Toyin Akinosho @ 60: “He does it his own Way, always.” -Foluso Ogunsan Jr
HE is my uncle and probably the one I get along with the most because for a decade I’ve associated with him in more ways than filial affiliations.
Though, I’d known him since I was a child. I began a new knowledge of him circa 2010, or thereabout. He is the publisher of the Africa Oil+Gas Report. The journal he touts as the “go-to” for factual oil and gas industry news in Nigeria and, I daresay Africa. The industry bible, so to speak — the first three are his words not mine. I work at this journalistic enterprise.
He has steadily built his journal platform from the ground up with real hard knocks, a far cry from the shielded bubble of the oil executive life he spent but a fraction short of two decades in. Having had to learn the nitty-gritty of earning power culled out of appropriate information utility dissemination, since his departure from the daily grind of the oil industry, he’s gradually been carving a niche for economically relevant information reportage.
He had help. He didn’t think it all up out of the blue.
A love for writing was etched into his mind dating back to his secondary school days at Baptist Academy by a teacher of his. Her name is forever etched in his constantly working mind. News reportage is first and foremost his first love. Then there is the love for literature and the ability to script out an articulate narrative, his barely discernible yet legibly formative handwriting notwithstanding, has kept him informing the discerning reader factually.
Geology and Earth Sciences came relatively easy to him. He is very smart and logical. Application of formulae and knowledge of earth formations and facie development merely a practical application of deployable aptitude for utilitarian results. Simply put, he knew just where and how to apply the Geology he studied at the University of Ife (now OAU) in the Nigerian oil industry. Application of machine learning dampened the outdoorsy spirit he enjoyed that came with the job.
SINCE 2010, I’ve known Oluwatoyin A.Akinosho as an informative writer for the development and growth of the oil industry. His journal is the premier homegrown hydrocarbon industry journal from Nigeria by a Nigerian. He has a lot of unique selling points to be reckoned wiith as the leader in that field.
Firstly, he knows about hydrocarbon production and development from a geological viewpoint. The very beginning of it all. Secondly, he knows a lot of the operators in the field — he either learned at their feet or grew up with them. Advantageous placement we shall call it. In the restrictive, vaguely opaque, information-withholding Nigerian oil and gas industry, he holds a penetrative access to it. Thirdly he has the wizened ability to digest, transform and regurgitate numerical facts and figures to literarily relatable details for a reader. How he does it? Simple! He gets end-of-year-reports/annual general meetings report of companies, studies the numbers and assessments to ascertain progression… “I write facts and figures” is a constant refrain of his. He is also quick to admit he knows not all of it. Fourth yet not least, he has for many years been a Fellow of Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationist (NAPE), the Nigerian body gathering all upstream industry professionals together. A privileged seat, you may say!
BORN same year Nigeria rebirthed into independence, his loyalty to his homeland is more than skindeep. A man of many worlds, he strides effortlessly from the natural science world, to the literary world, to the cultural world to the economic world. A lover of the nightlife, his restlessness had and may still have him fleeting from scene to scene. A loner at heart, his real element is mostly alone writing up a “piece” be it hydrocarbon-industry related or culturally inclined. A collector of books and fine arts, he is a bibliophile and possibly closet curator. His dwelling is an archive of literary materials. Uncle Toyin is detailed and impatient. An irascible perfectionist. Easily dislikeable and barely tolerable, Oluwatoyin Akinosho rubs off as an enigma to most. A jolly spendthrift to the observing many, yet financially accountable with a notable handful.
Not easy to please yet appreciative when the need arises. He unsparingly separates the wheat from the chaff. A realist by nature, he’s had his fair share of ups and downs. Starting afresh with a struggling business, threat to life, working with different manner(s) of staff, financial upheavals etc. He continues to weather the storms. Long emboldened with a giver’s spirit, he is at heart a philanthropist san the fat pockets nor media hype. The Lagos Book & Arts Festival (LABAF), borne out of the desire to push the cause of literary arts, sprung out of his deep vision to facilitate the development of the human capital resources of Nigeria and Africa. He is all about mental capacitation of Africans, especially the youth. CORA winning The Prince Claus Award in 2006 was a tonic to his mission. Yet, he’s not too inclined to share. A look at his history explains why – ‘Toyin Akinosho, as he addresses himself, is an only offspring. From a very young age, he’s had a lot to himself, starting off with a whole room to himself at the then prestigious Festac Town in 1979, earning money writing as an undergraduate, getting into the oil industry when it was recruiting fresh young minds, arming them with buckets load of cash and living life as best as he could. A psyche like that… difficult to change! As he steps into the class of a newly minted “Senior Citizen”, he can say proudly as he belts out his best Frank Sinatra song “I DID IT MY WAY”. A happy birthday to you Sir. Many more years I wish you.
Foluso Ogunsan Jr is a staff of the Africa Oil+Gas Report
Essay excerpted with the kind permission of the author from “Poblishaaa…The Man, His Arts, The Myth: Dissecting the interventions of Alfred Oluwatoyin Akinosho in the enterprise of Culture Production, Art Advocacy & Criticisms” http://www.lagosbookartfestival.org/reports-resources/toyin-akinosho-60-commemorative-publicatione-book/