Benson Idonije (born 13 June 1936) is a Nigerian broadcaster and music critic popularly known for being the first band manager of Afrobeat musician Fela Kuti.

Regarded as one of Nigeria’s most revered music critics, he was part of the pioneering group of broadcasters who started Radio Nigeria 2 (now Metro FM) in 1977.

Idonije was born in Otuo, with his family house at ighera, one of the twelve quarters of Otuo, a town in Owan East local government area of Edo State, Nigeria, where he began his early education.

He completed his secondary school education at Holy Trinity Grammar School, Sabongida Ora, where he obtained a Cambridge School Certificate before proceeding to Yaba College of Technology where he studied Communications Engineering.

Idonije started writing about jazz-related articles and columns for several newspapers including the Morning Post Newspaper in 1953.

In 1957, he began his career as an Engineering Assistant at the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (now Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria) before he moved into mainstream broadcasting in 1960, presenting and anchoring popular on-air programmes such as The Big Beat and Stereo Jazz Club.

In 1963, Benson Idonije met the legendary Afrobeats pioneer, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and this became one of the most cherished moments in his career and life. In an interview with Yinka Olatubosun of This Day Live, Benson spoke on how he met Fela Kuti and the time they spent together.

“I was presenting a jazz programme called ‘NBC Jazz Club’,” he disclosed. “Fela had listened to my programme on radio for a month. Then, one Thursday night, he drove down to the broadcasting house in Ikoyi to see who was behind the show. He came to the studio and introduced himself. That was how we became friends. He admired my knowledge of jazz and I admired his musicianship. He was a fine trumpeter. From that night, we bonded.

“We nurtured the idea of a quintet. I helped to assemble his new band until 1965 when his mother advised us to go back to highlife. In London, Fela was playing highlife before he began playing jazz. We went back to highlife. It is a very long story and we called the band ‘Koola Lobitos’. I was more familiar with the Nigerian music scene then so I helped him to manage the band.

“I managed the band till 1969 when he travelled on international tours. I still managed his band till the early 70s. My management work with him was on the basis of friendship and not exactly a business deal. I had to advise him, show him the rope and generally guide him because he was easily provoked.

I worked with him from 1963 till 1974. But I didn’t quit. He just didn’t need a manager of my type anymore. He needed managers abroad that would link him into big shows. We were still friends till he died.”

Prior to his retirement from broadcasting in 1992, he was once appointed as the Principal Lecturer and Training Officer of the FRCN Training School for eight years. Upon his retirement, he began to write and contribute critiques, opinions and articles to several art-related media houses in Nigeria before he got a job as a writer for The Guardian in 1996 where he wrote columns including “Evergreen”, “Sound and Screen” and “All That Jazz”.

In 2012, The Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism awarded him the Life Time Award for Journalism Excellence. He is a fellow of Adam Fiberesima School of Music and Conservatory, University of Port Harcourt.

Idonije is the grandfather of Nigerian singer Burna Boy and he father of Bose Ogulu. To celebrate his 80th birthday, a week-long event featuring paper presentations and musical performances was organized by the Committee of Relevant Arts and Culture Advocates Caucus in several parts of Lagos including the Ojo campus of the Lagos State University, Freedom Park, Broad Street and the MUSON Centre.