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Odyssey of Accidental Journalist, Cordelia Ukwuoma for launch Thursday

By Gregory Austin Nwakunor
27 July 2022   |   2:45 am
It is not every journalist that has had a robust career that could be put into a book form. Cordelia Ukwuoma is one of the fortunate few.

It’s not every journalist that has had a robust career that could be put into a book form. Cordelia Ukwuoma is one of the fortunate few.

Her book, Accidental Journalist In Nigeria’s Political and Economic History, which is set for launch today, is a professional account of how she came, saw and she conquered at the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA): It is an autobiography, which captures her life and 35-year sojourn in the field of journalism.

Although initially unprepared for it, journalism turned out to be a passion. She says: “I never set out to become a journalist. As a matter of fact, it was never an option and did not cross my mind initially. I believe it was something destiny threw at me sometime later, and I decided to make the most of it. Such was my case with journalism as NYSC decided, sealed my fate and charted this course for me when I went to do the compulsory one-year national service in Maiduguri, Borno State, in 1986.”

In the book, Ukwuoma provides gripping accounts of the elegant life of the ultimate aesthete. With chapters such as Destiny Found Me, My Roots: ID-London, Dreaming Of Becoming A Queen, Wings To Fly, Cutting My Teeth and others, she chronicles her foray into the profession, which has become her second nature after her humanity.

In his foreword, former Director General, Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Sola Omole, notes: “When a practitioner works at a vocation for as many as 35 years, she or he must have accumulated some knowledge and can be referred to as something of an authority. Therefore, sharing the knowledge so gained becomes a valuable contribution to the body of knowledge available in that vocational area.”

Cordelia has had what one would rightfully call front-row seating in many local and international news events.

She covered sports including international engagements in Italy. She also covered the Social Democratic Party (SDP) convention in Jos, in 1993 and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja in 1998. She saw first-hand the proclivity of politicians to make what could only be described as magic. She was the only TV reporter to walk side-by-side with Dr. (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as she negotiated what became a historical benchmark in the annals of debt forgiveness on the global stage.

Drawing on historical documents as well as her family story, she also mines a stimulating tourism handbook in My Roots: Idumuje-Ugboko (ID-London).

“My parents hail from Idumuje-Ugboko, which we refer to as ID-London. My village is an untapped tourism site. It is the land that bellows smoke without fire, known in the local palace as, ani anuanwulu mana okualina. It is the land of seven kings, seven tombs and seven streams,” she says.

A poignant autobiography of an accomplished journalist, she provides professional advice for the NTA. She writes: “NTA is no doubt Africa’s largest network. The NTA, however, has not been able to grow and achieve its full professional potential, due to successive government intervention and control. People often compare NTA with the BBC or CNN. One-quarter of BBC’s funding, for instance, comes from its commercial subsidy. Can such be achieved in an organisation like the NTA? Although government-owned, the BBC while, performing as a statutory corporation, is completely independent of direct government intervention.”

She continues, “but in the case of NTA, loyalty is to the government in power and not the citizens who deserve to have objective reporting. This situation has not helped NTA over the years, for several reasons. Government at the centre appoints the DG and controls the organisation, thereby making it a willing tool for its propaganda. This often leads to the larger public losing confidence in the Authority, as a greater percentage of the news becomes mainly government news, to the extent that even the wrongs cannot be criticised or analysed for fear of loss of jobs. The truth is that self-censorship has been the bane of the NTA, which overzealous government aides end up taking advantage of, even without the knowledge or consent of their principals.”