Double Chief Duro Onabule died yesterday. He was my Editor in Concord newspapers, and possibly my biggest mentor within the house. He became the Chief Press Secretary to Military President Ibrahim Babangida, when I rose to become the Editor of National Concord newspaper.
I spoke to him last on his birthday some months back.
He left me with two management techniques never taught in Business schools. One, was don’t fight a battle you are most likely to lose. Second was how to make your enemies uncomfortable.
These are the circumstances.
Our state house correspondent committed a very serious professional infraction meriting only a termination of appointment. Despite being from my ethnic origin I approved the action to sack the staff.
My MD invited me to her office to advise me that we should drop that course of action because words came from top government officials that we would cut our nose to spite our faces. We were going to fight the forces that winning the battle would be most damaging to our company. We swallowed our pride, dropped the case and a staff defeated us. A big lesson for managers.
I was one of the Editors whose newspapers were closed by IBB. We were summoned by DSS to Abuja. After serious drilling at DSS headquarters we were driven to Aso Rock for another round of bashing. Information Minister Chukwumerije, Shehu Garba as President of Nigerian Guild of Editors and Aikhomu’s Press Secretary, Nduka Irabor were in the bashing team. We were thoroughly flogged but later forgiven to sin no more.
As I stepped outside I saw my former boss, Onabule who told me straight away that he knew nothing about our invitation. He had been thoroughly sidelined in the dying days of the IBB administration because of his eternal friendship with Bashorun MKO Abiola over the June 12 chaos.
He refused to resign his appointment as IBB’s spokesman and they had no courage to sack him. Though sidelined his presence made it difficult for the government to plot easily Abiola’s disgrace. He told me all he could with the toughness of character that I envied.
That was another management technique that I learned.
Safe journey my friend and mentor, Chief Onabule.