Diamonds for the Duke at 60

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How does one capture the essence that is Nduka Obaigbena, Editor-in-Chief and Chairman, THISDAY Media Group/Arise TV Networks, Nduka Obaigbena, a Prince of Owa Kingdom? In this special report to mark his 60th birthday, CHIEMELIE EZEOBI taps the minds of some of the THISDAY and ARISE family about the man who means different things to different people

As captured by Wikipedia, the Editor-in-Chief and Chairman, THISDAY Media Group/Arise TV Networks, Nduka Obaigbena is a Nigerian media mogul. Born on July 14, 1959 in  Delta State,  Nigeria, Obaigbena attended Edo College, Benin City, and the University of Benin, receiving an honours degree in Creative Arts.

Known for his innovations, this essence was best captured by Founder Cable News, Simon Kolawole, who was once the Daily Editor of THISDAY Newspaper. In a piece on his back page column- Simon Kolawole Live, he curated some of Obaigbena’s best steps, one of which was publishing THISDAY in 1995 without owning a printing press, and many soon followed.

“He also brought about a switch to colour printing after many other newspapers had experimented and retreated. Those who said it was impossible soon joined the fray. He turned the back page of the newspaper to the prime location for columnists. It is now industry standard. He eliminated the practice of printing two different editions of the newspaper for the same day. Others followed. He introduced the publication of the full table of daily transactions at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). It is now, as it were, a law.

“Whenever you see a colourful “style” section in any Nigerian newspaper today, the tribute has to go to Obaigbena, who started it all in 1997. THISDAY Style is arguably the most sought-after weekly supplement on style and fashion in any Nigerian newspaper today. He re-christened rejoinders as “Right of Reply” and that has become part of our media language, tending to suggest that it is somewhere in the Nigerian constitution. In 1998, he introduced “map painting” (as we jocularly call it) to provide at-a-glance previews of how political parties would perform in states and geo-political zones at election times. We have to give credit to whom credit is due. There must be a reason why no politician or business leader jokes with THISDAY.

“In times past, Nigerian reporters submitted handwritten scripts. One day, I think in 1997 or 1998, Obaigbena announced that all reports must now be written and filed electronically. In other words, every reporter must learn how to use the computer. For me, it was not strange — I had started using the computer to write my stories as early as 1994 — but many reporters considered this to be a tall order. Obaigbena had a mantra then: “You either change or die!” Everybody at THISDAY eventually made a switch to electronic writing, even if slightly behind schedule, and this soon became the standard in Nigeria’s newsrooms. It is only fitting to describe Obaigbena as the most positively disruptive and innovative entrepreneur in the history of Nigerian media — on the basis of evidence,” Kolawole added.

Asides Kolawole, the media space was inundated with accolades and encomiums for the one whom almost everyone refers to as ‘Publisher’. However, since charity they say begins at home, what better way to pay homage to our publisher than to see him through the minds of his management staff and editors.

 

MANAGING DIRECTOR THISDAY: ENIOLA BELLO 

In form, structure and content, the innovative ideas he brought to THISDAY have, by and large, redefined the newspaper landscape in the last 25 years. The innovations include having a story on top of the logo, back page columns, full colour printing, running a newspaper without owning a press, printing in multiple locations and hence having a single edition with same news nationally, having the cover fully devoted to an advert in what is called a wraparound, running advert in the early pages of the newspaper at a premium, daily publication of the stock market prices, and style pullout, amongst others. 

Other newspapers have copied almost all of these innovations. Indeed THISDAY immediate magazine-style analysis of every major news break the same day the story was being reported in a section we called BEHIND THE NEWS probably contributed to the collapse of the weekly news magazine market.

There’s the media mogul as culture and entertainment promoter in fashion and music as exemplified in the annual Arise Fashion Week, and THISDAY Music Festival before it.

In the nation’s media space, he’s an innovator par excellence – daring, brilliant, far-sighted and restless. He’s simply incomparable.

 

 

MANAGING DIRECTOR, ARISE NEWS CHANNEL AFRICA: IJEOMA NWOGWUGWU 

He is a great man!

DAILY EDITOR: BOLAJI ADEBIYI

Prince Nduka Obaigbena is a workaholic, who believes that nothing is impossible to achieve, hence he demands of his staff hardwork and the can-do spirit that he exhibits at all times.

Perceived to be hard, he is essentially a nice man, who, however, expects everyone around to think out of the box to survive like he does. Essentially, he works and plays hard and expects that everyone else would emulate him.

DEPUTY DAILY EDITOR: YEMI AJAYI 

The Obaigbena I know: How does one write a sort of testimonial on a man who means different things to many people? Like one of the back page columnists in THISDAY noted in his tribute to the Chairman/Editor-in-Chief of THISDAY Newspapers and Arise Television, Prince Nduka Obaigbena, on his 60th birthday, is like an elephant being felt alike by blind men.

Each blind man can only describe him based on which part of the huge animal he touched. My first encounter with him was a few months after I had joined THISDAY as Deputy Editor of the Sunday Newspaper. Before then, I had only known him by reputation as a daring media entrepreneur who is never afraid to take risks.

After many months of trying to get to see him over some welfare issues, the then Editor of the newspaper, Ms. Ijeoma Nwogwugwu, who incidentally recruited me, had informed me a day earlier that publisher, as fondly called by his staff, had asked to meet with me at his home.

She gave me a head-up on how I should dress. The publisher, I was told, frowns on shabby dressing. Not that I’m a shabby dresser anyways. With her guidance, I decided to wear one of the best suits in my wardrobe with the necessary accoutrements of a shirt and a tie to match. I arrived at the publisher’s home ahead of my appointment with him and after the meeting that lasted for about 30 minutes, he dismissed me to go. But within that short span of time, I formed ant impression of him as someone who can’t be rushed to take a decision.

The publisher is a man with an infectious can-do spirit who takes no excuse for not meeting targets or delivering on an assignment. He pushes you so hard in his demand for excellence that on the long run you’re better off for it.

Happy birthday, publisher!

DEPUTY SATURDAY EDITOR: WALE OLALEYE

After 21 years with THISDAY, I can attest to the fact that my Chairman, Prince Nduka Obaigbena is a great personality with an enviably ‘LARGE HEART’. He is in a class without peer.

Today, in the industry, I’m yet to see anyone as intelligent and brilliant. A repository of knowledge by every standard, I must say, he is constantly abreast of global trends to the awe of a majority of us.

Restless, progressive and constantly breaking new grounds as a measure of personal challenge, there’s no contesting the facts that he’s paid his dues.

Don’t even let us talk about his contacts and connections, he stands tall from the crowd. And whatever his personal foibles, he always makes up for them. After all, there’s no perfect creature.

This, therefore, is to more grace and mercy, both of which have sustained him in his journey through life, with a much longer life in good health and prosperity. Happy 60th birthday, The Duke of the Universe!

FASHION DIRECTOR/EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THISDAY STYLE: RUTH OSIME
All culled from her instagram page, the Style Editor, Ruth Osime had this to say: “What was the beginning of a lovely 60th birthday party for none other than my boss Nduka Obaigbena! It was a party and a half!!!! I was too busy to take many pics but l managed to squeeze some videos which l will post after l have taken my much needed sleeeeep!!! One thing l can say for sure before l go to bed….it was a befitting party for a man of his status. Names too many to mention…and on a week day for that matter!

“The crowd was a testimony of how respected and admired he is to our society. The surprise video we did touched a chord. And l am so happy the celebrant enjoyed himself thoroughly. It’s times like this the importance of legacy comes to mind. It will do good for the younger generation to take a leaf from his likes. #goodwillcounts #legacymatters.”

GROUP NEWS EDITOR: EJIOFOR ALIKE 

God uses him as a tool to make people and his accomplishments in this regard are unparalleled.

GROUP SPORTS EDITOR: DURO IKHAZUAGBE 

Not until I joined THISDAY in 2004, I didn’t know half of the lessons learnt now working under Prince Nduka Obaigbena. His mentoring of those working under him are not comparable with what you get even from some of the best Business Schools around.

He’s is the real Game Changer of the media industry in Nigeria. I am glad I have the opportunity to tap from this uncommon Publisher. We pray for good health and more fruitful years for him as he attains this diamond age of 60 years.

GROUP POLITICS EDITOR: NSEOBONG  OKONG-EKONG 

I think he is an excellent talent scout. He has an uncanny ability to identify hidden capacity in individuals and help to polish it to the admiration of all and sundry. I am a witness to the magnitude of development that he has invariably brought to his staff who were constrained by obscurity, but have been brought to the public eye progressively through their association with him and his brand.

It is admirable that he does not see the prosperity of persons under his employ as competition. I know many employers who will fire a staff at the least  hint that he is feathering his own nest, not Nduka Obaigbena. For him to adjudge a staff’s conduct as bordering on conflict of interest, it may have threatened the jugular of his business.

GROUP BUSINESS EDITOR: OBINNA CHIMA 

Generally, anybody that wants to achieve greatness in any career needs a coach whose job is to help propel such an individual to greatness, by identifying the strengths and weaknesses in such a person. At THISDAY, we are glad to have Chairman as our coach. That is why I always refer to him as ‘Our Daddy and General Overseer.’

Chairman, we wish you good health always and long life. Happy Birthday boss.

MARITIME: EROMOSELE ABIODUN  

I first met Chairman in 2005 at a meeting with advert executives. He got to know at the meeting that I read Statistics. There and then he said, “From today, you will report capital markets.” That was the beginning of my journalism career.

Again in early 2017, I was summoned to his house for a meeting with Arise TV business team. At the end of the meeting, I was asked to work with the Arise Global Business Report team as Capital Markets Analyst, another first for me.

I am not ashamed to say that I will NEVER be where I am today if not for that encounter in 2005!

Regardless of what anyone says, in my eyes, you are a truly remarkable boss. Thank you sir and KEEP WALKING!!!

GROUP FEATURES EDITOR: CHIEMELIE EZEOBI 

I respect his brain and thought process. Who would have believed that I would ever work for the man I was taught about in school some 13 years ago? Fate! Providence and God’s Grace!

That’s my boss. He is also known to give young people a chance to prove their selves. Case in point: me. I joined THISDAY as a Youth Corp member in 2009/2010. Today, I am the Group Features Editor. I am in my early 30s, a female and getting it!