Professor Idowu Sobowale Dedicates Life-Time Achievement Award to Covenant University, others

Professor Idowu Sobowale Dedicates Life-Time Achievement Award to Covenant University, others


The veteran journalist and astute Mass Communication teacher, Professor Idowu Akanbi Sobowale was recently recognized and honoured with a Life-Time Achievement Award at the 2014 Diamond Awards for Media Excellence (DAME). In this interview with the Media and Corporate Affairs, he shared the story behind the glory, advised young journalists/academics and dedicated the achievement to Covenant University and others.


Q. Congratulations sir on the recent Life-Time Achievement Award from DAME. Can you please tell us the story behind the glory?

A. Thank you very much. I believe the story behind the glory is simply what the grace of God has enabled me to do. He enabled me to render service without counting the cost or without looking for reward and recognition. This is one in a series of such honours that have been bestowed on me without asking for it, without putting my mind in that direction at all. So, I attribute it all to no one else other than God; who has been so merciful, and has favoured me in every direction.

When I was appointed the Chairman of the Committee that transferred pupils from private to public schools in Lagos, I never expected it. I had heard about Alhaji Lateef Jakande, but I had never met him. However, they started looking for me and to the glory of God, the execution of that programme was very successful.

Then, when he (Jakande) decided to appoint me a Special Adviser, I was busy in my classroom teaching. They looked for me for three days. After I had most reluctantly accepted to serve as his Special Adviser, I asked him for permission to let me go and further think about it and I never went back to him for two weeks. They had to look for me again.

When Governor Bola Tinubu wanted to appoint me as the chairman of his Education Committee before his inauguration, again, they were looking for me. So, several times, people searched for me and when they eventually found me, they literarily drag me to him.

After that, he decided to appoint me Special Adviser on Education, at that point again, they were looking all over for me. It has been like that. The only time I remember that I had ever sought after something on my own, it was a colossal failure. What God was telling me by that was that He would not share His glory with me. So, this one is entirely God’s own glory, because I never expected it. The letter was simply brought to my house and the people I showed it to said it is a big thing.

Q. What is your advice to young people who aspired to be like you?

A. Whatever they lay their hands on to do should be done as unto God. They should forget about recognition and rewards. God who rewards people sees them and will reward them in ways that will amaze them. If reward is their motivation, they will miss the important things they ought to do. This is because they will really focus on that prize without thinking of how to work towards achieving the prize, which is more important.

Q. What inspired the organizers to honour you with the award?

A. They didn’t tell me anything. The only thing someone said to me was that, when my name was mentioned, everybody just agreed. In fact, the only question he said they asked was,”Do you know his address?”From this, you can see that it is God’s own handwork and not man’s.

Q. Looking at the awardees of both the Nigeria Media Merit Award and Diamond Awards for Media Excellence (DAME), it seems they are the same set of people from just three Media (Print) houses. What does this portend?

A. Well, I think what this is saying is that those winners have dedicated themselves to excellence. It was not the same set of people that judged them. There were two different sets of judges, so there could have been no collusion. Also, they submitted their entries long before the consideration of those entries. So there must be something inherently good in each of them. They were not the only people in their Media establishments; there were others who could not ever care about the little details the winners paid attention to. Perhaps it’s those little details that distinguished somebody who is serious from those who are not too serious.

Q. There was an argument that these three Media houses (The Punch, The Guardian, and The Nation) are the ones that paid their staff regularly. Don’t you think that was a sort of motivation for them?

A. Definitely, not that those in other media houses cannot write, but they probably have other diversions. For instance, somebody who has worked for two/three months and has not been paid would not think of doing his work strictly. His pre-occupation would be how to feed himself, his family and pay school fees. So, the kind of time that such a person would have for an assignment he/she is covering will be different from the kind of time somebody who is contented (at least who can make ends meet) will have. That goes a long way to explain the situation.

Q. Coming to the Covenant University platform; how will your achievement rob off on the attainment of the Vision 1 of 10 in 10?

A. I hope that it will contribute a little to the achievement of the goal of 1 of 10 in 10. When the award was mentioned to me, I informed the Management and indeed they sent me a very warm congratulatory letter. Also when I got the award, I immediately took it to the Vice-Chancellor’s office. I dedicated it to Covenant University and every person that has a hand in my life because there is nothing I can achieve alone. It came from all the assistance I have gotten from my colleagues and all of you. You people made me.

Q. In your opinion, what is the future of media in general in Nigeria?

A. When we say the media, I think we need to make some distinctions here.

I think you perhaps have the print media in mind. Even the electronic media, everybody now has to work hard for the existence of his own brand of media. It’s no longer business as usual. Competition is fierce and those who must survive must be able to compete. In most places, even in America and Britain, newspapers are folding up like no man’s business. However, there is no way we are not going to have newspapers. Even if you will be reading your papers from handsets, and other devices as I sometimes do, newspapers will still continue to be relevant to the growth and development of the Country. Nevertheless, for those papers that must survive, they have to work hard. Take that from me.

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