Lawal Musiliu Layiwola is a veteran journalist, who has a diploma in mass communication from university of Lagos in 1982/83, a diploma in public and private law from Hassan Usman Polytechnic in 1998. He also obtained a certificate in marketing from Benue State University.
He worked with Federal Radio Corporation from 1978 – 2013 as a state correspondent in Benue, Kwara, Kaduna, Kastina , Lagos as well as headquarters in Abuja.
He has a wide range of experience as he was privileged to traverse the length and width of Nigeria, Africa, Europe and USA, some of which are House of Assembly in Kwara and Benue State in the 2nd republic, Communal Crisis in Plateau State, Africa Union Summit in Ethiopia, ECOWAS Conferences in Ghana and Togo, EU Seminar and conference in Brussels, Precedential visit to Finland; presidential elections in Liberia, Togo and USA. Other assignment took him to Equatorial Guinean, Cote d’ivore and Sire leone among other travels. He eventually retired as the Head Diplomatic Desk/ Assistant Director in Directorate of News FRCN Head Quarters in Abuja in 2013. It was the mix of the good the bad and the ugly, but overall it was interesting and challenging with exposure to various events which broaden my knowledge and understanding of this great profession.
On his interest and how the practice of journalism satisfied those interest, Lawal said since it is a profession for him drawn by passion, it has provided opportunities for him to dig deep into events which enable him to achieve set goals in any assignment. He was opportune to have access to radio, from infancy through the services of radio fusion which was at his compound in Lagos, he always stay tuned, during news time especially the Yoruba version by then Jide Adebayo.
The availability of Daily Times newspaper then which had many columns arouse his interest, he regarded those columnists as special human beings going by their grammatical expressions and analysis of events. Determined to be like them, he looked for every opportunity which eventually provided itself at FRCN Ibadan. It was this platform he gave in his 35 years of work, maximizing his dream to be a reporter. In his word ‘I thank God I retired honorably ‘
Every assignment has its own challenges as such no job is easy, you have to stand and face those challenges, but generally in the early years the constraint has to do with more ‘tools’; tape recorder, other equipment’s like UHER machine, no access to telephone making transmission of stories difficult, access to information is also limited as I have to read newspaper or visit the library before I could get any useful information.
He compares journalism in the past age and this present age he said journalism practice is more easier compared to the past, access to information is at the tips of the finger and the world has become a global village, however many practitioners have become lazy in sourcing necessary information to make them excel above their peers, some lack the passion which is essential in the practice of journalism.
His take on journalism and press freedom, he said one thing should be clear, there is no press that is free anywhere in the world, freedom must come with responsibility if not there will be irresponsibility and what follows may be chaos. While there should be unhindered access to information, journalist must also know there limitations in line with rules and regulations guiding the practice. Government might be hiding some information’s, it is our duty to find such information using our skills and bring that which will be beneficial to the public.
Emergence of internet and development journalism is a blessing to journalism; it is providing opportunities for easy access to information for those ready to tap into such information. Thou, it has broaden the media space; it also has a disadvantage if not well managed can lead to crises. Information on the internet is not 100% reliable, everyone is now a journalist trained and untrained. Lot of information’s is unverifiable and when published by any medium can be dangerous. The use of such information should be done carefully
His advice to upcoming journalist
- Training is vital in whatever you do, you must be exposed to training in various fields be it science, sociology, psychology, medicine e.t.c that is why like lawyers, journalist should be learned.
- Journalists must be inquisitive, probing mind which will enable them dig deep into events
- Must have a ‘nose for news’ that is, they must be able to identify news
- Journalist must be passionate about the profession, journalism is more than interest, the passion will drive the practitioners to excel
- Journalism is not for cowards as such courage is vital if not he/she will chicken out.
- Journalism is not for those looking for ‘money’ blessings may however, come through grace of God and hard work.
- Upcoming journalist may learn to sustain his/her contact, this is very necessary because they become handy whenever needed.
- Your source of information is paramount and must be guided and secured whatever the circumstances.
- The dignity of a journalist is essential, you lose respect when your conduct is not dignifying.
- You must build trust among colleagues, resource persons/contacts. This will help a discerning reporter to strengthen his synergy among colleagues and resource persons. You must be social and learn necessary etiquette to mingle with all manners of people in the society.
On sacrifices made veteran Lawal said ‘as a journalist the sacrifices are many, risked of being killed, threat from people in authority, motor accident, rivalry among colleagues, separation from family e.t.c all this are inevitable as I experienced all’. The sacrifices were worth it because I succeed virtually in my entire endeavor with tenacity of purpose and Allah’s grace.
He has no regret and he feels fulfilled as a journalist.