Tai Oguntayo :Journey of a Rugged Pen-Pusher By Gani Salau

Akogun Tai Oguntayo

Akogun, as fondly called, is a household name in Ekiti state and beyond mostly in the journalism family. Taking a look at this pen giant; both closely and at a distance, one thing that is sacrosanct is that he calls a spade a spade and not an hand ass.

This has earned him many accolades. Born 50/years ago in Okemesi Ekiti, Tai could be described as a gift not to Okemesi and Ekiti alone but Nigeria as a whole. To him, journalism is inbuilt considering his sojourn in life.

Tai cut his teeth in journalism in his campus days at the Federal Polytechnic, Ado Ekiti in the late 1980s and later The Polytechnic, Ibadan where he served as the versatile Editor-in-Chief of The Press Club and PRO of the Press Council. He later told us in class, his journalism students, of how his Press Board was smashed severally by notorious students at The Polytechnic, Ibadan because of his unrepentant war against cultism and other vices on the campus.

In his quest for professional prerequisite after his mandatory NYSC programme, Tai went to the prestigious Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Lagos for his Post Graduate Diploma in journalism and later obtained Master in Communication Arts from the premier University of Ibadan. Trust him, he has not disappointed his people and the profession in the course of discharging his duties.

As a journalist working with the Tribune newspaper in Ibadan in the 90s, prominent among the stories he wrote was the assassination of late Suliat Adedeji, MKO's letter from detention to Gani Fawehinmi among others which brought him into limelight as everybody was scouting for the fiery journalist who could damn the consequences in the act of investigative journalism.

Aristotle opines that everybody is a political animal. Oguntayo as a journalist cum politician was appointed as a Supervisor for Health in Ekiti West Local Council in 1999 under the Chairmanship of Otunba Akin Oluwadare during the Otunba Niyi Adebayo led government in Ekiti State. No wander, his closeness to the grassroot is unbeatable as people cluster around him for one assistance or the other not only in Okemesi, his home town but from far and near. One noticeable pedigree about him is that he never disappoints anytime, any day if he is approached for one help or the other. If he won't meet your entire need, you won't leave him sad.

Akogun resigned as a Supervisor in 2002 to contest the council Chairmanship under the Alliance for Democracy but when he was frustrated by the powers that be, he went for his Masters at UI and later returned to Nigerian Tribune as Assistant Editor (Special Project) on the stable of Saturday Tribune. He left Tribune for The Westerner in 2005 and was transferred to Ekiti as the Bureau Chief, initially covering Ondo and Ekiti.

A visible drama occurred in the course of his duties in Ekiti during the monthly Governor's explain under the former Governor of Ekiti state, Ayodele Fayose. As one of the interviewees, Akogun's question threw Fayose off balance and this singular event popularise Akogun and his paper in Ekiti. The studio was almost turned to a market of sort due to his insistence on his questions even as Fayose answered aggressively menacingly pointing at Akogun as a representative of the opposition. As a professional journalist that knows his onion, Akogun stood his ground asking his questions with ease even as the governor was sweating profusely. The rest is history.

Akogun became the State Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists in 2008 amidst stiff opposition by a section of union but his tenure remains the most talked about today in terms of achievements.

Akogun Tai Oguntayo"s becoming the Special Adviser on media to the  Honourable speaker of Ekiti State, Right Honourable Funminiyi Afuye, did not come as a surprise because he is not new to the job. In the Fayemi"s first term, he was appointed as the Special Assistant on Media to the governor, Director of Media of ACN and later Secretary to Ekiti West Local Council (SLG). Fayemi didn't hesitate therefore in his second term to appoint him as his Senior Special Assistant on Media having earlier served as the Spokesperson of Buhari/Osibajo campaign organization in Ekiti state during the last Presidential ekection. He brought his experience into bear. He coordinated the media department of the organization and his party, APC which eventually led to a land-line victory of Muhamadu Buhari to the expectations of the Governor of Ekiti state, Kayode Fayemi.

No wonder in April this year, Dr John Kayode Fayemi appointment him as the SSA media to him. As a golden fish that has no hiding place, Oguntayo was again discovered by the Speaker of the House of Assembly, who requested that he be allowed to be his Special Adviser on Media, a step above his early positions as Senior Special Assistant.

One thing I discovered and I like in Kayode Fayemi"s style of governance is that he cherishes merit and competence. He doesn't hide this. It is either you take it or you leave it. Oguntayo was SA media in his first term, SSA media in the second term and three months later, special Adviser, media.

Moreover, Akogun Tai Oguntayo has not stopped learning. Though, presently, he is a lecturer with the International Institute of Journalism, Ado Ekiti campus at the same time, the chairman of the Academic Board, he has continued learning everyday. Having earlier  bagged Bachelor of Law (LLB), he is currently pursuing his LLM at the University of Benin. He is also the incumbent chairman, Association of Nigerian Authors, Ekiti state with seven books published to his credit, three of which are on the recommended list of secondary schools in Ekiti.

With the present appointment of Akogun Tai Oguntayo as the Special Adviser, media to the speaker of Ekiti state, this prolific writer, author, lawyer, astute journalist and an honorary chieftiancy title of Ipole Iloro Ekiti, is set to repositioning the media outfit of the state House of Assembly cum the speaker, EKHA Rt. Honourable Funminiyi Afuye vis a vis Ekiti state government to the outside world.

On behalf of the Fountain Newsbreaker, the leading community newspaper in Ekiti state, I say congratulations to our boss.

GANI SALAU, Assistant Editor, Fountain Newsbreaker.

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