I WAS 16 years and five months old, when I was employed by Radio Nigeria on February 1, 1977. With hindsight, it seemed inevitable that I ended up in broadcasting and journalism! It was during FESTAC 77 that I went to resume work as one of the youngest ever employees of Radio Nigeria.
Twenty years later in 1997, as pioneer GM of KWTV, Mrs. Hannatu Ibrahim, former Head of Programmes, Kaduna, was in Ilorin for a conference, and she recalled vividly that a clearance was sought from Director-General, Christopher Kolade, for the “precocious young man” to be employed. I am lucky that I did what I always loved to.
Three years ago, I met an old classmate from secondary school, Augustine Bade Bakare, now a retired policeman, on a flight from Abuja to Ilorin. He told me that he first heard from my mouth in secondary school form one, in 1972, that I wanted to become a journalist! He had never heard of such a profession before then, and he wondered over the years, that a twelve year old, as I then was, could have made up his mind so early in life as to what he wanted to do in life and was able to stay true with the vow!
I couldn’t recall the episode, but as an eight year old in 1968, I was farmed out to live with my great uncle, who was fascinated with the Hausa Service of the BBC. The ritual of daily listening to the news, during the tragic days of Nigeria’s Civil War, must have sown the seeds of my love of broadcasting. I recall the pleasure of looking for the missing gaps, as my great uncle translated the news from the Hausa to his Yoruba-speaking friends.
That became a kind of game between the two of us. And then there was my late uncle, the judge, Daibu, who made me read lines from DAILY TIMES and NEW NIGERIAN newspapers, as an eight year old. He used to be so proud of me! The final piece in that jigsaw was the fact that my mother was the first presenter of a women’s programme on Radio Nigeria, Ilorin, during the 1970s!
Wired for broadcasting
Mine was like a life wired for broadcasting and journalism! I started out as a studio manager, and a few months later, I became an announcer. The late Kola Shomoye was Head of Presentation and the ambience was thoroughly professional and with Kola Olota as a “no nonsense” Manager Programmes, we just had to endeavour to meet the exacting standards of Radio Nigeria. At twenty, in 1980, I was a newsreader on the National Network Service of Radio Nigeria.
Those were some of the best years of our lives: as professionals and as young men growing up in a country full of limitless possibilities! I became a very popular deejay; a newsreader; sports and ceremonials commentator; current affairs news analysis writer; presenter and producer of many programmes, such as BREAKFAST FIESTA; OUTLOOK; FROM THE CAMPUSES; LATE NIGHT JAZZ; and FAR AND NEAR! Radio was my ultimate medium of expression and before long I reported for Radio France International and the BBC World Service before becoming pioneer GM, KWTV. I wrote a column for THE HERALD newspaper, when the late Doyin Mahmoud was Editor. Those crowded years in broadcasting didn’t take from my activism in the underground Nigerian Marxist-Leninist Movement and the Nigerian Trade Union movement, where I was union chairman and Vice Chairman of the NLC in Kwara State.
Much later in life, I became Editor, Chairman, Editorial Board and Columnist in the newspaper industry! Nigeria gave me tremendous opportunities to flower in different areas of broadcasting and journalism, and it is that which has driven my dedication to Nigeria’s liberation and development! The journey commenced thirty-seven years ago, on February 1, 1977.