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This week’s guest: Sola Omole

Sola Omole is a distinguished communication and public relations expert. He graduated from the University of Ibadan in 1980 with a first Class. He was…

Sola Omole is a distinguished communication and public relations expert. He graduated from the University of Ibadan in 1980 with a first Class. He was an Announcer and News Reader at the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) now FRCN between 1974 and 1976. He has also worked with Rank Xerox Nigeria Limited as a sales executive. After graduation, Sola Omole served in NTA as a Corp member and was retained as Editor/Newscaster in 1981. He left NTA in 1985, and moved to Gulf Oil Company now Chevron Nigeria Limited as Advisor Public communications. He served Chevron for 25 years in various capacities and retired in 2010 as Manager International Government Affairs (Chevron Washington, DC) after meritorious services. He became CEO of the Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON Centre) in April 2012.  In February 2014, he was appointed Director General of NTA. Sola Omole is married with children. I first met Sola Omole by reputation on television. He was well spoken, business-like and professional. A much admired national broadcaster, he delivered the News on Television like he was born reading it. Elegant, crisp with a receding smile that says “Don’t go away”. Nothing prepared me for meeting him physically, nothing at all until he became NTA’s Director General in February 2014. He became unquestionably the much needed tonic NTA needed to take it back to its glory days. Arriving NTA  to take up the appointment, Sola Omole extended his hand and with a glint in his eye said “ I thought you had left”. “Congratulations”, I said, “I am very happy for you. No I am still a here”. And so began that the zeal to make NTA the leading brand it is expected to be. A rejuvenation of NTA is underway much to his credit and that of his new management. His favourite saying is “Bring your A game to work.” He turned 63 on November 14, 2014 and few weeks ago WNTV, first TV in Africa from where NTA emerged turned 55 years old. It is fitting therefore that he should be my guest. In addition, he has to be one of my finest guests on this page. So much to learn from his choices. Enjoy the five favourite books of my inspiring and affable boss!

What was the last book you bought?
 The difficulty in answering such a question is that I buy several books at the same time. I would often walk into a book store and buy ten books. When I lived in the United States I bought books directly from Barnes and Noble and amazon.com. I used to do something very silly then. Although I had a kindle, after I purchase an ebook, I would still go to a bookshop and buy the physical book because I like the look and feel of a real book. These days, I invest in hardcovers. Books are pieces of aesthetic beauty.
I don’t like shopping so when I go shopping with my wife I always have a book to read.
I really don’t remember the last book I bought but I have a couple of favourite authors.

2) What time of day do you read?
My schedule has really changed since becoming DG of NTA. Before now, I usually will go to bed at 9pm and wake up at 2-3am and go to my study to read until 7am then I go back to sleep. Occasionally I wake up in the morning and go to my garden. I sit in the gazebo listening to the birds and reading. I am never able to read in my bed as I consider my bed a sleeping place.

3) What book made an impact on you when you were growing up?
It will have to be a book like Things Fall Apart. The impact it made on me was not something that happened consciously. Achebe is a master storyteller. If one looks away from the page, one can literally see the drama unfolding so vividly. I have various editions of Things Fall Apart.

4)   What is your favourite reading place?
I read mostly in my study. I also travel read. I used to love watching movies when I fly but over the years I have lost interest in watching movies.
Now, I read books. I serial read, I am often known to be reading three books at the same time.

5) What book did you never finish reading?
Once  I start a book, I try very hard to get through it. There was a book that I had to read. The author felt he was the best creation of God. Everything went right because he was there. I was totally put off by the book, but I finished it. It’s not a book I will go back to.

6) What book have you read which you thought wow! I could have written that book?
Whatever I was reading after an American Presidential election. Americans are brilliant at  turning out books. There were many books about how Mick Rooney was prepared for the Presidential debate. I have read the one on John Mc Cain and how they picked Sarah Palin.
As a communicator myself, I enjoyed the prep for presidential debates. The structure, the messages. You see where they are talking to a presidential candidate as though he were a schoolboy.
Also a book you recently gave me Talk Like Ted. My word, that’s something I can teach. To teach people to talk with passion.
The description of entrepreneurial passion in the book is something I took away.
“Entrepreneurial passion is a positive intense feeling that you experience about something that is profoundly meaningful to you as an individual”.

The Clifton Chronicles by Jeffrey Archer. I stumbled on this book in a store in California and bought it. When my son was expecting his own son, we all gathered around waiting for the arrival of the baby so I invited my in-law for a walk. We went into Barnes and Nobles and I found the 2nd volume then I bought the 3rd and 4th one. Suspenseful!

John Grisham’s books are legal thrillers. The other day on my way back from a trip, I was on the plane with the INEC chairman Professor Attahiru Jega and he was reading a Grisham. I thought to myself, this is a reading soul mate.
Segun Adeniyi’s Power, Politics and Death– An incredible book I was amazed that an individual can have the amount of influence he had in decision making at the highest level. I believe President Yar’Adua must have had a lot of respect for him.
Any books on American Politics. The Americans commit their political experience to books. I have read Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice. These books help you understand leadership and decision making processes. I have also read Obafemi Awolowo and I have read Ghandhi. Ghandi is one of the few books I have in Paperback because I could not leave it. Great narrative about the life of an exceptional individual.

Wole Soyinka: You Must set Forth at Dawn. I got someone to get me the hardcover. Then I went to a congressional hearing for Africa in Washington DC and was Africa’s representative for Chevron at the time. I saw Professor Soyinka. But I did not have the book so I went up to him to autograph a piece of paper for me for the book telling him I had a copy at home and hoping he would believe me, he did.