Behold! Here Comes John Ajayi, the New Asiwaju

John Ajayi, publisher of Marketing Edge installed Asiwaju of Ijan Ekiti

Raheem Akingbolu pays tribute to Lagos Media Entrepreneur, John Ajayi, who was recently honoured with the chieftaincy title of the Asiwaju of Ijan Ekiti by the town’s monarch, Oba Adebanji Aladesuyi.

History was made recently at the ancient town of Ijan Ekiti in Gbonyin Local Government of Ekiti State, where a media entrepreneur and an illustrious son of the soil, John Olutope Ajayi, was installed as Asiwaju, thereby defying the popular saying that “a prophet is treated with honor everywhere except in his own hometown, among his relatives, and in his own house.”  Ajayi’s installation with those of a few prominent Nigerians, was the peak of the one-year anniversary of Oba Aladesuyi, who ascended the throne exactly a year ago.

Though, it was not the first time an Ijan man or woman would be honoured at home and it was also not the first time an Ijan King would give honorary titles to prominent individuals in the society but it was the first time an Ijan man would be named Asiwaju.

Another significant thing about the title and its beneficiary was perhaps the unanimous acceptability among the Ijan indigenes who all hailed their king for giving the title to a man many described as ‘a torchbearer’. As the Kabiyesi pronounced Ajayi as Asiwaju, the people erupted in excitement and showered encomium on the new chief for his outstanding and selfless character.

According to the Kabiyesi, Ajayi’s nomination and confirmation enjoyed general acceptability among Onijan-in-Council, Ijan Community Development and among the various age grades.

“Today will go down in the history of our dear town as a day of honour that was set aside to mark my first-year anniversary coronation and honour for one of our own; a credible, forward-looking, progressive-minded and illustrious son of the soil, John Olutope Ajayi, who has, over the years worked for a better Ijan through his contribution to physical and human developments. Personally, I was impressed listening to friends, family members and other indigenes of Ijan, who all spoke glowingly about how John has impacted them. This recognition is not only to boost his morale to continue being the good ambassador of Ijan that he is but to encourage others to take a cue from him,”  Onijan said.

For Ajayi, a veteran Journalist and Publisher of Marketing Edge Magazine, a wholly communication marketing journal, the weekend’s honour was a reward for his years of eventful contribution to the growth of both the human and physical developments of the town.

Thus, Ajayi’s installation as Asiwaju brought to the fore the age-long harmony among various religious and community groups in Ijan, which has repeatedly been cited as one of the basis for its development.

The one-year anniversary of Onijan also established that the monarch is strategically mobilising the community’s social capital for popular participation in a way that the envisaged new Ijan would be a reality.

The event markedly signified a build-up to special recognition of outstanding individual contribution towards Ijan Ekiti. It also recognised that Ajayi’s effort was a symbolic pivot to the growth of Ijan and her common heritage. And the medal was finally awarded to him to goad others to action.

Another take-home lesson from the memorable event was that that the youth of the community have a lot to learn from the accomplishments of the celebrant and that the idea of a new Ijan sprang from Kabiyesi’s efforts at uniting the community in a renewed effort that will take the community into a new height.

Reacting to the honour done him by his community, Ajayi appreciated Kabiyesi, the chiefs and other prominent indigenes for considering him fit for the recognition.

“Our Kabiyesi, Alase, Ikeji Orisa, I’m indebted to you and the Ijan stool. May God continue to guide you with the Solomonic wisdom to lead our community to the promised land. You are indeed a God-chosen king.  To our traditional chiefs and other sons and daughters of Ijan, I appreciate you all for this honour and I promise to always make you proud. To me, Ijan is my own Jerusalem and I will continue to contribute my quota to her development,”

Speaking further, Ajayi urged Ijan sons and daughters to race to build the town and her common heritage into a symbol of human capital.

He admitted that though Ijan sons and daughters are spread across all professions, there is need to galvanise every one into action through the collective value of all social networks.

“In line with the current global trend, the new Ijan must be defined within the present reality of universal concept of development-knowledge economy, digital education, ICT skills, history, heritage and storytelling skills, among others. Finally, Ijan sons and daughters should heed the new call to serve humanity through the window of Ijan town,” Ajayi stated.

Although government efforts cannot be underestimated, Ajayi’s contribution and those of others have shown that Ijan deserves a more ambitious push to drive and expand every facet of its present attainment, and there is therefore every reason to be committed to a self-led growth and close the developmental gap within Ijan.

The passion within the minds of sons and daughters of Ijan to develop the community has really transformed into concrete actions as footprints of community-led development abound across the town.

Born on June 12, 1963, in Ijan-Ekiti, in Gbonyin Local Government of Ekiti State in Southwest Nigeria, Ajayi, known for his visionary and highly focused journalism, marketing and public relations acumen, graduated from the University of Lagos with a Bachelor’s degree in English Language. In his quest for more knowledge and to prepare for future endeavours, he obtained a postgraduate diploma in Journalism at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Ogba and later a Master’s degree in Political Science, from the same University of Lagos.

A consummate professional, Ajayi worked with prominent media firms in Nigeria, particularly in the print media, distinguishing himself as a well-sought-after journalist, covering the wide spectrum of business beats, features and later the political desk where he was once posted to the Governor’s office as a State House Correspondent by THISDAY Newspapers. He cut his journalism teeth at The News magazine, where he was first employed as a Proof Reader on the Sub- Desk. He later moved to Thisday newspaper upon the completion of his Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism as a Staff Writer where he also introduced the Media page column of the Newspaper.

Meritoriously celebrated as an investigative journalist, and a very hard-working news hunter, Ajayi is known for delivering breaking news and exclusives that have positively lifted the profession. In his drive to move beyond the established mark and do something extraordinary, Ajayi took a very bold, surprising and decisive decision in 2003 that stunned industry watchers and even his family by floating his own media outfit, Marketing Edge Publications Ltd. His bold decision to call it quit with a paid employment even at a much younger age was seen as a risk too grievous and ambitious.

The focused publication’s objective as envisioned and moulded by Ajayi is aimed at promoting the brands, while expanding the frontiers of marketing and advertising knowledge for all the players and practitioners in the Integrated Marketing Communications sector (IMC) .This initiative offers the IMC group the first and novel opportunity to embrace and identify with a news platform that solely deals with the industry happenings,  developments and growth .This media group  has  today metamorphosed into a multi-channel media news Channel that cuts across print, online, broadcast and OOH; and with a subsidiary, Media Edge, that is into 360-degree marketing communications and brand management consultancy services.

In further pursuit of the vision, Ajayi, this year, signposted the 20th anniversary of the company with the flag-off of an annual two-in-one event: the National Marketing Stakeholders Summit and the Brand and Advertising Excellence Awards, an event which, on the one hand, galvanizes the industry to brainstorm on a contemporary and topical issue in an effort to extend the frontiers of knowledge in the business of brand management and the management of the brand business as well as provide the environment for stakeholders engagement to chart the way forward for the industry.

The awards event, on the other hand, is a platform that honours outstanding product, corporate, institutional, and personality brands across marketing communication and other sectors. The two-in-one event has since grown to become another pace-setting and torch-bearing initiative which, over the last ten editions, has enjoyed a consistent rise in profile and equity, both locally and internationally.

In twenty years of establishing Marketing Edge, John Ajayi, a Fellow of the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria, FNIMN, has truly developed the publication as a likable brand reputed as the authoritative source of news, events, and happenings in the IMC sector. As far as Ajayi is concerned, the vision remains very green, as ever-green as the water lily planted by the river bank.