resumed duty as Associate Editor and Abuja Bureau Chief of TELL, Nigeria’s largest circulating weekly newsmagazine at the time. In December of the same year, he got accredited to the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja, as State House Correspondent of the magazine. On July 17, 2004, he was promoted Senior Associate Editor, a position he held till he joined The Sun Publishing Limited on November 1, 2005, as General Editor.
On February 6, 2008, The Sun Publishing Limited named Oshunkeye as Editor of the newest title in its stable, The Spectator. He edited the upscale human-interest newspaper till September 8, 2011, when he was appointed General Editor, Magazines, for the group. On November 11, 2013, he was appointed General Editor, West Coast, covering Benin Republic to the Gambia.
On December 1, 2013, he was named Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of The Sun Publishing Ghana Limited. After his tour of duty of Ghana in 2016, Oshunkeye retired from The Sun Publishing group. He, with some professional friends, later founded The Crest Publishing and Entertainment Company Limited, publishers of The Crest Online newspaper, as well as The Crest Journalism Enhancement Foundation, CJEF. He serves as the President/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Group.
A widely travelled journalist, Shola Oshunkeye is a Fellow of The Poynter Institute For Media Studies, St. Petersburg, Florida, and The Media Project; Fellow of the CNN International Professional Progamme, and an alumnus of the United States Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Programme. He has attended several international conferences on power reporting and investigative journalism, including the African Investigative Journalism Conference at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Among other awards, he was the winner of the Best Print Journalist Award of the Nigerian Media Merit Award, NMMA, 1996, and the overall winner of the prestigious CNN/Multichoice African Journalist of the Year, 2006.
A member of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Nigerian Union of Journalists, and several global media networks, Shola Oshunkeye he is married to Funsho, a seasoned administrator-turned-school proprietor. The family is blessed with God-fearing children and several lovely grandchildren.
We, at the Boss celebrate with you and identity with your writing-fluidity.