TWO decades later, the entire resident staff of the LASU Communication programme opted to celebrate the evolution of a vision that has matured over time and radiated so much brightness to the delight of all stakeholders in and outside of LASU, including the diverse recipient sectors. Call this a break to reflect, you won’t be wrong. Declare it a popular pause for some moments of rejoicing, you are also right. It was one whole week that united all the stakeholders in a cheerful mood.
Unprecedentedly all-encompassing. It tore through the severe tide of the nation’s harsh season with the so-called off-and-on days of fuel price hike-induced palliative. The entire family congregated for the greatest celebrations ever in the arena of the Communication programme at LASU. Enough for everyone to eat, drink and even wear. Spontaneous dance steps of the joyous with flying hands hailing the accompanying music from the itinerant mega speakers spread across the entire faculty, spilling into the campus main road and the adjoining ones. For a whole week, beginning Sunday, September 24, 2023, the Faculty of Communication and Media Studies flaunted conspicuous felicity all through till Saturday, September 30, 2023.
At the height of it all, joyfully led by the first Dean of the Faculty of Communication and Media Studies, FCMS (until very recently, the Faculty was called School of Communication), Prof Sunday Olayinka Alawode, both the teaching and non-teaching staff embarked on a delightful adventure to the historic Ikeja Airport Hotel. This was where we all loosened up in free-flowing, colourful apparel to do justice to tasteful meals, drinks, and dance sessions with a live band on standby. Joy for all with assorted, exciting punctuations.
Anike-Ade Funke Treasure, the near six-footer female compere for the luncheon clad up in a fashionably roomy boubou, was the cynosure of all when she seized the centre stage and requested resounding applause to herald the grand entry of the boss of the Faculty, Prof Alawode. Promptly, the multi-genre media expert announced that it was a day for multiple awards with plenty to celebrate with. The high point of the presentations was that for our late leader, Prof Lai Oso, on whose behalf, the daughter, a LASU-based scientist, Dr Simisola Oso-Asekun, had come.
The daughter urged all to brighten up for the day’s celebration as she believed Daddy lived a fulfilled life despite the sudden demise. She recounted Prof Oso’s rare commitment to scholarship and relationship with everyone in his official and domestic networks. She then expressed her gratitude for the honour and prayed for an enduring relationship with the entire FCMS family.
In addition to Prof Oso, all former Deans, beginning with the very first substantive, Prof Idowu Sobowale, were also specially recognised. The immediate past Dean and the only honouree in that category present at the occasion was hailed with thunderous claps when he was called out. LASU’s first Professor of Public Relations and Advertising, Prof Rotimi Olatunji, also remains the longest-serving Dean to date. All pioneer staff, including Professors Jimi Kayode, Jide Jimoh, and Yinka Alawode and your’s sincerely were equally later honoured with special plaques. It was Alawode’s third day of dancing within one week.
The first dance session was right at the commencement of the week at the special church session held at the Chapel of Light, LASU, on Sunday, September 24, 2023. It was the Faculty’s first formal interface with the Church. After the sermon, Prof Alawode led the rest of xtian staff members of the Faculty in a rollicking dance, coursing through the long stretch of the central church aisle. Decked in a neatly embroidered Agbada, Alawode was only as fittingly dressed as the rest of the staff, who complemented him, all of them leaving no one in doubt that everyone in that Faculty was as happy as the leader. The church had prayed for a better future for the Faculty, its leader and all, even as the journey so far had been impressive.
The following morning presented the Faculty the opportunity to showcase its commendable trajectory, long registered duly though. It was also the auspicious time to restate its unmistakable readiness to keep contributing to new layers of knowledge just playing out in the realm of communication studies globally, especially as being accelerated by digital technology.
As was for all components of the anniversary programmes, Prof Alawode, again, did not leave anyone in doubt regarding his sterling leadership. Promptly at 10 a.m. on Monday, September 25, he proudly kickstarted the day’s event with the magisterial presentation of his speech to the media. But there was a heavy punctuation: He enjoined everyone in the expansive auditorium to stand up and observe a one-minute silence in honour of Prof Lai Oso, distinguished scholar, former DEAN and awe-inspiring mentor and friend in the community of communication scholars and practitioners in Nigeria and Africa.
He recounted the inception of today’s FCMS as the Adebola Adegunwa School of Communication at Surulere, with a Professor of Geography, Tayo Odumosu, as its first head. Odumosu was succeeded by Prof Tunde Samuel of the Education Faculty, and after him came the first substantive Dean, Prof Idowu Sobowale. Prof. AbduRaheem Lawal succeeded Sobowale, and afterwards came Professors Sophie Oluwole and Lai Oso, eventually succeeded by Olatunji Williams. The press conference was as much of an opportunity for gratitude, as much as it was one to appeal for continued support, especially from the alumni, and other stakeholders.
The weeklong celebration further availed FCMS the opportunity to test its strength as an uncommonly endowed breeding ground for professionals in the vast terrain of communication practices and scholarship. With its extensive network earned from long-nurtured visible dexterity and brilliance, it exhibited its mastery of marketing communications to attract sufficient material and other support from within and outside the university. FCMS will, therefore, remain eternally grateful to the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB; Odu’a Investment Company, OIC headquartered in Ibadan; International Breweries headquartered in Ikoyi Lagos; Mega-Electric, owners of multiple radio stations around the country as well Tobex Media owned by an illustrious alumna. Not the least is the unquantifiable support from the university management led by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello.
The invaluable encouragement and support of the LASU management induced the colourful homage led by the FCMS Dean to the VC on the Week’s sports day on Thursday, September 28, 2023. All FCMS representatives on that mission rocked the purpose-made uniform tracksuits duly branded with the logos of both LASU and Odu’a Investment Company that donated the tracksuits. The Dean later presented the VC with souvenirs specially produced to commemorate the Week.
Enter the religious balance on Friday, September 29, 2023. It was the turn of the Special Jumah Service. Coincidentally, Prof Amidu Sanni, the officiating Imam, being a former broadcaster, left no one in doubt about his relish for the special anniversary celebrations. He impressed on the worshippers that FCMS was home to a most important set of knowledge areas, incontrovertibly indispensable to the development and sustenance of power. On account of the increasing possibilities deriving from digital technology, he challenged the Muslim brothers and sisters based at FCMS to appreciate the fact that the ummah would love to hear great accomplishments from them. He rounded off with prayers for a greater future for the Faculty, the individuals driving it, as well as the students.
The Week’s programme proceeded with carefully designed intellectual spices. A panel session and a lecture did the trick. The panel session focused on Media and Governance in the Age of Digital Media. That session paraded speakers that turned out to be hard to stop. It comprised the immediate past Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Internet Registration Association, NIRA, Mrs Edith Udeagu; the Executive Director of the Centre for Social Media Research, Dr Akin Olaniyan as well as a former Special Adviser on Information in Osun State, Alhaji Semiu Okanlawon. Interestingly, though national and international players of mean standing now, Okanlawon and Olaniyan are alumni of the LASU Communication Programme.
The second leg of the intellectual component of the programme was held on Tuesday, September 26. The guest speaker at the Annual Lecture, who spoke on the politics of identity in Nigeria, was the ebullient publisher of ThisNigeria newspaper, Eric Osagie. His presentation was as analytical as it was solutionist. Noting that Nigerian politics was becoming increasingly divisive along multiple lines of religion and ethnicity, he counselled caution to avert unpleasant consequences. As one of the preliminary measures, Osagie suggested that government official forms in the country should drop columns requesting ethnic and religious affiliations.
What turned out to be a celebration of two decades plus is the outcome of the combination of insightful thinking and the relentless commitment of a team that resolved to be cooperative, defying local and global inhibitions, including the overwhelming COVID-19 pandemic that shut down the entire world for some time.
Immediate past Dean, Prof Rotimi Olatunji, had broached the idea with the rest of us at a Faculty meeting in 2020. Everyone at the meeting endorsed the initiative, even as none had any idea of where we could tap resources from. A committee was promptly constituted with your’s sincerely as the Chair. My inimitable colleagues on the committee are Dr Lade Atofojomo, Dr Julius Adeyemo, Dr Stephen Fatonji, Dr Ganiyat Adenle, and David Olaluwoye. The committee deployed all possible skills and connections to the task and thus ensured the eventual good story. “Which of our Lord’s favour can we deny?”
Tunde Akanni is an Associate Professor of Journalism at LASU. Follow him on X via:@AkintundeAkanni