Eminent personalities in the public sector, media, arts and tourism industry have poured encomiums on the former Lagos State Commissioner of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Steve Ayorinde, who clocked the golden age of 50 on Thursday July 9.
Ayorinde, who has been described by many as a committed man of culture and an exemplary journalist, was also honoured with a pan-African zoom webinar conference with the theme: Close the gap – For African Tourism to Reboot, Revive and Refocus.
Extolling the celebrant’s virtues, Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, recalled Ayorinde’s admirable coverage of arts and culture as a young journalist, carving a niche for himself “as a first rate literary critic and an art historian.”
In a letter he personally signed, Fayemi said: “You not only brought class and panache to art and culture journalism, you also made your pages an encyclopedia of literary intelligence, and became widely respected by arts and culture enthusiasts. One is particularly proud of your consistent commitment to the defence of professional integrity in your role as a journalist, editor and media manager.
“It is no wonder therefore that starting out as a cub reporter, covering a beat many would consider as “dry and juiceless”, by sheer dint of hard work and integrity, you rose to the position of an editor of the most widely read newspaper in the country and also went ahead to become a managing director of another before taking up the role of a Commissioner of Information and Strategy and later Commissioner of Culture and Tourism in Lagos State.”
At 50, Fayemi said Ayorinde’s life has been remarkably eventful, adding that he is “convinced that the nation has not yet seen your best. As you continue your life in the service if humanity, I pray God to grant you good health and wealth to live your life in fullest.”
In his tribute, former governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, under whom Ayorinde served as commissioner, described him as “a fine gentleman and a brother who is more than a friend.
“I personally attest to your mental dexterity as exemplified in your numerous contributions and achievements during our administration in Lagos State.
“Without a doubt, you have proven yourself in the last two decades as a very successful journalist, author, manager and administrator.
“On behalf of my family, Bola and myself, we extend our heartfelt congratulations to you and yours,” he stated.
Similarly, the Honourable Minister of Information, Culture and Tourosm, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, while congratulating Ayorinde during the virtual stakeholders’ conference held today in his honour, said his time at the helm of Lagos tourism had significant impact on the state’s tourism landmark project. “I congratulate today a man whose vision and commitment to the development of this sector is never in doubt. It must be to Steve’s joy that it is in his anniversary month that the Federal government has decided to hand over the use of the National Theatre in Lagos to better use by the Lagos State Government through the support of the Central Bank of Nigeria.”
In his own congratulatory remark, Chairman of Bi-Courtney Limited, Dr. Wale Babalakin, SAN, described Ayorinde as a thorough-bred professional with a good pedigree.
“As he marks his milestone, I celebrate a steadfast professional whose contributions to journalism helped shape the routes for budding arts and culture correspondents to thread on.
“A man who possess extensive editorial and management skills. I pray God will direct his energy to where it is most needed for the enhancement of Nigeria and mankind in general.”
For the Chairman of Punch Nigeria Ltd, Mrs Angela Amuwa, Ayorinde’s life has been exemplary. She recalled her first encounter with the former editor of Punch on the Arts page of The Guardian “through his fine prose,” adding that his distinct style made him a joy to read.
“Over the years, I have watched Steve perform beyond expectations, excelling as a reporter and editor while retaining his passion and loyalty to the arts despite his busy schedule. In all the places where he has served after The PUNCH, his performances have been as outstanding,” she said.
The Publisher of Ovation magazine, Chief Dele Momodu, also described Ayorinde as a committed and amiable journalist who build bridges and keeps his friends. “I’m not surprised about the giant strides he’s made in every endeavour that he has undertaken or each challenge that he has faced,” Publisher of Ovation Magazine, Dele Momodu, stated in his birthday remarks.
Momodu said: “Steve’s competence shone brilliantly when he served the administration of Governor Akinwumi Ambode in Lagos State during which he handled important portfolios such as Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture and other assignments. Even in the turbulent days, he remained calm, loyal and focused to the last day. A man of great integrity, he is much acclaimed and admired.”
Born on July 9 1970, Steve Oluseyi Ayorinde has served in various capacities as Arts Editor and Editor of the Punch Newspaper, Managing Director of National Mirror and a Commissioner in Lagos State between 2015 and 2019 (Information & Strategy snd later Tourism, Arts & Culture).