Nigeria Newspapers

PUNCH has fulfilled Aboderin’s dream – Obasanjo

400c7303 black tie dinner

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has congratulated the management of  PUNCH Newspaper for sustaining the legacy of its founder, the late Chief James Aboderin.

The ex-President spoke on Saturday at PUNCH’s 50th anniversary black-tie dinner held at the Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Obasanjo, who recounted how his path and that of the late Aboderin crossed and how their friendship blossomed, said the late accountant spoke with him when he conceived the idea of starting a newspaper.

The ex-President said looking back 50 years after and what PUNCH had become, he could say that the newspaper had fulfilled Aboderin’s dream.

Obasanjo said, “My path and Olu’s path crossed when he was the Chief Accountant of National Bank and particularly when I was the GOC of Third Marine Command. And the story was like this: The Federal Government had said that all banks that operated in the East could no longer operate and in the East; the war was still going on.

“And I came to Lagos to find out which bank we could use and the only bank that had not operated in the East that we could get to establish at that time was National Bank and the Central Bank gave the National Bank the licence to operate.

“We had no bank, so for my predecessor, the bank for the division was his bedroom and that was what he could do and that, of course, was fraught with danger. It was really dangerous. And when Olu came and opened the National Bank in Port Harcourt our problem of banking was solved automatically.

“And then, our friendship developed, a close friendship. We had a number of friends, about 12 of us. We went round guest houses, Apapa. I won’t tell you what went on at that time. You can imagine. When he conceived the idea of PUNCH, he discussed it with me and again I said it was a good idea. And it was out of idealism that Olu Aboderin decided to establish PUNCH and his objective has been fulfilled. I want to urge those of you after him to keep the flag flying.

“PUNCH has existed for 50 years, PUNCH will continue to exist for another 50 years and beyond.”

In an AI-generated speech played at the dinner, the late PUNCH founder, Aboderin, expressed delight at what the newspaper had become after him.

He said, “It feels me with my pride and gratitude to witness the legacy of our newspaper thriving under the stewardship of my beloved children and family, even 40 years after me. This has always been my dream for PUNCH when I began this journey 50 years ago. As I watch from afar, I see our newspaper evolving with times that is because innovation in journalism never rests and so we remain futuristic, objective and we keep pushing boundaries or else how else do you think we pulled this off.

“To my children enthrusted with the cherished institution, esteemed board of directors, shareholders, able management and dedicated staff, I ask that you continue to navigate the series of change in the same unwavering commitment to truth and integrity.”

In her address, the Chairman of PUNCH Nigeria Limited, Mrs Angela Enuwa, said the dinner was aimed at celebrating everyone who had contributed to the success story of the organisation.

She said, “Today we gather to repay a debt. Just a little of the debt that PUNCH owes its team and passionate supporters all over the world. This dinner is our modest way of acknowledging your support over the years. It is also a sign and a signal of a deep sense of gratitude that we feel. Your loyalty and support which we do not take for granted signpost your confidence in the ideals and values that PUNCH has projected, promoted and protected over five decades.

“Tonight we pay homage to the pioneers, the visionaries and the heroes who shaped PUNCH into the institutions that it is today.

“Today we pay homage to the businesses, agencies, and individuals who patronise our commercial services and whose patronage helps to make PUNCH a profitable, sustainable and responsible corporate entity.

“Today we pay homage to successive generations of leaders home and abroad who have kept faith with us in our moment of trial. Today, we pay homage to Punchers living or dead for their contributions to the attainment of the golden jubilee of Nigeria’s greatest media success story across generations. To you all we say thank you.”

In his address, the PUNCH Emeritus Chairman, Chief Ajibola Ogunshola, gave a special recognition to the first General Manager of the company and the late Aboderin’s right-hand-man,  Chief Edwin Igbokwe; and PUNCH Emeritus Managing Director, Mr Ademola Osinubi, who worked in PUNCH for 45 years, 27 out of which he served as MD.

Ogunshola said, “There is an expression that a person gives his life to Jesus. This man (Osinubi) is a good Christian, so he must have given his life to Jesus already. But Demola Osinubi literally gave his life to PUNCH. He came in as a young journalist in the early 20s and worked for a whole 45 years non-stop.”

Speaking further, Ogunshola disclosed his plans to retire from the board, having served for 40 years.

“I became a director of PUNCH in early May 1984. Chief Aboderin died on February 28 but because the board had been truncated, it took some time to recompose the board. That means very soon, I would have served for 40 years. In July I will be 80 years old, so I have been on the board for half of my life of which I was Chairman for 24 years. I have taken the permission of the family that when I am 80, I shall be retiring from the board. I thank not only those who were invited, all those who responded to invitations,” he said.

The Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of PUNCH, Mr Adeyeye Joseph,  appreciated everyone who had contributed to the success of the establishment while also assuring that the company would continue to acknowledge their continued contributions.

He said, “For as long as you continue to believe in the vision of PUNCH and the vision of our founding fathers, we shall not fail to acknowledge you and your daily contribution to our success.

“On that note, I say a big thank you to all of our distinguished and honoured guests for sparing time and creating the opportunity for us.”

Earlier in her welcome address, the chairman of the anniversary committee, Mrs Wunmi Tunde-Obe, who also led the gathering to sing the national anthem, said it was significant that the 50th anniversary of PUNCH was being marked with the 40th anniversary of the passing of the founder.

She stressed that unity in the family had kept the media house going 40 years after the passing of the founder.

Wunmi-Obe said, “Forty years after the passing of the founder, we are not only surviving as a paper, we are thriving. For this, a lot of people have marvelled. Forty years is no mean feat. For 40 years, how did they do it, especially being a family business? How have we come this far without hitches? The answer is simple and this applies to every single aspect of our daily lives and life in general. It is the unity, the oneness, togetherness and determination to face a common goal. That way, we know we can never go wrong. That way, we know we can conquer and continue to strive for better things always. So, this has been our story in The PUNCH that even after the passing of our late chairman, we are still going strong just the way he dreamt and wanted it.”

The event was attended by a long line of dignitaries, prominent personalities, politicians, publishers and managing directors of media organisations.

Also, there was the cutting of the 50th-anniversary cake as well as special dancing by guests and management staff.