Shola Ilesanmi: Friends immortalize late BBC’s reporter in Ondo

Late BBC correspondent, Shola Ilesanmi’s family, friends, and colleagues gathered in Akure, Ondo State’s capital, on Friday for a candlelight parade and an evening of tributes to commemorate the brief but well-lived life of the ace and awarding journalist.

His colleagues and friends paid tributes to him, describing the deceased as a complete gentleman who was fair to all.

In commemoration of the late reporter, his friends announced the establishment of ‘The Shola Ilesanmi Solutions Journalism Prize for Campus Reporters,’ which was founded by his Committee of Friends in collaboration with the National Union of Campus Journalists (NUCJ).

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Shola, an investigative reporter and fact-checker, died at the age of 36 following a brief illness.

The committee will establish a board of jurists to coordinate the submissions, according to John Paul Akinduro, who announced the introduction of the journalism prize at the evening of tributes on Friday.

“This is our unique way of honouring our wonderful colleague, friend, and brother, who gave his all for the profession of journalism and humanity.

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“Every year on Shola Ilesanmi’s birthday, the award will be presented,” Akinduro, former Governor Olusegun Mimiko’s Special Assistant on Media and Digital Communications, said.

Shola began his media career as a campus reporter at Adekunle Ajasin University in Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State, where he wrote for The Nation newspaper’s Campus Life and an AAUA campus-based newspaper.

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He joined the state-owned TV station, OSRC shortly after graduation and then went to Orange FM as a pioneer staff member when the radio station began broadcasting in 2012, before being redeployed to OSRC in 2017.

He left OSRC in January 2021 to join the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, as Ondo State correspondent. He was also a media researcher for AFP and worked as a freelancer for local and international media platforms.

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Shola was described by the Ondo state NUJ’s secretary, Leke Adegbite, as a dedicated and popular media personality as well as a caring man who cared for the
underprivileged.

Chairman ethics committee of Ondo State Youth Network (OSYN), Comrade Bright Idemudia who spoke on behalf of the association, described Shola as a selfless leader and peacemaker who was always there for the association.

Shola’s commitment to developing young people and his service in his local church, where he was a teacher in the youth department, was also recognised and commended.

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