In 1985, I joined the Nigerian public service as a classroom teacher in Edo State. Eleven years later, I was in the newsroom of Nigeria’s statutory international radio broadcasting station, the Voice of Nigeria at Ikoyi, Lagos. It was a transition from the classroom to the newsroom that culminated in a fulfilling professional expedition. Come with me on the journey as these photos tell part of the story.

As a tutor at Western Boys’ High School Benin City
At Vienna International Airport, Austria, en-route Ankara, Turkey on state visit with President Olusegun Obasanjo
On duty at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja
Interviewing foremost nationalist, Chief Anthony Eromosele Enahoro (my townsman) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja
With Vice President Atiku Abubakar during my inauguration as Chairman, State House Press Corps (SHPC)
Being congratulated by the VP (top), DG Voice of Nigeria, Mr Taiwo Allimi (middle) and Governor Segun Osoba of Ogun State
With the VP and members of the SHPC Exco: From left – Henry Chukwuedo, Treasurer; Dan Ede, Secretary; Self; VP Atiku Abubakar; Sadiq Abubakar, Vice Chairman; Abayomi Adeshida, Asst. Secretary; Works Minister Chief Tony Anenih, and Aviation Minister Dr Kema Chikwe

 

At the reception for the EXCO hosted at Chelsea Hotel Abuja by Works Minister Chief Tony Anenih (RIP)
Welcoming President Olusegun Obasanjo to the venue of presidential dinner for state house correspondents
Presenting a special birthday card to Information Minister Professor Jerry Gana on behalf of the SHPC
When Miss World, Agbani Darego came on a courtesy visit to the president

With colleagues and facilitators during and after IT training at the US Embassy
Facilitating a press conference for visiting US civil rights leader, the Reverend Jesse Jackson
Preparing for Media Chat with President Obasanjo at the Council Chamber
With colleagues; interviewing former heads of state General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) and Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar at IBB’s Hilltop Mansion, Minna, Niger State
With SHPC colleague; Rotimi Ajayi of Vanguard Newspapers, interviewing Dr Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia (RIP), former military governor of Bendel (now Edo) State

Top: With State House colleagues and staff, my younger brother and his wife, Vice Chairman SHPC, and my wife at the send off party for me on appointment as Bureau Chief of VON, Southern Africa Bureau. Bottom: Receiving a parting gift from Special Assistant to President Obasanjo on Media and Publicity, Mr Tunji Oseni (RIP) at the party.
At the Suncity venue of the Inter-Congolese Dialogue in South Africa
With colleagues, Yinka Amosu (FRCN);  Ayo Adewuyi (NTA) and Namibian women in traditional attire during President Obasanjo’s state visit to Namibia

 

With Director, Office of the Presidential Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Musa Aduwak (Far left), former Information Minister Professor Jerry Gana (middle) and colleagues at the transition of the OAU to AU in Durban, South Africa
With Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa and his wife, (far right) and Nigeria High Commission staff at the Office of the Prime Minister of Lesotho during Gen. Marwa’s presentation of letters of credence as Nigerian ambassador to South Africa with concurrent accreditation to Lesotho and Swaziland. I had the privilege of serving as his Media Liaison Officer.
With the News Agency of Nigeria Southern Africa Bureau Chief, Kevin Okunzuwa (top), at the Manzini Palace of King Mswati III of Swaziland during an SADC extraordinary summit
Armed Forces and Remembrance Day in Pretoria: A chat on ‘the role of the military in politics’ with Nigerian defence adviser, Commodore Jacob Ajani, at the Nigeria High Commission.
Presidential Chat with South African president Thabo Mbeki at his Johannesburg home on the contributions of Nigeria to the liberation of South Africa from the oppressive apartheid regime
Officiating as Programme Director at the maiden Nigerians in Southern Africa Achievement Awards at the Gallagher Convention Centre, Midrand, Johannesburg
On a visit to Tata Nelson Mandela’s Soweto home
A chat with former Nigerian Head of State Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar at the Sheraton Hotel Pretoria
Receiving letter of promotion to Deputy Director News from the Director (Now Executive Director) News, Mr Ahaziah Suleiman, at Radio House, Abuja
On National Good Governance tour to Ogoniland with former Information Minister Labaran Maku.
At Oloibiri oil rig, where crude oil was first extracted in Nigeria in 1957
Filing a report from the Bayelsa State Government House
With colleague, Juliana Obalonye, at the Akwa Ibom State Government House, Uyo
With former president of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Mallam Mohammed Garba at the Ibom e-Library, Uyo

 

Interviewing Nollywood icon and former Delta State Commissioner for Arts and Culture, Richard Mofe-Damijo (RMD) in Asaba

 

Anchoring a programme on Armed Forces and Remembrance Day at VON Abuja studios
Unravelling the diversification conundrum in the studio with Director /CEO Nigerian Institute of Mining and Geosciences, Dr Umar Bamalli.
On Outside Broadcast duty at the National Judicial Institute Abuja during the 2014 Nigerian National Conference
On duty as Rapporteur of the 2015 Presidential Election Debate at the International Conference Centre, Abuja
Not all work and no play: at a party with the beautiful angel that has stood by me through thick and thin

APPRECIATION 

I wish to use this opportunity to fervently thank God for his mercies that endure forever. I appreciate my family members for their love and support through the years, especially my younger brother, Pastor John Ekata, who alerted me on the job opportunity at Voice of Nigeria during his national youth service there. Sincere thanks to my bosses, mentors and colleagues at VON who made my transition easy. Of special mention are former DGs Mallam Yaya Abubakar (RIP) who approved my appointment, Mr Taiwo Allimi who approved my posting to the Presidential Villa as State House Correspondent and to South Africa as Bureau Chief, Mallam Abubakar Boboyi Jijiwa who held my hand on the trip to South Africa and became a brother and a friend more than a boss, as well as the amiable current DG with his endearing greeting, ‘My man’.

Former Executive Director of News and later Director General of Radio Nigeria, Mr Ben Egbuna, taught me the art of editing and commentary writing. He told me “the reward for good work is more work” and inspired me to avoid writing “nonsense”. Mr Osaze Iyamu’s no-nonsense attitude also helped to shed some baggage of laziness. Uncle Gabriel Omonhinmin told me from the first day he saw me that I should stop thinking of myself as a teacher and start considering myself a good journalist, and I gratefully obeyed him. I  cannot forget that Dr Qasim Akinreti, who incidentally was my ‘junior’ in rank, taught me how to produce programmes under pressure when we co-produced VON Economic Report and Business Day. Engineer Abraham Osoata and Mr Moses Imobhio, whom I discovered were my kinsmen, were a great source of motivation.

All my bosses and colleagues at VON who had this amazing family and friends attitude made the work environment conducive for growth. Outside VON, I formed enduring friendships during my stint at the Presidential Villa and ace photojournalists Monday Emoni and Yomi Adeshida helped to capture most of the images that tell my story at that stage of the journey.

Former bureau chiefs of the News Agency of Nigeria Johannesburg, Messrs Ken Ayere and Wale Ojetimi made adjustment to life and work in South Africa very easy and have remained supportive ever since. It was a delight to work with their successors Kevin Okunzuwa and Wole Sogunle.

Friends that are more than brothers, Godwin Ebewele, Austin Isikhuemen, and Robert Order cushioned my sojourn in Lagos and Abuja at various times of this journey. I thank you all and I’m truly grateful to everyone that has made this professional journey memorable.

I look forward to meeting you at the Pensioners’ Club sooner or later.

Shalom!

 

 

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