You might be wondering whether the writer of this piece knows anything about the communication education terrain in Nigeria, after all, the first female professor in the country is widely known. Sure, the first name that comes to mind is Professor Chinyere Stella Okunna.
You might need to take a quick look at this piece to equip yourself with facts on this argument currently raging in the communication education sector in Nigeria. This writer’s opinion should not count. What we present here are facts to help you have informed opinion.
There is a debate you may not be aware of, on whether the first female Professor of Mass Communication in Nigeria is Professor Stella Okunna or Professor Abiola Odejide. I bet most communication scholars reading this piece may never have heard of Professor Abiola Odejide before now. Well, you have now heard it for the first time. Prof. Odejide, now retired, is an emeritus Professor of Communication and Language Arts at the University of Ibadan, and the first female Deputy Vice Chancellor of that institution.
Before we move further into the analysis of who really is the first female professor of Mass Communication in Nigeria, let’s provide a quick professional overview of these two giants in Nigeria’s communication education industry. We begin with Professor Okunna.
Professor Chinyere Stella Okunna is the more familiar scholar among the two professors being discussed here. She had her B.A. from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, M.A. from the University of Leicester Centre for Mass Communication Research, Leicester, England/UK and her Ph.D from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. Her area of specialization is Behaviour Change Communication (Development Communication). She became a Professor of Mass Communication at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University in 2001. Professor Okunna has held various public offices among which are Chief of Staff, Anambra State Government (2012 – 2014), Honourable Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Anambra State (2009 – 2014), Honourable Commissioner for Information and Culture, Anambra State (2006 – 2009), Chair, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Implementation Committee, Anambra State (2009 – 2014), Chair, Anambra State Committee on Good Governance (2007 – 2014), Chair, Anambra State Vision 20: 20-20 (2007 – 2014), and Coordinating Commissioner, Development Partnership/Donor Agencies Activities in Anambra State (2009 – 2014).
Professor Okunna has published several scholarly articles in reputable International and local journals. She has also authored, co-authored, edited, and co-edited highly regarded books in Mass Communication. She is currently back to the ivory tower at the Department of Mass Communication, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria.
Professor Abiola Odejide is an Emeritus Professor of Communication and Language Arts at University of Ibadan. She was the Deputy Vice Chancellor at the university from November 8, 2004 to November 7, 2006. She is in fact, the first woman to attain such position at the University of Ibadan.
Odejide had her first degree in English, graduating with a second class upper at University of Ibadan in 1968. She then proceeded to University of Leeds to obtain a master’s degree in Linguistics and English Language Teaching in 1974, finishing with distinction. She got her PhD from the University of Ibadan in 1986. She became a full professor of Communication and Language Arts at University of Ibadan in 1991. She retired from the Unibadan in November 2011.
Based on the background of these two academic giants, you could see that they are both professors in communication education studies.
However, if the argument on whether Mass Communication department and the Department of Communication and Language Arts have a thin line dividing them rages on, Prof. Odejide could be viewed as the first female professor of communication education in Nigeria while Prof. Okunna is the first female professor of Mass Communication in Nigeria.
What is your own opinion on this?