Connect with us


Lasisi Olagunju: The Journalist And His Impact



Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon




Toyin Falola

Lasisi Olagunju: The Journalist And His Impact

Photo: Lasisi Olagunju



  Who Is Lasisi Olagunju?

Dr. Lasisi Olagunju recently launched his new book, Cowries of Blood, a thematic collection of essays from his “Monday Lines” column. The book has received several acclaims, and I believe it has every right to do so, given that I have had the privilege of reading through each essay. Today, many know Dr. Olagunju as the author of a book rapidly gaining popularity within and even outside the country. However, before the publication of Cowries of Blood, who has Dr. Olagunju been?

Lasisi Olagunju is an award-winning columnist and the Editor of Saturday Tribune, one of the most vibrant arms of a foremost Nigerian media house, African Newspapers Limited. According to the Yoruba, a child who would be great shows traits of greatness from early on. This is the case in Olagunju’s life. He has always been designated for leadership and the responsibilities that come with it, as well as its attendant fame and success. Born as the second to the last child of his parents in, Eripa, Osun State, Olagunju started to demonstrate his alignment with excellence early in life. His earliest feats were in Arabic Studies at his Madrasa, where he was easy to identify among the top students in the class. However, his feats had only begun. When the scholar resumed school for western education, he continued to rank among the best in his class throughout primary and secondary school, and even at the university.

READ ALSO: Speaking Truth To Power: Attahiru Jega, Toye Olorode, And Nigeria’s Future

Dr. Olagunju is a proud product of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife. He was a student there between 1986 and 1990, bagging a First Class Honors Bachelor of Arts degree in English Studies. Fueled by excellence and poised to make a name for himself in a field where he seemed naturally inclined to thrive, He attended the University of Ibadan for his master’s and doctoral degrees in Communication Arts and Political Communication, respectively, specializing in Social Media and Politics for his Ph.D. Thus, his path was carefully crafted. Another thing that has marked Dr. Olagunju’s life is that he is brilliant academically and humane. Aside from winning various awards at all levels of his academic sojourn, he has also received awards for his integrity. These awards include the 2016 Nigeria Media Merit Award (NMMA) Newspaper Columnist of the Year, and the Diamond Award for Media Excellence (DAME) Award for Informed Commentary Writing in 2019 and 2021.

Since he joined the Nigerian Tribune in 1995, working as a Senior Features Writer and Senior Reporter, Olagunju has enjoyed a successful career as a media man. It is often said that a man’s gifts will make way for him, and Dr. Olagunju’s gift of pen-wielding did stand him out from early on in his career, so much so that he was promoted to editor within four years. He became the News Editor of the Nigerian Tribune in 1999, rose to the position of Assistant Editor that same year, and within two more years, he became Deputy Editor.

Lasisi Olagunju: The Journalist And His Impact

As much as he enjoyed a stint in journalism at the Nigerian Tribune, Dr. Olagunju left to take up a political appointment as the Chief Press Secretary to the then Osun State governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, from 2003 to 2008. Following his excellent performance in that capacity, the journalist was again appointed as the Special Adviser on Media and the Chief Press Secretary to the governor between 2008 and 2010. In 2011, Olagunju resumed his job as a journalist with the Nigerian Tribune, following his engagement with the Osun State government. He was made the General Editor and a member of the Tribune Newspapers Editorial Board the same year. In 2012, he was promoted to the position of the Editor of Saturday Tribune. Within six years of active service with the Tribune Newspapers, he made it to one of the top positions in the organization — an organization that has hundreds of well-trained and professional journalists.

READ ALSO: Attahiru Jega and Jibrin Ibrahim: Meditations on Power Politics

Dr. Olagunju is a poet to some, an author and literary critic to others, and to many others, he is a columnist who writes the “Monday Lines.”  He has consistently written the “Monday Lines” column for about ten years, never missing a week. Therefore, it is safe to say that he has written at least 520 essays, all addressing vital aspects of the Nigerian society. Aside from writing his column and ensuring the Saturday Tribune brings color to the world of journalism in Nigeria, Dr. Olagunju has also authored some books, including Forest Flowers, a collection of poems; Every Inch a King, the biography of Oba Moses Oyinlola (which he co-authored); and Keeping Culture Alive: The Story of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU), Osogbo. Cowries of Blood is the first of a series of thematic books based on the “Monday Lines” column.

In this series, I Interviewed Dr. Lasisi Olagunju, a Weekend Editor at the Tribune. I covered his career, his weekly column, and his new book, Cowries of Blood.

Falola is a Nigerian historian and professor of African Studies. He is currently the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin.


Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

Continue Reading
Click to comment


Interview With Beautiful Nubia



Beautiful Nubia

Please join us for a conversation with the renowned Nigerian Songwriter, Music Composer, and Band Leader, Olusegun Akinlolu (Beautiful Nubia).

Sunday, March 19, 2023

5:00 PM Nigeria // 4:00 PM GMT // 11:00 AM Austin CST

Join via Zoom:

Watch on Facebook:

Watch on YouTube:

Continue Reading


Toyin Falola Interviews Holds Conversation With Kunle Afolayan



A  renowned Nigerian Actor, Producer, and Director, Kunle Afolayan will on Sunday, March 5, 2023 have an interview with the Toyin Falola Interviews at 5:00 PM Nigeria // 4:00 PM GMT // 10:00 AM Austin CST.


Continue Reading


Touching Base With Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi’s Perspectives On Nigeria’s 2023 Elections



Professor Ademola Dasylva At 70: A Labourer In The Vineyard
Prof. Toyin Falola

By Toyin Falola

Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi is a well-versed law professor, international relations activist, and commentator. It was delightful to have her join us, alongside Miriam Oke, Chido Onumah, and Jibrin Hussaini, at the last edition of the Toyin Falola Interviews, where we discussed Nigeria’s 2023 elections.

If anything, the primaries being organised in the nation’s two most influential parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress, are pointers to what should be expected of the 2023 Nigerian elections. As is customary, the primaries have been rife with electoral malpractices, vote-buying, and unscrupulous voting figures, and there is a shocking video posted on Twitter by Bashir Ahmad, former Personal Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on New Media, who lost his bid to secure the ticket of the APC to contest for a seat in the House of Representatives primaries in his home state of Kano. The video shows how supposed delegates are handed pre-ticked ballot boxes and are asked to put them in the ballot box without even batting an eyelid at the malpractice.

The ball is being set in motion. Atiku Abubakar is the People’s Democratic Party flag bearer for the presidential seat. The All Progressives Congress has recently screened its presidential hopefuls and will soon appoint its flagbearer. Peter Obi, who defected from the People’s Democratic Party to the Labour Party and has since been elected as the party’s flagbearer for the presidential seat, is a seeming third wheel in the routine two-dominant-party multi-party system practised in the country. The stage is set. Or is it?

This piece is not much of a sequel to the one on Chido Onumah’s perspectives on the 2023 elections because Dr Akiyode-Afolabi had her unique views on the questions asked. Nonetheless, it will follow a similar pattern, where we will examine points touched on by Dr Akiyode-Afolabi during the interview.

Electoral Violence and Nigeria’s 2023 Elections

Sad as it may seem, electoral violence is an immemorial issue rocking the Nigerian state. Throughout all its republics, Nigeria has witnessed killings and maiming during election periods — whether at the polling booths on election day or among political rivals setting targets on each other’s backs. Nigeria’s electoral process is peculiar, involving the recruitment of violent electoral mercenaries, often branded as party thugs. These thugs sign off their loyalty to a political party and wreak havoc on the party’s behalf — from ballot snatching to intimidating voters to bow to their party’s will.

In the Nigerian political scene, these party thugs sit with political kings. They are deemed crucial to the electoral process and candidates’ success. The recruitment and payment of these party thugs consume huge financial resources. However, political leaders and public officeholders fail to consider the expected uselessness of the party thugs within the governance period of three to four years that separate pre-election and election years. Having tasted ill-gotten wealth that far surpasses what they could have earned honestly, and without any honest and paying job, these party thugs resort to all sorts of vice to pay their bills and keep themselves in shape. Thus, it is not uncommon to find that party thugs become robbers, kidnappers, bandits, and street-terrorising thugs who incessantly cut holes through the state’s peace, security, and quiet.

In most cases, we would rather relate the incessant kidnappings and unrest to unknown gunmen or herdsmen-bandits rather than the true perpetrators of the evil — anarchical party thugs with weapons they were equipped with during the election period. Thus, the rivalry for power and politicians’ insatiable desire for control, regardless of the extent they go to get it, could be strongly linked to the violent crises that have rocked the country for a while now.

READ ALSO: Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon

For Dr Akiyode-Afolabi, violent political mercenaries in Nigeria and the political aspirants and parties who are their enablers act out of an abundant enjoyment of sheer impunity — the knowledge that they can do and undo, wreak whatever havoc they want to, without bearing the consequences. Although several of the perpetrators of this electoral violence are known, nothing is done to bring them to justice, further reinforcing the need to carry out their vice during the next election. Over the years, electoral violence has become a norm in Nigeria, and nothing is being done to curb the menace, especially in punishing the perpetrators. Thus, the electorate have joined the camp of political aspirants and political thugs who see electoral violence as part of the electioneering process in Nigeria. For members of the electorate who have difficulty processing electoral violence as a part of the electioneering process, the option of apathy kicks to the surface — especially among women and the youth who earnestly believe politics in Nigeria is a dirty game, and electoral violence is inevitable. Thus, it is not surprising that Nigeria has had a low voter turnout over the years.

The case of electoral violence and the state’s reaction to it is like several other policies in Nigeria. While the Electoral Act was proactively drafted to cover electoral violence and how to punish offenders and culprits, there has not been any action to make that part of the Act functional. It is akin to the numerous nation-improving policies whose existence has never gone beyond the paper. If we were to dig to the roots of why the aspect of the Nigerian Electoral Act that punishes electoral violence has not been enforced, we would be quick to find out that the average Nigerian politician is either directly or indirectly complicit. Thus, those at the helm and those willing to take over from them are all involved, making them reluctant to enforce the punishment for electoral violence, that is, if they consider punishing the crime at all.

Nigeria’s Three-faced Need and the Importance of a Long-term Agenda

The need for a long-term agenda should not be misconstrued as supporting the cabalistic unending Northern presidency agenda or any other agenda that does not mean well for Nigeria as a nation. Rather, it represents Dr Akiyode-Afolabi’s thoughts on what is truly needed to get Nigeria out of its current quagmire. The international relations activist considers the 2023 elections in Nigeria a big issue for the country, particularly because there are more people interested in the presidential position than we have had in quite a while. Nonetheless, most of these aspirants are people who have either held a political position or currently hold one. They are people we know so well. Given their deeds while in office, it will be difficult to convince any right-thinking Nigerian that there is hope for the country if any of the candidates being paraded were elected as president.

The double tragedy that is Buhari’s eight years in office has seen the country go from bad to worse. The country’s debts keep piling up, with no way of repaying them year after year. The people are impoverished, and the currency continually suffers a blow of worthlessness and devaluation, inflation, and the unemployment rate keeps rising. To make matters worse are the rife killings, banditry, and the near state of anarchy that the country has been thrown into. Has any of the numerous candidates aspiring for the presidential seat shown they are the visionary yet pragmatic leaders that can help Nigeria realise a remarkable positive change?

Careful consideration of the likeliest players at the 2023 polls, vis-à-vis the criterion above, would show that Nigeria is not prepared for an election. Dr Akiyode-Afolabi proposed a three-aspect strategy to help us discover a new Nigeria. These are aspects that cannot be fully realised within a four-year term. Thus, there is the need for Nigerian politicians, regardless of their differences—although there are no marked differences in Nigerian politics—to consider government as a continuum and treat it as such. This will help ensure that even if power falls to the opposition camp, the remarkable and change-focused plans that have been kicked into action by the previous government will continue to be nurtured by the new government. This is the only way we can fully realise the three-dimensional solution proposed by Dr Akiyode-Afolabi.

Dr Akiyode-Afolabi’s first proposed dimension is the need for an empowered political class. The Nigerian political field is riddled with whimsical people who are of the anything-goes breed as long as they get elected to office. That is why serial defection is nothing to them, and they can shamelessly befriend a foe today and betray a friend tomorrow. They are overly selfish lot who constantly put personal needs and gains before national needs and expected gains. The Nigerian political class needs to be empowered enough to engage the electorate in an ideological and issue-based manner. A look at the pre-campaign clamouring in the camps of the presidential aspirants will show that they think so little of Nigerians that they believe not much is needed in the way of plans and strategies to convince the people. It is also why Nyensom Wike, who lost his party’s presidential ticket, deemed it fit to incessantly chant, “give me power… power!” To him, that was enough to get him the ticket to become Nigeria’s next president.

The coming months will show us lamentable political campaigns with no depth, so shallow that every reasonable Nigerian would be too ashamed to identify with a country where such gimmicks pass as enough campaign to convince the people to vote for someone. There is a need to empower citizens and help kick structures in place to organise Nigerians and help them truly understand what they want. Nigeria has so much suffered from poor governance that asking the average electorate what they expect from the aspirants — what they look forward to hearing that could convince them to vote for an aspirant — would most likely render them stammering.

In Nigeria, constitutional reformation is of great necessity. The Nigerian Constitution has outlived its essence. What use is a constitution if it does not amply meet the state’s needs nor adequately answer its citizens’ burning questions? The systems of the constitution no longer effectively serve us as a nation, which is why there have been agitations and clamouring for secession, restructuring, regionalisation, and central policing, among other issues raised. In the end, until Nigeria intentionally kicks these three dimensions into action, and until there are successive tenures that consider the government as a continuum and reach a knowing agreement to nurture and not impede the realisation of the three-dimensional issue, a new and positive Nigeria will be anything but reality.

  1. *** This is the third and final report on the interview held on May 22, 2022, on the 2023 elections in Nigeria. The views of our distinguished panelists have traveled wide and have been reported in several newspapers.

For the transcript, see:




Continue Reading

Top Stories

%d bloggers like this: