The job of an image maker is not easy, …Truth be told, the dynamics have changed –Yomi Odunuga

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Uba Group

Uba Group

BY MAYOWA SAMUEL

Yomi Odunuga, ebullient journalist and linguist, is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Nigeria’s Deputy Senate President, Distinguished Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, the Obarisi of Urhoboland.

Before he picked up the present job, Odunuga plied his trade with renowned media houses in the country as a hard hitting columnist, down to earth and dispassionate political analyst and exclusive news guru. But with the change of position, he admits that “the job of an image maker is not an easy one”, and most importantly, that “the dynamics have changed”.

Starting out as a proof reader with The Punch newspaper many years ago, Odunuga soon distinguished himself as a reliable and prodigious hand and was justifiably rewarded with promotions, including being deployed to the Federal Capital City of Abuja.

But when nudged to let us into any standout incident, good or bad, during his newsroom sojourn, he offered to rather jump it. Nevertheless, he didn’t fail to give a little clue to what went down at a point in time when he had a taste of police brutality.

“Quite honestly, I’d rather jump this. I’ve been really lucky as a journalist, right from my days at The Punch, as a proof reader, up till when I left as a Group Political Editor to join The Nation as Abuja Bureau Chief. There were sad moments like when I was beaten black and blue by the police at Wadata House whilst on duty and also when I was locked up by the police for a story written by a colleague at The Nation. The good thing is that, through it all, one has amassed an impressive group of readers who believe in one’s capacity to dissect issues and speak truth to power. I’ve been lucky to meet some influential Nigerians who have impacted my life and still continue to do so despite my present status. That’s why I don’t brood over the few sad moments. God has been faithful,” he said.

“The dynamics have changed. Even when I criticise publicly, it has to be measured. As a columnist, your outlook is different from how you see things from the inside”

Talking about his present job, Odunuga said, “Well, it is interesting to note that this was one job I didn’t prepare for when it came. Not that I had doubts that it could come some day but I didn’t know it would be from my present principal. He is someone I’ve worked with in the background for so many years and I do know a lot about his passion for Nigeria. For me, it was easy to accept his offer because, like I said, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege had become a friend ever since fate brought us together many years ago. With my diverse background in journalism and my interactions with politicians, let me humbly submit that I was adequately prepared for the task ahead.”

Odunuga was quick to add a shocker.

“But, on resumption, I discovered that no one could be adequately prepared for the office. The intrigues within and without are too numerous to mention here but one is pushing on, waiting for history to judge one’s performance after leaving office. In simple terms, I was ready to discharge the job to the best of my professional competence. I was even ready to listen to advice on how best to do the job and excel. What I didn’t bargain for were the intrigues and subterfuge of certain elements, who see you as an intruder in the scheme of things. But here we are today, still working at it.

Isn’t it said that change is the only permanent thing in life? This much he agreed. “Truth be told, yes. The dynamics have changed. Even when I criticise publicly, it has to be measured. As a columnist, your outlook is different from how you see things from the inside. That was the first challenge I had to adapt to. Then the atmosphere in your new office would also change. You are no longer relating with the type of workers you meet daily at your former office. Even your writings would have to adapt to certain unspoken rules of engagements. That’s the way it is,” he noted.

Odunuga delved deep into his job, offering some invaluable advice to would be media aides. He has tried to paint the picture of his relationship with his principal, deploying a generous dose of flowery and ornamental adjectives for Delta Central Senator.

He said, “You know, before I accepted the appointment, I’d always advised journalists to take up such appointments only if they were offered by persons they know very well. Now that I’m here, I think that’s not enough. You must be ready to adapt to other things, which would definitely crop up in the course of doing your work. These are mostly from external influences. Like many political appointees have come to find out, the job of an image maker is not an easy one. Aside from the required funding, there are those within and outside the system who think they know your job more than you. Those are the ones you should fear and not your principal.
“There are also those who think you are sitting on millions of naira and would do anything to impugn your reputation. These are traps that you must be weary of as you discharge your responsibilities. I must say I’ve been lucky to work with a boss who doesn’t hide his feelings about you. What many don’t know about DSP Omo-Agege is that he is quite finicky about details.

“Hardly do we issue any statement without his imprint and approval. He is that meticulous and that saves the Media Unit from needless attacks from those who always look for faults in statements issued on his behalf. When we make mistakes, of course, we take responsibilities for such.”

“Without this synergy, I doubt if this job would have been easy. So, my impression is simple: those who work with Omo-Agege would tell you he is an exceptional politician and a humanist. And those are not words I normally use to describe any person,” he noted.

Odunuga, an Arsenal fan of no mean stature, enjoys “watching football matches, almost all the time.” “Outside that, I hang out with like minds and I like good food,” he said.