…Where are they?
BY JOSFYN UBA and KATE HALIM
They have left lasting impressions with us having found their way into our living rooms through the screen. Yes! They captivated their television audience across the nation with their velvety voices as they read the news. While their diction was flawless, their pronunciation was perfect. Their excellent mastery of the art of broadcasting and their confidence in news delivery endeared them to millions of viewers.
They held sway at the various electronic media houses. They were the cynosure of all eyes, both within and outside the tube. They held people in awe with their impeccable sense of style and charm. They are beautiful, ambitious and successful. They put their bodies and souls in the profession and did it with dexterity and passion.
Not only would people hasten up whatever task before them simply to catch a glimpse of these women when it was time to go on air. Admirers even prayed for an opportunity to meet with them them. They were the female newscasters this nation had produced. While some were at NTA, others were at AIT, defunct DBN and MBI. They lived on the fabulous lane. Haute couture fashion was their trademark while their entire lifestyles were woven in sheer glamour.
Their sense of style was without fault and they were trendsetters in the fashion circle. It is not an exaggeration that most women who watched them news at that time, did so, to see what style they would appear in. They were the society sweethearts. Men’s desire to have them made daily headlines in the media as some were ready to give out the entire world to have them while women made them role models and tailored their lifestyles after them.
However, for many of them, their private lives were more like an open book. They are like the golden fish that has no hiding place. After spending most of their working lives in front of the cameras, these women had to leave the profession that brought them fame and fortune. They moved on to other spheres of life. While some of them veered off completely from the limelight to pursue other passions, others are still romancing the media but in corporate communications. Welcome to the glamorous lifestyles of the golden gals of the screen. Some names that readily come to mind are May Uzor Nwoko, Adesuwa Onyenokwe and Evelyn Obahor. Kiishi Daramola had a very short stint at AIT but is still being remembered for her strong personality on the screen. Nkem Oseloke Orakwue Another great broadcaster was Nkem Oseloke Orakwue whose love for children saw her presenting the famous children’s programme, Tales By Moonlight. She was a versatile and thorough professional.
She has since left NTA and moved to another sphere of life May Uzor Nwoko May Uzor Nwoko, Ned Nwoko’s cousin and a princess from the royal Nwoko family of Idumuje-Ugboko started her broadcasting career in the 80’s at the then Radio Bendel. Upon the creation of state, she moved to Radio Delta. She kept her audience spell bound with her great style of presentation and flawless diction Seeking for greener pastures, her sojourn into Lagos took her to AIT where she was one of the pioneer staff of the station. May Nwoko serenaded her listeners on her late night programme, The MYSTERY LADY on Ray Power while she also anchored the news on AIT. May Nwoko, however dumped the profession that made her a brand and relocated to the UK.
She has been overseas since 2002 Evelyn Olamere Obahor Evelyn Obahor debuted on the defunct DBN, Lagos and promptly, captured her viewers’ hearts. She made her mark on the screen with a perfect match, Israel Edjeren, when they both anchored a popular programme. When DBN was coasting towards its last days on air, the Edo state-born-velvety voiced lady also took off to London. The single mother of one took up employment with BEN TV as well as being engaged in her private Talk Shows on Television. EUGENIA ABU Her sleek voice and beautiful face imprints on your memory that you always look forward to hearing her dish out news.
Eugenia Abu is one of Nigeria’s foremost Broadcasters who disclosed that TV journalism found her and not the other way round. Her childhood dream was to be a lawyer but by sheer providence, she found her feet in journalism. When she wandered into a radio station in Benue State in 1979 for an audition after studying English instead of Law, little did she know that an interesting journey lay ahead of her in TV broadcasting.
She worked briefly at the Benue State Ministry of Information after her youth service in 1981 before she joining NTA Makurdi as an editor. Taking no chances with the level of success electronic media has witnessed with the advent of technology, Eugenia reveals that TV journalism in the eighties was not as sophisticated as it is today. The challenges of operation, presentation and equipment have long changed and she is not one who will be caught unawares by this trend. In her time, there were more undiluted professionals, who did it for passion and were exceptional at their jobs attracting deep respect.
The restless bee didn’t consider her job as an editor and reporter fascinating as news casting came later in her career ladder. After decades as an editor, her ability to spot wrong spellings and bad usage in any script comes like the speed of lightening.
It is not a surprise that she veered into writing and has also gotten accolades for her efforts. Her writings focus on man’s inhumanity to man, injustice, betrayal, love, poverty, freedom fighting and life generally. She is equally disturbed by violence against women, immorality, wickedness, greed as well as lack of contentment. In 1995, this screen darling won the Nigerian Media Merit Award for TV Newscaster of the year. She has also made her mark as a prize-winning essayist, poet, and short story writer whose works have made a mark in Nigeria and beyond.
Her first published book, a collection of essays “In the Blink of an Eye” (Spectrum 2007) won the ANA/NDDC Flora Nwapa Prize for best female writing in 2008. ADESUWA ONYENOKWE Her name is synonymous with elegance and dynamism. Adesuwa Onyenokwe needs no introduction because her achievements speak volumes. She is one of such women who not only excelled as a screen diva but she equally introduced dynamism to how stories are told by running a media establishment after leaving NTA where she built a solid resume as an excellent broadcaster. Her career started as a reporter at the Nigeria Television Authority, where she worked for 10 years, resigned, became an independent producer and created a television magazine programme, Today’s Woman. But she dropped the television programme and found succour in publishing.
The publisher of Today’s Woman earned a childhood nickname ‘reporter’ due to her eagerness for reporting her siblings’ mischief around the house to her Parents decades ago. Saddened by the plight of women and the challenges facing the contemporary woman, her role today as the publisher of Today’s Woman is aimed at showcasing values and stories about women, particularly Nigerian women.
Adesuwa’s rites of passage as a broadcaster began at the Bendel Television, BTV, in 1983. Given the years she put in there and the years she logged in at NTA prepared her for the uphill task of publishing, helped her tackle the challenges peculiar to the media profession such as getting stories, meeting deadlines and maintaining sanity during production hours.
She delved into magazine publishing leveraging on a vast experience garnered in broadcasting in order to give the magazine the good footing it needed at inception. As a professional, she has no particular preference between working for television and working for print because the most important aspect of media business is being able to deliver the right message the way it ought to be communicated to the right person.
During her progressive years in television, Adesuwa learnt the peculiarity and difficult aspect of telling stories that centered on women. She discovered that men were easier to talk to in comparison with women.
Besides, women were reluctant to speak about their personal stories that could affect other women positively for fear of their husbands’ reactions and society’s perception that such women might be deemed too ‘forward’. Being a pragmatic person, she devised ways of breaking the barriers while anchoring Today’s Woman, a magazine programme on NTA that was her brainchild as an independent producer after she had left the employment of the NTA. This elegant woman’s joy in publishing is in the longevity of a copy of every magazine that is produced, knowing that it has a ripple effect from being passed on from person to person.
And it has been fulfilling to tell stories about women meant for other women’s benefit in a profound way because print is more enduring, but television is transient by nature. BETTY DIBIAH Betty Dibiah held her own in Channels Television and was best known for her accuracy and liveliness while sharing information on TV. She was born in Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State in Nigeria’s Southern region, while her parents are origins of Delta State. This never say die anchor and producer holds a B.Sc (Hons) in Physics from the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, and is an alumnus of the U.S. International Visitors’ Programme on TV Broadcast Journalism.
Betty joined Channels Television in March 2000 and worked on the Business Desk for a year before she went on to the Foreign Affairs Desk in 2002. She is still the Foreign Affairs correspondent and has covered significant events around the world.
Apart from being a news editor and anchor, Betty Dibiah had been producer and presenter of the International affairs programme, Diplomatic Channel. With Diplomatic Channel, Betty’s charisma and doggedness on the job became undeniable. Betty loves the arts and languages and speaks a little more than hello in many languages. Her career goal is to be associated with the very best in audio-visual production, in Nigeria and globally.
She has a passion for TV production, especially documentaries. Her hard work has severally been rewarded as she has won many awards including Best Documentary of the Year, 2005, Best Human Angle Award for Excellence 2003, Diamond Award for Media Excellence (DAME) 2004 and Nigeria Media Merit Award (NMMA) Reporter of the Year 2002. SIJU ALABI A broadcaster of note, she can probably be described as one of those individuals who have succeeded in living out their dreams. The ebullient reporter went from being the impressionable young lady whose only ambition was to read journalism in the university without knowing what it entails, to having an upward career in journalism. Siju Alabi joined the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, as newscaster, reporter, and continuity announcer in 1986.
She joined Channels Television as a reporter/presenter in 2001. She joined Minaj Broadcast International, MBI, in 2006, as news anchor/Head of Presentation. Siju has not only become an authority in broadcasting but also a mentor for those coming behind in the real sense of the word. The seed of her ambition was actually watered at the Ibadan Grammar School, where her position as the head girl gave her the opportunity of honing her skills in public speaking. Furthermore, she also developed a passion for broadcasting from simply watching those she largely described as her role model figures on NTA. The likes of Julie Coker, Bimbo Oloyede, Bode Alalade, John Momoh, among others gave her the needed push in the right direction.
Obsessed with her ambition, she naturally became addicted to the television, especially the7 0’clock News on the NTA, where most of her role models actually plied their trade as newscasters and TV presenters. But her mother had a shocker for her when she opposed her desire to study journalism. Her mother dismissed it with a wave of her hand, but she held her own.
Her career would begin at Channels TV, where she served in various capacities including the health beat and news desk for six years before throwing in the towel to take up further challenges in life. Encouraged by the professionalism and excellence that characterized Channels Television, she enjoyed her stay there. In her characteristic manner, she loves her name to be part of a winning team. To her, broadcasting is not all about high fashion or about wearing the best suits, and all. Her epistle goes thus, ‘Anyone who wishes to build a lasting career in broadcasting must look beyond the glamour and focus on the basics of dissecting the right information efficiently.’
Being a serious-minded and success-driven individual, she spares little time for social niceties. For someone who practically stays indoors, her leisure time is spent watching home videos and cooking dishes like rice and amala, which she relishes so much. Siju won the Red Ribbon Award for Best Television Reporter on HIV/AIDS by Journalists Against Aids in 2002 and in 2003. Apart from being one of the senior facilitators at Voice Clinic Training School, she is also a member of the Media Working Group of the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA. Several times, she was recognized by the prestigious Nigeria Media Merit Award, NMMA, panel as Best TV Newscaster and Presenter. Funmi Odubekun Funmi belongs to the league of female news anchors at NTA.
The pretty and dark complexioned lady also brought colour and charm to the screen.Like most of her contemporaries, Funmi kissed goodbye to the screen and the fame, which came with it. In spite of all the goodies that the electronic media had brought her, the Ijebu-Mushin, Ogun State indigene seemed not to have lost the understanding that change is a constant thing in life, and so, she explored her second innate gift.
Upon leaving the NTA, she took a job with PIVOT Engineering. While working there, she passionately explored opportunity of excelling. Being on top of the game was her utmost desire and pursuance of her set goals, who took up various courses in her new area of endeavour, set up her own company 1999 after resigning from PIVOT. Perhaps, in reminiscence of Abeokuta having been where her career as a pioneer of Ogun Radio (now Gateway Radio) kicked off, she went back to start a newfound career in properties.
Presently, she is the Managing Director, No Excuses Homes. In a previous interview, the former TV gal confessed that she missed life as a broadcaster initially, but is happy and content in her new calling. Called ‘gypsy’ by close friends because of her inclination to move to different locations very often, Funmi admits that it could be uncomfortable and unnerving but it just has to do with the nature of her work. Many are still surprised that after her long romance with glitz and glamour associated with broadcasting, the glamorous lady could conveniently switch over to a relatively rough terrain such as properties. Now, out of the public glare and obviously living a more quiet life, Funmi is a philanthropist and a mentor to a lot of young entrepreneurs. Since leaving NTA Channel 10, 24 years ago, she just plugged off from the social scene.
Having successfully explored and discovered her second talent, Funmi, who believes that everyone is endowed with more than one gift from God is more involved in helping the less-privileged in the society.