By: Onifade Bello
His dark face is engraved with white shining teeth and his body emboldened with a mind dedicated to selfless pursuit in investigative journalism. A 2017 Chevening scholar and a co-founder of The Courtroom, an advocacy column which has continued to breed young writers and critical thinkers across Nigerian universities, Oluwamayowa Tijani has been an epitome of divine direction as he makes remarkable feats wherever he finds himself.
Born in Oyo Town, Oluwamayowa is a native of Iwo, Osun State, but raised in various parts of the country such as Benue, Ilorin, Benin, Lagos and most importantly, Ibadan, Southwest Nigeria. Growing up appears to be fun-filled as he was raised by caring parents and amidst understanding siblings. This makes one not to wonder why he possesses a heart filled with amiable fervor and candor.
A graduate of Food Technology, Oluwamayowa was not one of those students who lived a triangle life – from hostel to class to library – while on campus. While he understood and pursued his basic goal of being in the University, he also made giant strides in student journalism. In actual fact, nothing makes this an apparent reality than his graduating as the most outstanding campus journalist. In 2013, Junior Chamber International (JCI) named him the most outstanding student in Campus journalism at its Fifteen Outstanding Persons Award (FOPA) in the University of Ibadan. Thereafter, he went to also study at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism.
Oluwamayowa is one man who believes that if you do not have a godfather, you should never let go of God the Father. After all, if your agenda is not in God’s Calendar, then you are in danger.To this effect, he sees himself working and walking in the glory of God while building influence for now; as a king and a priest for his family and country in order to lead, correct and protect.
He has gradually created a niche for himself in the world of journalism. Perhaps this gradual toil to the top should reinforce in the youths that the beauty of life is in what you achieve not what you acquire. Aside his nascent training as a food technologist, Tijani ‘Mayowa’s astute prowess in journalism, especially investigative journalism, has accentuated his sterling talents. For instance, in 2017, he was nominated for The Future Africa Awards (TFAA) Prize in Journalism, and Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award at the UK Foreign Press Awards. His nominations came as a result of his outstanding works and his recent investigation into the accident bombing in Borno State, Nigeria, a four part serial titled Tears from Rann.
Dynamism is one outstanding feature media has brought with its numerous emerging technologies. Hence, the media has invariably influenced the global view about Africans and Nigerian youths per se.The African youths have their stories told from two lenses; the positive and the negative. The African youthsare seen as the continent’s hope,and its albatross in the same breath.The media says the African youthsare successful programmers; and the same media says the youthsare cyberfraudsters.
At a time many individuals have become ambivalent about how media have tainted the personalities of African youths and relegated their sterling feats. Nonetheless, Oluwamayowa’s keen interest in journalism and his commitment to using it to accentuate the sufferings of the less-privileged rekindles the hope of many student journalists. Elation often embraces him as he sees his contributions in journalism as a catalyst to revamping the age-long negative notions conjured about African youths in the media.It is gladdening that it is not all gloomy anymore.
In his view, Oluwamayowa sees the media to be dynamic as a lot is changing by the day. Obviously, the world is turning the lights on data journalism, media for development and solutions journalism.Now, African youths can tell their stories, and they can shape their own world.
Aside his seeming gentility which has never divorced humility, Oluwamayowa Tijani, as a practising journalist, is a multi award-winning public speaker, with many feathers attached his cap. He is currently studying Media for Development at the University of Sussex, on a UK government scholarship for his journalistic impact in Nigeria.
In 2015, Oluwamayowaw is one of the few journalists from across Africa, trained by the United Nations Millennium Campaign as media ambassadors for the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs). And within two years of joining TheCable, he was nominated for the 2016 PwC awards in SME and Tax reporting and ended up as first runner up in both categories.
Likewise, most recently, he was named as one of 50 young leaders from over 144 countries to discuss human rights issues at the Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Great Park,UK. In 2013, the same year that Oluwamayowa won the JCINUI FOPA as a student journalist, he also won the Nigerian Championship of Public Speaking (NCPS) in Abuja, and was certified a Competent Communicator by Toastmasters International in California, USA.
In his capacity as a development journalist, Mr. Tijani has worked with the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism. These earned him hearty commendations; especially for his foray into economics of low-cost private education in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos.
In 2017, Oluwamayowa was named on the best team of the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa (BMIA) cohort three. His works have been quoted by Intl Business Times, Bloomberg and BBC. He maintains a weekly column at TheCable, which focuses on national development. He also attends and reports the World Bank and IMF Spring and Annual meetings in Washington DC.
Many youths wander and wonder why they remain stagnant in pursuit of their goals. Perhaps, they have not discovered where their potentials lie. One may be trained as a doctor and yet be full of potentials as a dramatist. One’s training should not be a reason to jettison one’s potentials. This is one invaluable lesson that can be learnt from the life of OluwamayowaTijani. More so, Dalai Lama once said that “With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” If OluwamayowaTijani, a trained food technologist, can gradually build a better world for himself from his potentials in journalism, then every African youth can do better.