Badejo-Okusanya Bows Out as APRA President After 7 Years
Seven years after assuming the leadership of the Africa Public Relations Association, APRA, Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, has bowed out as its President.
In his valedictory speech at the 34th Annual APRA Conference in Lusaka, Zambia, Badejo-Okusanya, described his tenure in office as ‘exciting and engaging’, with its attendant lows and highs.
He recalled that his journey as an executive council member of APRA started in 2011 when he was elected as Secretary General of the association in Mombasa, Kenya.
The Spokesperson Digest reports that Badejo-Okusanya was elected President of the regional PR body at APRA Conference in Calabar, Nigeria.
The just-outgone APRA boss said: “I recollect the very first conference I was privileged to organise, APRA 2013 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I remember with great fondness, Peter Mutie (the then President) and I standing forlornly outside the gates of the African Union headquarters, trying to gain access without an appointment. Who even does that?
“We finally did gain access, but were offered only five minutes with the then Deputy Chairperson, HE Erastus Mwencha. We accepted the challenge and I made the presentation of which Peter stole the initial 60 seconds for introduction and banter, as our host is Kenyan.
“The lot then fell on me and in four minutes or less I sold the vision of APRA to our host who immediately asked us to stay in town for a few more days to enable him engage the relevant organs of the Union on our behalf. He was so impressed with our submission that he ended up offering us the use of the headquarters free of charge. We were also written in as part of the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the African Union.
“We went further with little or no funding to leverage on this goodwill of the AU to secure the support of the Ethiopian Government for the conference. Unknown to us, something very fundamental and propelling to our collective professional future in Africa was born that very day- it was the Spirit of APRA!
“The Spirit of APRA took us to Mauritius in 2014, Cameroun in 2015, Calabar, Nigeria 2016, Morocco 2017, Botswana 2018, Rwanda 2019, Online 2021, Tanzania 2022, Lusaka 2023 and this same Spirit of APRA is taking us by His grace to Cote D’ Ivoire in 2024. This Spirit of APRA has made the desire to host our conferences a keenly contested affair, a radical departure from the past when we went ‘cap in hand’ pleading to be hosted.
“This Spirit of APRA is what has significantly improved the content of our conferences, the quality of papers and presentations. This Spirit of APRA is what has brought us recognition from global professional bodies like ICCO, Global Alliance, IPRA and Provoke Media who regularly attend our conferences.
“This Spirit of APRA is what delivers every conference exceptionally making them unique experiences that make you want to come back year after year (even when your organisations refuse to sponsor you.).
“This spirit gives you an acute sense of loss and despair when you are not at the conference but your heart is fully there as you follow its activities through postings on the chat group. This Spirit of APRA is what has made us a family outside our homes we look forward to seeing every year.
“This Spirit of APRA is what has bonded and knitted us so tightly that makes us see each other as brothers and sisters that we are. This Spirit of APRA is what has broken down the artificial boundaries put up by our colonial past.
“This Spirit of APRA is what makes us shout at every opportunity ‘One Africa!’. This Spirit of APRA is what evokes that feeling of intense patriotism when your national flag is spotted during our now famous flag parade.
“This Spirit of APRA is what grew an association that could hardly boast of rubbing ‘two pennies together’, to be self-sustaining and establishing multiple streams of income.
“This spirit stopped us from the previous practice of putting heavy financial burden of hosting conferences on the host associations irrespective of their financial position.
“This Spirit of APRA is what attracts our numerous sponsors across the various markets in Africa for which we are very grateful. We say a big thank you!
“This same Spirit of APRA has secured us ‘A’ list keynote speakers across Africa and beyond. It has also attracted to us, leaders of government who now willingly and happily serve as our Patrons and Honourary Fellows.
“It is this same Spirit of APRA that made Provoke Media accept our partnership for the most coveted SABRE Award Africa which gives global recognition to our best creative efforts. This Spirit of APRA is what makes Paul Holmes say that the SABRE Award Africa is like no other among the numerous ones he hosts.
“This Spirit of APRA is what made me link up with some of the most dynamic and passionate people I have worked with on councils, committees and even at the association’s secretariat.
“This Spirit of APRA is what kept us going during the pandemic that made us in spite of the challenges, host a very successful three day online conference in 2021.
“So what is this Spirit of APRA you may ask? It is the spirit of resilience, it is the spirit of boldness, it is the spirit of imagination and inclusiveness that does not see race, creed or colour. It is the spirit of passion, the spirit excellence and the spirit of great accommodation.
“It is the spirit of filling the gap when it comes to your brother or sister’s weaknesses. It is that spirit that says “I can do it!”. It is the spirit of adventure and exploration. It is the spirit of curiosity and strong engagement. This Spirit of APRA is the spirit of excellence and hardwork. It is the spirit of able leadership but more importantly, it is the spirit of committed follower-ship.
“So, who is this Spirit of APRA? You are the Spirit of APRA. If you have the passion and possess the energy to succeed despite the odds, then you are surely the Spirit of APRA.
“One parting shot though, for anyone to lead you in the future, you must demand from him or her, that energetic, enterprising, innovative Spirit of APRA. I urge you to reject any leader that does not demonstrate or possess this very noble and near supernatural prowess called the Spirit of APRA.
“Our Spirit of APRA cannot and must not be compromised by any who cannot do the work and seeks only self glorification. That certainly is not the Spirit of APRA”.
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