Prince Sam Amuka-Pemu is a force to be reckoned in the sphere of journalism. This article serves to furnish you with some interesting facts about the man.
- He was born on the 13th of June 1935 in Sapele, Delta State, Nigeria, into the family of the late Pa Amuka-Pemu and Madam Teshoma Amuka-Pemu.
- Amuka-Pemu is the oldest practising media professional in Nigeria today who had been cited by peers. A book entitled From 1939 to the Vanguard of Modern Journalism written by Kola Muslim Animasaun, who also trained under him, acknowledged his immense contributions to journalism in Nigeria.
- He was a Daily Times of Nigeria editor and the first editor of the Sunday Punch before he established The Punch with his friend, the late Olu Aboderin, in 1971.
- He later established Vanguard Newspaper in 1983 with three other Nigerian columnists.
- Amuka was described as a “Gentleman of the Press” by President Muhammadu Buhari on his 80th birthday. He was described as an icon and a leading light in Nigerian journalism by Nduka Obaigbena, President of the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria.
The Division that came with The ‘Punch’
As earlier stated, Amuka-Pemu is credited with co-founding one of the most vibrant newspapers of all times in Nigeria’s press history – The Punch Newspaper. The newspaper was successful externally but was internally going through a saga between the founders; Aboderin and Amuka-Pemu. The article by Mohammed Haruna, as part of the celebration of Amuka-Pemu’s 70th birthday aptly summarises what transpired in these words.
“Meantime, things were happening on the business side of the paper that Uncle Sam was totally oblivious of. He was simply too happy running a damn good paper to notice that the terms of his partnership with Chief Aboderin were being altered to his disadvantage. By the time he noticed, it was too late to cry, not least because he had unknowingly signed away much of his own shares. Such was Uncle Sam’s trusting nature.
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“Feeling betrayed, Uncle Sam headed to the courts for redress. It was at this point that Chief Sunday Awoniyi, who had met Uncle Sam through Chief Segun Osoba, then a rising star at Daily Times, came to Uncle Sam’s rescue. Chief Awoniyi got him a first-class lawyer to examine his chances of success in his litigation. The lawyer said his case was hopeless and it was best he settled out of court.
“He did so, collected what he could and, in frustration, headed to his village in the then Bendel state to farm. ‘I am a bushman,’ he told Awoniyi and anyone who cared to listen, ‘I’ll go back to my village to farm.’ He did do some “farming”, but it was for fish out in the high seas and from Lagos not in the village.
Problem was Uncle Sam could simply not continue to live in denial – the denial that he has become too much of a newspaperman to stick with anything else. And so one fine day in December of 1983, he drove to Mopa, then in Kwara State, and told Awoniyi he would like to start another newspaper, and would the chief be his partner? To which Awoniyi said yes, and also brought aboard one or two others as shareholders, including Alhaji Shehu Ahmadu Musa, the Makama Nupe.
Opportunity, they say, knocks only once. With Uncle Sam, it knocked twice. Or, more accurately, he went in search of it as someone who never says die. And so it was that over ten years after he started the liveliest newspaper in the country in March 1973, and about six years after being frustrated out of it, he became the publisher of Vanguard. The paper first hit the streets on July 15, 1984. Today, Vanguard is one of the best newspapers in the country. It is also among those with the widest circulation.”
Amuka-Pemu’s contributions to the development of journalism in Nigeria are phenomenal. He is among the very rare Nigerian journalists blessed with long live and remarkable career, whose narrative constitutes a dominant barometer for measuring the nation’s pulse. What President Buhari said during Amuka-Pemu’s 80th birthday (in 2015) sums up Amuka-Pemu’s life as a journalist:
“Chief Sam Amuka-Pemu has provided a worthy example on the fruits of professionalism, industry and teamwork to achieve desired goals. These traits can benefit even the humblest and most silent among professionals, as well as the society with whom they share their lives.”
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