Awujale’s moment of glory
• Clocks 83, endows professorial chair in governance
By Gabriel Dike & Lawrence Enyoghasu
ijebu land literally stood still on Wednesday, May 10, 2017, as the Awujale of Ijebu land, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, clocked 83 years old. He also hosted the first inaugural lecture of a professorial chair in governance at the Department of Political Science, Olabisi Onabajo University (OOU), Ago Iwoye.
Kabiyesi was born on May 10, 1934. He ascended the throne on January 4, 1960, and coronated on Saturday, April 2, 1960, at 26.
Early in the morning of Wednesday, May 10, the palace was bubbling with visitors and indigenes paying homage. Equally, the Odutola Hall, venue of the lecture was beehive of activities.
Prayers were earlier offered at the palace for his good health, long life, prosperity for the kingdom and peace in Ijebuland. The monarch expressed gratitude to God for keeping him alive, hale and hearty.
Prominent Nigerians present included, Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, representatives of Ogun and Osun state governments, former governor Gbenga Daniel, Senator Gbenga Kaka, Senator Olorunibe Mamora, two vice chancellors, many academia, business moguls, traditional rulers, local government chairmen and principal officers of OOU lead by the outgoing VC, Prof Saburi Adesanya.
Delivering the inaugural lecture, Prof Ayo Olukotun, Department of Political Science, OOU, told the audience that endowed chairs arrived late in the Nigerian academic culture and that seven decades after the first university was established, “you can count the number of such facilities in Nigeria.” He said the Oba Adetona endowment is arguably one of the most generous in the country and constitutes an example of the much talked about Awujale standard:
“I devote this lecture to an exploration of the role, record and changing profile of the media in Nigeria’s emergent democracy. As many in this audience know, my career straddles town and gown, having alternated between university departments and editorial boardrooms of newspapers. This informs my choice of specialisation in Political Communication, especially, the linkage between the media and governance. I do hope that the thoughts which are shared here and the data deployed to substantiate them will be refined in the course of the exchange and feedback that attend the lecture.”
In the lecture titled: “Governance and the Media in an Emergent Democracy: A Study of the Role, Record and Changing Profile of the Nigerian Media 1999-2017,” Olukotun tasked Nigerian media to champion national unity and shun corruption in the face of economic downturn.
He explained that one of the major problems facing the performance of media is the festering of corruption, which has become a global issue, adding that the ethic division in the country is also contributing to the national disunity, as it is reflected on the contents of the newspapers and their location:
“Ownership of media does not correspond with geographical location, considering that even though, major media institutions are based in the Yoruba speaking areas, especially Lagos and Ibadan, they are not owned by Yoruba.
“That said, there is no running away from the fact that despite the efforts of our media to build trans-ethnic identities and in some cases increase their market share across our federal geography, ethnicity, region and religion remain potent divisive issues. As a contradiction to media reformism, is the issue of corruption which although, is a global problem, tends to be uniquely expressed in Nigeria, the media inclusive.
“Nevertheless, the media will have to maintain, even enlarge the crusading and reformist outlooks with which they have been historically associated. To do this, they must increase efforts to rid their ranks of corruption, as well as ensure that employers of media pay their workers, as and at when due. Journalists should not be content with merely reflecting society, must rise above the corrupt polity by demonstrating that they take the values they canvass seriously.
“The media will be stronger still and become better instruments of national integration if the organisations that cater to a national audience make conscious efforts to carry along perspectives that are based in regions other than the ones in which they are located. Of course, there is nothing wrong with regional newspapers or even community ones, but those must be so defined and should avoid being so provincial than they are of little national value.”
To kick-start donation for the endowed chair, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo who spoke on “The Power of Giving,” congratulated the Awujale: “He is doing the right thing and many more should emulate him, because no one takes anything out of this world. But giving is one of the most powerful things on earth.”
He appealed to wealthy Nigerians to emulate the monarch’s gesture by endowing worthy legacies for the society to remember them even after they have gone: “Giving creates a future for your children, others will remember you and favour them and giving immortalises your name.”
Mr. Olatunji Ayanlaja, chairman Board of Trustees (BoT) of the chair disclosed that they have raised about N450million to be reinvested in OOU: “As we promised that we will be accountable and agile, I would like to inform you that we have raised about N450million which we have invested in a undying business and the proceeds will be used for the benefit of this chair.”