Dayo Ibitoye is the founder of Dinovate Consulting, an integrated media and Development Communication Company based in Abuja, FCT Nigeria. He is also a curator of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers’ Community, Port Harcourt Hub. A two-time winner of the technology category of the Nigeria Blog Awards, he speaks with HANNAH OJO on his work in the development sector.
Kindly walk us through your educational and career background
I am a graduate of Chemical Engineering from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. While in the university, I worked as a campus correspondent for some national newspapers. This experience kick-started a career for me in the media and development sector. Because of my passion for technology, I started a technology blog in 2009. The blog grew to become one of the most successful technology blogs in Nigeria. The blog won the Nigerian Blog awards twice (2012 and 2013) and was nominated for Nigerian Blog of the Year alongside Linda Ikeji. I have also won the Coca-Cola Campuslife prize in journalism (profile report category). I have worked with the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND), a $90 million Corporate Social Enterprise of Chevron Corporation where I was instrumental to the launching of an online project focused on improving development information and news in the Niger Delta. I have spent the major part of my career working to bring social change to Niger Delta communities. Currently, I am a member of the Presidential Inter Ministerial Committee on the Niger Delta housed under the Office of the Vice President working on the Niger Delta New Vision (#NDNewVision) Project. I am the founder of Dinovate Consulting, an integrated media and Development Communication Company based in Port Harcourt, South-South Nigeria.
With your training as a chemical engineer and experience in journalism and digital communication, what informed your choice to stick with the development sector?
I have always had a passion for solving development issues. In 2008, I began using online and traditional media to bring awareness and to resolve unvoiced social issues affecting the Nigerian students on campuses. As a correspondent, I was reporting development-related issues in the northern part of Nigeria. I remember during the 2011 General Elections in Nigeria, I was at the forefront of the election violence in Zaria reporting about the electoral violence. So, I will say, development has always been a part of me. On graduating from the university, I got the opportunity to work for a media organisation and most of what I did then was writing about development issues, both nationally and internationally. I also freelanced for the United Press International based in the United States. My first opportunity with a full developmental organisation was with Chevron’s Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta where I was responsible for coordinating development content and news stories in the Niger Delta. This opened so many opportunities for me in the development sector. I am also the curator of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers’ Community, Port Harcourt Hub, where I lead the forum to execute several developmental projects. Some of them included the Safer Schools Campaign, Stop the Soot, Open Africa and the SDGs awareness campaign.
You are a man of many roles and responsibilities, what keeps you motivated when the going gets tough?
Thank you for this question. Sincerely, the world needs more productive minds this time, far more than it has ever needed it. There are developmental issues affecting many nations of the world and there is a constant need to keep everyone abreast of these issues. These plethora of issues coupled with my passion to improve the state of the world in my own little way keep me going. The mere fact that I am still alive and still have the opportunity to be a blessing to the world and contribute to its improvement tells me one has to keep on going, till this world gets better.
Are there lessons you have learnt on the job that you’d like to share?
Quite a lot. In the last few years, I have learnt many things and still learning. Be courageous (face your fears), be humble and admit it when you make mistakes. Learn the art of networking and seizing opportunities. Don’t rest on your present level, there is more to be achieved; if you don’t believe in yourself nobody will. And, finally, put God first in everything.
What’s your advice to young professionals eyeing careers in the development sector?
Development sector is a very interesting one and has a lot of opportunities. Find an area you are passionate about and be clear about the skills you have to offer and where these might fit. To be successful in the development sector, you need strong administrative office-based skills, especially for entry levels such as digital and computer skills, marketing skills, communications, fundraising etc. Networking is also a key skill required to go far in the sector. Please don’t forget to volunteer as much as you can.
With your experience teaching digital media strategies to social workers, do you believe social media advocacy can drive positive change in our society?
I believe the answer is yes, social media advocacy is driving positive change and development in the society, especially in Nigeria. In the last couple of years, social media has impacted the level of governance positively; it has been used by Nigerians to bring government’s attention to several issues. From #OccupyNigeria, a campaign heldin response to the fuel subsidy removal by the federal government in 2012 to #BringBackOurGirls where Nigerians used social media to organise and demand answers from the government concerning the whereabouts of the missing Chibok school girls to #OpenNASS a campaign that demanded an open, transparent and accountable National Assembly to #ChildNotBride, a campaign against girl-child marriage and most recently to #EndSARS, a campaign against police brutality in Nigeria.
I started teaching Digital Literacy in 2015 because of my passion to improve the knowledge, skills, and behaviours of organisations, especially development organisations in Nigeria. Knowing fully well that technology is constantly breaking barriers in social change, from artificial intelligence to big data to the ubiquity of smart phones, technology is constantly changing the way people do things and creating changes in the society. My passion is to make development organisations see the important role technology plays in creating greater impact in their local communities.
Any high point teaching digital media strategies to development practitioners?
Since 2016 till now, I have trained over 40 organisations across 15 states in Nigeria on proper use of digital technology for effective storytelling and advocacy. I also teach them on developing visually appealing and interactive infographics using data visualisation tools to report impact of their activities and showcase their projects to their respective audiences. This has helped them to tell their impact stories better in a way that will appeal to the citizens, funders, the government, prospective donors and important stakeholders. I am passionate about how data and communication practices bring social change to communities.