A Lifetime of Service


22nd DAME AWARDS

A News Pioneer

CITATION OF MRS. OMOBOLA ONAJIDE, LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT RECIPIENT OF THE ALEX IBRU PRIZE AT THE 22nd DAME

OMOBOLA ONAJIDE (née Akpata) has the honour of being the first Nigerian female graduate to work in a Nigerian television newsroom. A 1961 graduate of Public Administration from the University of Hull, she joined the Western Nigeria Television Service as a sub editor in 1961, two years after Africa's first television station was established.

She recalls that in the era of intergovernmental cooperation, it was Christopher Kolade, western regional manager for the then Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation, who interviewed him for the job. Although she had the choice of working in the programmes department as a handful of women had chosen, she opted for the topsy turvy world of news broadcasting.

For a long time she was the only female graduate in this male-dominated profession, holding her grounds as a diligent and conscientious journalist.

The WNTV job was a rekindling of a love which had been ignited in January 1955 when she joined Amalgamated Press of Nigeria Ltd, publishers of Daily Service, Irohin Yoruba, and the Nigerian Tribune as a Reporter in training on 8 pounds per month for a 6 month probationary period.

Born exactly 78 years ago on November 23, 1935, she had her early education in Benin before completing her secondary school education at St. Anne's Girls School, Ibadan.

As a measure of her diligence, she had been assigned by WNTV to accompany the entourage of the Western Region Governor, Col Adekunle Fajuyi and the Head of State, Major General Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi during Ironsi's visit to the west in 1965 but unfortunately both men were assassinated the day the assignment was to have begun. She describes the two soldiers as two of the most incredible men that ever lived.

After twelve years of meritorious service in Ibadan, the then governor of Midwest State, Colonel Samuel Ogbemudia in January 1973 asked for the WNTV management's permission for her to come and start Midwest Television. The Ogbemudia administration had previously asked the British Broadcasting Corporation to send someone for the same job. Unfortunately, the person ran into some difficulty as he had only a radio background.

After two years of steering Midwest Television, Mrs. Onajide was sacked by the military administration of Colonel George Innih that replaced Ogbemudia's in 1975. For the next ten years, she worked in Lagos with the federal government variously as chief information officer, special assistant to the Rotimi Williams-led Constitution Drafting Committee, and also as special assistant, media in the office of Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme. A Christian by faith and an Anglican by choice, she also served the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion as a Diocesan and Provincial communicator.

A chorister for the past 70 years, Mrs. Onajide still sings in the choir of Our Saviour's Church, Tafawa Balewa, Lagos.

For her contributions to public broadcasting, nation building and the cause of responsible journalism, Mrs. Omobola Onajide is being conferred with the Lifetime Achievement Award of DAME.

 

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