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Vincent Maduka… 80 cheers for the boss of the tube

By Adegboyega Arulogun
04 October 2015   |   11:15 pm
SOME years ago, a female colleague from the Northern part of Nigeria phoned me and asked: “Alhaji, who is the best NTA (Nigeria Television Authority) Director-General? At that time, there were only six. Unhesitatingly, I replied: “Of course, Engr. Vincent Ifeanyi

Maduka being interviewed by a reporter

SOME years ago, a female colleague from the Northern part of Nigeria phoned me and asked: “Alhaji, who is the best NTA (Nigeria Television Authority) Director-General? At that time, there were only six. Unhesitatingly, I replied: “Of course, Engr. Vincent Ifeanyi Maduka (VIM), the pioneer Director-General of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA).”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, the first and the best.”
“Why?” She queried. “Oh yes, because he laid the foundation of NTA and put in place the structure of a truly National Television; a structure that has been solidly planted since his appointment in 1977 but which today has been drastically expanded for political reasons by the infusion of Local Government stations”. It brought with it mediocrity and higher cost of administration and management.
“Consider the NTA Manual which no doubt emanated from his Ibadan experience (WNTV with its slogan: First in Africa”)
“Well, let’s find time to discuss this further, one on one, when next we meet for a critical assessment of our DGS. For now, ease my recharge card.”
“Let me call you back…”
“No o o o o”
“Fine, I hope we meet soonest.”

Born in Lagos on October 5, 1935, young Vincent Ifeanyi Maduka schooled and made his friends in Lagos particularly at the King’s College, Lagos, which he attended for his secondary education. He was called Dele because of the environment in which he grew up; what we do not know is whether he is Akindele, Oyedele, Omodele, Bamidele etc. but it must likely be “Bamidele” for in the Yoruba culture when you are born outside your “home or town or culture, you are named Bamidele, “go home with me”. When in Ibadan, Dele stock with him as a name more than V.I (Vincent Ifeanyi).

He proceeded to the United Kingdom and studied at the University of Leeds where he graduated in B.Sc (Hons) in Electrical Engineering in 1959. He was employed from the U.K by the Western Nigeria Television incorporating the WNBS, the radio arm of the Western Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation in April 1961 as an Engineer. He rose through the ranks and became Chief Engineer. Before then, he returned to Ireland for his Masters in Engineering (M.Eng.Sc) in Applied Acoustics from UCD (University College, Dublin in 1969).

The WNTV Days
It was on his return from that course that the staff particularly the junior staff of the Engineering Department showed their love and appreciation to a listening, counseling and humble boss. As he drove into the premises of the Television House staff swarmed round him and almost mobbed him; a show of deep love for a leader in whom they believed.

He encouraged his staff, especially the Engineering Assistants to undergo University Education in Engineering, for example, Engineer Segun Falade, Engineer Ore Adeyinka and Engineer Aremu Makinde who was Commissioner for Works during the Governorship period of Chief Kolapo Ishola. They were his Engineering Assistants. Steve Ojo, the President of Galaxy Television in Lagos was his Engineering Assistant at Abafon near Ikorodu booster station, transmitting to Lagos, the commercial nerve-centre of the country.

He made sure they went on those courses on “Study Leave” so that they can return to the station and work during the long vacation to gain practical experience.

The period between 1977 when he assumed duty as Director General of NTA and 1983 when he was transferred to the Ministry of Communications as Consultant or Technical Adviser due to the politics of the time was used to build and consolidate the stability of an organization that was an amalgam of different Television Stations at inception with different ideologies, different political, cultural, programme ideas and ideals and management styles. It’s not easy!

Engr. Maduka didn’t like office politics, the type he might encounter in Lagos in his new position. But he was lucky that his colleagues from the other stations WNTV, the Eastern Nigeria Television (ENTV) in Enugu, the Northern Nigeria Television from Broadcasting Corporation of Northern Nigeria (BCNN), Mid-west Television (MWTV) and others, gave him the fullest cooperation in the building of a new Television outfit.

A beautiful building and an inviting environment enhances the stature of an organization but not fully in broadcasting; it is more than that. The nerve-centre of broadcasting, (radio or television) is News programming and programme making. Programmes is what the listeners on radio or the viewers on Television hear or view that gives the station its image and rating. Programme making and production need planning and therefore an office for its staff. This is the first problem Maduka had to solve. His first office was at the National Theatre, then at 15, Awolowo Road before a new administration block was built on the premises of NBC Television on Ahmadu Bello Way located on Victoria Island, Lagos.

From then, he geared up to uniting the nation through Network Programmes especially News. News is the flagship of any broadcast organization. In fact, he built a vigorous News Department with Prince Jide Akinbiyi, James Audu, John Chiahemen, Late Gbade Ishola and Martini Akande from Ibadan.

There were news competitions from the various news rooms throughout the country each focusing on local items. Each winning station received awards for the well researched news feature of 3-5 minutes.
There was News-Week by John Chiahemen and later Tony Ede. So was Newslinerby Yinka Craigi, Chris (Now Senator) Anyawu Patrick Oke and Frank Oliseh.

Engr. Maduka was, while DG, was a head hunter looking for the best in stations across the country. Soji Oyinsan after winning a festival competition in documentary moved to the headquarters Programme Department, late Yayayah Sanni moved from Ilorin to Network News. Peter Igoh moved from NTA Sokoto to Headquarters programme to produce “Cock Crow at Dawn after winning a competition at a festival. He moved his camera man Yusuff also to lagos but always on location in Jos.
Network programme was key to Engr. Vincent Manduka’s career in NTA. After his return to NTA from his “political cooling” at the Ministry of Communications, he raised a committee- Programme Advisory Committee (PAC). This committee examined Network programmes by the Directorate of Programmes under Dr. Victoria Ezeokoli: when the Directorate couldn’t get a producer for “Food Basket” I suggested Ben Olisah, a film editor whom I had trained in the Production Services for documentary production.
The D.G asked.
“Adegboyega, will you stake your staff’s employment for this production
“Yes Sir”
“Well, can I see the first episode in two weeks time?
“No Sir, it will take him at least five weeks- planning, research, reccee, location filming, editing commentary recording etc.
“Since the Programme Department couldn’t produce it these many months, I take your five weeks. If your Ben Olisah doesn’t make that target date, you will be held responsible.”
“There wouldn’t be any failure. I assure you D.G.

Food Basket was ready with the first episode titled “LAND PREPARATION” and entered for a film festival in America. Producers from Africa and the diaspora competed at the festival,

That episode came third. Ben Olisah was therefore posted to Programme, Directorate where he produced FOOD BASKET for almost two years before CY Okonkwo took over when he (Ben) was given another programs, KITH AND KIN, a studio/location based programme. It was in the Programme Advisory Committee meeting that the Nigerian adaptation of MIND YOUR LANGUAGE, a British comedy was given the title “SECOND CHANCE” which mimicked the behaviour of Nigerians.

I remember that when NTA had a coproduction with the BBC Television on pa Hubert Ogunde titled: OGUNDE: MAN OF THE THEATRE.
Pa OGUNDE was furious when he saw the DG at an end of production party given the crew and other facilitators like JP Clark and wife Ebun, at the Boat Club Ikoyi. This is what ensued between Pa Hubert Ogunde and Engr. Vincent Maduka.
Ogunde: MADUKA See yourself. The BBC TV came all the way from London travelling over 5000miles to feature me in a documentary, while your NTA never thought of me.
DG: Chief, let me ask Adegboyega; what is the budget for this production
Adegboyega: “Four Million Pounds. (In 1979).

DG: If we in NTA spent such an amount on a documentary, Nigerians will say that Maduka and Chief Ogunde had “eaten” the money; they have shared it.
Ogunde: Maduka, I know you wouldn’t do that
DG: “Yes Papa, but others would say so”.
Ogunde: I know they can say so. I forgive you, at least NTA cooperated with the BBC, and your boys are good.
DG: Thank you Chief.

Engr. Maduka is a Manager who believes in human development. When late Mrs. Finnih and Mrs Ola Edu-Matesu started the Training Department of NTA, housed in Channel 10 on Victoria Island, short courses were held on some aspects of broadcasting. Then came in Jos the big brother, the Television College with pioneer Principal, Dr Tom Adaba. Located in Jos the TV College ran and still runs courses in various aspects of Broadcasting and Managements.

For Administrative courses, the Nigerian Institute of Management gave courses in Management by Objectives. Management Staff attended course in the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON) at Badagry. The team of Finnih and Edu also, during Maduka’s tenure, held a Royal Institute of Public Administrators from the UK a Senior Management Course in situ at Abeokuta in Ogun State. Engr. Maduka, as pioneer Director General of NTA never failed to train his staff. Several members of staff including me attended courses in the change over from Black and White Television to colour at Sender Freis Berlin (SFB) in Western Germany.

He and his Director of Programmes, Dr. Victoria Ezeokoli wanted to have documentary evidence of our Culture and History. The late Emeritus Professor of History, J.F. Ade Ajayi was consultant to the duo of Soji Oyinsan and Eddie Iroh from Enugu on the production of “PORTRAIT OF A CULTURE” which was to document our culture and history. But the progress made on that production may not be satisfactory to him. Eddie and Soji also had a short training at the BBC Television specifically for the production of Portrait of a Culture.

He introduced the Annual Advertising Award to all categories of work open in the advertising space particularly those companies whose advertising spend has helped in increasing their revenue generation. After he left, it was only Malam Mohammed Ibrahim who resuscitated the award in 1992. After that, who else?

Engr. Vincent Maduka maintained the highest sense of integrity and transparency. A businessman once told me that the NTA bought a lot of his goods and he felt he needed to say “Thank you” to him. When he went to Engr. Maduka, and wanted to offer the Nigerian “Thank you”, Engr. Maduka said “You disappoint me. We know each other and even if we don’t know ourselves, it is not my habit to receive gratification. Never, never do that at any time to me or any of my staff.

The business man confessed to me that he was ashamed of himself.
“I Thanked him”. your DG is one of the few who can make business grow in Nigeria. Don’t mention it to him o.
Engr. Maduka retired voluntarily in 1986 and was Director of ELMAC Assurance Company Limited with two of his childhood friends Alhaji Lateef Okunu and Late Tayo Akpata. He also served as Director of LTC (Lawson, Thomas and Company) Advertising Company.
He served as Consultant to many organizations, governments and held directorship positions in both public and private sectors, even at chairmanship level.

He was President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers while his wife was also at a different time President of the Women Wing of the Nigerian Society of Engineers. When we met after he was awarded the National Honour of the Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) and I congratulated him, I expressed the opinion that it was rather late in coming but we must thank them for it. Really, how does the Federal Government receives nomination for National Honours – through Local Governments, State Governments, Professional organizations, my chum in Schools, Colleges and Universities etc.

One good thing that I have observed is that Engineers are good management people, people who get to the top and were dedicated while in Broadcasting are excellent managers too. They go far after their service years.
Engr. Maduka is now on the staff of the School of Media and Communication of the PAN African University as a senior fellow. He is joyfully and successfully married to Engr. Olutunbi Maduka, (Nee Layinka). They have four children, two boys and two girls. One may possibly call theirs Television marriage. They met in WNTV when Mrs. Maduka was on long vacation from the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife).

Late Ambassador Olusola met his wife, Late Elsie through working in Television. So is Tunde Oloyede and Bimbo who has just celebrated 40years in Broadcasting. On this occasion of Engr. Maduka’s eightieth birthday those of us who passed through his administration in television wish him and his family the best in life for reaching the octogenarian mark.

With the array of achievements of Engr. Vincent Maduka while in service with the NTA, who can now argue that he is not the first and the best DG so far between him and other five DGS who followed him?
•Alhaji Arulogun is a former General Manager of NTA