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A strut through National Light

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National Light Newspaper is published by Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation, (ANPC), Awka, Anambra State. The newspaper has undergone many metamorphoses, with more in view within the near future. Even with her challenges, it has maintained a rugged resilience of death and suppression to make history as ‘Nigeria’s longest thriving state-owned newspaper’.

Yes, the newspaper makes such bold assertion without apology. And so far, no newspaper in Nigeria has refuted it. As a matter of fact, none will challenge it. Records don’t lie. That record has beyond all expectations lived till this day.

 It is difficult to foresee any change in that record in the future, since the newspaper has overcome the hardest of challenges to remain in circulation. The stable has a slogan that some outsiders see as an overstatement: ‘We dare to be best in our beat.’ But the newspaper has no apology to make for that either.      

The paper is owned by Anambra State Government. So far, it has taken resilience and ingenuity to keep the newspaper in business. It is more so, in an economy that is in turmoil, and not unmindful of the fact that many privately owned newspapers have folded or is folding, with some owing their staff arrears of salaries and others on the verge of going out of circulation.

From another angle, the paper is suffering a global fate that rocks the newspaper sector universally following the advent of new media technologies. Newspapers have sustained punches from the internet. The internet has ebbed newspaper readership and circulation, biting deep into advertisements – its main sustainer.      

National Light newspaper has come a long way and will follow that fashion. The paper’s birth can be traced to old Anambra State (present day states of Anambra, Enugu, and some Abakaliki axis of present day Ebonyi State). Then, the  paper was called Daily Star. Upon the creation of the present Anambra State by the General Sani Abacha regime on August 27, 1991, Daily Star properties were split into two, with Enugu State having an upper hand in retaining the best assets and machinery.

Due to space, the paper was housed in the old refectory of the defunct Anambra State College of Education, Awka (permanent site). Ironically, the refectory happens to be the same place where the current Managing Director bubbled and shuffled to reggae and old school music as a student in the 80s. According to him, those days when the Government House served as the Anambra State College of Education, from the Ukwu Orji extension that serves as bus terminus today, students hang around the place up to the refectory. The flower paths where student love birds in their numbers strolled towards the refectory, some using the surrounding premises as love nest, is today a building hosting production of a historic newspaper production.            

On return from Enugu, the first change the paper had was a name metamorphosis. It inherited a name, The Spokesman, a name it maintained until the state’s first executive governor, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, christened its daily version National Light in 1992.

Five people had managed the paper before now namely: Mr Ben Obiatuegwu, Dr. Joe-Bel Molokwu, Mr Conrad Bosah (late), Chief Felix Odiari (late) and Sir Obi Nwude (late).

The current Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Sir Chuka Nnabuife, is an award winning journalist, poet and playwright and is the second person outside the organisation to head National Light Newspaper, the first was Chief Felix Odiari (late). Nnabuife came to National Light, with 25 years of mainstream journalism experience.

He was at the Guardian and the defunct Compass Newspapers, among other newspapers. Nnabuife’s coming infused innovations into National Light. He redesigned the newspaper’s outlook, increased its content and pagination to a commercially competitive volume, and the most obvious was a richer content. He launched the papers on the World Wide Web and gave it various online platforms, including putting it on android apps, among other innovations.  

National Light is departmentalised into five departments, namely; Administration, Advertisement, Accounts, Circulation, Editorial, and Production. 

You may not call it a pilgrimage as religious people do every year when they visit the holy lands, but for most staff of National Light, a day without a visit to the Admin Department could suggest absenteeism. The department is the first place to visit by majority of the staff, on every working day – it houses the attendance register.

 Yet, for much of the day, it attracts less human presence. Sometimes it gives the impression that people are not in the department. Its location shares in the blame for this – it is situated beneath the newsroom – a quasi-underground block. The Admin department attracts more attention for its circulars. A circular from this department could have a massive impact on any staff’s career.  

Every media house depends on advertisements to survive. National Light Advert Department has contributed in no small measure to the sustainability of the paper. It is presently the only department in the corporation, where the only man in the department is sandwiched by ladies.

 Seeing the staff of the department solicit adverts could paint the picture of insurance or sales agents. A sustained smile on the face of the staff of the department indicates possession of some goodies for self and the paper. 

When payment, particularly, salary is not forthcoming, all eyes beams on the Accounts Department. This is the National Light’s version of Finance Ministry. The department does many explanations to staff on month ends, till salaries appear. The department is one of the unsocial departments in the organisation. Smiles from this department are cheering news and motivation, but the reverse could mar a beautiful day or week.  

National Light has a department likened to a madhouse. That section is the Editorial Department; it can swing your emotions many times a day. Not only is it the engine room of the paper – ideas that drive the newspaper are generated there apart from rewriting of stories, editing and proof reading.

Some ideas and intentions may attract laughter, call for scrutiny or may end up yielding big stories that attract commendations. When you walk into the newsroom as a staff of the Editorial Department, don’t expect your day to go as scheduled. Extra workload or an urgent assignment can crop up at any time.

One refreshing aspect of this department is that it is always lively. With respect to age and workplace seniority, staff in this department operates on the same plane. But I warn you, in this department, you must be ready to absorb jokes. If you don’t have the heart for senior jokes, you have no business in the newsroom.

 On production days in the newsroom, don’t expect soothing words from the editors, even your colleagues’ temperature could rise high; a break in communication could be misinterpreted; leading to provocative exchanges.                        .

The Production Department has the Graphics and Rotary units. The Graphic section is the design house of the paper. The manuscript typing, design and paper layout are done here. The section presently houses the youngest faces, energetic and hardworking staff in the organisation, but it’s a place you hardly leave maintaining a hearty mood. There is hardly a production day that you leave the Graphics Section without altercations or provocations. To visit the Graphics, you have to develop thick skin. If you have ditched patience out of your dictionary, the unit is the place to regain it.

The Rotary unit is often remembered on days of production. The process of producing National Light ends with this all male section– they operate the printing press. The unit also incorporates the Lithography and the engineering sections. The Lithography section turns the filmed manuscripts into plates for printing, while the engineering unit is in charge of power supply and electrical maintenance.

Circulation Department is close-knit that often you wonder what is going on in that unit. The office is in the middle of the media house, so is its function in the organisation. They are close to be seen, yet so detached to mingle with.

 The circulation unit sees to the distribution of the paper. They collect the paper from the press when the newspaper is published and do the insertion before shipping it out. 

Currently, National Light is published every Thursday. While the paper goes for circulation, the editorial staff meet at 11am same day for review and plan for the next production.                                              

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