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Rotimi Sankore: The pen dries up, and the mic goes silent (1968 – 2024)

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Rotimi Sankore: The pen dries up, and the mic goes silent (1968 – 2024)

It’s hard to believe that ace data expert and development journalist, Mr. Rotimi Sankore, is no more. He reportedly died on Saturday, April 13, causing grief and wonderment in the media community. His death was widely reported in the media following a report of his demise by another celebrated journalist, Kadaria Ahmed, the chief executive officer of RadioNow 95.3FM, in a post on her Facebook.

In her post, Ahmed described Sankore as one of Nigeria’s finest data expert, journalist and analyst and an exemplary individual, who passionately addressed the nation’s challenges.

She penned this beautiful prose on Sankore, “It is with deep sorrow that I announce we have lost one of Nigeria’s finest journalists and excellent all-round human beings, Rotimi Sankore. Rotimi loved Nigeria with a passion that allowed him to be honest about her problems and what needed to be done to solve them.

“He was an expert data journalist, the best at what he does. He could analyse data like no one else I knew using it to understand events but also project trajectories, especially avoidable ones.

“Over the years, Rotimi spent time and energy trying to make sure those in government, policymakers and ordinary Nigerians, understand what the numbers show, how they came about, what they mean and how they can help us understand what needs to be done.

“His work was insightful and significant, and it is his legacy. His death is a big loss. We will miss him. My heartfelt condolences to his daughter and his family.”

Sankore was born in Lagos on June 5, 1968, he applied himself with rigour to journalism plying his trade across the local, continental, and global stage, and serving in and leading several groups promoting journalism practice, human rights, good governance, and equality of the human race.

Sankore was a writer, trainer, researcher and leader.

He was the Executive Director/Editor-In-Chief, Africa Centre for Development Journalism, a centre offering strategic communication support to organisations, whose goals are to effect social, political and economic change in Africa.

Until recently, the ace journalist was Editorial Board chair of Nigeria Info Radio group, part of AIM Media Group, having 13 stations in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt, and Onitsha (incorporating Nigeria Info, WaZoBia, Cool FM, and Arewa Radio Stations).

He was the founding Editor-in-Chief of Africa Human & Social Development Information, which pioneered the use of data and statistics for journalism and policy advocacy during the Millennium Development Goals/MDGs (2000–2015)

He was also the pioneer editor in the mid to late 90’s of the Belgium-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) website for African journalists reporting on public accountability, corruption, democracy and rights-related issues.

Sankore worked with/contributed to publications in The News & Tempo Weekly Magazines (Nigeria) in the early 90’s, Guardian Newspapers (Nigeria); The Guardian UK, Global Index on Censorship, Mail & Guardian (South Africa), the Global New African Magazine, The Journalist (UK), and New African Woman Magazine amongst others.

He also worked as a broadcast journalist hosting The Public Square, a flagship programme on Nigeria Info Radio focusing on democracy, development, governance and policy issues.

His global and Africa-wide development advocacy work includes consultancy and project lead work on partnership projects with UNFPA, UNAIDS, WHO, the Geneva-based Global Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, the Africa Development Bank, and the African Union Commission.

He was Secretary of the Africa Health, Human & Social Development Parliamentary Network, a network of chairs of parliamentary committees on health, finance, gender & development issues that worked with United Nations agencies and regional bodies of ECOWAS (West Africa), EAC (East Africa), SADC (Southern Africa), UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Union Commission to advance Heads of States & Ministers of Finance commitments on development policy and investment.

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He also coordinated the Africa 15 per cent Plus Campaign on Development & Health Financing, which was chaired by South African democracy and rights advocate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

A man of diverse interest, he was also interested in feminism and a strong feminist/gender equality advocate, who focused extensively on the role of equality and women’s rights in sustainable development and democracy.

He strove to represent journalists from minority communities, advocated against racism and women’s rights, trained journalists and advocates, and coordinated the Centre for Research & Development of Rights in Africa (CREDO) for Freedom of Expression and Associated Rights.

Though death may have taken him away physically he cheated death through his legacy, which is loud and penetrating as can be felt in journalism and human rights.

Adieu, Sankore!

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