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Who is Tolu Ogunlesi? Biography, Education, Career, Marriage and Politics

Tolu Ogunlesi - Lanre News
Tolu Ogunlesi

Full Name: Tolu Ogunlesi

Date of Birth: March 3, 1982

State of Origin: Abeokuta, Ogun state.


Chieftancy Titles: None reported

Marital Status: Married

Spouse: Kemi Agboola

Children: None reported (based on internet research)

Social Media: @toluogunlesi (Twitter)| Tolu Ogunlesi (Facebook)

Who is Tolu Ogunlesi in Nigeria?

Tolu Ogunlesi is currently serving as the Special Assistant on Digital and New Media to Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari. He was appointed to the role on 18 February 2016. 

Tolu Ogunlesi was born 3rd of March, 1982 in Edinburgh, Scotland, to Nigerian parents. He however lived most of his life in Nigeria. 

He wears many hats in the media industry as; a journalist, poet, photographer, fiction writer and blogger.


Tolu attended the International School Ibadan. The school is located on the Campus of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria’s oldest university. 

For his tertiary education, Tolu Ogunlesi need not look far away as he was able to gain admission into the University of Ibadan (Nigeria) and graduated with a Bachelor of Pharmacy (B.Pharm) in 2004. 

He would later further his education in the United Kingdom (UK). Tolu graduated in 2011 with a Masters of Art (BA) Degree from the University of East Anglia (UK).

However, prior to his Master’s Degree, in 2008, he was selected for the guest Writing Fellowship, Nordic Africa Institute, Sweden.

Tolu Ogunlesi - Lanre News
Ogunlesi (right) at the Halifax International Security Forum 2017. PHOTO Credit: Wikepedia

Likewise in 2009, he was selected for the Cadbury Writing Fellowship, Centre for West African Studies, University of Birmingham, England.

June 2011: Reporting on International Security and Terrorism (Reuters Seminar; London)


Tolu Ogunlesi worked most of his career as a freelance journalist. 

He served as an Analyst of Resources Operating Group, Accenture, in Lagos, Nigeria between September 2006 and January 2008. 

Tolu Ogunlesi joined Visafone Communications Limited (also in Lagos) in February 2009 as Pubic Relations (Corporate Communications) Officer.

INTERESTING READ: Who is Garba Shehu? Biography, Education, Marriage and Politics

He joined the NEXT Newspaper in August 2009 and quit his role as Features Editor in of the media company in September 2010. Tolu continued to participate as a weekly columnist and Editorial Board Member of the Newspaper after quitting his role.

Tolu Ogunlesi's Lagos - Lanre News
Tolu Ogunlesi

Tolu Ogunlesi has also worked as a West Africa correspondent for The Africa Report but Lanre News was unable to confirm the duration ― the date he resumed and resigned the role. 

He then became active as a blogger for Huffington Post (UK) and Freelance journalist published on;; Africa Confidential, The Economist (Baobab Blog), Arise, The Guardian (Nigeria), Think Africa Press, 3 Quarks Daily, London Independent, Harvard Africa Policy Journal, Wasafiri, and Farafina.

Family and Marriage

Tolu Ogunlesi in December 2014 tied the knot with Kemi Agboola in Ibadan, Oyo state, Nigeria. Their white wedding had an elegant palette of blues, white and silver. 

The traditional wedding was held in November 2014.

Tolu Ogunlesi & Kemi Agboola Pre Wedding Shoot |  Lanre News
PHOTO Credit: Potterclay Photography
Tolu Ogunlesi & Kemi Agboola Pre Wedding Shoot | Lanre News
Pre Wedding Shoot. PHOTO Credit: Potterclay Photography


July–Sept 2011: The Singing Word, Royal Opera House, London (writing for opera)

2009: CNN Multichoice African Journalism Prize (Arts & Culture)

2009: Shortlisted for the inaugural PEN/Studzinski literary prize

2008: Nominee (longlist), The Future Awards Artist of the Year

2007: Winner, Guardian (UK)/Ziji Publishing short story Competition

2007: Winner, 1st Facebook Poetry Competition

2006: Winner, 2006 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize

2006: Nominee (shortlist), The Future Awards Writer of the Year

2006: Noteworthy Poet, Concorso internazionale di poesia Castello di Duino

2005: National and International Winner, Scenarios from Africa writing Contest

Tolu Ogunlesi & Dr. Susan Mboya (President, Coca-Cola Africa Foundation) - Lanre News
Tolu Ogunlesi & Dr. Susan Mboya (President, Coca-Cola Africa Foundation) while receiving CNN Multichoice Award. PHOTO Credit: Bella Naija

INTERESTING READ: Who is Festus Keyamo? Biography, Education, Marriage, and Politics

Authored Books by Tolu Ogunlesi

Listen to the Geckos Singing from a Balcony (Poem)

Conquest & Conviviality


Lanre News biography of a politician is not complete without documenting their scandal/controversy, just like we did for Garba Shehu and Festus Keyamo.

In 2018, Tolu Ogunlesi came under heavy backlash for describing Nigerians as “animals”. In his reaction to comments requesting details of the meeting of the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari and model Naomi Campbell, Tolu Ogunlesi posted on Twitter;

Naomi Campbell met Nelson Mandela more than once. He hugged her, called her his “honorary granddaughter”. She visits Nigeria for a fashion festival and meets President @MBuhari, and some of you animals are slandering her. YOU’RE RAVING MAD WITH NOBODY TO TELL YOU.”

Tolu Ogunlesi has been chastised by different journalists claiming his model is not what they envisioned. Investigative journalist, Fisayo Soyombo described Tolu Ogunlesi as someone “who sold his heart to the devil for a pot porridge”.

INTERESTING READ: ‘How Leadership Tussles, Crises in Ohanaeze Ndigbo Started’

Another journalist David Hudeyin on March 27, 2020, wrote a vitriolic article about Tolu Ogunlesi titled “Why the Tolu Ogunlesi Model of Journalism is Not for Me“.

Tolu Ogunlesi Contacts:


Email: [email protected]; [email protected]

Mobile: +44 75 833 11 422 (UK); +234 803 337 6685 (Nigeria)

Twitter: @toluogunlesi

Disclaimer: The information in this article was sourced from different websites across the web. Lanre News cannot guarantee it is 100 per cent authentic. We however try to only retrieve information from websites considered reputable enough.

Read our documentation on Festus Keyamo, the Minister of State for Labour.

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