A Lifetime of Service



It was Malvalio who said in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

Professor Idowu Akanbi Sobowale achieved greatness. Born 4th January 1941, in Ashipa near Abeokuta to a peasant farmer and a petty trader mother, he was a farmer and apprentice mechanic in his first twelve years. It was not until January 1954 that he first saw the four walls of a classroom.

Throughout his primary school, he showed great thirst for education that saw him frequently leading his class. He attended the Lagos Baptist Academy for his secondary education, graduating in 1964. After his secondary education, he secured a job with Lagos City Council as a health inspector. He was to last on the job for only six days as a chance meeting with Mr. Bisi Onabanjo, an old student of the Baptist Academy, facilitated an introduction to Mr. Babatunde Jose, who employed him at the Daily Times. He was one of the pioneer students at the Daily Times Training School who were expected to complete 12 months’ training before being deployed to the newsroom. He was so outstanding in class that after spending only two months, Mr. Leslie W. Riley, the Australian director of the school, recommended that he be deployed immediately.

He later attended the University of Lagos where he received a Diploma and BA (HONS) degree in mass communication. In 1975, he left the Daily Times to join his University of Lagos as an assistant lecturer in the Institute of Mass Communication. A year later, he left for Syracuse University, USA, for his masters’ degree but returned in 1978 with a PhD degree, specializing in Precision or Scientific Journalism.

Whilst in the employ of the University of Lagos, he also introduced opinion polling to Nigerian journalism by establishing a Public Opinion Polling Desk at the Punch newspaper under the leadership of Mr. Sam Amuka. The findings of the first wave of surveys were published in The Punch of 11th April, 1979.

A firm believer in the collaboration of the Town and Gown, he served as a special assistant to the Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, and as commissioner for Education to the government of Governor Bola Tinubu in Lagos.

He was appointed a Professor of Journalism by the Lagos State University which he helped to establish in 1983. On Thursday, September 29, 2005, Prof. Sobowale delivered his inaugural lecture on the topic, “Opinion Polling in Nigeria: The Neglected Route to National Development”. He was Dean, Adebola Adegunwa School of Communication, Lagos State University from where he went on to develop the postgraduate programme in mass communication at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State.

Prof. Sobowale’s pioneering activities amongst others made the government of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo award him the national honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger, (OON) during the fourth republic.

For his lifelong devotion to media development, for his commitment to producing hundreds of scholars who are today holding responsible positions in various in the communications industry, Professor Idowu Sobowale is being honoured with the DAME Lifetime Achievement Award at the 23rd DAME.


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