The mass media these days is very much different from what it was in the twentieth century. From the times when newspapers looked colourless and quite boring, to the times when Newspapers are now a burst of colours and beautifully designed stories in print. Nduka Obaigbena plays a significant role in the growth of Nigerian media through these stages. One needs not to love the man to acknowledge this.
Nduka Obaigbena was born on the 14th of July 1959. Although a native of Owa kingdom in present-day Delta State, he was born in Ibadan in the Western region. His father was a world war veteran who fought in the Second World War; while his mother worked as a chief nursing officer in the then Mid-west state.
His parents were lovers and advocates of education, and ensured that Nduka got the best education they could afford. He attended Government College, Ughelli and Edo College, Benin City. After obtaining his Senior School Certificate, he proceeded to the University of Benin for his first degree in Creative Arts.
The next stop was the School of Business at the University of the Witwatersrand. After that, Obaigbena went to the University of Cape Town, South Africa for an Advanced Management Programme. It would seem that the young man knew that he would venture into business at some point and was doing all to ensure that he was ready for that stride when the time came.
Brief journalism career
Not much is said about Obaigbena’s career as he had what some might describe as an interesting but brief career in journalism before he started owning media businesses. He worked as the Nigeria Representative for Time Magazine, New York, USA, as well as for the NewsWeek Magazine, New York. At different times, He also worked as Chief Executive, Nigerian Advertising Limited; London, UK; Consultant (Nigerian Section), Michael Jarvis and Partners, St James, London; Africa Regional Representative, Time Magazine, New York; and several others. He was also the African Representative, Time & Fortune Magazine at some point.
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The first media business Obaigbena floated was This Week Limited, Lagos, which he started in 1986 and worked as publisher and editor-in-chief for about 5 years. By the time he was entering his 30s, Obaigbena decided to set up ThisDay newspapers instead, as a daily publication on Nigeria’s newsstands.
ThisDay newspapers and other ventures
Expectedly, Obaigbena started as the Editor-in-Chief of the paper and led it through the wobbly days common to the media business, especially for one that started operating during a military regime. Even in this heated environment in which the media had to operate in, he was still pioneering disruptive changes in the print industry.
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ThisDay newspapers started without owning a printing press of its own, something that many others were afraid to do before. The paper would thus have single editions printed in multiple locations in the exact same format. This method would later become a standard for national newspapers.
Obaigbena also blazed the trail in colour printing. Again, this was a move that some other newspapers had experimented in the past and were unable to sustain. But Obaigbena started and kept up the momentum, making his paper stand out at the Newsstands. Before long, others started colour printing as well.
Some of the other things which he did were re-christening rejoinders as “Right of Reply”, thus making it a right for the subjects to reply. He introduced the use of computers among journalists, making it compulsory for his reporters to file their reports electronically. This was a tall order that most newspaper houses at the time had not dared to enforce fully. He also introduced daily publication of the stock market prices, which would later become an industry standard.
If anyone had thought that newspaper publishing was all Obaigbena had in mind, it did not take long for them to realize otherwise. In the year 2000, Obaigbena founded the now popular annual ThisDay awards, to honour those who made contributions to Nigerian society in Global business, the Political arena, Women of distinction, and Leading figures in the Nigerian education sector.
In 2006, he added another feather – the This Day Music and Fashion Festival. This Music fest features several local and international musical acts.
Arise TV and others interests
In 2013, Nduka Obaigbena ventured into the broadcast media by launching Arise News – an International TV news channel with an African focus. He signed a contract with Globe Cast for satellite transmission on Astra 2g for broadcast on the UK Sky platform, and to Hot Bird for cable distribution, with bases in London, Ney York City, Johannesburg, and Lagos.
He is also the founder of the Arise Magazine and Arise Fashion Week (which has been featured a couple of times at the New York and Paris Fashion Weeks).
Obaigbena, has occupied other positions in public service. He served on the Relief Committee on Bomb Explosion in Lagos. Obaigbena was also a member of the Vision 2010 Committee, between 1997 and 1998. He was a senatorial candidate in 1992, on the platform of the now-defunct National Republican Convention (NRC), and also served as Special Adviser to the National Chairman of the party later on.
He was elected a member of the constitutional conference in 1994. He has served as a member of the Nomination Committee of the Young Global Leaders of the World Economic Forum; and is a regular attendee and sessions moderator for the World Economic Forum
He is a fellow of the National Union of Journalists and the Nigeria Guild of Editors. He is also Chairman of the newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) as well as chairman of the Nigeria Press Organization
He is a regular attendee and sessions moderator for the World Economic Forum and has served as a member of the Nominating Committee of the Young Global Leaders of the World Economic Forum. He is Chairman of the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN) as well as Chairman of the Nigerian Press Organisation – comprising the NPAN, the National Union of Journalists and the Nigerian Guild of Editors where he is a fellow.