Wednesday, May 30, 2018 7.00PM / Proshare WebTV
It was a day of celebration and tributes to the remarkable journalism career of Mr Kunle Ajibade, as family, friends and associates gathered at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs, Lagos for his 60th birthday colloquium.
The event was also an opportunity for stakeholders in the nation to engage on the topic “A Brighter Future for Nigeria and How to get there”, a day to assess Nigeria’s democratic journey.
Chairman of the occasion and former Governor Chief. Olusegun Osoba who is also a veteran journalist, commended Mr Ajibade on his strides in the media industry, particularly in the area of investigative journalism.
Osoba noted that the quality of work done by Ajibade through in-depth stories that exposed corruption and the pervasive manner of the military administrations in the 90's was highly commendable.
Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka described Mr Kunle Ajibade as a respectable doyen of journalism in the country and was prominent during the military regime where he fearlessly carried out investigative reports about the activities of the government.
Professor Soyinka believed Ajibade was one of the major pillars of “Investigative Journalism” in the country and has contributed immensely to its development.
Soyinka also decried the rate at which journalists across the globe were being murdered for venturing into the space of investigative reporting.
Renowned lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria Mr. Femi Falana lauded Mr Ajibade for his boldness and courage in journalism, which was a rare quality at the time the country experienced the heights of the military regime in the 90s.
Falana used the occasion to call on State Governors to take responsibility for the security situation in their respective states, considering the spate of insurgency and violence unleashed in various parts of the country.
Mr. Femi Falana charged Nigerians to guard against the dangers of impunity by deploying active citizen participation and engaging in strategic political activities.
Professor Kingsley Moghalu a Presidential Aspirant for the 2019 elections, hailed the seasoned investigative journalist for his role in national development. Moghalu made a strong case for Nigeria to be fixed, considering its current broken state.
Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State who attended the event commended the celebrant, identifying with his achievements as a journalist in the country.
Mr Odia Ofeimun a poet and author read the citation of Mr Kunle Ajibade which chronicled his activism and advocacy from his university days to his work as a journalist.
Other tributes came from Erelu Bisi Fayemi, Ayo Obe, Aisha Osori , Senator Babafemi Ojudu, Prince (Engr) Yemisi Shyllon and Mr Layi Babatunde (SAN).
Mr Kunle Ajibade who was born on May 28th, 1958 attended Muslim Grammar School, Ibadan, Oyo State, College of Arts and Science and the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife where he obtained his first degree and Masters in Literature-In-English.
He worked as Senior Correspondent, The African Concord; Assistant Editor, and is currently the Executive Editor, The News and P.M News.
Ajibade was a hardworking and dedicated journalist, who was among those arrested in 1995 by the Late Military Leader General Sani Abacha on suspicion of participating in a coup attempt. Others who were named in the purported coup was former Head of State Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo (Rtd) and Lt-Gen Shehu Musa Yaradua (Rtd, Late).
During the initial trial of the named coup plotters, the News one of Nigeria’s investigative and combative news magazine published a story titled “Not Guilty-Army Panel Clears Coup Suspects”.
It was the first time journalists will be tried alongside coup plotters in the country, and was charged for publishing materials which could obstruct the work of the coup plotters tribunal and for “misleading the public”.
His colleagues who were also arrested at the time include; Mr George Mbah(Tell Magazine), Mr Chris Anyanwu(The Sunday Magazine) and Mr Ben Obi (Weekend Classique).
Ajibade was sentenced to life imprisonment and due to public outcry, his term was reduced to 15 years in prison. He spent 3 years in jail due to the fact that General Sani Abacha died on June 8, 1998 and was released by General Abdulsalam Abubakar on July 18, 1998.