By Lanre Idowu
Doyinsola Abiola (nee Aboaba) has always been a record breaker. As editor of the National Concord in 1980, she was the first woman to be named editor of a national daily. When she was named managing director and editor-in-chief in 1986, she was also the first Nigerian woman to preside over the fortunes of a national newspaper group. Indeed when she was selected for the Eisenhower Fellowship in 1986, she was the first Nigerian woman to participate.
Educated at the University of Ibadan where she earned a degree in English and Drama in 1969, she started her journalism career as a reporter with the Daily Sketch. There, she also tried her hands at column writing. Just as her weekly column, Tiro, was waxing strong, addressing sundry issues of public concern, including gender matters, she left for the United States to pursue her Masters programme in Journalism.
After the Masters programme, she returned to Nigeria and was offered the position of Woman Editor at the Daily Times. She rejected the offer on the grounds that it was an attempt to pigeonhole her talents. She was later employed as a Features Writer and rose to become the Group Features Editor.
The Daily Times crisis of 1975/76 and the fouled atmosphere at the work place offered her opportunity to embark on her doctoral programme in Journalism so she travelled to the United States on study leave. In 1979, armed with her Phd, she returned to the Daily Times and was deployed to the Editorial Board where she enjoyed the company of the likes of Stanley Macebuh, Dele Giwa and Amma Ogan. It was, however, to be a short stay as the newly formed Concord Group of Newspapers soon invited her to be its pioneer daily editor.
Dr. Abiola’s Concord odyssey spanned three decades of unbridled joy and agonizing pain. From her privileged position, she was, however, able to shape public opinion on a number of issues and guide Concord Group into public reckoning and respect. After her Concord days, she has continued to lend her talents and time to the continued effort to mould the Nigerian media into a respectable institution through column writing, training and mentoring. When our friends at the Nigerian Media Merit Award started out she served as Chairperson of Awards Nominating panel. She has also served as Chairperson of CNN African Journalist of the Year Awards. Over the years, in many media houses in Nigeria and abroad, Dr. Doyin Abiola’s protégés have been found in public and private positions acquitting themselves admirably.
For her lifelong devotion to advancing the frontiers of knowledge and strengthening the media as a pillar of democracy, the Trustees of DAME unanimously approved the selection of Dr. Doyin Abiola as a recipient of its Lifetime Achievement Award at the 24th DAME on December 5, 2015.
It feels good to wish her a happy 80th birthday.
Lanre Idowu, a renowned Media Consultant, wrote from Lagos.