Dele Momodu is a renowned journalist and politician. He contested in the 2015 presidential election that brought in President Muhammadu Buhari under the platform of National Conscience Party (NCP) but he lost his candidature in the election.
Humble to the core, the Ovation publisher, popularly known as ‘Bob Dee’ in the media circle, spoke with Effects recently during a meeting at the presidential suite of Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
You just clocked 58, what lessons have you learnt in life?
One of the lessons I have learnt in life is that you must be very consistent in whatever you do. You must have passion for what you do, and you must be loyal. You must be loyal to your beliefs, you must be loyal to your friends, and you must be loyal to people around you, so that God can bless you.
You are very humble, was it your background that influenced you?
I’m just a reporter. I come from a very humble background and I didn’t come to Lagos until I was about 28. I lived the first 28 years of my life in a rural setting. I came to Lagos in search of greener pastures in 1988. My mother was a stark illiterate; she couldn’t speak one word of English. My father died when I was only 13 in 1973. So coming to Lagos was fully for me to change who I am.
I’m very proud of my background. I don’t hide my background. Nobody will see me today call me aje butter, I’m aje pako. That is just the truth. That is the reality. I’m working very hard to bring up my children well. They attend good schools and have good education because without education, maybe I will still be in Ile-Ife.
Growing up, which of your parents influenced you?
My mum definitely influenced me positively. I was 13 when my father died. My mum influenced me greatly. She’s what I call wisdom of the ancient people and she shared the wisdom with me.
The Yoruba are highly philosophical people, but I’m originally from Edo state. My father hails from Edo state, but settled in Ile Ife. He met my mum and they got married. But, I am more Yoruba in outlook.
I have a first degree in Yoruba from the then University of Ife, and Masters in Literature in English from Obafemi Awolowo University. The influence is very strong from my mother.
You have travelled a lot, where would you pick as your favourite holiday destination?
I hardly travel for holiday. I can’t remember ever traveling for holiday. I try to multitask; I combine a lot of things. I love Ghana. I love Britain, I live in Britain, and I’m virtually British.
I love Dubai. Dubai is very good. I have been to different parts of Australia. I have been on the entire continent but there are still many countries to conquer. I like South Africa. Now, I’m in love with Kigali. I go to Rwanda a lot.
You have a good fashion sense, do you always wear designers outfits?
No, I don’t. Most times, I wear my buba and sokoto. I like African and Nigerian attire. God has blessed me with so many designers who have been very kind to me. One of them brought me 10 different outfits at one time. I didn’t pay a dime, you won’t believe it. Whenever I travel, I only buy shoes if I can afford it. I buy wrist watches, if I can afford it. I don’t live above my income.
What advice do you have for youths because a lot of people are looking up to you?
A lot of youths are also abusing us on social media. It doesn’t matter. I read somewhere in the Bible, ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing’. Many times, the youths of today feel that every successful man is responsible for their frustrations, for their failures, so they think everybody who is successful must be a rogue or a thief.
Some people will tell you that Ovation Magazine promotes corruption. What do we do that other journals don’t do. As a matter of fact, nearly every newspaper is copying what we are doing through Glitterati, through fashion & style, through entertainment, paparazzi, and fashion.
We don’t like stories. We are better at being a pictorial magazine. If you are having a wedding, you will invite Pastor Adeboye to officiate, he will come there pray for the couple, then you go to reception, the event planner will plan, people will eat and drink. You will invite D’Banj to come and sing. Comedians such as Basket Mouth or Bovi or Ali Baba will be invited to entertain guests with rib-cracking jokes.
Then after the wedding, you will come and grab the photographer and claim that they are the ones promoting corruption. You left Adeboye, you left the MC, you left D’Banj, but you focus on photographers. It is sad that journalists are also part of this conspiracy.
But that is the price you have to pay for success in life. Everybody talks about Ovation magazine as if it fell from heaven. It’s a product manufactured by a Nigerian. We don’t cover government events, all newspapers have their correspondents in different state houses, and we are not there. So how can we now be the ones promoting corruption? All we do is take pictures.
Ovation magazine shows you how people are spending their money, and you can’t blame the magazine for telling rich people’s stories. You should go and grab the person who stole your money.
If you say you don’t want to see it, don’t buy the magazine. The options are there. But I’m very proud that 80 percent of our content has nothing to do with government officials.
Most people don’t even read what they are condemning. They don’t even see it. When her Majesty the Queen was coming to Nigeria, we applied to the Ministry of Information for accreditation and everything, they didn’t give us.
went back to Ghana in frustration only to get a call from the Deputy British High Commissioner telling me that Buckingham palace chose two publications in the whole of Nigeria. Ovation magazine and This Day magazine were chosen as official publications for the visit.
That was how Nduka Obaigbena and I met the Queen. No matter what happens, if you are great, people must oppose you. If you look at our Lord Jesus Christ, people hated him so much that he lived only 33 days on earth. But today, he’s the biggest celebrity of all times.
So, if you are a believer you will know there’s no great man who has not been attacked. In fact, when I came to Lagos in 1988, the most hated man in Nigeria was the late MKO Abiola. It was because of joblessness that we agreed to work for Abiola after the kind of things we heard about him.
When we started working for him, we found out that most of the things they are telling us about Abiola were not true. Recently, somebody said Abiola sank a whole ship load of Holy Bible, how? Was he working in the Nigerian navy or what did he use to confisticate the shipload.
I’m happy that today Ovation magazine is inspiring a new generation of journalists. Funmi Iyanda, the famous TV presenter, said before there was Instagram there was Ovation.
What Instagram is doing today is what ovation has been doing for 22 years. We hardly sleep. If you are on my WhatsApp page, 2.am, 3.am you will still see me online. I’m still uploading stories. I’m working round the clock and we push our team very hard. We are oversubscribed globally.
There was a guy who did a wedding outside Nigeria and put it on a different platform and when they couldn’t get a good feedback, they now had to come to Ovation magazine. That gives us joy that after 22 years, we keep re-inventing while some publications have fizzled out in that time.
Now, there’s the Ovation TV project which is a great initiative. We have The Boss Newspaper online. We are growing.