Shortly before his death, PAU dean inspires beneficiaries of MTN media innovation

Shortly before his death, the dean of the School of Media and Communication (SMC), Pan-Atlantic University (PAU), Lagos, Mike Okolo, inspired 20 pioneer beneficiaries of the MTN Media Innovation Program (MIP) which was recently launched by the communications giant.

Mr Okolo, who reportedly died in an accident on June 5, 2022, was one of the celebrated media scholars who engaged the fellows during the opening sessions of the six-month fully funded fellowship.

According to the deceased, the fellows would engage in intensive sessions on courses covering modern income streams for journalists, creativity and innovation.

He had said the program would equip the fellows with the requisite knowledge in storytelling, entrepreneurship and management principles, 5G, and blockchain technology, business and media ethics, strategic planning skills, among others.

Mr Okolo hinted that the selected fellows were chosen from over 1,200 applications submitted during a call-for-applications phase which he noted commenced on April 27, 2022, and ended on May 5, 2022.

He added that selections were based on performance from a written test as well as a statement of purpose (SOP) submission.

Shortly after rounding off the in-session for the first month, Mr Okolo, who had joined the university since 2004, was said to have died in an accident on June 5.

The university, in a memo announcing his demise, hailed him for his contribution to the institution in his 18 years of service.

He was said to be survived by his wife, Rosemary Okolo, who is a former registrar at the university, and four children.

The statement read in part: “Dr Okolo joined Pan-Atlantic University in 2004 as the Corporate Affairs Manager of the University. In 2006, he moved to become a pioneer member of the newly formed Center for Media and Communication and played a key role in the Center’s establishment.

“The CMC evolved into the School of Media and Communication, attaining a reputation for running quality academic as well as professional education programs, with the tremendous input of Dr Okolo…”

Meanwhile, following his tragic passing, the university management has appointed Ngozi Okpara as the acting dean of the School of Media and Communication (SMC).

MTN speaks on MIP

While welcoming the participants, the chief corporate services officer of MTN Nigeria, Tobechukwu Okigbo, had also advised the fellows to use the opportunity offered by the program to improve their skills as journalists and media practitioners.

Mr Tobechukwu challenged journalists to be independently minded in the course of their interactions with media industry players.

As media practitioners, you have to think for yourself, so we ‘the industry’ do not tell you things which are not as though they were.

“You must query some industry statistics; analyze certain claims to help society make informed decisions by knowing the truth. Interrogate the numbers; that is what sets you apart, ”Mr Tobechukwu said.

The program

In-person sessions for the fellowship commenced on May 23, 2022, to run for six months till December 10, 2022.

As part of the program, fellows will also travel to South Africa to study the media business, Pan-Africanism and the role of development media through a program with the University of Witwatersrand, one of Africa’s leading universities in media training.

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Furthermore, cohorts will execute practical group projects that will be presented at the end of the program; where an outstanding storyteller will be awarded a grant to participate in and cover MTN Foundation’s key initiative, ‘What Can We Do Together?’

According to the organizers, at the end of the training, the fellows will also have access to professional resources and mentorship from the university’s faculty.

The fellows

The 2022 pioneer MIP cohorts include Ameh Ejekwonyilo of PREMIUM TIMES, Chima Akwaja of Leadership Newspaper, Mike Okwoche of TVC News, Peter Oluka of Techeconomy, Adeyemi Adepetun of The Guardian Newspaper, Wasilat Azeez of TheCable, Uhuotu Failmimiilu of Damilabu Megalectrics and Sakina Ahmed of Fombina FM.

Others are Abidemi Dairo of Channels Television, Vanessa Obioha of Thisday Newspaper, Temitayo Jaiyeola of Punch Newspaper, Elsie Godwin; a digital content creator, Agbonkhese Oboh of Vanguard Newspaper, Nahimah Ajikanle-Nurudeen of AP News, Daniel Adeyemi of TechCabal, Samson Akintaro of Nairametrics, Razaq Ayinla of Businessday, Esther Ndu of Arise News, Ugo Onwuaso of Nigeria Communications Week, Nasal Cream and Blossom Deji-Folutile.

Fellows’ expectations

The fellows, who were excited by their selection, expressed their expectations from the initiative, even as they pledged to maximize the opportunity.

“I am excited to have been chosen for the MIP program, and I look forward to filling the knowledge gaps in entrepreneurial skills as well as applying the communication skills that will be acquired to tell more impactful stories as a journalist,” Mr Ameh, one of the cohorts said at the opening session in Lagos.

For another fellow, Daniel Adeyemi, “This opportunity will expand my storytelling capacity, through first-person exposure to technological practices both in Nigeria and across Africa, deeper understanding of the regulatory landscape and exposure to case studies from leading organizations in the sector.”

“My goal from this program is to be able to create a digital platform that will complement the existing broadcast platform in my organization and at the same time boost the company’s revenue. Ultimately, I am optimistic that being part of this program will make my dream to become a media entrepreneur even after retirement a reality, ”said Mrs Ahmed, a fellow.

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