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Ismail Babatunde Jose
Born in Nigeria
82 years
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Reuben Abati
Babatunde Jose: The Death Of A Newspaperman
By Reuben Abati

It was at the 80th  birthday anniversary and book launch in honour of Alhaji A. O. G.. Otiti, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, in November 2007, that I ran into this young lady with whom I struck up a conversation as we all filed out of the venue of the event. I had asked for her name and she had mentioned a familiar surname: Babatunde-Jose.  "Are you Papa Jose's daughter?", I asked "He is my father," she said with a twinkle in her pretty eye. "You mean Papa still has young ones like you in his compound? How is he these days? I have not been seeing him at public functions." "Baba is not in a good shape o. He is really old now. But we are taking good care of him," she had replied with a certain note of finality, with so much suggestion about the old man's mortality in the air.
 
 "He made a great mark. He is an icon of my profession. We thank God for his life." I told her. The lady and I parted, but on that ocassion, Papa Jose's absence at Alhaji Otiti's birthday party was conspicuous as it had been also at the 80th birthday anniversary of Papa Mac Alabi. He was a man who took friendship seriously and who stood by his friends in all seasons. Signs of old age had suddenly descended on Papa Babatunde Jose when he celebrated his 80th birthday in 2005, and shortly after, his public appearances became infrequent until no one saw him again in public.
 
 But before then, Alhaji Babatunde Jose had lived for more than five decades, an active life in the public arena, showing up even in the twilight of his life at public events in honour of friends and associates. He was also a close friend of the younger generation, for whom he had become a symbol of success, distinction as a technocrat and achievements as a manager. He was a bridge between the old and the new in Nigerian journalism.
 
Yesterday morning, I received a text message from Mr Sunmi Smart-Cole announcing that "Alhaji Babatunde Jose died at 5. 45 am this morning aged 82. Burial at Atan cemetery, Yaba, at 4 p.m." "There goes a newspaperman", I exclaimed. Alhaji Jose was indeed a complete newspaperman. He began his career on the shop floor as a technical trainee, newsroom hand, compositor, cut and paste technician,
reporter, Eastern and Northern correspondent, regional manager and editor until he rose to become the Chief Executive and Chairman of the Daily Times Group of newspapers.
 
The Daily Times had its glorious moments under his watch, becoming one of the most influential newspapers in sub-saharan Africa and definitely, the most important news platform in the Nigerian society, with circulation figures in excess of 500, 000 copies on a good day. The glory of the Daily Times is usually associated with the Babatunde Jose era, and its collapse, with the politics of its exit. He was "one man who made a forest", not just in the Daily Times, but also in Nigerian journalism; to those who worked with him or under him, he was like the Iroko tree of his era, under whom smaller trees sought refuge and whose pre-eminence was a fact of the forest of journalism.  
 
At the time of Babatunde Jose's active career as a newspaperman, my generation was still being introduced to the syntax and structure of the English grammar and struggling with our alphabets, but it is a mark of the man's greatness, that when our generation showed up in the newspaper house, we met Alhaji Babatunde Jose's pervasive influence in the newsrooms. This owed largely to the fact that The Daily Times, at the height of its glory, supplied the manpower for all the other newspapers that emerged in the Nigerian market. Thus, other publications, and other newsrooms fell into the hands of Babatunde Jose's boys and former colleagues and associates, and of course his long distance influence. And they were never tired of regaling the younger generation with stories about the legend of Babatunde Jose, and the achievements of those who helped to build up the Daily Times story. Each of these other stories was eventually linked to Babatunde Jose, the man who ruled the Daily Times for more than two decades and who helped to build it into a formidable institution.  
 
Jose was a product of tradition, the Daily   Mirror Group tradition, the new owners of the Daily Times in 1947 who had carefully groomed Jose for leadership and provided the enabling environment for the flowering of his genius, with Cecil King, the Mirror Group Chief of Operations in West Africa, as his mentor. He had tried to sustain the tradition that he inherited by ensuring that the Daily Times was a credible source of news and analysis, so successful was the Daily Times in this respect that every other newspaper in the market with this newspaper was regarded as the Daily Times. To tradition, Jose as manager of the Daily Times brought his own individual skills, he was a man of vision and foresight, and his first major achievement was in seeking to make the Daily Times modern in all respects. His second achievement was in making sure that the newspaper was successful as journalism and as business. He turned it into a strong voice, a truly Nigerian newspaper, and an empire, and into a power centre with a grip on the public pulse and consciousness.
 
Jose did not joke with human resources, he knew that the power of an organisation lies in its people, and that a newspaper is as good as its men. And so he went after the best and the brightest in every department of the trade, and in particular, he introduced a graduate employment policy. He himself did not go to university, but he started the business of bringing graduates into the Daily Times and with that he raised the level and profile of journalism practice in Nigeria. Before then, journalists were regarded as press boys who had little education. Jose encouraged those among his staff who did not have university education to proceed on further training either in professional institutes or in the universities. He loved a
good story and he rewarded bravery and excellence.  He was so powerful that he could promote a
reporter or remove an editor, raise someone's salary or order a pay cut, on the spur of the moment without any reference to any higher authority. No other newspaper managing director in Nigeria has been as powerful as that ever since. Because he was fully in control and in charge, Jose was able to mould the Daily Times in his own image into an efficient and productive organisation. But this seemingly totalitarian
hold on the newspaper brought him admirers and also attracted the criticisms of some aggrieved subordinates who many years later still accussed him of favouritism, dictatorship and injustice.
 
But no one has ever doubted is Jose's professionalism. Having risen through the ranks and having worked in so many departments of the newspaper, Jose knew the territory and the job. He was the big man of the Daily Times, but when it came to reporting the news, he did not act the big man, he joined his editors and reporters in writing the stories and in casting the headlines. He got involved in the analysis of news and events, he studied the columns and their impact, he took an interest in the private lives of his staff and according to one legend, he helped some of them to get married and acquire property, and because he was so involved in the operation, he could sense commitment, identify true talents and punish laggards and hypocrites.
 
 A newspaper house is full of egoists and poorly talented, but ambitious petition-writers. Those that were sanctioned for one reason or the other by Jose, or who felt they were not favoured hated his guts and they soon conspired against him, forming the notorious Joint Action Committee (JAC). Their eventual success led to Jose's exit, the military take over of the newspaper in September 1975, and the gradual end of the Daily Times.
 
 I had said earlier that Jose built the Daily Times into an empire. He diversified the newspaper operation into a vast business; at a time the Daily Times published up to 15 titles; there was also a thriving real estate side to the business, a Times Journalism Institute which focussed on the development of manpower, a distribution and packaging company, housing estates for staff, and a strong stock market presence with the staff encouarged to buy the company's shares and become part-owners. Jose initiated the movement of the Daily Times from its humble Kakawa offices to Iganmu and to a sprawling estate in Agidingbi, and created a one-stop, multi-shelf newspaper empire.
 
Jose's journalism and business management was further strengthened by his active engagement with the community outside the newspaper. He knew everybody that should be known; he had all the sources at his beck and call, he was a member of the Zikist movement, and the NCNC. He was a powerful man not just in the Daily Times but also in society. Indeed, the Daily Times and its stories had a strong bearing on the politics of the Nigerian state.
 
But Jose's power and influence was also his hubris. Ex-Daily Times staffers have debated the susbstance of this over the years and they are divided over whether or not Alhaji Jose was fair-minded or not in the decisions that he took, but a group of disgruntled staff soon found cause to do a petition to the
Murtala/Obasanjo government in 1975, to complain about how Alhaji Jose had taken over the Daily Times, and why one man should not be allowed to be so powerful. Governments and their paid agents do not like powerful newspapers nor can they tolerate "powerful journalists". Encouraged by the internal conspirators, the military government literally took over the Daily Times by seizing majority shares in it
through NICON in 1975. Babatunde Jose had to go (this was what the conspirators wanted), and this happened in March 1976, but the Daily Times would also go down.
 
Jose himself has told the story of that treachery and of his principled stand, at great length in his 1987 book: Walking A Tightrope: Power Play in Daily Times. Cecil King's biography, Strictly Personal is also worth reading.  It takes a while for a great newspaper to die, and it takes quite a while for a good newspaper to become mediocre, but both have a lot to do with human machinations. A newspaper is sustained by tradition and philosophy.
 
At any particular time, there would always be people, internal and external forces, struggling to take control of these two factors. If the wrong party triumphs, the newspaper goes down. And so it was with the Daily Times. Jose's immediate successors had tried to sustain the tradition of excellence that they inherited, but over time, there was a corruption of the ideology of the newspaper, commitment waned, as the military overlords sought to use the newspaper to promote their own propaganda.  
 
The nail on the coffin of the Daily Times was finally struck home in the days of General Sani Abacha, when the newpaper became a mouth organ of the miliatry junta. Integrity of news suffered and the readers turned their back on the Daily Times, distribution vans of the newspaper were stoned by angry readers; other newspapers filled the void. The Daily Times was finally buried under President Olusegun Obasanjo who had been one of the original undertakers in 1975 (some insist he was the main undertaker); the decision to return the newspaper to private investors merely brought more troubles.
 
The Daily Times is yet to resurrect. This was one of Papa Jose's last wishes; he wanted the Daily Times brought back to life; he wanted the institution to which he and his colleagues devoted the best part of their lives to return to glory. This remains an unfulfilled wish: newspapers have their life-spans: even when the Daily Times returns as has been promised by its new owners, it won't be and can't ever be the same Daily Times; so much has transpired in the industry since the Daily Times was put to sleep.
 
Every profession creates its own legends and icons. Alhaji Babatunde Jose was the main icon of contemporary Nigerina journalism and the most influential Nigerian journalist since 1960.
There may be no one else like him, because no other Managing Director of a newspaper may be as powerful as he was. The sociology of newspaper ownership is in part responsible for this. But the profession will continue to be enriched by the example of other living stars of the profession, who have remained active even in retirement as sources of inspiration to the younger generation: Laban Namme, Lateef Jakande, Alade Odunewu, Mac Alabi, Tony Momoh, Henry Odukomaiya, Mac Alabi,
Stanley Macebuh, Peter Ajayi, Segun Osoba, Felix Adenaike, Peter Pan Enahoro, Kola Animashaun, Gbolabo Ogunsanwo, Lade Bonuola etc.
 
Alhaji Jose lived long enough to witness some of the more modern innovations in Nigerian journalism. The domination of the profession by an educated elite, the continuing influence of news and analysis, and the growth of new media in terms of print technology, the computerisation of newspaper operations and the phenomenon of internet publishing and the increasing democratisation of journalism which has turned virtually any parrot with a smattering of education into a licensed commentaror and publisher, relying not on a newspaper platform but internet sites and blogs where the rules of professionalism and ethics may not apply and abuse, blackmail, misinformation and ignorance, are accepted fare.
 
 Until old age limited his movement, he was abreast and in touch. He also lived long enough to witness the special difficulties and crises that latter-day journalists faced: the continuing intolerance of the leadership elite, murderous censorship, the rising cost of everything from printing ink to newsprint, and the dwindling numbers of readers.  Jose whose bones have now been interred was not just a journalist, he was also an astute businessman. He sat on the boards of many other companies in corporate Nigeria and also ran a printing business in retirement.
 
But he was all the more active as a religious leader. A Moslem, he took his religion seriously. In 1942, he and Professor A. Asuni and Professor A. B. Fafunwa founded the Shooting Stars of Islam, an Islamic association. In 1967, he became the President of the Anwar-ul Islam, the Ahmadiyya Movement of Nigeria. He was then 42, the youngest person to hold that position in the history of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Nigeria. His tenure for two terms as President witnessed phenomenal growth in the movement including the building of the Central Mosque of the movement in Lagos which was then commissioned on the occasion of his 55th birthday on December 13, 1980.
 
He had been honoured in a similar fashion 23 years earlier when he was appointed editor of the Daily Times on December 13, 1957. In 1555, he went on pilgirmage to Mecca and on his return he wrote a book titled: Towards Mount Arafat.   Alhaji (Dr.) Ismail Babatunde Jose, OFR, will be greatly missed, no doubt. He became Managing Director of the Daily Times in 1962, and Chairman of the Group in 1968. In March 1974, Pope Paul VI awarded him a medal in appreciation of his contributions to the promotion of interdenominational understanding in Nigeria. A new generation of journalists is emerging that may never know him, but his life and example, and the values that he represented will continue to be relevant to the practice of journalism and Islam.
Goodnight, sir.
Olumide Bajulaiye
Written by Olumide Bajulaiye & Abdulhakeem F. Akinola, Lagos, on 03-08-2008 05:27   
   
 
 
The ‘grandfather of journalism in Nigeria,’ Alhaji Ismail Babatunde Jose has died. He died yesterday at   his home in Lagos at the age of 82 years and he has since been buried according to Islamic rites. The man died in his sleep.



Born in Lagos on 13th December, 1925 to a father who hails from Ikare-Akoko in Ondo State and a mother from Bida in Niger State, Alhaji Babatunde Jose who was the former Managing Director of the Daily Times Group as far back as 1962, was a popular and well respected journalist across the country.

Indeed, Jose was not a man of letters but he was highly talented. He joined the Daily Times as a technical trainee at the age of 16 in 1941. However, by the time he left the company 27 years later, he had risen through the ranks to become a reporter, news editor, Regional representative and editor in 1957.

The doyen of Nigerian journalism, has been described as an embodiment of all that is virtuous in public and private life.

Dr. Lateef Adegbite, Secretary-General, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, made the remark in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

He said: "Jose was a devoted Muslim leader who stood very strongly for the unity of the country and promoted decency in every sphere of life.

"He was also a true patriot. What was remarkable about him is the way he mentored the young, especially in journalism.

"Jose was an outstanding leader in journalism. He set standards in professional journalism which would be difficult for anybody to match."

Chief Jobi Fele, an industrialist and kinsman of Jose from Ikare-Akoko in Ondo State, told NAN that he was a close confidant of the deceased.

"He was a man of character," Fele said. ``He so much cherished character that he would say of somebody who did not do well: `That fellow has no character.’

"Jose was an octopus, both in Nigerian journalism and in global journalism. In his death, Nigeria has lost a great son.

"What was most important to him was his name and character, "Jose had the chieftaincy title of Bobatolu of Ikare and by that, he and myself shared the responsibility of ensuring the development of our birth place and, by extension, the Nigerian society," Fele added.

In his tribute, Mr. Wahab Oba, Chairman, Lagos State Council of the NUJ, described Alhaji Jose’s exploits in journalism as a shining example for today’s practitioners.

"All journalists should learn to work very hard like him. We  have learnt from him that with hard work, dedication and commitment, the sky is the limit for every conscientious

journalist," he said.

Also, Ogun State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, has described the death of Alhaji Jose as an irreparable loss to Journalism profession. Governor Daniel, while reacting to the death of the elder statesman ,who served as helmsman of Daily Times for several years, in a statement issued in Abeokuta by Kayode Samuel, Commissioner for Information and Orientation, said Alhaji Jose was a worthy example of all that is good in journalism. He said Alhaji Jose can be fittingly described as a pillar of the profession who was committed to the tenets and best traditions of journalism.

"Alhaji Jose was a doyen of no mean standing; he was an erudite journalist, an upright man who ensured that journalism was practiced as a tool for social reformation and development. He gave his all to the profession and was instrumental to the robust role journalism is now playing in our national life. It is noteworthy that even after his retirement Alhaji Jose maintained his love and dedication to journalism by mentoring others and chairing the Nigeria Media Merit Award initiative," Governor Daniel said in the Statement. The Governor who urged Nigerian journalists to emulate the Jose tradition of truthfulness, balance, patriotism and fairness which he said were the hallmarks of responsible journalism.

The Governor also prayed that God would give the family of the deceased, his professional colleagues and admirers the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.

As a reporter for the Daily Times of Nigeria in those days, Jose loved filing in scoops which distinguished him among his equals. His feat as a scoop master enabled him to gain rapid promotion.

He relished  exclusive reports not only because they appealed to his own journalistic training, but because he believed that exclusive news serves as a promotional catalyst for the reporter, and at the same time, enlarges the readership of the newspaper through an increase in circulation and also attracts more advertisement opportunities for the media house.

Prominent among journalists who had the opportunity of been taught the knitty-gritty of journalism under Jose are the former Ogun State Governor, Aremo Olusegun Osoba,  former Minister of Information, Prince Tony Momoh,  the former Commissioner for Education in Lagos State, Professor Idowu Sobowale,  Felix Adenaike, Mrs. Agbeke Ogunsanwo and host of others.

Alhaji Babatunde Jose wholly believes that journalists are born and not made. Yet, he combined formal and informal training for journalists. For this purpose, he established the Times Journalism Institute (TJI) where young Nigerians who are interested in rudiments of journalism were trained by the professionals.

Jose’s fulfilling career in the Daily Times came to an abrupt end with the advent of the Murtala-Obasanjo’s  regime in 1975. There was a reshuffle of Daily Times top staff that triggered a crisis that gave birth to the Joint Action Committee of Staff and Management of the Daily Times of Nigeria Limited.  The committee comprised notable editors in the stable of the Daily Times of Nigeria who spearheaded an agitation for Jose’s removal. It was at this juncture that the then Military Government led by  late General Murtala Muhammed  and General Olusegun  Obasanjo moved in and acquired 60 percent of the company’s share.  Thereafter Jose was still retained as the Managing Director but a new Chairman; Alhaji Aliko Muhammed took over as the chairman of the management board. Thus, Alhaji Babatunde Jose resigned in February 1976.

Beyond journalism, Jose wears so many distinguished caps. He was an administrator per-excellence, an industrialist of note, a religious leader, a devoted Muslim and a gentleman.

Speaking about the journalistic quality of  Jose, the former Ogun State Governor who was also a journalist that has had the privilege  of working under  him summed it up thus: "When you desire the journalism that disseminates information based  on facts and figures, then you’re talking about Alhaji Jose’s brand of journalism, for he will never sensationalize nor speculate and, when  in doubt, he leaves out, for he believes that it is better not to print a story at all than to print a false or inaccurate story with the attendant refusals by those involved."

David Mark
Jose, a great loss to the media —Mark
04 August, 2008 07:03:00 Tunji OLAWUNI
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Senate President, David Mark, yesterday, described the death of former managing director of Daily Times of Nigeria, Ismail Babatunde Jose as a great loss to the media and the nation at large.
Mark made the remark in a condolence message to the government and people of Ondo State, the immediate family and the media.
Mark recalled the immense contributions of Jose to the struggle for independence with his
"scintillating and reverberating editorials," admiting that "he was a nationalist per excellence."
He recalled that Jose, during his days brought positive revolution and vibrancy into the Nigeria media , while also pointing out that it was the "fearless, positive and informative editorials" that helped the actualisation of independence in 1960.
Mark said Jose, remains a reference point in modern day journalism and that his legacy and records at the Daily Times remain unsurpassed till date.
He maintained that "Jose brought professionalism into journalism. He rendered selfless services. He was a man of knowledge and wisdom. He loved to work. He was courageous, yet humble.
"
Mark, however, asked the Nigerian media to immortalise the "late father of modern day journalism for his pioneering role and selfless services to the nation".
The Newspaperman
Jose: Good night to the Newspaperman
“HE was a journalism icon and a Titan”. “He was a newspaperman”. “He was the doyen of Nigerian journalism”. “He was a tree that made a forest in journalism”. Those were some of the superlatives in which the late Alhaji Ismail Babatunde Jose, who exited life’s stage on Saturday, 2 August, 2008, was described by sympathisers who thronged his residence.
ALHAJI Jose conquered Nigerian journalism with his brilliance. By the time he left active journalism in 1976, he had left indelible marks. His footprints in journalism in the country were very bold. His contributions to media practice were so great that the story of journalism in the country in the last century cannot be complete without him occupying a good space.
THE newspaperman, who started as a technical trainee in the Daily Times in 1941, ended up not only editing the paper, he was also calling the shots as the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief. In fact, he improved the fortunes of the company remarkably and revolutionalised its operations.
WHEN his father could no longer cope with the financial demands of his secondary education, young Babatunde had to drop out of school. He started journalism at a very young age but ended up as a giant. On the completion of his technical training at the Daily Times in 1946, young Babatunde requested to be given employement as a journalist. But while the editor of the Daily Times then, Mr. Ayodele Lijadu, knew and appreciated his worth, his colleagues in the management did not. And so, his application for a job was turned down. But young Babatunde did not leave the company empty-handed. He was given a testimonial by Mr. Lijadu with which he armed himself for the battle ahead.
A portion of the testimonial reads: “This is to certify that I have known Ismail Babatunde Jose for over five years during which period, I always found him a hardworking, obedient and aspiring young man. His industry and ambition have been most exemplary and inspiring and have marked him out as a young man who ought to go far in life.”
ARMED with this very impressive testimonial, Jose walked into the Daily Comet, also in Lagos, and applied for a job as a proof reader. His application was favourably considered and that was the beginning of his journey into professional journalism. He was then under the tutelage of Sam Williams, M.C.K. Ajuluchukwu and Tony Enahoro.
WHILE at the Comet, he got involved in the politics of pre-Independence Nigeria as a member of the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroun. Through this, he became a public speaker, making fiery speeches at public rallies and taking part in demonstrations against colonialism.
HIS father took serious exception to his political activism because of his belief that he was too young to dabble in politics. The father insisted he should end his political involvement and Jose had to give in to his father’s wish. Consequently, he left the Comet and found his way back to the Daily Times, where he started as a stringer and within a short time, he was given a regular job as a reporter.
IN record time, he rose to become an assistant editor and by 1957, the responsibility of editing the Daily Times had fallen on him. Because of his hard work and vision for the newspaper, he was appointed Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief in 1962.
ON his assumption of office as the Managing Director, the British overseer of the paper appointed an adviser to oversee the affairs of the company. Alhaji Jose as the managing director took a strong exception to the decision which he felt was taken to undermine his authority. Courageously and politely, he told the overseer that he did not want to be a king who could not rule his kingdom. The British overseer granted his request and the young managing director proved his mettle.
THE growth and development of the company under Alhaji Jose was unprecedented. He transformed and revolutionalised the company and it became the envy of other media houses in the country. Whereas the company was publishing only three titles on his assumption of office, by the time he was leaving the company in 1976, it had become a conglomerate with 15 titles in its stable. The Sunday Times’ circulation was put at about 500,000 copies.
IN order to improve the standard and quality of the papers, Alhaji Jose established an in-house training programme. This was later transformed into the Newspaper Training Centre which later metamorphosed into the Times Journalism Institute which served as the training ground for thousands of journalists across the country.
APART from journalism, Alhaji Jose’s exploits in his Islamic faith also marked him out. He was the president of Anwar-Ul-Islam Movement of Nigeria for several years. He also led the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam of Nigeria for years. He went on holy pilgrimage in
1955, and on his return, he wrote a book Towards Mount Arafat. This is in addition to his account of his activities at the Daily Times which he entitled: Walking A Tight Rope: Power Play in the Daily Times.
Goodnight, quitessential journalist; the tree that made a forest.

 
Daily Champion
THE life and times of Alhaji Ismail Babatunde Jose, a major reference point in the journalism profession, can best be captured as a story of the triumph of the human spirit.
The grand old man of the pen profession, who passed on on Saturday, August 2, this year, rose from the lowest rungs as a technical trainee at Daily Times of Nigeria, Lagos, between 1941 and 1946 and reached the topmost rung of the leadership ladder of the then conglomerate as its Managing Director (1962-1976) and chairman (1968-1976).
He broke barriers, set standards and surpassed competition. He strove for excellence and achieved it at every level of his upward movement and commendably, replicated himself through the raising of an army of men and women who are the torch bearers of contemporary journalism practice.
He had his formal education at the Lagos Government School; Yaba Methodist School, Lagos; and Saviour's High School, Lagos, and received a well deserved honorary Doctor of Letters degree of the University of Benin (1978).
That he did not enter journalism with a university degree did not stop him from making it to the top of the profession. Indeed, it is on record that he encouraged many young men and women of his time to go for higher education and is credited with the feat of inspiring graduates of that epoch to become journalists, a development which enhanced the position of the profession.
He did not just pass through Daily Times, but he left laudable legacies most of which have either been erased or are in the process of being wiped out, unless urgent measures are taken to reverse the unfortunate trend.
For instance, Alhaji Jose, as Editor (1957-1962) and Managing Director and later Chairman, took Daily Times to a height where, professionally and financially, it was ranked among the best on the African continent. He turned the newspaper's editorial and production processes around to the point where the group boasted of 15 titles and its circulation figures rose to the unprecedented figure of 500,000 copies daily.
It is doubtful if this record has been equalled even by the newspapers of today.
Born on December 13, 1925, in Lagos, Alhaji Jose did not, however, restrict himself to newspapering; hence, his large and indelible foot-prints can still be seen in other spheres of national life.
He was, for instance, a political activist. This aspect of him came to light during his stint at the Daily Comet of his day, when he came under the tutelage of such fiery nationalists as Tony Enahoro and the now-late M.C.K Ajuluchuku. The activism of the time not only led him to join the now-defunct National Council of Nigeria and Cameroun (NCNC) but to also participate in anti-colonial rallies and demonstrations where he delivered caustic speeches denouncing colonialism.
The fire of nationalism was never extinguished in him even after he returned to Daily Times from Daily Comet because as a political and trade union reporter, as Political and Industrial Correspondent (1948-1951), as News Editor of Daily Times and later Managing Director and chairman, he never canvassed or advanced any interest that he perceived as being against the national interest.
His patriotic fervour was evident and in recognition of the fact that he had much to offer the country, he was found fit to feature at the Constituent Assembly of 1977-1978 where the 1979 Constitution that guided the second republic was fashioned out.
For his nationalism, for his contributions to the development of the country, in all spheres, particularly in journalism, he was deservedly honoured with the award of the Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) in 1965.
A devout Moslem and leader of Ahmadiya Movement in Islam (now Anwar-Ul-Islam) from 1960 to 1973; leader of the Presidential Committee on Organisation of Islamic Conference (1986); Chairman of the presidential committee on the Re-organisation of Hajj operations (1982); a member of the Nigerian Pilgrims Board (1976-1978); a member of the Observer Delegation to the Organisation of Islamic Conference in Pakistan (1980) and the Seriki Musulumi of Ikare from 1974, Alhaji Jose was remarkably honoured with the Pope Pius Medal for promoting religious understanding in Nigeria in 1973.
He also made his presence felt in the manufacturing sector where he was at different times chairman of different manufacturing companies as well as a leader of manufacturers' associations in Nigeria and beyond as well as of chambers of commerce.
The Babatolu of Ikare, Alhaji Jose did not make the mistake of not recording aspects of his life and times for posterity. He has, in this regard, to his credit, two publications, Towards Mount Arafat (1956) and Walking a Tight Rope (1987).
As Nigerians and non-Nigerians all over the world continue to reflect on the life and times of this great man, they would continue to be inspired by his history of rags to riches and by his determination to overcome factors that tried to limit his walk to the top.
We hope that everything will be done to preserve the legacies he left behind and we join the many others who are calling on the Federal Government to immortalise this departed icon of the journalism profession.
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