OMATSOLA: Broadcaster who announced Nigeria’s Independence in 1960, goes home (VANGUARD)

By Emmanuel Edukugho (Vanguard Newspaper)

HE was a renowned broadcaster with specialisation in news reading, became known and acknowledged all over this country throughout the 19 years of his career.
Sir Emmanuel Aghanjuebitsi Ewetan Omatsola (KSC, OON) hailed from the family of David Omatsola Usitara of Mereje town, in Okpe Local Government Area of Delta State. He was born in Forcados, in the old Western Region, now Delta State on January 29, 1930.
After his secondary education at Igbobi College, Yaba, Lagos (1945-1950), which at that time was the only English-Model Public School in Nigeria, he joined the teaching staff of his alma mater in January 1951. Two years after, he left the teaching job and went into broadcasting in the then Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS), now Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), as a member of the pioneering staff. That was in 1953.
In the same year, according to his  biography obtained during the service of songs in his honour at his residence, Plot 121, 24th Street, DDPA Housing Estate, Ugborikoko, Effurun, near Warri, Delta State, Omatsola launched into news-casting as a news-reader.
Apart from his jobs of announcing, programme presentation and programme production, he also carved a niche for himself  as a Radio Outside Broadcast (OB) commentator on national events.
These occasions include Remembrance Day Services (November 11  every year) from the Anglican Christ Church Cathedral, Marina, Lagos, the visits of Queen Elizabeth II of England and Princess Anne to Nigeria, self-government celebrations in Kaduna and Enugu, the Independence Day on 1st October, 1960 and later when Nigeria became a Republic in 1963, replacing Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State with Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe as President while Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa remained Prime Minister.
At midnight on the 30th of September 1960, Omatsola was the radio commentator from the Race Course in Lagos who announced to Nigeria and the whole world that “Nigeria is a free, sovereign nation,” graphically describing the ceremony of the lowering of the British Union Jack  flag and the hoisting (for the first time) of the Nigeria flag of Green, White, Green perpendicular section. The Nigerian National Anthem (Nigeria We Hail Thee), played by a Massed Band, was sung also for the first time.
Undoubtedly, he was chosen on merit for that historic and monumental assignment.
Before  this assignment, he had been prepared by his employers at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) at its Overseas Service Headquarters at Bush House, London in 1959/1960, in time to return home for the approaching Nigerian Independence Day celebrations.
He spoke the first words, introduced the then Minister of Information, Hon. T.O.S. Benson, and read the first news bulletin on the Nigerian Television Service (now Nigeria Television Authority) in 1962 when the Federal Government introduced its own television service.
In April of that same year, Omatsola spoke the first words and read the first news bulletin when Voice of Nigeria, VON, the External Service of Radio Nigeria, was inaugurated. He rose through the ranks,  combining administrative positions and functions with his main professional duties.
He became Head of Presentation, VON (supervising the overseas broadcasting materials and output from the French, Swahili, Arabic and Hausa units).
During the Nigerian Civil War (Biafran War) (1967 to 1970), he was posted to head the Eastern Regional Service of Radio Nigeria at Enugu as Acting Controller. At cessation of hostilities, he supervised the three R’s (Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation) programme of the Federal Government for broadcasting colleagues and also produced and recorded the famous NO VICTOR, NO VANQUISHED broadcast by Mr. Ukpabi Asika, the then Administrator of Eastern Region to mark the surrender of Biafran forces.
The Voice of America (VOA) appointed him its stringer in Lagos for many years. On an American government scholarship, he attended Syracuse University, New York in 1962 to study mass communication with specialization in broadcasting.
Omatsola won one of his broadcasting “Caps” in 1979 when, even after he had left active broadcasting and gone into the Nigerian oil sector, he was chosen and invited by NTA to be the commentator at the ceremony at the Race Course, Lagos in which General Olusegun Obasanjo as military Head of State and his second in command, Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, handed over the reins of government to democratically elected President Shehu Shagari and Vice President  Alex Ekwueme.
The ace broadcaster joined Gulf Oil Company of Nigeria Ltd and its successor Chevron Nigeria Ltd from 1971-1990 retiring as Public Affairs Manager in their field operations area which stretched from Edo State, Akwa Ibom State (the whole of the Niger Delta).
Omatsola was a foundation member of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR); got, in 1995, Delta State Government Merit Award (Excellence in Media), Veteran Broadcasting Award (National Broadcasting Commission in year 2000), Member and Life Master of Ceremonies, Warri Choral Society, Honorary Citizen and Goodwill Ambassador, City of Houston, USA, Anglican Knight of the Sacred Order of St. Christopher (KSC) and the Nigerian National Honour of Officer of the Order of Niger (OON).
Before his death in 2012, and since retiring from service, he kept up his interest zealously in his professions of broadcasting and public affairs, giving advice and guidance from time to time.
Among those who attended the service of songs on Thursday, January 31st,  2013 were Chief Edwin Clark;  the National Ijaw leader; movie star, Justus Esiri; Publisher Eddie Yekovie; Ms Alero Edukugho; colleagues in the media; captains of  oil industry; Anglican Church members; the cream of Delta  personalities; and members of  social and religious groups. He was laid to rest in Mereje.

Gabriel Adebayo Fagbure on Nigerias First Military Coup

Gabriel Adebayo Fagbure was an editor of the West African Pilot in the 1950s. Prior to becoming editor of the Pilot, he worked at the editorial office of the Western Echo and Southern Nigerian Defender serving as editor and managing editor respectively.
Fagbure is a native of Iwo in Osun State. In the early 1960s, he was a principal information officer at the Nigerian house in London and during the first incursion of the Nigerian military in the governance of the country, he served as a commissioner in the old Western region of the country. However, he lost an election in 1979 during the preparation for the nation’s second republic.
Fagbure attended Baptist schools in Iwo and later went to Regent Street Polytechnic, London.

(Source: Nigerian Wiki)

Here he is sharing his views on Nigerias first military coup 1966

NIGERIA: Down But Not Out (TIME Magazine Monday, Aug. 06, 1956)

 Monday, Aug. 06, 1956

In Pittsburgh one day in the late 19205, a tall, weedy college student named Nnamdi Azikiwe (commonly known as “Zik”) learned that Boxer Jackie Zivic was looking for sparring partners. Fired with a sudden ambition, Zik offered his services. “They knocked me around so much,” he recalled years later, “that I gave it up.” Audacious tries and rough comeuppances are characteristic of Zik’s dashing career.
Last week ebullient. ebony-black Nnamdi Azikiwe, now Premier of the Eastern Region of Nigeria, was taking the worst knocking around he had suffered since his sparring with Zivic. He was hard hit; he reeled; but he was not yet out.
Zik, now 51, has made a career out of battling the British in his native land. The son of a clerk in the Royal West African Frontier Force, Zik passed up Oxford or Cambridge to enroll in West Virginia’s Storer College. Supplementing his original stake (his father’s $1,200 retirement gratuity) with jobs as a coal miner, busboy and dishwasher, Zik spent nine years in the U.S., wound up with an M.A. in anthropology and government from the University of Pennsylvania.
Going back to Africa, Zik started the West African Pilot, filled it with rejuvenation ads, social notes and inflammatory anti-British editorials. It was an instant success. Today Zik owns five daily news papers in southern Nigeria.
Man with Six Tails. Alarmed by his agitation for Nigerian independence, the colony’s British authorities in 1937 tried unsuccessfully to convict Zik of sedition, and in the decade that followed, some times had as many as six detectives tailing him at once. In the past few years, how ever, the Colonial Office’s onetime hos tility toward Zik has changed to a re signed cordiality.
Today Britain is committed to giving Nigeria — like the nearby Gold Coast —independence within the Commonwealth as soon as Nigerian self-government proves workable. The chief obstacle is present ed by the Nigerians themselves. The largest (pop. 32 million) of British colo nies, Nigeria is divided among three mutu ally hostile peoples : the tough Hausa tribesmen of the Moslem north, the town-dwelling Yorubas of the southwest, and the aggressive, hard-driving Ibo farmers of the east. Each region now has its own semi-autonomous government. Britain would like them to federate with a strong central government. The only Nigerians who are keen for this idea, because they are confident they would dominate the federation, are Zik and his fellow Ibos.
Family Affair. Two years ago Zik became the Eastern Region’s first Premier. Still simmering over an old experience in a British bank in Nigeria (“Not only did the manager keep me standing in his office for some minutes, but he was curt and condescending”), Zik used his new power to transfer $5,600,000 in government funds into a hitherto modest native bank, the African Continental. The catch was that the African Continental Bank had been founded by Zik himself, and, although he had resigned as a director upon becoming Premier, he and an organization called Zik Enterprises Ltd. still held 28,000 shares in it. A few months after the transfer of government funds, some of the bank’s directors (who include Zik’s father and cousin) quietly agreed to make Zik lifetime chairman of the board.
“My Humble Advice.” These novel banking practices aroused no public comment until three months ago, when Zik, “aghast at public reports of corruption” in his government, fired an old crony from a cushy government job. The old crony, E. R. Eyo, is both an ex-convict and a member of the Eastern Region’s House of Assembly. Out for vengeance, Eyo rose in the House to blurt out about the government funds in Zik’s bank. The Speaker of the House ruled him out of order on a technicality. British Governor Sir Clement Pleass was not so easily silenced, asked for a commission of inquiry.
Fortnight ago, clearly hoping to scare the British into dropping the matter, Zik fired off to Colonial Secretary Lennox-Boyd in London a message threatening that he and his fellow ministers would resign en masse unless Governor Pleass, a man of “pathological stubbornness,” was promptly removed. Stormed Zik: “My humble advice is that you be careful not to mess up the affairs of Eastern Nigeria as is the case in Cyprus and Singapore. We are ready for any eventuality, and will not stand nonsense from anybody. You have been warned.”
“Invidious Task” Last week in the House of Commons, Lennox-Boyd gave his answer. Staunchly supporting Pleass, “who has a most difficult and invidious task,” the Colonial Secretary ordered appointment of a commission to investigate Zik’s relations with African Continental. The investigation, he added, would force postponement of the Nigerian constitutional conference originally scheduled for September, and consequently a delay in fulfillment of Britain’s promise to give Nigeria self-government.
Oddly enough, as the inquiry got under way, Zik had the British in his corner, for a change. The British privately hoped that the accusations against Zik would prove unfounded. They are anxious to get on with federation, and if Zik proves not to be the man, they can see no one else in sight to build around.