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.
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.