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The Return Of Edmund Obilo to Splash FM: The Cloned Or The Real?

Home, they say, is where the heart is. East, West, North or South. There is no place like home. Home is the Best. Edmund Obilo is back Home!

Perhaps the most dominant and well celebrated news across all spheres in the city of Ibadan, apparently apart from the Political news, is the announcement that Edmund Obilo is back in Splash FM. This announcement which was made by Edmund Obilo himself via a Facebook and twitter posts was roundly communicated and celebrated on Splash FM and its sister station, Lagelu FM. This revelation which came as an unexpected surprise to so many people is one that comes with mixed feeling. Hope this is not and won’t be a cloned Edmund but the real firebrand, radio listeners’ delight we used to know before he left for his sojourn across other radio stations.

Earlier in the month, Edmund Obilo had on his Facebook page, made his intention known about leaving the radio for the time being, apparently to concentrate on his own radio platform: Bush Radio, his podcast and his Signature venture Twinkle as alternative platforms for engaging the people. Before the announcement he had been active on Radio with Inspiration FM both in Ibadan and in Lagos, Rave FM in Oshogbo, Osun state as well as other media platforms.

Leaving the Radio for a Radio man in the mold of Edmund Obilo, is unthinkable especially now that we are in the political season toward the 2019 elections. The sudden change of mind calls for questions.

Why the sudden change?

That Edmund Obilo used to be the darling of radio listerners is a fact that cannot be over emphasized. Everyone, young and old, would eagerly anticipate his coming on air due to a combination of factors such as the respect he commands with his captivating voice, his scholarly mind with which he analyses and dissect local, national and international issues, the courage to ask difficult questions from whoever is his guest on his programs as well as the caliber of persons who he invites as guest on his shows. The combination of these factors made him a house hold name in the “Radio sphere” both in Ibadan and its environs. People loved Edmund.

His time at Splash FM was the blossoming years for both himself and the station. He came and erected himself into the consciousness of many. Before then Edmund Obilo had worked in various capacity at different organization. I understand he was as a sports presenter on Premier FM, Ibadan.

The circumstances that surrounded the exit of Edmund Obilo remain quite hazy. However speculation was rife that it had to do with the disagreement he has with the daughter of the owner of the station, Chief Adebayo Akande. This acrimonious exit left a bitter taste in the mouth of many in Ibadan. The BringbackEdmund trended relatively thereafter. but before then there were evident signs of cracks in the wall of the relationship between the station and Edmund, he once went AWOL without informing listeners when it was not a time for his usual annual leave. This led to speculations that the powers that-be were at logger heads with him. Up till date an interview with a personality who openly criticized the Alaafin of Oyo was never aired after an appetizer was served. He went on a short break or leave afterwards.

The famous displeasure that the Executive Governor of the State Abiola Ajimobi aired over the absence of Edmund from the interview he had invited him to was remarkable. (That edition of the program was anchored by the duo of Oluwaseun Akinola and Michael Olatubosun). This underscored how important Edmund Obilo was.  Edmund came back on air to give a resounding apology to the Governor.  However, the cracks with the station only grew wider until his exit from the station.

Before his exit from the station, Edmund brought to Splash FM the cream de la crème of Nigeria’s political, socio-economic and cultural scene. That is no small measure boosted the coverage and the status that Splash FM had, not just in the southwest but also across the country. The reputation and ratings were high. The arrival of other stations could not affect their ratings overwhelmingly. Perhaps the newest and boldest kid in town at the time; Fresh FM owned by popular musician Yinka Ayefele could lay claim to ruffling the feathers of Splash FM. Fresh FM came with a bang and a brand that Ibadan residence fell in love with. Till today the battle of supremacy still rages on between the two Radio Stations.

To say the exit of Edmund Obilo from Splash FM shocked the whole state will be an understatement. Radio was no longer the same. Current affairs was no longer the same. Splash FM never remained the same and Edmund Obilo with all his subsequent achievements and successes no longer remain the same.  With Edmund’s exit, Fresh FM instinctively took over in the consciousness of many.

Why Edmund had to come back?

The coming home (Splash FM) of Edmund is quite suspicious and auspicious at this time, approaching the elections 2019. There is perhaps no prize for guessing why.

Since leaving Splash FM Edmund Obilo has tried his hands on many endeavors many of which were largely successful. His Bush Radio which is an online radio kicked off, Twinkle was running so was his Radio programmes on various Radio Stations). Inspiration FM was lucky to have him, (he gave them some more traffic especially whenever he was on air). However he wasn’t the same. No disrespect to any station but apparently there is only one Splash FM.

In the same vein, Splash FM too was lacking the feel and vibe that it once had especially in current affairs. No disrespect to other presenters, they are no Edmund Obilo. Thus the feel needed to be back especially as the rivalry between Splash FM and Fresh FM got heightened. Amusingly, Splash had to continually remind us that they are the best. A look at their official Facebook page would reveal the hunger to continually claim that spot. However, they needed someone who could give a further push and effort to their tiring struggle. Edmund is the missing link.

The Political season is back with campaigns gearing up and various personalities revving up to air their programs and manifesto. Radio Stations need that commanding, courageous voice to interrogate and ask serious questions from personalities and contestants. There used to be no better voice in Ibadan than Edmund Obilo. He was the big fish that eminent personalities will not hesitate to jump on his programmes for interviews. Splash FM realizes this and they sure are cashing in on his availability as we approach 2019 electioneering . A big personality like Edmund needs a big platform and vice versa. Thus the new albeit renewed relationship between Edmund and splash is basically a symbiotic relationship. No individual is greater than an establishment but there are some persons who are indispensable. Just as Christine Amanpour, Jake Tapper, are to CNN and Sean Hannity is to Fox News so also is/was Edmund Obilo to Splash FM.

The Fresh FM Rivalry

In all honesty, the major rivalry that exists between Splash FM and neighbouring Fresh FM can be compared with the El Classico rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona. As stated earlier, the arrival to the scene of Fresh FM gave a very good alternative to persons who already suspected that Splash FM was being biased and perceived as being pro-government not even with the perceived persecution of Edmund on the radio. Fresh FM appears more critical of the government and people keyed into their programs. With the likes of Tope Edward, Rolake Bello and Isaac Brown, they began to share listeners. ‘Freshly Pressed’ by Tope Edward is a darling, challenging Ronke Giwa’s ‘Straight from the Dailies’. ‘Voices’ later known as ‘The Conversation’ challenged by ‘Political circuit’, ‘Tifuntedo’ is being challenged by ‘Ajaabale’, ‘Gbanko-gbi’ challenged by ‘O gbenu tan’ etc Their various programmes and time slots were made to coincide and the competition for supremacy became too vivid to ignore.

The exit of Edmund Obilo from Splash FM was like the exit of Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid. They struggled. Indeed while no player is bigger than the club some players carry the image and values of the club. A Barcelona without a Lionel Messi would struggle for a while before a replacement is gotten. Manchester United has not recovered from the exit of Sir Alex Ferguson (Ferguson is a manger anyway). While these analogies may not adequately paint the picture, they offer a snippet into the reality of the issue. Splash still remains Splash after the exit of Edmund as the most listened to radio station, but the presence of Edmund elevates this status more.

Edmund on the other hand struggled a bit from his exit from Splash. His stay with other Stations did not really offer him that latitude and exposure that Splash gave him. Bush Radio, Twinkle were brilliant avenues to reinvent his mojo. None of these ventures matched his popularity and coverage while in Splash FM. It is like a Ronaldo playing in Everton or Valencia. (Forgive the comparism). Big players need big clubs to flourish.

The Ajimobi Factor

Apparently Governor Ajimobi has a special relationship with Edmund Obilo as a journalist. perhaps no Ibadan based journalist commands the kind of respect that Edmund commands with Ajimobi. He was frequently available for interview especially by Edmund. As he is gradually rounding up his tenure as governor of the state, he needs that medium to air his position on his accomplishments and even so his plans as he is gunning for a senatorial seat in his district. The friendly relationship the governor and the APC government has with Splash FM is an open secret. It would not be difficult for the governor to have an interview with anyone in Splash, it would seem, but that is not as easy it seems. With his influence, there are speculations that he was involved in persuading Splash to sign him back into the fold. With Edmund being a free agent and with a juicy contract to sign, the job becomes simpler (forgive my footballing terms).

But the question in the mind of many people considering his manner of initial exit is: which Edmund is back. Is it the fiery Edmund of 2008 to 2015, a very vivacious, critical and unabashed Edmund or a ‘compromised’ Edmund? In this period of suspicion of cloning, (Nnamdi Kanu and President Buhari are alleged to be their cloned self) hope we are not having a cloned Edmund back to the saddle, perhaps just for the ratings. The timing itself raises suspicion but it is indeed a welcome anxiety.

With Edmund Obilo back, the spark in the political scene is undoubtedly back. We can only enjoy the spectacle.

Opinion By Victor Alagogooko for IbadanCity ANNOUNCER

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