The Senior Special Assistant (SSA), Media and Publicity to the President, Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, has bagged a 2022 Special Recognition Award.
The Award of Excellence was presented to Akande in his office at the Statehouse, Abuja, on Friday, January 27, 2023, by Tobilola Ogunbajo, the convener, and Onele Peter-Colet, a member of the World of UItes, the largest e-community of the University of Ibadan (UI) Alumni group.
Akande, who is the spokesperson of Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, is an alumnus of the prestigious Nigeria’s premier University, UI, graduating in 1990 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, from the Department of History in the Faculty of Arts, and later completed his Master’s degree from Communications and Language Arts (CLA) in 1992, also in UI from the same faculty
A thoroughbred journalist, editor, and scholar, Akande started his journalism career in 1989, 34 years ago in Nigeria, and later travelled to the United States, where he lectured for over a decade as a professor.
Also, before being named as Spokesperson to the Vice President in 2015, there in the US, Akande had founded and reported for Empowered Newswire, a news agency based in the US, and was also a former North America Bureau Chief for The Guardian (Nigeria) in New York, United States.
As someone who developed a special interest in news gathering, Akande was a founding member of The News magazine team in 1993 as Senior Writer, and also Tempo publication, when the military government of the day headed by General Sani Abacha, banned The News for its staunch pro-democracy stance and reportage.
In 1995, he joined the Nigerian Tribune as a Special Projects Editor and later became the Editor of the Tribune on Saturday title of the oldest newspaper in Nigeria, making him the youngest newspaper editor at the time.
While in the United States, Akande worked with Newsday (of New York) as an assistant editor. He wrote regular columns for several prominent online platforms at the time, including the then 7th biggest US newspaper- Philadephia Inquirer. He also freelanced for the Philadelphia Daily News and The News Journal of Delaware.
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Akande is regarded as the only Nigerian journalist to have interviewed a sitting American president in the White House when he interviewed former US President George W. Bush, at a White House African Reporters Roundtable. He has also interviewed prominent personalities, including Billionaire Bill Gates in New York on different occasions; immediate past US President Donald Trump; former US Secretary of State, Colin Powell; and Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka.
It was his interview with Soyinka that preceded the literary icon’s eventual exile after Nigeria’s military rulers then in power declared him wanted for his pro-democracy views.
In 2002, Akande also worked as a Press Officer at the United Nations Headquarters, in New York, where he was responsible for writing press releases on the proceedings of UN main bodies including the General Assembly, and covered press briefings at the UN, as well as other assignments for the UN’s Department of Public Information.
He also worked as a media consultant for the enunciation and implementation of a Communications and Advocacy Campaign strategy for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, NEPAD.
In his relationship with his current principal, Akande is also very close to his direct boss, Vice President Osinbajo, both on a professional and personal level.
As his spokesperson, he also has the ears of the Vice President, as the VP regularly consults with him on a daily basis to seek his opinion on major issues of national and international interests.
Prof. Osinbajo trusts his judgement and invaluable experience as a thoroughbred professional. Suffice it to say that, you cannot work directly with a Professor of Evidence and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) if you don’t possess the requisite character, skills, expertise and gravitas for the job.
Akande is an inspiration to many professional journalists in Nigeria and abroad for his sterling qualities and professionalism.