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Ikiebe’s Labour Of Love For Nigerian Journalism

By Chido Nwakanma
19 September 2015   |   11:38 pm
WHEN media leaders gather on September 22 at the behest of the Pan Atlantic University and the Nigerian Guild of Editors, they would be doing a service to history and the profession.
Richard Ikiebe

Richard Ikiebe

WHEN media leaders gather on September 22 at the behest of the Pan Atlantic University and the Nigerian Guild of Editors, they would be doing a service to history and the profession.

The launch of the heralded book, Nigerian Media Leaders: Voices Beyond the Newsroom promises to be a town hall gathering of some of the most influential media persons in the last 50 years. There would be networking, reminisces and possibly a few good-natured jabs.

Voices Beyond the Newsroom is a four-volume book of historical discourse on the media featuring interviews with about 80 participants. Volume One features conversations with 19 leaders, and Volume Two features 22 persons. The two volumes would be the object of the event on September 22.

Featured in Volume One are leaders such as Kabiru Yusuf, Segun Osoba, Ajibola Ogunshola, Yemi Ogunbiyi, Nduka Obaigbena, John Momoh, Vincent Maduka, Christopher Kolade, Betty Irabor, and Mohammed Haruna. It includes Kevin Ejiofor, Tony Momoh, Patrick Dele Cole, Adamu Ciroma, Lade Bonuola, Sam Amuka, Dupe Ajayi-Gbadebo, Felix Adenaike and Doyin Abiola.

Volume Two contains discourses with Gbenga Adefaye, Femi Adesina, Dan Agbese, Frank Aigbogun, Chidi Amuta, Clem Baiye, Ray Ekpu, Victoria Ezeokoli, Lanre Idowu, Nosa Igiebor and Emeka Izeze. Others are Femi Kusa, Ben Lawrence, Chris Doghudje, Yakubu Mohammed, Henry Odukomaiya, Gbolabo Ogunsanwo, Dapo Olorunyomi, Ademola Osinubi, Garba Shehu and Bilikisu Yusuf.

Media scholar Richard Ikiebe conceived and executed the project. It has taken approximately four years to deliver. As he taught journalism and Nigerian media history at the School of Media and Communication, the paucity of resource material hit Ikiebe. Journalists are the writers of “the first draft of history”. However, there was no draft of any variety on the recent contributions of Nigerian media leaders and in particular on how they tackled their defining responsibilities.

Voices Beyond the Newsroom, Ikiebe states, seeks “to fill the foundational gaps in the study of Nigerian journalism”. It records “the substantial role that journalism and media leaders have continued to play in shaping the history of modern Nigerian nation-state.” In other words, these agents and recorders of history are themselves in these books the subjects of history.

No wonder the Nigerian Guild of Editors under three different leadership teams has supported the work. Gbenga Adefaye as president of the NGE gave the support of the leading professional body. Femi Adesina, now SA Media and Publicity to President Buhari, continued the support. Incoming President Garbadeen Muhammed is also supportive.

Voices Beyond the Newsroom enables the reader get a first person narrative from the past and current leaders of the Nigerian media. Through the conversations, the book explores and analyses many themes in the architecture, sociology and management of the Nigerian media. There are plenty of fireworks as well.

Topics explored in the books include media ownership and control; finances; management; readership and circulation. Others are leadership styles; family ownership; involvement of media owners in politics. Then the effect of military rule; censorship, media law; the rise of magazines; guerilla journalism; broadcasting; media and propaganda and the role of the media in defining and shaping Nigeria.

Dr. Patrick Dele-Cole, one of the key players interviewed, says the breadth of conversations is one of the strong suites of this work. “The first person accounts of key players in the Nigerian media scene over a period spanning about 50 years provides insights into the backgrounds, leadership styles, motivations, perspectives and context of actions that defined several of our key media organs over the years. By interviewing many players from the same organisation or the same era, the book offers readers variegated and rich accounts that provide for a holistic view rather than merely the recollections of a single person.”

Voices Beyond the Newsroom is a labour of love for Ikiebe, a well-rounded media man with exposure and experience across print, broadcast and policy arenas of media. Ikiebe worked in the defining media organisations of the day: Daily Times, Newswatch, FRCN, NTA.

As one of the first persons to serve as Special Assistant to a Minister of Information, and Special Adviser to the then Vice President, he played critical and contributory roles in the drafting of Nigeria’s first Communication Policy. That effort contributed to the decisions that led to the liberalisation of the broadcast space and its far-reaching consequences to date.

His romance with the media has continued with teaching the next generation of media professionals. Voices Beyond the Newsroom is thus a significant contribution by both the author and the supportive Pan Atlantic University.

In this new area of developing manpower, Ikiebe has also cottoned on to the imperative of documentation. Publications to the credit of Richard Ikiebe include Kolade’s Canons, a three-volume collection of the thoughts of the distinguished broadcaster, manager and leader Dr. Christopher Kolade. Volume Three of that work captures the thoughts of the former Director General of Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (Radio & TV) on broadcasting. Ikiebe also edited (with Taiwo Obe), future tense: Travails of Next and Nigerian Journalism in the Digital Age.

Pan Atlantic University’s School of Media and Communication is through Ikiebe’s latest offering, Nigerian Media Leaders: Voices Beyond the Newsroom, fulfilling the three-fold mission of higher education: teaching, research and community development. A real labour of love.
Nwakanma is on the Adjunct Faculty of the School of Media & Communication, Pan Atlantic University