I’ve just seen the sad story of the passing of our dear Boss, Mr Anthony Kola Olota. In many ways, this is a very personal loss for me. I was recruited by the defunct Radio Nigeria (NBC), as a Studio Manager (Trainee), on February 1st, 1977. The recruitment was a process that went through the late Head of Programme (North), the late Hannatu Ibrahim, and the new Head of Programme (Ilorin), the late Kola Olota. So in a most fundamental sense, Olota gave me a start in life, as a broadcaster. And what a man of exacting professionalism he was!
In truth, we FEARED Kola Olota, and looking back now, it was simply because I was just 16 years plus, when I was recruited as the youngest in Nigeria at the time, and he knew that my youthful exuberance had to be tempered within the professional ambience of Broadcasting. He understood talent, and a few months later, took a decision to convert me into an Announcer/Presenter and eventually a newsreader.
Olota ensured that I attended all the Presentation Courses and was very proud that I grew to become one of the best presenters in Nigerian Nigerian Broadcasting, of my generation! It was to his eternal glory, that he nominated me, at the age of 19 and a half years, in March 1980, to represent Kwara State as a newsreader on the National Network Service of Radio Nigeria. Under him I served as Continuity Announcer; Newsreader; Deejay; Producer and Presenter of several programs; Ceremonials and Sports Commentator and News and Current Affairs Analyst! Our relationship deteriorated at a point for several years, but thanks to Allah, we met again when I worked as Editor of Daily Trust in 2005, and remained firm friends.
I NEVER forgot that I was where I arrived, thanks to his generosity of heart and ability to spot potential. We worked closely in the National Initiative for Community Broadcasting. I was in the leadership and he was part of the advocacy work to start IGBOMINA FM. And it was one of those twists of history, that as DG of NBC, I was the one that finally issued the license for that station. Mr Olota kept in touch with me over the past few years; and in recent months, he told me about his ill-health; and it is a tragic pity, that I was unable to see him as I had intended, before his passing.
His last text came on Tuesday, September 17th; and it was to congratulate me on my wife’s nomination as Commissioner. Mr Olota was a close friend of my wife’s family. In Mr Anthony Kola Olota, we lost a genuine professional broadcaster, of the old school, who understood the best and most exacting standards. He was very witty, and was fond of the most pithy phrase, that often stayed long in the memory! Those who were cultured within the professional standards at Radio Nigeria Ilorin, which eventually became Radio Kwara, in March 1978, have lost a genuine boss and colleague. My heart and prayers go out to Mr Olota’s family and friends, and the Kwara State that he served loyally and with his heart and head!
Thank you Boss for touching our lives!!!