President Muhammadu Buhari is set to name a former North American Bureau Chief of The Guardian, Laolu Akande, as a Senior Special Assistant to lead the media and communication unit in the office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, PREMIUM TIMES can authoritatively report today.
People familiar with the president’s plan said Mr. Akande’s appointment would be among several others to be announced Monday or Tuesday.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that under the present arrangement in the presidency, there would be only one presidential media and communication office but that individual appointees would be given separate responsibilities.
Mr. Akande would be deployed to work with Mr. Osinbajo, our sources said.
It is not clear whether the journalist has returned to Nigeria to take up the appointment. He could not be reached on his U.S. telephone on Sunday.
He was however in Nigeria in May to cover the inauguration ceremony for his media agency, Empowered Newswire. He returned to the U.S. shortly afterwards.
Mr. Akande, a pastor, was a former editor of Saturday Tribune. He cut his journalism teeth at The Guardian in 1989, and was a foundation staff of The NEWS magazine.
He moved to the United States in 1997 after agents of then dictator, Sani Abacha, began harassing him over perceived critical stance of his paper (Saturday Tribune) to the administration.
According to his brief bio on the website of the CANUSA, a Christian organization for which he works as executive director, Mr. Akande is regarded as “the longest serving African correspondent at the United Nations, and the only Nigerian journalist so far to have interviewed a sitting American president in the White House when he interviewed former President George W. Bush.
“He has also exclusively interviewed American folk hero, General Colin Powell, as well as billionaires like Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Donald Trump and several African leaders and presidents.”
An adjunct college professor, Mr. Akande worked with leading American newspapers including the Philadelphia Inquirer, and New York Newsday.
He worked briefly at the United Nations as a press officer and later as advocacy consultant between 2002 and 2004.