A chronicle of the experiences of the finest leading media personalities in Nigeria
NIGERIAN Media Leaders: Voices Beyond the Newsroom (Barnhouse Publishing Company Ltd, Lagos; 2015) by Richard O Ikiebe is a set of two out of a planned four-volume book chronicling the experiences of the finest and leading media personalities that nurtured the Nigerian media industry into what it is today. As the title suggests, it is a publication that has captured the enriching stories of most of the big names that played very critical, in many cases, foundational roles in the history of the various media institutions in the country. The book is unique in its style because of its presentation which has slightly departed from the normal system of gathering the data or information and paraphrasing the voices of the subjects. In this case, it came in the exciting journalistic form of questions and answers, thus giving the reader the rarest opportunity of getting it “raw” and direct from the individual sources.
The first two volumes that came out in October this year contains interviews with leading personalities that have, at some points in the history of this country, played remarkable roles in the history of the media and perhaps, silently, the history of Nigeria. Some of the big names that featured in the first volume are: Vincent Maduka, Patrick Dele Cole, Christopher Kolade, Tony Momoh, John Momoh, Adamu Ciroma, Lade Bunuola, Doyin Abiola, Mohammed Haruna, Kabiru Yusuf, Sam Amuka, Nduka Obaigbena, Felix Adenaike, Segun Osoba and Yemi Ogunbiyi. Volume two contains interviews with: Dan Agbese, Lanre Idowu, Femi Adesina, Chidi Amuta, Yakubu Mohammed, Bilkisu Yusuf, Dapo Olorunyomi,,Gbolabo Ogunsawo, Garba Shehu, Henry Odukamaiya, Femi Kusa, Chris Doghudje, Victoria Ezeokoli, Ray Ekpu and many more. From the listing of some of the above names, it is clear that every sector and period in the history of post independent Nigerian media industry has been represented. Every epoch has been explained by one or more major sources. However, that withstanding, every interviewee in the books has something uniquely different from the other.
I have taken considerable time to read through each of the two books from the first to the last pages hugely driven by the excitement and endless interest generated by the individual chapters or sources. In each chapter or interview, I have gained something refreshingly new; some detail, confession, or declaration that I have not come across at all or sufficiently heard or read elsewhere. Thus, the strongest strength of the books is the direct account of the various actors that in many cases sounded usefully new as many of the revelations or accounts were hardly captured in some systematic and widely publicized formats. That advantage easily qualified the books as unique treasures for general readers, students of media studies, politics, history, etc. Indeed, in the absence of books revealing their individual experiences, the present platform had provided a fantastic opportunity for each of the professionals to freely reflect and reveal their travails and silent “wars” and contributions in the industry and the country. In the various chapters, I have read about the dynamism that had shaped and still influence the history, politics, economics and societal environmental factors in the media sector.
For a student of media and society like me, the books are an exciting and useful addition to the existing literature on the subject. The books have revealed new details, clarified or debunked some myths and, in most cases, offered us fresh perspectives in understanding the dynamics of the Nigerian media industry. Already, I have added the books to the compulsory reading list for my postgraduate students because of my conviction in the utility of the books as well as the difficulty in accessing the type of information contained in the texts. Accordingly, I also recommend it to all students and individuals interested in Nigerian media and society, history, politics and development.
Without doubt, the research and publication of the books must have been painstaking, expensive and challenging. Painstaking in getting the individual sources to agree to be part of the endeavour; painstaking in the process of packaging the texts; the costs of producing the quality texts and the general challenges associated with the entire process of book writing and publication in the country. I commend the spectacular effort of the editor and his team of assistants. Evidently, his effort is a worthy contribution to the growth of knowledge in media studies. Surely, the books have something to offer to every reader. Meanwhile, I await eagerly for the release of the remaining editions.
• Umaru A. Pate is a professor of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano
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