most impressionable

Nigeria: ‘I interviewed Thatcher, Gandhi, Sankara, Mugabe but Awolowo was best’ – Ogunbiyi 

By Eniola Akinkuotu

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Posted on October 14, 2022 11:49

 © Yemi Ogunbiyi (photo: Premium Times)
Yemi Ogunbiyi (photo: Premium Times)

Very few living Nigerian journalists can boast of the achievements of Yemi Ogunbiyi. In the 1980s, this Fullbright scholar was an employee of Nigeria’s ‘Guardian’ newspaper and later Managing Director of the government-owned Daily Times, where his travels across different continents to interview world leaders and newsmakers made him a trove of insight and stories.

Between 1983 and 1990, Ogunbiyi interviewed no fewer than 15 heads of state. Some of them include: General Muhammadu Buhari (Nigeria), General Ibrahim Babangida (Nigeria), Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe), Margret Thatcher (UK), Thomas Sankara (Burkina Faso), Muamar Gadhafi (Libya), Shimon Perez (Israel), Rajiv Gandhi (India) and Benazir Bhutto (Pakistan).

In April 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari congratulated Ogunbiyi on his 75th birthday, extolling his “insight into issues and contributions to knowledge and public discourse”. Buhari noted that Ogunbiyi left his footprints in “dramatic arts, literature, journalism, publishing and […] academia, both in Nigeria and other countries”.

A few months ago, this veteran journalist and lecturer at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), wrote his memoirs titled The Road Never Forgets and organised an elaborate book launch, which was attended by notable Nigerians, including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, and a host of governors.

In his expansive library located in his upscale Victoria Island home, which harbours a large collection of high-end African sculptures and paintings, Ogunbiyi goes down memory lane, recalling his exploits in the media industry, especially the notable interviews with world leaders.

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