Adebayo Akande at 80
The prestigious Conference Centre of the University of Ibadan again played host to another giant ICON recently. This was the programme commemorating the 12th anniversary of Splash FM 105.5 and celebrating the very happy event of the 80th birthday of its founder and Chairman Muritala Adebayo Akande, Maye Olubadan of Ibadan land, a man whose resilience dedication and selfless service has changed the lives of many for the better while promoting his enterprises especially the West Midlands Communications Limited which has added much value to his beloved home town of Ibadan. These 12 years of excellence in broadcasting have definitely not been a tea party, it is a product of great vision and creativity which has endeared the listening public through incisive public opinion analysis, investigative and developmental journalism, effective and efficient programming.
Its honest and truthful breaking news has received the endorsement of many including that of the Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC). That of course is how the Splash FM became known as the Integrity Station. Indeed, its exciting collaboration with the anti corruption body for the annual Splash FM/ICPC marathon race has further dignified the station and its ancillary the Lagelu FM 96.7 whose followers turned out in large numbers to celebrate Akande.
It is always a delight to listen to veteran broadcasters like OtunbaKunle Olasope, Biodun Morakinyo, Folake Otuyelu, etcwho found new platform on Splash FM 105.5, a station that has also been a versatile training ground for erstwhile broadcasters/OAPs currently making waves even in other stations. We are very proud that some of them are graduates of Lead City University – from the music man Tony Awobode (Don T), Kola Ladoke of the popular “tifun-tedo” news programme which many of us dare not miss as it has become part of our daily wake-up activities and of course Mr. Lecturer, Edmund Obilo whose Saturday morning programme can make you forget your important social function for that day.
Let me also extend my felicitations to the entire Management and Staff of West Midlands Communications Limited for helping to advance the noble vision of the icon that we are celebrating today. Also to his supporter in-chief, our amiable, delectable, lovable and elegant auntie, Mrs. Onikepo Akande CON, an achiever in her own right who regularly asks after my own supporter in-chief, apparently in view of the Queen’s School connection.
Last but not the least, I congratulate myself also as a member of the Splash FM family since 2008 when I was honoured at the first anniversary of the Station and the 69th birthday anniversary of this great icon, receiving an appreciation award alongside the great Aare Afe Babalola. I also recall with great nostalgia my very first encounter with Chief Adebayo Akande. I was then a Lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, but with my family residing in Ibadan, I was an avid subscriber to Midlands Communication Satellite T.V. Services enjoying CNN and other current affairs programmes necessary for my Teaching and Research in the field of International Relations and Diplomatic practice. This was a time when there was no DSTV. I never reckoned that I would ever meet this great man in person.
This eventually happened. One day, an article of mine in the newspapers on the subject of Distance Education caught Akande’s attention and he invited me over. He informed me of his interest in Distance Learning and how it can help expand access to higher education for Nigerians at affordable cost for both the provider and the learner. He told me that he hoped to set up a Radio Station whose 80% contents would be for educational service programmes. He mentioned his plans to partner with the University of Ibadan running academic courses on air for the benefit of those not able to attend or afford the regular University campuses. Here is a visionary Man thinking of others not just himself. Invariably, Akande became my silent role model as we appeared to share similarentrepreneurial visions for education and broadcasting.
May I also mention that Adebayo Akande comes across as a man of quality. Consider, for instance, the way he celebrates his birthdayswith an intellectual colloquium featuring eminent scholars and practitioners engaged in topical public discourse. This annual event has become an agenda-setting activity helping to proffer solutions and remedies to critical issues of our time. This year, it is the turn of another high-level public service practitioner and erudite scholar in the person of Tunji Olaopa a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, now Professor of Public Administration at the Lead City University and the Executive Vice-Chairman Ibadan School of Governance and Public Policy (ISGPP).
This again especially with the his venue of choice, for the exercise, further confirms Adebayo Akande’s scholarly inclinations, thus adding value to Ibadan as the intellectual capital of Nigeria. Meanwhile, Akande’s philanthropic gestures have also touched the University of Ibadan which he has assisted with the magnificent sprawling edifice known as “The Adebayo Akande Hall” housing an ultra-modern student residential facility, conference rooms, CBT center and event pavilion, thus enhancing the infrastructural acclaim of what is popularly known as the first and best University in Nigeria.
We congratulate the West Midlands Communications limited, the owners of Splash FM 105.5 and its founder and Chairman Chief Murtala Adebayo Akande, the Iconic Octogenerian. May he continue to wax stronger reaping the fruit of his labour in good health for many more years.
Owoeye is Chairman, Lead City Group
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