He is one of the citizens who believes that Nigeria will be better despite its current socioeconomic and political challenges. As a child and youth, he enjoined positive outcomes of social and economic policies and programmes of governments in 70s and 80s. After his first and second degrees, Professor Ayobami Ojebode started his teaching career at the University of Ibadan in 1997 with the intent of building Nigeria’s future using moral principles inculcated in him by his Igboora parents and teaching methodologies at the Obafemi Awolowo University and the University of Ibadan between 1992 and 1995.
From 1997 to 2013, the year he became a professor at the Department of Communication and Language Arts, till now, how the new leaders with a strong commitment to the building of Nigeria as a country that gives every citizen equal opportunity to survive and contribute to its [Nigeria] growth has been his strategic principle. In this piece, our analyst examines the principle along with his academic and personal life, covering last 21 years of being a teacher at the Nigeria’s Premier University.
His love for indigenous and development communication studies should not be a surprise to those who know his family background and interest in developing African culture and history in all ramifications. According to our source, his late father was known for having superior interest in Africa, especially Yoruba culture and traditions. Hence, Professor Ojebode’s research interest, according to our analyst, is biologically driven on one hand and academically driven on the other hand, if one considers the role played by late Dr Larinde Akinleye and Professor Ebenezer Oludayo Soola.
These two scholars had great influence in his choice of research areas, the study of indigenous, mass and other communication media in the context of Nigeria’s political, economic, environmental, social and development peculiarities.
He has about 60 publications to his credit. One of his publications, titled Doing Community Radio, has been adopted as a training manual in radio stations within and outside Nigeria. Same with another of his publications titled Audience Research for Campus Radio Stations.
He has been a consultant to many national and international organisations such as the World Bank, DFID, Institute for Media and Society (Nigeria); Institute for Development Studies (UK); the University of Leuphana (Germany), and the Partnership for African Social Governance Research (PASGR) (Kenya).
Professor Ojebode has been a visiting researcher, a visiting scholar, a keynote speaker, a consultant, a trainer and/or examiner in universities and research institutes in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Peru and the United States. He delivered the keynote paper at the 2012 National Programmes Planning Conference of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) in Akure, Ondo State, titled Radio programming in the twenty-first century: face-to-face with reality.
In his 21 years of being a University teacher, Professor Ojebode won grants and honours. He has also been a fellow in national and international institutions. He has played the roles of a leading researcher and consultant in many projects that cut across his research interest. In the area of administrative service within the University of Ibadan, especially at the Department of Communication and Language Arts, information indicates that his leadership style remains one of the best. In 2020, he ended his leadership of the Department with 41 PhD Graduates, 13 First Class Undergraduate degrees in 9 Years. This feat is largely linked with his commitment to service to humanity, result-oriented leadership style and collaborative work ethic.
Before becoming a professor, our analysis shows that he spent 3 years and 3 months on average. The highest years were 5, which he spent between 2008 and 2013, the year he was pronounced as a professor of development communication at the Department of Communication and Language Arts of the Institution.
Professor Ojebode’s drive to attain a professorial position in 2013 could be discerned from the aggressive publication pursued between 2008 and 2013. Our analysis reveals that Professor Ojebode had 35 publications during the period out of 63 publications mapped by our analyst [from 2004 to 2021], including journal articles, chapters in books and other educational and public policy engagement materials. According to our analyst, he is one of the lecturers at the Department who rose to the professorial position without being associate professor, indicating his publication prowess.
Exhibit 1: Publications between 2004 and 2021
Research Interests and Solutions to Muted Voices
As noted earlier, his research areas include indigenous, mass and other communication media in the context of Nigeria’s political, economic, environmental, social and development peculiarities. Clearly, his consideration of the Nigerian settings and other locations in Africa for exploration of problems and needs within the peculiarities resonate with his strategic principle and philosophy of building better future for people and society in general. In his inaugural speech as a professor of the University, he narrated how the findings of his many years of researching the contexts established muted voices, being aided by individuals, organisations and political leaders.
From our analysis, Professor Ojebode has supervised undergraduate projects and postgraduate theses. Available information reveals that he has supervised a Master student from the Netherlands and a PhD student, who was a Ghanaian. He has supervised 150 undergraduate projects and 120 masters theses.
Analysis of his 63 publications indicates that he has researched issues and needs within other communication media [notice board, indigenous communication channels among others], mass media, indigenous and development most. “I can only supervise students [especially postgraduate students] whose interests fall within my broad area of research interest,” Professor Ojebode says when our analyst asked about criteria for supervision.
This statement was analysed further and we found that in 16 years, Professor Ojebode’s research focus and contexts connect strongly. During the years, there were significant connection of the indigenous as a research interest with development issues and needs. This also emerged in other communication media as a research interest. Indigenous and other communication media were also found to be strongly associated with social issues and needs.
In what establishes his profound interest in shaping political, economic, social and environmental landscapes through applied researches and policy engagement with leaders, his 16 years of publication [of the 63 publications examined by our analyst] indicates that over 30%, 27%, 26% and 20% were devoted to investigation of issues and needs within development, environmental, social and economic contexts respectively out of expected 100% for each context. What he cannot capture within publications was addressed through his keynote speaking and policy engagement or dialogue with beneficiaries of his research activities.
Collaboration Ladder: What is it for the Upcoming Scholars?
More than 39% of his 63 publications were single authorship while over 60% were co-authorship. From the 38 publications with co-authorship, Professor Ojebode was the leading author/editor in 55.3% of the publications. He was second author and third author in 26.3% and 13.2% of the publications respectively.
Between 2008 and 2013, Professor Ojebode collaborated with other colleagues in Nigeria and beyond more than what happened between 2004 and 2008, our analysis reveals. In 2010, 7 publications emerged as a result of collaboration with other scholars and professionals in communication and non-communication related industries and sectors across the world.
From indigenous to other communication media research interests, co-authorship permeated throughout 16 years of publication examined by our analyst. This is not different from what our analyst discovered within the research contexts. Single authorship alone dominated within the environmental research context [see Exhibit 4].
In our analysis, there was a 98.2% of single authorship in co-authorship within the research interests earlier explained. It was 86.9% within research contexts. Does it mean that your in-depth knowledge of a particular research gap or the area drive who to collaborate with? “Yes, but also … whoever is first to bring up an idea ended up being the first author. Well, sometimes, I cede that right to help make the junior person also visible.”
Exhibit 2: Publication by Authorship Category
Exhibit 3: Authorship by Research Interest
Exhibit 4: Authorship by Research Contexts
Lessons from His Change Makers Creation Model
From teaching to community service, it is clear that Professor Ojebode ran a Hybrid-Concentric Model (HCM), which prioritises the collaborative and supportive principles according to our analysis. “I have managed to situate my energy in “the place where four footpaths meet” – mentoring, teaching; research and community service.” Our model shows intra and inter connectivity of the paths. In the area of teaching, Professor Ojebode’s skill in identifying people’s strengths and exploring them for the benefit of everyone is better understood from Kamorudeen Salaudeen, one of his students, who says: “I can’t forget his introduction to reading class in 100 level, a course that linked reading and writing together in an applied fashion through weekly summary exercise. The bundle of skills acquired in the course has connection with all branches of communication studies. This is just one of his functional teaching techniques.
“Theory and research are both trouble spots to all students, not only of communication. Ojebode has the key to their simplification. Those who read should still remember how Quick Walk through Research Methodology, a study material he wrote and distributed free to his students. Kamorudeen Salaudeen is a lecturer at Fountain University, Osogbo in Osun State.
Exhibit 5: Hybrid-Concentric Model (HCM)
Drivers of his model are not quite different from what the past and present students said about him when he presented his professorial speech in 2019 and what they are saying now as he celebrates 21 years of teaching, researching and engaging policy leaders in Nigeria and other countries.
His abilities and capabilities to demystify complex concepts during teaching and grey areas while supervising including quality interpersonal relationship remain the key factors of producing the needed change makers. Supportive future, solution-driven teaching and qualitative mentoring are also found as significant elements of the model. Mark Ighodalo says “I can’t believe it is 21 years, you have been working diligently, raising leaders.” “His lectures were never boring! He was most times comical, and will always spice and garnish every lecture with jokes and stories!” Isaac Audu Ogoja, another past student adds.
Indeed, he is a change maker who also wants more change makers for where he lives and have interests in. Our analysis shows that his dominant co-authorship remains a template that could be used by other established academic scholars to spur upcoming ones into unexpected greatness. Established scholars and emerging ones also need his policy driven research approach and engagement with the users of research outputs.
Exhibit 5: Drivers of Hybrid-Concentric Model