IWD 2020: Celebrating Nigeria’s Women in Journalism (2)

BEHIND THE FIGURES By Ijeoma Nwogwugwu

Every March 8, the International Women’s Day is celebrated globally. This year was not different! To mark the day, sequel to the parts published last Friday in THISDAY Newspaper, Chiemelie Ezeobi and Mary Nnah profile other amazons in the newsroom- from print to broadcast and even online media, across Nigeria, who contribute in changing the narrative with reports in their respective beats

The 2020 International Women’s Day (IWD) themed ‘I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights’, which aligns with UN Women’s new multigenerational campaign, Generation Equality, which also marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, was marked on Sunday, March 8.

This theme shines the spotlight on the imbalance in the media as the females are often faced with numerous challenges from sexism to prejudice, stereotype, conscious bias, discrimination and gender misrepresentation etc.

It was in a bid to address these issues that UNESCO commissioned the major review of the literature worldwide related to women and media in its second medium term plan for the women’s decade (1976-1985) where it proposed among other things programmes devoted specially to the advancement in women’s roles in the media.

It is undeniable that despite the challenges facing women journalists all over the world, they are contributing tremendously to the development of the media industry.

Nonetheless, compared to what was obtainable in the past, things are much better for female journalists. From the rich repertoire of persons showcased last Friday and the ones in this sequel, it is obvious that female journalists are beginning to dominate beats formerly regarded as the exclusive preserve of their male counterparts, some even head those desks.

Does it mean everything good has come for the women folk? No! But it can certainly get better. Kudos to THISDAY Newspaper that has set the pace with a woman editing all three titles and now is the MD of Arise TV, Ijeoma Nwogwugwu. The paper has also seen women rise to head the Energy and Features Desk, as well as deputise on the Sunday Desk.

Again, here are some of our Women in Journalism (WIJ) who are making their marks either in print, broadcast or online media…

Ijeoma Nwogwugwu: Managing Director, Arise TV

I am Ijeoma Nwogwugwu with THISDAY Newspapers. I have covered business for 25 years and counting. I edited the desk and the Saturday, Sunday and Daily titles before moving to Arise News Channel, Africa.

The journey has been exciting, tasking and fulfilling. But who says hard work does not pay? Journalism is one of the few professions where you can get excellent exposure.

If you are by nature competitive and want to stand out from a seminal and creative perspective, it is the ideal job for those with the listed personality traits. But it can take a toll on your personal health and life because of the long hours and sacrifices that you have to make. But at the end of the day, it’s all been worth every late night and tasking assignment.

Mary Abayomi Fatile: Defence and Investigative Reporter, Radio Nigeria, FRCN


Mary Abayomi Fatile is a very vibrant goal getter who has won several awards, both locally and International in four years of her career.

I have won the Best Investigative Crime Reporter of the year at the 16th African Security Watch Award in Dubai (2019); Best Investigative Crime Reporter of the year at the 15th African Security Watch Award in The Gambia (2018); Rotary District 9110, Nigeria, Third Position (Humanitarian Reporting, 2018); Winner, The Nigerian Media Merit Award (N.M.M.A), for Radio Reporter of the Year, 2017; The Nigerian Media Merit Award (N.M.M.A}; Winner: (Radio Reporter Of The Year, 2016); Diamond Awards For Media Excellence (D.A.M.E); First Runner Up: (Editorial Integrity, 2016); Diamond Awards For Media Excellence (D.A.M.E); First Runner Up: (Radio Reporting, 2016); Diamond Awards For Media Excellence (D.A.M.E); Secondrunner Up: (Reporter Of The Year, 2015); Alimosho Times, Outstanding Crime Investigative Journalist of Distinction, 2015; Alimosho Times, Security Conscious & Friendly Media.

Despite these awards, I would be the first to tell you that the journey has not been easy. But with God I have been able to scale through and I am still going higher. One of the challenges I face is in terms of investigation. At times, I spend my funds to get stories, but when you try to get justice for the victim, you are asked to drop story because of fear of police or being killed by the suspect. Another challenge is that of getting home late and at times, our homes bear the brunt.

Evelyn Usman: Assistant Crime Editor of Vanguard Media Limited

I started my career in Journalism after obtaining a degree in Modern Languages, from the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State and at the completion of the mandatory one year NYSC in Abuja.

I cover the crime and defence beats and have over 3000 human interest and security related stories published, since I started reporting a decade and half years ago.

Some of my write-ups had initiated government policies. One of them on the plight of ‘ Pensioners turned beggars’, formed the basis of discourse at the House of Representatives in 2005 and consequently resulted in the increment of allocation to the pension office, to ameliorate the sufferings of pensioners.

In the course of my job, I have embarked on sea operation exercises between the Nigerian Navy and various navies of the world, both at home and abroad. I have also received several awards in recognition of my performance and dedication to duty.

Ivy Kanu: Crime/Security Beat, TVC News

I must say it’s been challenging, however, I’m driven by knowing I may just be the last channel for one voiceless Nigerian out there.

Although my background is in Business Admin and public relations, I have practiced journalism over 13 years starting with print before settling into broadcast. I am currently the Security Watch Africa Best Security/Investigative Reporter (electronic)2017 and 2018.

I have compassion for issues that have to do with women, children and the elderly. My ultimate ambition is to have orphanages and homes for the elderly.

If I wasn’t a journalist, I would have been a lawyer or a nurse.

Agatha Emeadi: Sunday Desk, The Sun Newspaper

Apart from works done for the partial fulfillment of university degree, I started full-time journalism on May 15, 2003; 17years and counting.

For me, journalism has been an exciting, wonderful and interesting profession in the sense that it has afforded me the opportunity to touch a few lives in my own little way. I feel elated when my stories and column wipe out tears, heal wounds and put smiles on someone’s face.

I am happy when I receive calls that says…”Thank you for educating or sharing this topic with us”… A woman had once called me to say ‘your piece healed my marriage… Now, I realise my mistakes… Thank you’.

It is an exciting journey because there are some interviews that one conducts, and becomes fulfilled as a journalist who knows one’s onions. The likes of the late Chief Alex Akinyele would say it voluminously as it is. It has also been an interesting journey when one’s works are being recognised and celebrated.

Yinka Olatunbosun: Arts and Culture, THISDAY Newspapers

I have practiced for 10 years, first as a legal reporter before joining the Arts desk. I was recently featured in Taz Newspapers, Berlin as a guest writer on the theme of Nigeria’s population explosion. I’m a 2018 Fellow of the Female Reporters Leadership Programme.

The challenges for me include securing funding for investigative stories, navigating the thin line between PR and journalism and no time left for vacation.

Ruth Akinwunmi-King: FRCN, Radio Nigeria, Lagos

I am a Multimedia Journalist, a reporter with Radio Nigeria the largest Radio Network in Nigeria. I have over 10 years’ experience in reporting crime, environment, Women and Health related issues within and outside the shores of Nigeria.

It has not been easy as a female journalist in Nigeria where we have just about 10per cent of women fighting their way into top management positions in media houses.

I’ve had my own experience in harassment and other low moments on the job as a journalist. However, once you are focused, you can break new grounds.

Chioma Anyagafu Gabriel: Editor, Special Features, Vanguard Newspaper

I studied at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and did my NYSC at the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State. I had a brief stint with Radio Nigeria before engaging fully in the print media.

I joined Vanguard Media in 1995 and rose through the ranks from being a correspondent to become the first and only ever female title Editor as Saturday Editor of Vanguard from 2011 to 2014.

In journalism, I am driven by passion for the job than anything else. I have seen it all in journalism and know it is not easy for any woman who made it to the top. You have to work 10 times harder than anyone.

Indeed, I doff my hat for women like Chris Anyanwu, Comfort Obi, Ijeoma Nwogwugwu and several women who made it on Radio and Television. The Nigerian woman has come a long way in the media and is still waxing stronger.

Yewande Iwuoha: General Manager, Radio Services Raypower

I started practicing in 1992 with Republic Newspapers, later to Punch, ThisDay and now with Raypower/AIT.

In my sojourn, I covered many beats including, Education, Health, Foreign, Defence, Lagos State House & the Assembly and the Crime beat. It was tough gathering stories that could make headlines, but determination saw me through.

At the State House, Alausa my hunting for “scoops” for headline stories was to get me into problem with the then military administrator, Colonel Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who banned me from covering the beat. NUJ leadership, under the late Ladi Lawal helped to restore me on the argument that I can only be removed over publication of falsehood.

The job could be very challenging for women who have to attend to house chores, take care of home and their children at the same time. Records of success would however make the challenges worthwhile at the end of the day.

My advice to upcoming female journalists/broadcasters: “dont give up, be focused, victory is just at the corner”.

Funke Busari: Managing Editor at www.caseFileng.com

CaseFileng.com is an online news platform that focuses mainly on judiciary and crime reportage and I am the managing editor.

I hold a Higher National Diploma in Mass Communication from The Polytechnic, Ibadan, and have been actively involved in journalism since 1999 when I started out as an intern reporter covering the judiciary for the Punch Newspapers. It was in those days that you can count the number of female journalists on the tip of your fingers, a time when reporters planned their stories with dummy sheets and out-stationed correspondents sent their stories via land phones, pagers and fax machines.

Apparently there is still a big room for disruption, but it is obvious that female journalists have been able to assert their professional and leadership capabilities in the mainstream and online media over time. That they are becoming more intentional in their professional drive is a testimony to the leadership positions these media amazons have taken up on merit in the last decade especially.

And the exposure has been exciting for me as well, having earned recognition for exposing impediments to the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria.

Chioma Obinna: Health and Science Beat, Vanguard Newspaper

I see journalism as part of my life and it has made me stronger even as a mother. I must also say that the challenges in the profession have also strengthened my love for what I do. As a development health journalist who is currently striving towards solution journalism, I feel elated when I do stories that brought about positive changes in the society.

Health beat is one aspect of journalism you cover with a human face. Sometimes you are trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea. It is a beat you try not to sensationalise especially when there is an outbreak. Like the current COVID-19. As health a journalist you choose your words and try not to cause more harm as people already panicking and a lot of misinformation are everywhere in the social media.

One thing I have learnt in all my years in journalism is balancing my report. While I was still new in journalism, I had lots of discouragements. Some people say, it is a profession for only men. Some say once you are married that will be the end of your career. But today I have surmounted them, all.

Of course, hard work pays, I have won several awards and traveled wide in the course of my work. I have no regret choosing to be a journalist. For me it is a dream comes true.

Awojulugbe Oluseyi: Business Best, TheCable Newspaper

Right after my graduation from the University of Ibadan in 2015, I joined TheCable as a greenhorn – armed with ambition, zeal and hunger to succeed.

I started out my journey in journalism on the Entertainment desk, reporting about movies, music and society before moving to the Business desk, towards the end of 2017.

Being young and female on the Business desk has been both a springboard and a challenge. I’ve had to confront genderised perceptions and dispositions while at the same time, I have been fortunate enough to have sterling mentions and opportunities for growth.

Working with a generous and innovative team like TheCable and learning under the tutelage of a gender-neutral boss like Simon Kolawole, I have been encouraged to take on audacious projects, achieved recognition and risen through the ranks.

More importantly, I have come to understand that to succeed as a woman in journalism, one must be willing to rise above sexism, prove misogynists wrong and go the extra mile like completing a report in the salon. In the coming years, I hope to break new grounds, prove my worth in the industry and ultimately, see more women excel on the job.

Folake Sokoya: Senior Correspondent, Nationalwire, and Blogger with FolakeInvestigates

I have been practicing since 2003 as an IT student with prestigious community newspaper. I joined mainstream media in 2004. The journey has been very interesting, challenging, overwhelming and fulfilling.

I have always wanted to become a journalist/ broadcaster. So for me, my journey into journalism is a dream come true.

Being a woman journalist is not an easy task coupled with lots of challenges and discrimination we face but journalism has kept me going. Ability to think outside the box is a gift I got from my mentors, Juliana Francis and Lekan Osiade, who saw the diversified ability in me and helped nurture it.

With all the challenges and stress of being a woman journalist, l believe l am fulfilling God’s purpose in my life. Journalism is my ministry and I also see it as a way of giving back to the society.

Itohan Abara-Laserian: Senior Correspondent, News Agency of Nigeria

I have been in the journalism space since 2010 as a reporter in a private media outfit. In 2012, I joined the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and I am currently a Senior Correspondent. Reporting was just an interest that metamorphosed into a passion and now I am loving every bit of the profession.

Chiamaka Okechukwu: Senior News Editor, Voice of Nigeria

I have been in this media practice for nine years now, reporting the Defence, paramilitary, Economy, Business and Technology beats. It is a profession with so many opportunities and risks not for the faint-hearted.

In this journey as a reporter, I have been able to see different phases of life, relating with people that ordinarily I won’t be privileged to meet aside this job.

Then facing the home front coupled with the responsibilities on the job has been an amazing experience. Sometimes I wonder where the extra strength comes from.

Vanessa Obioha: Journalist with THISDAY Newspapers

I cover diverse subjects including entertainment, lifestyle and politics. In my nearly eight years of practising journalism, I have had an intriguing experience. From the newsroom ‘madness’ to the endless field assignments. I have been captivated by the ideals of the powerful and the powerless in a society grappling with different socioeconomic and political issues.

I have also seen how this plays out in most newsrooms where gender assumes a critical role in key decision-making processes. I’m however fortunate to work in a media organisation where women are given opportunities.

One of the most interesting observations that usually gets me worried is the trickling number of women covering politics, particularly in the top echelons. Most print organisations have men leading their political desks. Are the women unfit for such positions?

I will like to see a better welfare plan for journalists and the erosion of the perception that women are only fit for particular beats.

Maupe Ogun-Yusuf: Producer & Anchor, ‘Hard Copy’; Co-presenter ‘Sunrise Daily’, Channels Tv

It’s been quite a ride in the past 12 years. I was drawn to broadcast journalism by the very pretty faces I saw reading the News on tv and next to acting, it was the next decent profession my parents would accept but not without some convincing.

I have since found that being a broadcast journalist is far more than being a pretty face. As an anchor who dwells heavily on current affairs and politics, I now know a great passion, a technical know-how, patience, humility, assertiveness and a willingness to learn are all key ingredients in this very interesting career path.

Marriage and Motherhood is teaching me there’s a lot more to learn and sometimes put my passion to the test. But as my husband reminds me, being a broadcast journalist is a big part of who I am. My light takes on a different glow when I’m on my job and I hope it will be one that’ll light the way for young women looking to make their way in an industry influenced heavily by patriarchy but very involved in tearing down the walls that keeps women from achieving their full potential.

Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze: Health and ICT,

The Guardian Newspapers
I have practiced for over a decade and it has been both interesting and challenging. I have covered many beats including Women Affairs, Culture and Tourism, Health and ICT.

The profession has exposed me to a lot of opportunities but it has not been all rosy. I thank The Guardian for offering me the platform to express myself.

Kemi Yesufu: CEO/Editor-in-Chief, Frontline News Online

These days, I prefer to describe myself as a journalist, media executive, gender equality/human rights activist and strong advocate for the reduction of poverty and lessening the wide gap between the wealthy and the poor.

I wrote feature stories published in Gliterrati, a THISDAY publication but I later moved to City People Magazine. I also worked for Global Excellence Magazine where I anchored the Abuja High Society page. My journalism career also took me to Daily Independent and The Sun Newspapers.

I wrote a High Society Column ‘Earsay’ and “uptown” in both newspapers, combining this with the health and women Affairs beats in the former. At the Sun, I covered the House of Representatives where I also maintained a column.

I currently run an online news portal: www.frontlinenews.com.ng, which I set up after resigning from The Sun in January 2017. After 16 years career as a print journalist, I often say my strength is my versatility.

Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye: Assistant News Editor, The Sun Newspaper

I have practiced for 24 years. My journalism career started on August 1, 1996 but as a page planner with THISDAY Newspapers. I was in school at Nigeria Institute of Journalism studying public relations when I joined.

I was encouraged by my bosses at THISDAY then to go beyond what I was doing at the time and thanks to them, through dent of hard work and God’s grace, I have progressed from a page planner to a reporter and today I am the Assistant News Editor with Sun Newspapers, traveling the world covering big international events.

The journey has been challenging (at a point I was covering seven beats at once and yet I didn’t disappoint), fun, full of exposure and confidence building and much more.

Combining the home front and my job has not been easy, but this is one job I am so passionate about. I mean in 2015, when I was about to have my baby, I was still working on a story when the nurses came to wheel me into the theater and I had to quickly push the story to my news editor, telling him to complete the rest as the time had come.

Nkiru Njemanze: News Manager, Radio Nigeria

My journey into journalism started in 2003 with FRCN Abuja. I studied political science at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka. I have covered many beats, being on the general beat desk.

Though it was not easy covering those beats as a woman, as it came with so many challenges, but I thank God that today that casual worker of 2003 is now a manager news.

Oluwasola Taiwo: Africa Independent Television (AIT)
I had covered Lagos State Government and Aviation beats. I have been in the industry for over two decades. The journey has been an exciting one.

God, passion and hardwork have been my driving force. As a woman combining journalism and taking care of the home front, it has not been easy but being a female journalist is one experience I will not trade for anything, challenging and demanding yet am proud to be a female journalist.

Ijeoma Thomas-Odia: Saturday Desk, The Guardian Newspapers

I have been practicing journalism for eight years now. I fell in love with the profession during my IT days in Champion Newspapers and I have further worked in other media houses before joining The Guardian.

The passion for the job has kept me going, it gives an opportunity to know a bit of everything from various fields.

Presently, I am passionate about issues surrounding women and girls. Understanding our plights, vulnerability, celebrating our victories too as females has been the highlight of practicing journalism for me.

Editor’s Note
Although we profiled few of some of these amazons, nonetheless, there are several others who are doing great things too that unfortunately weren’t captured in this sequel! But we see you and believe the world does so too! Happy International Women’s Day (IWD) from us to you!