BY ROTIMI DUROJAIYE
Adegbenro Adebanjo, the Deputy Director, Information and Protocols, Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), is a typical journalist and public relations expert.
He served variously as Special Assistant, Senior Special Assistant and Chief Press Secretary to former Ogun State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, between 2004 and 2011.
He also served as editor of Westerner magazine and editorial board member of the defunct Compass newspapers.
To him, working in an academic environment has been quite enriching and challenging.
He said the act, art and science of managing individuals and institutions keep changing and he needs to keep abreast of new tools, especially in this era of social and new media.
“In the days of yore, you limited your frontiers to television, radio, newspapers and magazines. The terrain has changed and we thank God that we are coping and doing our best. The challenges are always numerous, especially when you need to clarify information relating to your principal or institution. My watchword has always been to attack issues and clarify matters. Never, ever resort to personal attacks no matter the dirts from the other side. And never allow a lie and an untruth about your principal or organisation go unchallenged. Always push the truth, your side to the public domain for record purposes and posterity,” he noted.
To him, there is a marked difference between managing the image of a politician and a tertiary institution, “because you are talking about people who are well grounded intellectually and academically. They are very, very critical and you must know your onions and you must be sure of your facts because the people you are dealing with know the in and out of whatever you want to say.”
He said anyone who wants to succeed in managing the image of any tertiary institution must stand on sure grounds “to be able to do what you want to do and you must never dabble into propaganda because they will just tell you that this is not true.”
“My watchword has always been to attack issues and clarify matters. Never, ever resort to personal attacks no matter the dirts from the other side. And never allow a lie and an untruth about your principal or organisation go unchallenged. Always push the truth, your side to the public domain for record purposes and posterity
According to him, “if you put out a statement, a politician may tell you that you are trying to burnish our image. If you put out a statement that is not true, the professors will tell you right there that no, we have not achieved this milestone why are you lying to the public. It is a terrain that you deal only in facts and your credibility must always be intact and you must show that you are a professional. The moment they know that you are a professional that you know your onions, of course navigating through the terrain will be very, very easy.”
A veteran public relations practitioner, Muyiwa Akintunde, said Adebanjo is a gentleman and quintessential public relations professional.
He added that Adebanjo has brought to FUTA, certain panache of humility and professionalism that has endeared him to many.
“His professionalism, education attainment and good upbringing show through his comportment and dedication to duty. Adebanjo has elevated the image of FUTA and gave the institution hope,” Akintunde added.
A senior journalist, Johnson Ayantunji, described Adebanjo as versatile journalist and hardworking image maker.
“Adebanjo, whom I fondly call Agba (Elder), is more than a friend. He is a brother whom we have done so many things together since our paths crossed in 1993 in TELL magazine. He values friendship and keeps his friends whether in or out of government. He does not allow his position to get into his head. He believes in using his position to help humanity,” Ayantunji said.
He remarked that Adebanjo is a great family man, who keeps family bonds.
Regional Editor (West Africa), The Conversation Africa, Adejuwon Soyinka, equally sees Adebanjo as a consummate journalist and media practitioner that he has known for over 22 years.
“As a reporter, Mr. Adebanjo is perhaps one of the best Nigeria has produced. I met him at TELL magazine where I cut my teeth as a professional journalist under his tutelage alongside several other experts and seniors in the profession. He is a versatile journalist who can conveniently report on any subject. He switches from reporting sports to politics, science and the arts with great ease.
“As an editor and at some point head of newsroom, Mr. Adebanjo was not only the type of leader you could trust with your life, he led from the front. He wasn’t just an editor; he was also a teacher, counselor, friend and indeed a brother. It was therefore not surprising that some of his reporters called him Bro Gbenro while some others called him Uncle Gbenro. In spite of the pressure cooker nature of an editor’s job, Mr. Adebanjo never lost his jovial, friendly nature and always had a way of making everyone around him laugh.
“These excellent people qualities perhaps made his entrance into the field of public communication rather seamless. His personal integrity, versatility, openness and friendly disposition have quite easily made him a successful public communication and image management expert,” Soyinka added.
A native of Okun-Owa in Odogbolu Local Government, Ogun State, Adebanjo was born in Lagos.
He attended SLG Primary School, Abule Okuta, Bariga, CMS Grammar School, Ajayi Crowther Grammar School, Federal Government College, Odogbolu and the University of Lagos where he studied English and Mass Communications and graduated with a Second Class Upper Division.