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Friday, 3 November 2017

EFIWE EXCLUSIVE: Winning FOPA Last Year Was Priceless - Journalist, Kunle Adebajo Talks More In Fresh Interview

Adekunle Adebajo is a final-year apprentice of the legal trade at Nigeria’s premier university. He is also a student journalist: Former Editor-in Chief of two press organisations and former Managing Editor of the Union of Campus Journalists.

He is the progenitor of EssaysNG, Polls Research Analyst of Facts Count, Editorial Manager of Uites Create, Features Editor for Non-fiction and Cultural Criticism at Agbowo, and Media Intern at Brain Builders International.

He also works as an Editor and Content Curator for The Transverse, and as well volunteers at the Career Development and Counselling Centre, University of Ibadan. Very recently, he served in the unit of Content and Publicity Management for TEDxUI 2017.

He happens to also have to his name a number of nominations and awards related to writing and journalism. For instance in 2016, he was a nominee for the Campus Mega Award for Best Student Writer, winner of the Nigerian Meritorious Award for Student Journalist of the Year, winner of the JCI Most Outstanding Person in Student Journalism Award and winner of the University of Ibadan Students’ Union Student Journalist of the Year Award. Other awards in the same year include the Kayode Folayemi Prize for the Best Investigative Story, UCJ Prize for Best Editorial, and co-winner, on two occasions, of the UCJ Prize for Best Column. This year also, he has been nominated in no less than five places for similar awards.

‘Kunle is a multiple award-winning poet, essayist and public speaker. He was the Grand Prize Winner of the 2016 Fisayo Soyombo Essay Competition, 2016 National Higher Education Foundation Essay Competition and 2017 Chartered Institute for Personnel Management Essay Competition. He was also 2nd runner-up at the 2016 African Leadership Essay Contest among many others.

His favourite and most-penned about subject-matter is the Nigerian education system, which he considers the lost messiah of the nation.
Some of the other feathers his little cap has attracted include:

- 1st Runner Up, Intercollegiate Essay Contest, 2011 AIONIAN Festival.
- Joint 5th prize winner, BASIC Trust Essay Contest in 2011.
- Best Student Overall, Ijebu-Ode Grammar School (2010/2011 academic session).
- 12th prize winner, National Orientation Agency Essay Competition in 2012.
- Best writer, 2013 and 2014 Superior Pen Writing Competition.
- 1st Runner Up, 2014 Roulette III Essay Competition.
- 1st Prize winner, 8th Annual Crystal Muslim Organisation Essay competition in 2014.
- Finalist, 2014 and 2015 Christopher Okigbo Poetry Competition.
- Winner, 2015 NigMUNS Annual Inter-Organisational Debate.
- Top seven winner of 1st Professor Remi Raji Poetry Contest (2015).
- 1st Runner-Up, SCOLA Inter-Faculty Oratory Competition.
- Winner of the 2015 Professor Aderinoye Essay Competition.
- Best Orator and Winner of the 2015 King of the Podium Speaking Contest.
- Grand Prize Winner, 1st Professor Abdul-Wahab Tijani/UCJ LAUTECH Intervarsity Essay Competition.
- Grand Prize Winner, 2016 UCJ Unilorin Intervarsity Essay Competition.
- Grand Prize Winner, 2016 Poetry Contest.
- Winner and Best Speaker, 2016 Students’ Union Intervarsity Debate.
- Nominee, 2016 UISU Student Literary Icon of the Year.
- Nominee, 2016 UISU Student Activist of the Year.
- Nominee, 2016 UISU Student Debater of the Year.
- Winner, 2016 UISU Student Journalist of the Year.
- Winner, 2016 TLDS Award for the Punchline of the Year.
- Nominee, 2016 UCJ Prize for the Best Satirist.
- Finalist, 2017 AMAB Flash Fiction Competition.
- Winner, 2017 Battle for Humanity Writing Competition.
- Finalist, 2017 Commonwealth Youth for Peace in Nigeria Essay Competition.
- First Runner-Up, 2017 SIGMA Tertiary Essay Competition.
- Second Runner-Up, 2017 Goal Nigeria Writing Games Competition.

His works have been published by The Nation, The Cable Nigeria, Guardian Newspaper, Olisa TV, The Sheet NG, among many other platforms. He likes to think of himself as a logophile and grey supremacist, and one day, hopes to be called a lawyer by choice, journalist by providence and entrepreneur of necessity.
WOUWO Host, Zenas, Kunle Adebajo (L-R)

In a lengthy chat with WOUWO Host, Zenas, He (Kunle Adebajo) talks about new book, "Lines from the Fount", Journalism, His stance on the Suspension of the Students' Union, His relationship with Ojo Aderemi, Winning FOPA in 2016 and many more.

He also gave an hint about the ideal lady who has been caught in his web, says She's a Uite and... Read Full Interview Below;

 Sir Adekunle Adebajo, you're welcome.

Thank you sire!

Without much ado and considering the limited time, we're launching into the interview proper.

Journalism and Public Speaking, these two are the only extracurricular activities you're known with. Is there any other? 

Thanks.  It is true that I'm known mainly within those two precincts. But, to an extent, I'm also involved in youth and community development through my membership in Brain Builders International, an organisation committed to these goals. I'm equally a budding entrepreneur, especially through my roles in Factscount, a startup that began here in the University of Ìbàdàn. 

More over, among other things, I do freelance writing and editing for clients on occasions, and also serve as a voluntary editor for Agbowó, The Transverse and Uites Write. Thank you.

You left out your role in the founding of Tedx UI, or are you just among the pioneering member?

 Oh yes, I was part of the central team behind TEDxUI 2017. I worked with the content development and publicity department. Thank you.

While listing your extracurricular activities, it seems all revolve around intellectual engagement, what about in the field of sports and your other pastimes?

Well, I happen not to be a sports enthusiast. I neither play nor seriously watch football. I, however, enjoy playing Scrabble. The only outdoor sports I play sometimes is ping pong. 

The social media, in its many forms, conveniently eats into whatever time I have left for pastimes.

 "Lines from the Fount.'' Been hearing that, not oblivious of what it's about. Can you tell us about it?

Oh okay. Lines from the Fount is basically an anthology of speeches written and delivered by students of the premier university. Hence, the name -- as the word "fount" is also what the university's anthem is called. 

It is the brainchild of myself and Amolegbe AbdulMojeed, an idea birthed in September 2016.

We were able to compile the speeches last year from reputable public speakers on campus. We were also able to get blurbs from several personages, including the University Vice Chancellor, and a foreword written by Frank Nweke II, Former Minister of Information and Communication.

[Sighs] Over a year?

Yes, the original plan was to launch at the grand finale of Jaw War last year, but we had issues with the process of publication as it was outsourced. We have, however, finally received copies of the book and are fully ready for the launch and sale.

We are certain Uites and lovers of public speaking far and wide will be pleased with the result. Thank you.

The speeches in the book cover just last Jaw War or dates back farther.. How farther?

Speeches from last year's Jaw War could not make the publication. They are speeches from years before, without restriction. And there are many speeches from platforms other than Jaw War too. Idowu Adeyemi's winning speech delivered at the University of Ghana for instance, and Elizabeth Nwarueze's winning speech for the Pat Utomi Student Debate 2016.

What's the proposed readership territorial boundary?

The epub of the book is already on Okadabooks and Amazon for anyone interested across the globe. But for the print, our primary target is the university community here. 

We already have alumni and students of other universities showing interest in purchasing too though. Thank you. 

If the idea was birthed in 2016 and the book covered a spatial scope of years farther than that, how were you able to recover the speeches of these people? And did you get the consent of all before you include their speech in the book?

Yes, all the speeches included in the book were submitted by the authors themselves. 

We faced a lot of difficulty in terms of recovering many of the speeches. This difficulty was mentioned in the preface to the book, and it underscores why such initiatives are essential for the protection of art and legacies within the public speaking arena.

"Against the run of play...'' The most selling book (arguably) by a Nigerian in 2017, it eventually came out as a PDF and people no longer have to buy the book itself. The author(name forgotten) bemoaned it's availability.

What can you say with regards to books being available as PDF and what chance does "Fount'' stand, not to become a PDF file?

That's a brilliant observation sir. Thankfully, even I do not have the work completely in pdf, so there is little to worry about. We decided, because of this concern, to put out only the epub format so as to curtail the indiscriminate and illegal spread of the work.

 Good! Don't you think the Central Literary and Debating Society needs to start finding a way to get speeches documented too for future reference purposes? 

Certainly! And I'm delighted to find out that the TLDS under the able leadership of Ms. Opeyemi Oluwaseun is already thinking and acting in that direction. This is very commendable.

Still on "lines from the founts'' Who are your co-author?? How many chapters and pages is the book?

The book contains 63 speeches from many authors, but was generally edited by my humble self.

Others who worked assiduously on this project are Sadik Oluwagbenga, Amolegbe AbdulMojeed and Onele Peter-Cole.

And, of course, others who contributed one way or the other are mentioned in the book's acknowledgement. There are about 230 pages of content in the book.

Besides the "...fount'' Is there any other book you have in mind or that which you're already working on?

Oh, yes!

Can we know them?

At the moment, I am co-authoring a book alongside Kanyinsola Olorunnisola -- The Road Before the Fourth Estate. It is, to our knowledge, the first book on campus journalism written by Nigerian students for Nigerian students. 

We intend to launch in December, this year, at the UCJ Luncheon.  I also hope, towards the following year, to release a compilation of my winning essay entries with a guide on clinching top prizes in writing competitions.

I should state that both projects are open to recommendations from members of the public, as well as sponsorships and partnerships.

Wow... That's cool. Can you let us in, into the major intrigues and intricacies of the book?

It is meant, as the long title goes, to serve as "a Guide to Becoming the Ultimate Campus Journalist".

It contains three parts. The first answers basic questions campus journalists are likely to ask and have problems with. The second part contains sample works of both authors under different shapes (news, interviews, investigative stories, satire etc.) And the third and final part is filled with insightful interviews with 12 veterans, both past and present, in the colony of campus journalism.

Well, I'm booked for the first copy of the book. I direly need it. *smiles* While we come back to this. Journalism, Public speaking... Why not politics?

You mean a book on politics?

No, a dive into politics itself sire

Oh. Well, I believe I am not naturally configured for a career in politics, especially the elective and not selective aspect thereof. 

As much as I believe in politics as a potent tool for social engineering, I have my reservations when it comes to the context we find ourselves.

The ocean of politics is too vast for a single dive to stir tides of change. This is not to resort to complacency though. 

Change is a contraption with many levers. I am sure to get a firm grasp of one or two as I journey through life.

Hmm.. Have you ever been tempted once to take up a political post in UI?

Not at all sir. Except the UCJ Presidency.

You echo my fears But a league of like-minds that conform with your believes can..

I was statutorily unqualified. And more capable hands were both available and willing. I am glad today how things turned out.

Which you eventually never bid for... Why?

To contest, I needed to have been an inducted member of the Union for up to a year. And this wasn't the case at the time under question.

Audience - Q1. What is your stance on the suspension of the Union by the school management?

Yes. I believe the similitude of the suspension of the Union is Confucius's analogy of killing a mosquito with a canon -- except in this case, there is no mosquito in fact, only a wasp trying to reconstruct a cracked edifice with its expertise.

The suspension of the union was an unnecessary step, and an unjustified attempt at muffling dissenting voices and infringing on the students' right to associate freely. 

The resuscitation is overdue and would a right step in the right direction. 

Both parties, management and union, need to critically reassess their age-old methods. The music of education has changed on the global stage, and it is high time we all adapted our dance steps to it.

Q2. What would you suggest as a solution to the lingering issue of victimization by the school management which will definitely continue to haunt students whether or not the Union is reinstated

On the problem of victimisation, it emanates no doubt from the mentality which lies latently at the foundation of administration.

Rather than see ourselves as partners in progress, we think of ourselves as pains in the butt, thorns in the flesh. Students see the university authorities as oppressors, and they see us as rude "children of anger." This thinking has to change, and be dethroned for respect and dignity (for the other) to be crowned king.

Dissenting voices should be embraced. This is, besides, a university community where should be the birthplace of intellectual ferment. 

And progress is only possible with the contributions and counter-contributions of all and sundry, without fear or favour, on the pedestal of equality and dignity.

A writer will always be a writer... But pls sir Kunle, the recipient of this are not only writers and dig-deep intellectuals... So, try to alleviate the burdens of brain cracking and dicko seeking to unravel the meanings and connotations of your dictions

We must understand that the cards aren't ever evenly distributed between the school management and students. Our bargaining power is greatly limited. Our statutory powers, going by both school regulations and federal laws, are limited. And the odds are always in our favour.

Well, There was a point we (the students) were leading or perhaps believe we were winning only for the table to turn suddenly and we retired back to the defensive... 

As a close observer, where would you point to, as where we (began to ) get it all wrong

Where we got it all wrong in the latest crisis is that we allowed sentiments and impulse to becloud our good judgement at the Congress ground.

We resorted into using old tricks that have seldom worked for problems which have always existed. In short, we played right into the management's hands and forced our fate into the old script of victimisation.

The decision always not in our favour of the protest, I still maintain, was premature and not well thought out.

Imperative you point a finger. The Students or their Leaders?

By leaders you mean student leaders?

Yes sire

As an ally of Ojo Aderemi, I know him as a man of the people. The people paid the piper-politicians through their votes and must dictate the tune. 

He only executed the decision of the students and carried it to the logical conclusion.

The problem basically was mobocratic in nature. We gave empowered the mob (no insult intended here please), and it was soon too late to withdraw the baton.

1... "as an ally... What has the pen got to do with the sword?

The roads of politics and friendship, I believe, have no T-junction. They lay separately. One does not have to affect the other, positively or otherwise. 

What matters is objectivity at all times, especially for writers and moulders of public opinion.

2... Can i disagree with you here.
He could have "consciously sensitized'' his people. Since he had their backing even beyond the polls, don't you think he should have " manipulated'' the people's trust in him by requesting for more time and patience from them - thereby buying the management enough time to come true.

I agree that he could have done this. And I must say also that I am a witness to his great attempts at doing this. I was there at the night and early morning meetings prior to the Congress, and I was there at the Congress itself. A lot happened at the backstage bordering on the agenda of intellectual solutions and reasonable steps, and how to "manipulate" the public to support these.

C. In Aderemi's shoes, would you have threaded the same path he took following the suspension announcement

If I were in Aderemi's shoes, the Union would probably not have been suspended. Not because I am wiser or any better, but because to the school, this fight is a lot about the person of Aderemi himself more than anything else.

The school is threatened by his figure, his countenance, his ideals and the respect he commands among the student population.

No one solution is guaranteed to work, really. And that is why prevention will always be better than cure.

A lot happened at the background... All these "black market'' dealings prevail in Nigeria... While Mr President himself will come and shed more lights on this, it is pertinent that we can have a little from you sire... What was the exact effort executed to "manipulate'' public opinions

Okay.  In order for the Congress not to be rudderless, there were preliminary brainstorming sessions meant to come up with potent and realistic solutions to the problems on ground at the time. And representative of those meetings' resolutions were chosen to voice them at the level of the Congress to shape public opinion. 

Sadly, the Congress has been discovered to be monolingual -- and its language is blanket agitation.

This alludes to the belief that the pocketed SU was achieved way back on May 8 - the day he was inaugurated and May 29 just being the official declaration

I'm inclined to agree. There was an intention, but it needed a dash of excuse to manifest into reality.

From the suspension day

A. What would you have done, that has not been done (well) which you would have done???

On these, I think I would not hesitate to convey my convictions to the necessary quarters whenever I have the chance -- and that's not a rare privilege. This is much better, I believe.

B. Seems more like Ojo Aderemi has exhausted all firepower at his disposal to get the SU back. At this point, what would you suggest be done, to get back the SU as some are already noising the possibility of another industrial action to request for the SU (by force)

Definitely, were those voices  chosen to voice out the potent and realistic solutions absent, dwarfed or never gained audience at all?

I can't remember any, singing this your line of thought sire

They gained audience, but it was a classic case of noise-signal ratio tilting in favour of the former.

A. What was it like writing The Courtroom with Kanyinsola Olorunnisola?

It was an awesome journey with Kanyinsola Olorunnisola as Scribes of The Courtroom. After writing, we also successfully attempted to expand the columns to other tertiary institutions. We are also presently working on releasing an electronic compilation of all our works under the column very soon.

B. What do you think about your legacy as regards campus journalism?

My legacy regarding campus journalism is a work in progress. But this far, I think I have a lot to be thankful for -- the opportunities granted, privileges afforded and honours conferred. 

Most importantly, I really hope, beyond the recognitions, that I can be said (in all honesty) years from now to have contributed my bit to the promotion of the frontiers of knowledge, welfare and social good.

C. How did you feel winning the FOPA last year?

Winning the FOPA last year was a priceless and highly cherished honour. Kudos to JCI for their initiative and steadfastness.

A. Can we have a timeline of your sojourn into journalism itself

I wish not to blow my trumpet here, now, in this manner. But I assure you, they are very little compared to the efforts of the men of yesteryear.

B. What are your landmarks in campus journalism

Does that answer both? 

 I believe it does sir.

Fine sire... Your dodging of that is forgiven. How apt is the assertion that 2016 is your most memorable year considering the number of accolades won?

Very apt. We all have our heydays. For now, mine was in 2016 especially June-November. I indeed look forward to greater successes in bigger places.

Have you ever had any regrets on Journalism?

None of those that come to mind presently is significant enough for mention.

June-November 2016, what happened??? Shed more lights please. 

Awards for the African Leadership Essay, Fisayo Soyombo, Nigerian Higher Education Foundation, FOPA and many others were conferred during that time frame.

 There was a rumour of you being associated with the Students' Disciplinary Committee sanction based on one of your write-ups...? What about it. What transpired and how far have you gone and come on that

It is true I received a query two days after my article was published in The Guardian Newspaper last year on April 20. 

And it is the case that I received an allegation from the Student Affairs in the August of the same year. 

I have, in fact, faced the Faculty Disciplinary Committee, and expect to be summoned by the Central Committee soon or later.

Should we be expecting another Fisayo Soyombo Scholarship benefactor in you sire

Somewhere in the morrow, when the pockets are smiling enough for great outward concerns ... Certainly! Most certainly!

Did you regret publishing the article on National Sailors

Who is your model in journalism when coming up?

Well, if I start listing people I respect within the hemisphere of journalism and who I see as models, there's certainly no way I would omit names such as Fisayo Soyombo, Dapo Olorunyomi and Musikiliu Mojeed.

That name reminds me of this... Investigative journalism; tried severally with the president to set its foot on UI soil but it couldn't work out. Have you ever given it(establishing investigative journalism) in UI and what steps have you taken to actualise it? 
Oh okay. 

I have rather seen many steps taken by others and tried contributing my quota. Oredola Ibrahim during his tenure as President of the UCJ, for instance, planned to set up a team of investigative journalists to look into crucial sectors in campus life. 

And, presently, a programme of the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism is in action to reignite passion in this endangered end of journalism.

I hope _The Road Before the Fourth Estate_ will also help contribute meaningfully to that movement.

Sir Adekunle Adebajo, Who's the finest speaker you've ever seen in UI?

 Finest speaker... I must admit, that's a very knotty question. And I would reproach myself if I made the slightest attempt.

This university is blessed with overflowing talents, many brilliant in different respects, and none standing out so much for too long.

What would you like to be added to Jaw War edition?

 What I desire to be added to Jaw War, this time around, is a quality coverage of all the speeches and an upload on YouTube (or any other suitable platform) as soon as the curtain is drawn.

This year's Jaw War... Mellanby/ Law/ both

The last question, you mean where my loyalty lies?

Yes... Both or which? 

 Both, certainly.

How about more endearing prizes, better conducive venues and appearance of top dignitaries i.e. political or traditional heavy weights at its annual launching?

Sure, sure. There's a lot that's desired, I just mentioned one dear to my heart.

How does it feel, having spoke at 3 Jaw Wars, not have won any?

One thing about Jaw War is that it is about team work, not individual efforts. The team takes the glory, and the team takes the blame. 

And just as any competition, we can only have one winner -- or, in this case, two. 

I find it sad that my constituency hasn't been in custody of the trophy since the resuscitation of the tournament. But this is only motivation for us to strive harder and not fall into the cesspool of underestimation. 

Let the spectators watch out, for in war, surprises are a common sight.

Your after Law school life, Journalism or practice?

I hope to test both waters to strengthen my resolve based on an all-round experience.

Both at once or which comes first?

If we factor internship and practicum at law school or practice during NYSC, then journalism before law.

Last time out, you were asked about your ideal lady. Now my questions goes thus

a. Have you been in a relationship before and when

b. Is someone caught in the web already and give us hint sire

c. If your ideal lady only exist in one gem, and she is in a
i.... Relationship, what would you do?
ii.... Relationship with your friend, what would you do?

A. Yes, but the details evade easy description and an attempt at conciseness.

B. I'm afraid there's no hint available.

C. I do not believe in the philosophy that says one has only got one soulmate in the entire universe. And so these scenarios cannot arise for me. If I like you and you're in a relationship already, I move on. Man may be hot, but life's not hot. It doesn't have to be anyway.

There's a question we skipped which needs utmost attention

I learnt the proceeds from the sales of the book has an intended purpose. Perhaps to renovate the VC lodge or buy him a new CRV jeep, we would like to know sire

We intend to give 70% of the proceeds from the book to the Special Persons' Club, University of Ìbàdàn. Thus, the more money we make from the launch and sales, the more money will go towards the advancement of special needs on campus -- and believe me, these needs are huge, and sadly have been neglected for far too long. 

This has always been our intention, to divert the proceeds towards charitable ends.

And if providence never made the others available nkor. Perhaps, they die, or you never get to meet them, or they're married with kids?

I pledged allegiance already to the Omerta code of silence. Singularity isn't such a bad thing. I'll probably move on to the next available option though

 If the ideal isn't available, they say, the available becomes ideal. No need to start WWIII because of affection or procreation. Man isn't endangered yet... And if he is, the other man isn't impotent I'm sure.

Hint o..... The audience are bombarding my inbox

She's A Uite. *smiles* 

Now I must act as a spy... I must fish her out?

Stalking is a crime though. And so is espionage.

It  was nice having you here sire, it was fun and exposing.

Lol. Thanks a lot for the honour.

Thank you for reading this Interview. Kindly share with Others. Feel free to post on your prestigious platforms. 

If posted, kindly give credit to Unibadan Efiwe and WOUWO. Thanks and God Bless. 

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