Come July 14, 2017, Chief Ajibola Ogunsola, the erstwhile Chairman of The PUNCH Newspapers, who played a key role in the revival of the newspaper, will be 73. He is the first Actuarist Nigeria has ever produced and an eminent Nigerian with a solid history.
Chief Ajibola Olusanya Ogunshola was born on July 14, 1944, in Ibadan, the capital of the defunct Western Region. His father, the late Chief James Ladejo Ogunshola, attended Ibadan Grammar School from 1914 to 1917 and rose to become the Otun Balogun of Ibadan, while his mother, Madam Janet Alatede, was acknowledged as the second most prominent indigenous textile trader in Ibadan, during her lifetime. He was educated at the prestigious Government College Ibadan, where he was in the Field House and his school enrolment No is 964. He later gained admission to the premier University in Nigeria, University of lbadan and the Institute of Actuaries of the United Kingdom. At the Government College, Ibadan, Chief Ajibola Ogunshola, obtained 8A’s in WASCE, he got A’s in Pure and Applied Mathematics at the Higher School Certificate Examinations. He continued this trend by obtaining a B.Sc. Hons degree in Mathematics from the University of Ibadan in 1967 and topped it by becoming the first black African to qualify as a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries of England in 1973.
He was at various times Managing Director of the Niger Insurance Ltd. now Plc; Chairman of the Committee of Consulting Actuaries, Chairman of Alexander Forbes Consulting Actuaries, President, Newspapers Proprietors Association and Foundation President of NigeriaActuarial Society. He is a Fellow of the Nigerian Mathematical Society, and a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society of England. Chief Ogunsola was conferred with a D.Sc (honoris causa) in Management Science by the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State .
He is best known for the remarkable way he brought new life into Punch and made it the most widely-read Newspaper in the country a few years back. He is a member of the Governing Council of Christian University, Ogun Stata since 2015. He has also demonstrated a keen interest in medical matters. He served for two years as an external member of the Academic Board of the College of Medicine of University of Lagos and he is an honorary member of the Lagos University Medical Society. Chief Ogunsola is currently a non-executive Chairman of Continental Reinsurance Company.
He is a known advocate of the application of The Scientific Method, which includes intuition tempered by logic and reason, not only to be the solution of day-to-day and business problems, but also to issues concerning human existence. Chief Ogunshola holds the traditional title of Baaroyin of Ibadanland. Chief Ogunshola has been happily married since 1969 to his amiable and beautiful wife, Iyabo, who was the former Chairman of Delivery and Company, and hails from the illustrious Okunrinboye family of Owo, Ondo State. They are blessed with one daughter and three sons.
Ajibola Ogunsola became a household name when he took over as PUNCH’s Chairman, as a matter of family responsibility and he turned round the newspaper, which was in death throes into one of the country’s successful newspaper businesses. It is interesting to note that for well over two decades, he steered the ship of The Punch Group which sailed through turbulent waters, at different times.
He is a well-regarded actuarist, statesman, respected Ibadan chief, astute businessman, renowned newspaperman, who was a member of the National Conference. He joined the club of the septuagenarians three years ago.
Fate thrust the leadership of The Punch, on him decades ago. He assumed the chairmanship of the newspaper following the death of his elder brother, Moyo Aboderin. Moyo was the Chairman after the demise of their brother and founder of the newspaper, Olu Aboderin, in 1984.
Ogunshola ran the Punch Nigeria Limited, publishers of The Punch, Saturday Punch and Sunday Punch, meritoriously for about 25 years, transforming the company into one of Nigeria’s best-run and most profitable media establishments in Nigeria.
He voluntarily retired as chairman of the company on April 30, 2011, but remains on its board. He handed over to Wale Aboderin, the son of the founder. PUNCH was founded in 1973 by the late Chief Olu Aboderin, an elder half-brother of Ogunsola, the newspaper had a fairy tale rise when it started. But that success was cut short a few years later and when the founder died in 1984, his elder brother, Moyo, invested heavily in the company and took over as Chairman.
He did not last long at the helm as he died in 1987. But by an irony of fate , it was the destiny of Ogunsola that seemed tied to that of the company in a strange and intriguing manner, which, according to him, “It was a series of family accidents that put me there, the circumstances of the time were such that I had no choice than to become the Chairman of Punch.”
In a recent interview with City People’s TESSY MOORE, Ogunsola spoke on how he together with the board members and the management team, saved the Punch Group from extinction and on his 48 years old marriage to Mrs Iyabo Ogunsola.
How does it feel to be 73?
I’m happy to be 73 because when we were young, being 73 was seen as a great achievement. It was considered that once you are 73, you have achieved something. My father died at 67. I had just finished high school certificate programme and was about to go to university when he died. We all saw him as an old man. So for me, being 73 and relatively in very good health, I am so happy about it.
My health has been good on the whole and that is primarily because a few years ago, I changed my diet and also started doing much exercise. At this age, one will have one or two problems. Though I have little problems, I don’t call them problems because they are actually containable if I can stick to a certain kind of diets, which don’t trouble my colon and try to not eat that which will give me cholesterol.
How was your growing up like?
My growing up could be likened to one of a fairy tale. My father, a high chief in the court of the Olubadan of Ibadan, was by no means a poor man. Things were even brighter for my mother, who as a successful trader, was richer than my father. But as influential as they were, two unrelated events directed the course of my life; one was attending the prestigious Government College, Ibadan (GCI). I have to admit that going to Government College, Ibadan played an important part in my coming out with excellent results. GCI was a big thing in those days and attending the school was a major factor in my life. I came out of secondary school with distinctions, it was really a distinction in our days and also my going to study Mathematics at the University of Ibadan.
As a guardian angel, my brother, the late Moyo Aboderin, told me about Actuarial Science and I decided to give it my best. I have never heard of it until my brother told me about it and that changed my life. My decision to study Actuarial Science later turned out to be the singular act that would prepare me for life in the media, though I did not know it at the time. After graduating in 1967, I took several courses in Actuarial Science and despite the odds, I became the first black African to qualify.
When I got the call that I have passed my exams and inducted as a Fellow of the Institute of Actuary, I was so happy, I almost cried. Everything I did from there seemed to prepare me for the task at The Punch. I became Life Manager at NICON Insurance, and later the Chief Executive at Niger Insurance, where for 11 years, I learnt the rudiments of managing people and resources.
I am very appreciative of being alive. Being the only one remaining of my mother’s 6 children. So, it is a privileged to be 73 years.
What is the secret of your looking younger than your age?
We have good genes in our family, if you look at my brother, Olu, he was fairly good looking. So, if you eat good food, have a good family and a decent house and you are fairly good looking, you will most likely look younger.” I am very appreciative of being alive today, being the only one remaining of my mother’s 6 children. So it’s a privilege to be 73.
Do you feel fulfilled about your achievements in the past 73 years?
First and foremost, I am not an over-ambitious kind of person and so it’s not difficult for me to feel happy or fulfilled. I am ambitious, but not over-ambitious. So, basically I tend to assess many things statistically and, therefore, what is important for me is to look at my colleagues and rate what percentage I belong. Do I belong to the happy generation or less happy generation? If I belong to the much happy percentage group, which might be 95 percent happy generation, then what will I complain about or what other satisfaction do I search for? I voluntarily retired as chairman of the company on April 30, 2011, but I remain on its board.
I’m happy to be 73 because when we were young, being 73 was seen as a great achievement. It was considered that once you are 73, you have achieved something. My father died at 67. I had just finished high school certificate course then and was about to go to university, when he died. We all saw him as an old man. So for me, being 73 and relatively in very good health, I am so happy about it.
How long have you been married?
I’ve been married since 1969 to my amiable and beautiful wife, Iyabode.
What does she do?
My wife was formerly the Chairman of Delivery and Company. She hails from the illustrious Okunrinboye family of Owo, Ondo State.
How have you been able to sustain your marriage since 1969?
When you marry the bone of your bones, the rest will be history. Though, we do quarrel but we love and understand each other. She has stood by me, she knows what I want and I know what she wants. But the truth is patience and tolerance are the two major key words.
Where did you meet?
We met in Ibadan in 1969.
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