Musikilu Mojeed, the editor-in-chief of Premium Times, has narrated how he got inspiration to write a book on letters written by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The journalist spoke on Thursday during the launch of his book titled ‘The Letterman’.
The 492-page book, which focuses on the letters of Obasanjo, is said to be a product of seven years of “assiduous research”.
During a panel session anchored by Kadaria Ahmed, founder/CEO at Radio Now 95.3FM Lagos, Mojeed said he became interested in the letters after a tour of the Olusegun Obasanjo presidential library in Abeokuta, the Ogun capital.
“Years back, I went to interview baba Obasanjo in Abeokuta. We later toured his presidential library. We went to a one-floor building in the library. We would see several files; we saw artefacts, documents that were well-labelled, and thousands of books,” he said.
“But what fascinated me the more were the letters; some in blue and red boxes. What I was thinking at the time was that maybe there would be letters here that turn into exclusive stories.
“I drew one of the boxes. I saw it labelled ‘correspondences with foreign media’. As I was about to flip through, OBJ and his men were leaving the library and that was when I got interested in the letters.
“I told myself ‘I need to come back here; if not for the stories, but for great stories that could arise here’.
“[Former] President Obasanjo did not give me access to the letters, even till now. This book is a complete unauthorised work. Even I can accuse him of blocking access. Later, I went back to Abeokuta to have an interview with baba Obasanjo. In any case, what I was thinking is ‘any possible means; telling baba that you want to check his letters’. I wasn’t sure he would allow that.
“Baba Obasanjo is the coordinator of the library. I tried to reach the deputy coordinator of the library; I couldn’t. I later telephoned the management of the library and told them that I want to do research in the library while it was yet to be opened. When I was asked what kind of research, I told them I want to look at the books and documents in the library.
“During the visit, I spent three days. But I was warned that I couldn’t take anything out of the library nor photocopy any material. But the staff saw that I was more interested in the letters. I was scouring through the letters. While they were warning me about leaving with the letters, I had to use my journalism skills. I had my phone and iPad taking photos of the letters.
“When they saw me around the letters again, they had to tell me to get official permission from the board of the library. I wrote the letter and till today, I got no response.”
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