Sir Chuka Nnabuife is the managing director and chief executive officer, Anambra Newspapers & Printing Corporation (ANPC), publisher of National Light, Ka O Di taa and SportslightXTRA newspapers. In this interview with BLESSING NNABUIFE, he spoke on how the corporation has been transformed under the Obiano administration. Excerpts:
WHAT is your assessment of developments in Anambra State within the last seven years she has been under Governor Willie Obiano’s administration?
Anambra has been on steady progress in the last seven years. It has been on a steady economic progress. The state has been moving on a trajectory towards having a robust economy, investment in strategic development infrastructure, strategic microeconomics directions such as employment in relevant areas that will strenghten the economy, grassroots development, infrastructure wise and human mobilisation wise, commitment to security of lives and property, commitment to making the populace feel, have and enjoy a sense of belonging as ndi Anambra.
The state has been undergoing strengthened economic directions under the government of His Excellency, Dr Willie Obiano. Anambra has also been maintaining all the strides that it has been enjoying before Dr. Obiano came into power such as giant strides in education, road network, merchandising and trading; those areas Obiano has upped the ante in that direction.
Anambra has also been emphatically up in total human capital development. Because of that, even in the last seven years that there have been three states of inflation, three downturns in the economy in Nigeria, Anambra has not felt it. These are the highpoints of the last seven years that Dr Willie Obiano has been in government in Anambra State. There has also been a very high sense of peace and working towards peace.
Even when conditions would want to turn the state government away from blissful peace, the government, with political sagacity, made the state peaceful so that human lives, businesses and economy will move in good direction. There has been political contentment of all interests; even the vexed ones and the ones in support. There has been friendly accord between the people that are exposed in politics, among others.
In what specific ways have the Obiano administration made impact on your organisation for the past seven years?
Before Obiano came, I was on stead but with the coming of Obiano, I came on board and before then, the newspaper house was highly challenged. It was very behind in output, in quality of output, in content, in manpower development and in the total frame of the corporation. It was like a no go area; an axis of concern but with Obiano’s coming, I came on board. God has made it and Governor Obiano was used by God to save and salvage Anambra Newspapers &Printing Corporation (ANPC), a newspaper that was at a time, three months out of publication, several months out of salary; a newspaper that will publish once and go out of circulation for weeks; a newspaper house that was marked by internal ramblings; marked by one petition after another ,marked by forests and tickets all over the premises and moribund infrastructure; a place where workers finished working after 30 years and they never had pension or gratuity for 25-26 years.
If you come to the organisation now, you won’t remember that those things were part of what happened in Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation. We are now publishing daily, sometimes; we even have the air publications in a day and have breaking news. We’re on the streets every day. We have three publications every week; that is three different titles.
When I came, we had National Light Newspaper. It’s now published and presented in a very contemporary modern package design wise and content wise. It is competing. It has won over 28 awards, national awards, state awards and local awards, and it has mentions both locally and internationally.
We have National Light Newspaper, Ka O Di Taa, the only Igbo newspaper anywhere on earth. It has also given birth to our weekly SportsLightXTRA. All of these came under the regime of Governor Obiano. If you come within the organisation, we have peace. We have the best garden in Awka. We have the best setting for intellectual activity and people come and say wow! How has it happened?
Because they know this place was surrounded by forests; but that is the kind of direction he gave. We have a newspaper that people read every day. We are one of the best sites to go for news about the east and news in Igbo.
The newspaper itself has now a healthy workforce, including young men and women who now pursue journalism and when they leave here and go anywhere, they can hold their heads high in any newsroom. We have a high hope with what His Excellency is doing of getting the best equipment anybody can get.
The pension that no government since the creation of Anambra Newspaper have not done, Governor Obiano, in 2018, cleared the pension and gratuity of all the workers that worked and retired in Anambra Newspaper and Printing Corporation. Now, everybody who work and retire in National Light gets his pension and gratuity as at when due. We have an organisation that people wish to come and understudy and use as a reference point for transformation of newspaper.
In November, 2020, during the conference of Nigeria Guild of Editors, in Sokoto, the presentation I made on National Light Newspaper was used as one of the reference points of how to wake up and transform a moribund newspaper. People were using National Light more like a curse word to people who are working there. But now, people walk up and tell the world, “I work in National Light”.
That is a big transformation and it has given us the freedom to operate; the same thing he did in Anambra Brocasting Service (ABS). The same National Light that people were talking about runs an ICT Enterprise Center that people and some of the organisations come to do things there ; even for registrations for exams, etc.
You need to come and visit and see for yourself. That is the transformation a man who has vision and a man who has a goal and who knows what running a good media house will be and that’s what the governor has done for us.
Under your stewardship, what has been the major highpoints in your organisation and the challenges?
The major highpoint in my organisation is having a boss, a governor who gives you freedom to implement healthy innovations, a governor who gives you directions to express your professional acumen, a government that has a healthy, positive intent towards making the media part of governance.
We have a government that provides the relevant information. This government, no matter how anybody appraise it, in the entire seven years that His Excellency, Dr Obiano has been in power, we have never had a cantankerous government . We have never had a government that presents us in the media the need to struggle over bad press.
Even when there are issues that need to be tackled, there are always very healthy information to tackle it. I have never had a brief by the government to go against anybody because he is against nobody. Even when people want to push him out, he never did. I have had a government that is a perfect example of an encourager, motivator and fatherly government that inspires us to do the best and we are doing the best in newspapering.
What areas would you want the governor to improve on in either your organisation or generally in the state?
I believe that with ultramodern equipment for printing newspapers, for running this online that we have been doing well and a good touch in our manpower to be able to attract the best of hands because media is a dynamic area; people who are competitive and who are knowledgeable of how it is done elsewhere; a good momentum towards attracting them with those things, National Light, which is Nigeria’s longest thriving state owned newspaper will achieve those things that its founding fathers like Nnamdi Azikiwe aspired to achieve.
National Light is one of the lowest hanging feet any administration in Anambra can just look into and make a very great governance mileage and commercial mileage from, just equipment and relevant man power and the same kind of encouragement that His Excellency, Willie M. Obiano has been giving us.