Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Ignite the mind.

Diary of a Solitary PGD Student at NIJ

In this special series on the Emerging Young Women in Media and PRAD Initiative by LightRay!, we share the story of Elizabeth Oluwaseyi Jimoh, whose journey into media, specifically print media, within a shrinking landscape in Nigeria, takes us on a journey of self introspection and the joys of a solitary journey in a post graduate course.

Sip some agbo drink and enjoy this feature (wink!)

© Jimoh Elizabeth Oluwaseyi for LightRay! Media

I could vividly recall in my mind’s eye how the Provost of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye, made a confession that seemed hard for me to believe at first.

Specifically on the 6th of March 2024, during the 21st matriculation ceremony of the institution, it was then he proclaimed to us all that – “this event marks the beginning of a transformative journey of self-discovery and growth. You are not just here to acquire knowledge and skill sets; you are here to broaden your horizons, unlock your full potential, and make a lasting impact on the world around you. Today, we remind you of the thorough and due process of admission into the NIJ – the center of excellence with a dual heritage of academic and professional hands-on training in Mass Communication for more than half a century.”

I whispered to myself, “This sounds too good to be true!” If these promises are real indeed, then I’m in for a memorable time. But prior to the matriculation ceremony, I’ve been exposed to different lectures, seminars, and practical sessions. I shockingly realized as time went on that I was alone. It was during the matriculation ceremony that reality dawned on me that I was the only full-time Print student for this ongoing PGD 2023/2024 academic session! So, no hope for any fresh intake after this moment. It was dicey at first, but I quickly made the needed adjustment by using this blessing in disguise to explore various courses from different departments. Some of my jolly good friends would jokingly tease me about exploitation. “You are getting more than what you paid for,” they said. I enjoyed being a solitary student; this really gave me the opportunity to learn new courses outside my regimented print courses.

Some PGD students at the Nigeria Institute of Journalism alongside the Provost of the institute, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye, the Deputy Provost, Dr. Boye Ola, the Registrar Mrs Patricia Kalesanwo and other staff of the institute at the NIJ hall, Ogba, Lagos during the Professional Forum, May 22nd, 2024. Picture Credit: Jimoh.

I remembered how I joined my fellow coursemates from PRAD (Public Relations and Advertising) on an excursion to an Advertising Agency. Honestly, this experience so far has endeared me to believe that the Nigerian Institute of Journalism has not reneged on its promises. It has always been their topmost desire to equip students with skills and confidence that will make them stand out as employers of labor upon graduation from the institution. In a bid to drive home this mission, the Provost of the Institute deemed it fit to bring on board an Icon from the Advertising industry.

Specifically, on the 22nd of May, 2024, the Executive Director of SO&U advertising company, Mr. Udeme Ufot, was invited to have a lecture with the students. The lecture, which was titled – “Pursuing a Career in the Advertising industry,” was really fascinating. It gave me an in-depth understanding beyond the world of advertising. I saw how the resource person practically used his life experiences to awaken us all to a new dawn.

Ufot, who is indeed a man of timber and caliber in the advertising industry, revealed sensitive life principles capable of transporting a mere man from an ordinary level to that of being extraordinary. This special forum afforded me the opportunity to hear directly from the horse’s mouth, drink immensely from his well of knowledge, and behold notable feats of accomplishment achieved by this legendary leader. His life experiences kept re-echoing in my ears, that – “Our life story is a tapestry, woven with the threads of choices, experiences, and relationships. Each moment is a stitch, shaping the greater whole.”

Ufot revealed to us during the course of his lecture why it behooves young professionals to set clearly a mapped-out vision early in life because time is the most perishable commodity that shouldn’t be wasted. “Don’t deceive yourself that you have time; you don’t, not even an hour; every minute you lose cannot be recovered. Understand that there is no time at the moment,” he said. The Advertising Icon highlighted some of his personal goals, which have tremendously helped him accomplish his vision in life. “I wanted to achieve three things in life, and they are; Fame, Fortune, and Fun,” he recalled. This came at a cost, as I took the risk of leaving my comfort zone in Calabar, where I worked with DESMAK. Then, I was handsomely paid, but I asked myself, is this the best place to be? Since Calabar wasn’t an e-commerce environment, I decided to leave for Lagos. In my thirst and search for an advertising agency, I finally got a foothold in INSIGHT.

However, I learned another vital lesson in life, which was – “I must stoop to conquer.” The challenge of being offered a N20,000 job in Lagos compared to a better salary in Calabar made me complain bitterly to my new boss, who logically replied: “Udeme, listen to me; you working with DESMAK in Calabar means you were a big fish with small money, but here at INSIGHT, we are going to give you an opportunity in a mighty Ocean where you can be a small fish with ample room to swim around.” I finally accepted my fate, and indeed, NSIGHT gave me the opportunity to learn and become popular today. I then realized that – you must stoop to conquer, because in life, humility is so critical to success. This principle I still exhibit till date. I run my life based on the assumption that – I’m not good enough, and this has given me the opportunity to prepare harder.

During the course of the lecture with Ufot, I observed how the Advertising Icon reiterated the need for professionals to have the right mentor who would punch them in the right direction, “You are young and can’t know it all; you need people who have the experience and are also willing to share with you this experience in all sincerity.” I remember complaining to my mentor how I was made to do four jobs as an Art Director, Account Director, Copywriter, and also involved in the Management committee at INSIGHT. My mentor rebuked me and told me to keep shut. He emphatically said that those workloads were meant to train me. So, I had no choice but to continue. But in less than five years, I was promoted to the level of an Executive Director. This promotion gave me the opportunity to travel outside the country. Upon my arrival from Germany, I began to implement the experiences I had gained. This likewise reflected in my output, leading to my appraisal of being phenomenal in speed and accuracy. Mr. Udeme narrated.

The speaker further recalled how he was able to accomplish his other life’s goal, which was Fortune. “I felt restless at a point in my life, and this strange urge led me to quit my job. At this stage, I needed to resign. The thought of how I could creatively tell a different story thus led me to start an Advertising Agency known as SO&U in 1990. Although I was the ‘MD’s boy’ at INSIGHT, I felt it was time for me to leave. I soon realized that at every stage of your life, you must withdraw yourself to think. I asked myself, do I have more to do more? Soon, I further realized that my next goal was to make a fortune, and I knew good things cost money, so I decided to work hard, and in all humility, the breakthrough came for SO&U, as Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB) became our first client. Making money is not a bad thing, especially if you do it the right way. Once the idea you have is powerful enough, people will risk their money on you. All these made me realize that – your success or failure will not be determined by what you lack. What’s most important is that you understand what you lack in your success journey and how to get it!

Ufot categorically told us at the forum how his biological father pleaded with him to opt for a profession in Law, but he declined because he wanted to have fun. “I have discovered the secret that – you are best at what you enjoy or have natural talents doing. I have been in advertising for 23 years, and my choice of career is still fun for me and much fulfilling. Hence, I tried to compensate my father, as my wife Dorothy Udeme Ufot (SAN) is a Nigerian lawyer with a speciality in commercial law. She is the first female SAN in Akwa Ibom State. What he couldn’t get in his son, he found in his daughter-in-law.”

The Advertising Icon further urged us to be studious, ready to learn, take risks, and avoid sentiment while embracing meaningful relationships. “SO&U is a combination of Sajay, Oko, and Udeme,” he asserted. I chose capability over friendship ties because it is what you want to achieve that will affect your decision. Sajay Gbemi is the art director, and Oko Julia is our copywriter in this industry. At first, people thought we would fail, but it was the fear of failing that prompted us! One of our biggest drivers is – we must not fail, for if we do, people will be happy to see us fail. This kept us moving, and we also kept learning while gaining more experiences” he reiterated. The experiences I obtained from Lagos Business School and various Professional Associations have made me the youngest President of the Advertising Company in Nigeria,” Udeme said.

Jimoh Elizabeth Oluwaseyi, PDG Print student at the Nigeria Institute of Journalism reporting for LightRay! Media. PC: Jimoh.

The Professional forum was an insightful moment for us Students and Lecturers as well. The Provost of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Gbenga Adefanye, appreciated the speaker for such an impactful session. The school registrar, Mrs. Patricia Kalesanwo, HOD of General Studies, Mrs. Maureen Poopola, Dr. Dele Omojuyigbe, and other Lecturers were also present at the forum.

The Deputy Provost of the institute, Dr. Boye Ola, urged us to continually make ourselves available for another inspiring session of the Professional’s Forum. He said, “This is Professionals Forum Recharged, the beginning of a new beginning; don’t miss the subsequent edition of the forum, which will come up once every month.” The insightful packed lecture came to an end after a moment of question and answer, which gave way to an exchange of pleasantries and the presentation of gifts to the Speaker. Mr. Udeme thus appreciated the effort of the Provost in making the forum a memorable one. He summoned the students to thank the Provost for dragging him down despite his tight schedule.

Everyone present was delighted to learn something worthwhile from the legend, who is indeed a reservoir of knowledge. The forum, which was a moment of enlightenment, is one of the numerous programs designed for students by the Nigerian Institute of Journalism to help us become better versions of ourselves. This session rightly brought us to the consciousness of the fact that – “Our life story is written by us; we are the authors. The pen is in our hand. The decisions we make and the actions we take write our story.”

This is a sponsored special LightRay! Media series on Emerging Young Women in Media and PRAD Initiative.



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