Happy birthday to my boss at 60!

By Eze Anaba, Editor, Vanguard Newspapers Most of us take stock on a birthday--maybe a glass of bubbles, for all that rushing and striving ...


By Eze Anaba, Editor, Vanguard Newspapers

Most of us take stock on a birthday--maybe a glass of bubbles, for all that rushing and striving in the previous year. This month--on 23 August to be exact--my boss, Richard Akinnola (Baba Richy!), an extraordinary journalist and without questions, one of the finest reporters of his generation, turned 60!

As a journalist, Baba Richy brought a rare level of knowledge and expertise to his work--he’s by far the journalist’s journalist. With a legendary career spanning many decades, he has written countless books, essays, articles and reviews, including the ground-breaking books like Fellow Countrymen--: The Story of Coup D'etats in Nigeria; The Politics of Corruption and the Corruption of Politics: The Atiku Abubakar Cases in Perspective; Salute to Courage: The Story of Justice Yaya Jinadu; and defending free speech through litigation: a personal experience.
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Baba Richy is a legend in journalism but his leadership and remarkable achievements in the civil society movement are equally well-known. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that Baba Richy is a journalist-cum-activist per excellence.

I first met Baba Richy in 1989, though I knew him when I joined Vanguard Newspapers the previous year. I was immediately struck by Baba Richy’s warmth and affability – qualities that remain key to his genius for talking to people and drawing things out of them. He has been my boss since then! I’m therefore, more than qualified to write about Baba Richy.

It was Frank Aigbogun, former editor ofVanguard, and now publisher of Businessday Newspapers, who took me to Vanguard, and one of my first roles was to sit behind a desk beside the cubicle that was his (Mr Aigbogun’s) office as News Editor. In carrying out my assignments, once in a while I would be asked to go buy a bottle of beer or cigarette for any of the ‘gods in the newsroom’, of which Baba Richy was a leading member!

My ‘status’ remained the same until a drunken mobile policeman known as Eze Ibe killed two brothers popularly called the Dawodu brothers. That tragic incident changed my ‘status’ in Vanguard and perhaps made Baba Richy to notice me.

The killing of the Dawodu brothers had forced the Lagos state government to set up a panel of inquiry. But because Baba Richy had his hands full dealing with other national legal issues, I was tasked to cover the Panel. My performance, I think, made Mr Aigbogun to assign me to Baba Richy to work under him as an intern. That decision changed my life! The rest, they say, is history!

But Baba Richy is more than a boss to me. To date, anytime I have issues to sort out or in need of advice, he’s always there for me. He was there for me when he was a leading figure at Vanguard. He is there for me today. A humanist par excellence, no one close to him that I know has ever regretted knowing him. He stands by his friends and stands beside them, comes rain come shine.

A very principled man, you can take his word to the bank.

In this clime where life has become short and brutish, it is an achievement to live up to 60, considering all the obstacles successive governments have mounted against the citizenry in the form of bad policies that have devalued the quality of life.

If one combines the hectic lifestyle of Baba Richy and mis-governance by successive governments in Nigeria, the reason for this celebration becomes clear.

Baba Richy made an extraordinary impact in journalism and the human rights movement. For this, we are so grateful. This is wishing my boss a happy birthday and many amazing years ahead of him.

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Welcome to Dare Lasisi's blog!: Happy birthday to my boss at 60!
Happy birthday to my boss at 60!
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Welcome to Dare Lasisi's blog!
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