Oluwamayowa Tijani, staff writer and columnist at TheCable, has been awarded the Chevening scholarship to study for a master’s degree in the UK.
The scholarship, which is awarded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), is valued at over £30,000 for the academic year.
Tijani, who was named alongside over 40 other Nigerians, joins a community of over 1,000 Nigerians who have been so awarded since 1983 when the award was inaugurated across the commonwealth.
The previous scholars include John Momoh, president and chairman of Channels TV; Habibat Lawal, acting secretary to the government of the federation; Adesola Adeduntan, CEO of First Bank Nigeria Limited; Herbert Wigwe, CEO of Access Bank; and Mausi Segun, executive director at Human Right Watch.
According to Paul Arkwright, British high commissioner to Nigeria, those who are selected for Chevening scholarship “become recognised as leaders belonging to a global network of influencers”.
Speaking on his application and award of the scholarship, Tijani, a journalist with a strong focus on business and development, said his emergence could only have been by the grace of God.
He thanked Simon Kolawole, the CEO of TheCable, who also won the Chevening scholarship in 2005; Motunrayo Alaka, coordinator of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism; and his family for the support all along the way.
Tijani expressed appreciation to his friends, Abisola Otesile, a graduate of Imperial College London and management consultant, and Samuel Osho, graduate student at the University of Manitoba and co-founder at The Courtroom, for their encouragement through the years.
“These people believed in me at a time I doubted myself and my abilities. Two years ago, I was only a reporter at one of Chevening’s event in Nigeria, but their kind corrections and encouragement helped achieve this,” he said.
“I was invited by Abisola Otesile, a friend who was a scholar at the time. She played a major role in encouraging me that I had the qualities the UK government was looking for in potential leaders.
“I did apply, and committed the rest to God’s hands. In seven months, I had scaled a number of hurdles and eventually got the award. Not oblivious of my weakness, I know for sure that God did this. Indeed, His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses.”
He also appreciated ‘Fisayo Soyombo, pioneer editor of TheCable; George Taiwo, the current editor, and every member of the team at TheCable for their motivation, saying “this is absolutely the best team I have ever worked with”.
Tijani studied food technology at the University of Ibadan and print journalism at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Ogba, Lagos.
In 2013, Junior Chamber International (JCI) named him the most outstanding student in campus journalism at the University of Ibadan. In the same year, he won the Nigerian Championship of Public Speaking (NCPS) in Abuja.
In his capacity as a development journalist, Tijani has worked with the UK Department for International Development (DfID) and the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism. He was commended for his foray into economics of low-cost private education in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos.
In 2015, Tijani was one of the few journalists from across Africa, trained by the United Nations Millennium Campaign as media ambassadors for the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Within two years of joining TheCable, he was nominated for the 2016 PwC awards in SME and Tax reporting and ended up as a runner-up in both categories. In 2017, he was named on the best team of the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa (BMIA) cohort three.
Tijani maintains a weekly column at TheCable, which further focuses on national development. His works have been quoted by many national and international media houses, including International Business Times and the BBC.
In 2016, 51 Nigerians were selected for studies in the UK via the award, with greater expectations for 2017.
Application is on for the 2018/2019 academic year, and can be submitted online between August 7 and November 7, 2017 on the Chevening website.