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WILLIAMS OLUFUNMI (Bobo Check): The Quintessential Broadcast Journalist, Bows Out Of Public Service In Style.


WILLIAMS OLUFUNMI (Bobo Check): The Quintessential Broadcast Journalist, Bows Out Of Public Service In Style.

William's Olufunmi (Bob Check) drops the pen symbolizing performance of his last assignment in the public service.

    By Sunday Ajibola

The locale was the Conference Hall of the Nigeria Union of Union of Journalists (NUJ).  It was filled to capacity. The high and the low in the public service; men who reigned yesterday, old friends, contemporaries, subordinates, church leaders and members, family members and professional colleagues were on hand to grace the occasion. They had all converged to honour  Williams Olufunmi, a former newscaster and editor at Ondo State Radiovision Corporation (OSRC), ex-Press Secretary to a former Deputy Governor and a Director in the State Ministry of Information was retiring from the Civil Service after 35 years of meritorious service.

 The ceremony offered an opportunity for everyone there to have a better picture of whom the deceptive seemingly simple personality of the man better known by his sobriquet, Bobo Check was.

There were accolades, flashback to his reportorial days, his behind the scenes union politicking, leadership guidance and testimony to his realistic ideas, which marked him out of his peers.
Among dignitaries that graced the occasion were Commissioner for Information, Bamidele Olateru-Olateju and her Agriculture and Forestry counterpart, Olayato Aribo, Head of Service, Kayode Ogundele, retired Head of Service, Jose Kudehinbu retired and serving Permanent Secretaries.

Williams Olufunmi was able to command such gathering by virtue of what he symbolised professionally, religiously and intellectually; William's Olufunmi meant different things to people in that Hall.

Nike Busari, Director of News and Current Affairs of OSRC, who had been his subordinate at the OSRC and at the Ministry of Information, shed light on how Bobo Check came to become the celebrant's appellation.
"Everytime, he kept records of all reports he assigned. Do not think he has forgotten them. It might be a month or after, he will invite you and say, "you are yet to submit the report you were to do on .... Mama Check/Bobo Check as the case may be, you can do it. Let me have it as soon as possible." He has a grasp of how to make anyone perform the task he gives, by imbue in such believe in his/herself.

His chum from onset and still a close friend, the former Chairman of Ondo Council and former Deputy National President of the NUJ, the Olu Imoru of Imoru, His Royal Majesty, Oba Rotimi Obamuwagun described him as a most loyal, trustworthy and reliable person.

   Bobo Check lacks a pulchritude that gives him away as an embodiment of a man with great capabilities. He is almost dimunitive. The light skinned man speaks with the solemnity of a man who is not neither in hurry nor perturbed. He takes life easy; everything that occurs to him is hardly reflected in his disposition. Call him a mild character and not  many will disagree with your opinion. Beneath this mien is a man who knows his onions.

Bobo Check does not speak on top of his voice but it is not easy to make him change his well-informed opinion. A few years ago, when Ondo NUJ started real politicking of choosing chairman by consensus, someone was selected. A shocked William's Olufunmi called me aside and said, "the man you have chosen is the wrong choice. He cannot perform. I am lost for words. Mind my words, I will sit down and watch without partaking in the union affairs." He was proved right as the man proved him right.

   In the days of Rotimi Obamuwagun, who is now a traditional ruler and later Dele Atunbi as Chairmen of the  Council, Bobo Check was the power behind the throne. He was  coming up with ideas and propelling them to improve the system better than they met it. The current Chairman of the Council, Leke Adegbite described Bob Check as one of his major pillars of support and driving force.

His loyalty towards his friends is total. A few years ago, Oba Obamuwagun told me how Bobo Check was instrumental to his having a house at Obaile. According to him, after purchasing the land, it was William's Olufunmi that brought sand there and started the foundation when he was dilly-dallying.

True to his Christian faith, Bobo Check is ready to forgive any misdeeds, against him, the weight notwithstanding. If there is a journalist that encourages the younger ones to give their best, Olufunmi is the one.

Olufunmi's knack for News gathering and writing is unrivalled. Bold as a lion, he came face to face with death while covering the Ife-Modakeke crisis.  In his days as Head of Reportorial at OSRC, before a reporter comes back from an assignment, Bobo Check would have written not less than four headlines for the report. All the correspondent needed was to supply the intro and the body to one of the titles.

A producer per excellence, William's Olufunmi was the brain behind, the pace-setting, award winning Caring Heart program that made the government of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko a cynosure of all. When the perceived former Olusegun Agagu loyalists were shipped out of OSRC and dumped at the Ministry of Information, it was not unusual. And as normal human beings, morale of the entire team was dampened to lowest ebb. The then only Director in the Ministry, who later became a Permanent Secretary, Mrs Julie Fayeun, invited them to her office. She charged them to show the stuff they were made of, rather than allow the deployment to dampen their enthusiasm for the job. It was the impetus Williams Olufunmi needed to go out full blast. It was an opportunity, to strut his stuff. He dug into his fertile brain and devised an usual News documentary program, the type that had never been done by any government ministry in this area.
   Caring Heart was his magnum opus. He gathered his troops: Nike Busari, Babatunde Yakubu, Seun Adetola, Bode Akinwumi, Adeola Adeniyi, Debbie Funmilayo and the crew: MacBio, Bamoo, Tope Oyinkolade, Niyi Akinola and Kehinde Adewumi and they came up with the idea, a unique way of projecting  government activities in documentary format. And what a work they made of it! The records, which are eloquent testimony to expertise of the crack team, are there to show.

  It was through the program that the presentation ability of the man with baritone voice Bode Akinwumi came to the fore. Bode, who at OSRC, was a newscaster on Radio and sub-editor, became a star on the program. Ditto, Seun Adetola. Yakubu's case was not new to his professional colleagues. He had always been a unique voice as a reporter and occasional newscaster on the Telly. Also, two rookies, Adeola Adeniyi and Debbie Funmilayo got their presentation skills discovered and honed. William's Olufunmi gives enough room for his subordinates to manifest their hidden talents. He  nurtures talents to maturity.

  It got to a stage that an appreciative Governor Olusegum Mimiko hosted the team and asked Olufunmi what their challenges were. Bobo Check said, "the only problem we have is that some of my team members are temporary staff. Its demoralising them" There and then, the Commissioner, Kayode Akinmade was directed to get the file for their employment to the Governor's Office. Six of them got instant employment into the Civil Service! A good leader fights the cause of his followers.

It was Commissioner in charge of Information, Bamidele Olateru-Olateju, who summed up the relevance and uniqueness of the broadcast journalist of repute. She said: there is no one like William's Olufunmi in Ministry of Information. He is irreplaceable.
The woman, a newspaper columnist, who acknowledged that she did not know Bobo Check, before she came to the Ministry, commended him for his dint of hardwork and prompt response to delivery of assigned jobs.
Olateru capped it up, saying, "I will not allow you to go. We need you. You will still work for the government."
What a testimony to the bountiful  abilities of William's Olufunmi, alias Bobo Check.

The rejected stone has become the head of a corner.



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