Former NUJ Chairman, Dr Akinreti Reminisces on Life at 55

The Deputy Director (Digital Media),
Voice of Nigeria (VON) and erstwhile Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Dr Qasim Akinreti, has recounted his experience about life, key milestones, career and influences in the last fifty-five years.

The veteran broadcast and online journalist expressed happiness about his life and achievements so far as he attained the age of 55.

In a lengthy note titled ‘@55: Counting Allah’s Blessings’, Dr Akinreti chronicles his life and times, including his early years in New Bussa, education, journalism and traveling experience, career, NUJ leadership as well as his mentors.

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@55:Counting Allah’s Blessings

There was a popular refrain in the Holy Qur’an Suratul Rahman saying” How many blessings of Allah can you recount”.

Countless of them I would say. From the gift of birth in the remote village of Borgu kingdom- Kainji, New Bussa, Niger state, through thick and thin in Ibadan, Lagos, Singapore, Nottingham, UK, Florida, US, Portugal, Senegal, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and presently in Abuja.

The Glorious Birth

A couple -Mudathir Oladepo Akinreti, a transporter and Sidikat Leyo Akinreti, a business woman gave birth to me on October 10th, 1967 in Kainji, New Bussa Borgu Kingdom. Both are from. Ile life, state of Osun, Southwest Nigeria.

My father was a Driver in the Niger Dam Authority, the firm that constructed the Kainji Dam in the 60s .


Educational Pursuit

Pa Akinreti returned to Ibadan with his family and enrolled me at St. Stephen’s Primary School, Inalende, Ibadan, Oyo state in 1973. I completed primary education at Seventh Day Adventist Old Ife Road Agodi GRA, Ibadan in 1979.

I proceeded to the Holy Trinity Grammar school, Ibadan and completed secondary education at Loyola College in 1985.

The tertiary education pursuit began in Ile Ife at the famous Oduduwa College for Higher School Certificate, HSC /Advanced Level programme in 1987.

At Oduduwa College, I was appointed the Librarian Prefect. I sat for History, Government and Literature in English. This enables me to secure admission to study for a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education. My area of speciality is “Gifted and Talented Education”. Under the federal educational system policy during Professor Jubril Aminu’s era, the Special Education graduates were prepared to teach at the Suleja Academy – the school for Gifted and Talented Children. Unfortunately, after the exit of Jubril Aminu as the Minister of Education, that educational policy was abandoned. I left teaching temporarily for my first love Journalism.

Nigerian Institute of Journalism, NIJ, Ogba, Lagos was my first port of call to horn my skills after a series of articles I wrote in the secondary school as a member of the Pres Club, remarkably at Holy Trinity Grammar school.

After graduating with a Post Graduate Diploma PGD in Journalism, in 1993, further training in Journalism took me to the Caldecott Media Center Singapore, in 2000, Media Development Network, in 2014, and Poynter Media Institute, Florida, US, 2006, Witts University, South Africa, 2007-Commonwealth Broadcasting, CBA Distance Learning Certificate programme .

As part of my academic aspiration to be a highly resourceful Journalist, I got a Postgraduate scholarship from Voice of Nigeria to study Online Journalism at Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK between 2002 and 2003.

This academic attainment was followed by a Master of Philosophy Degree, Mphil in Mass Communication and a Doctor of Philosophy, PhD, in Mass Communication between 2014 and 2017. Effectively, I became a Journalist and an academic.

Resounding Broadcasting Career

After my internship with Voice of Nigeria, VON in 1993, I was offered a job as Editor 11, in the News Directorate on April 4th, 1994.

During the internship I was tutored by eminent young and old broadcasters, starting from Late Tunji Oseni, Muhammed Okorejior, Ben Egbuna and Mr Roberts. Alhaji Ishola Dada, was then the Assistant Director News.

The young turks then were Mr Ahaziah Sulyman, Ben Shemang, Victor Kodesoh, Okoyomoh, Mr Pius Mebie, Mr Akara , Tolu, and Yemi Fakayejo, Osaze Iyamu, Gabriel Omohinmi among others.

The Amazons who were there for me include, Hajia Sani, Mrs Mary Atolagbe, Funke Atohengbe, Remi Kazeem Jimoh, Juanita Iwuna now Mrs Ashade and the late Ngozi Anibiogu. There were my big sisters and senior colleagues.

Within a short time, I was trained to produce Sixty Minutes, Vonscope, Africa Hour, West Africa Today, Business Day, Africa Newspapers Report and Reporters Diary.

Career Rise

At the early stage of my career, I was given the necessary exposures. Late Yaya Abubakar gave me employment based on track records as an ” Intern “. Victor Kodesoh, Head of Reportorial gave the first report orial opportunity to travel with the NNPC media team to Escravos Forcados, Niger Delta region and Eleme Petro Chemical Complex in Portharcourt.

That was a remarkable experience to remember. It was an opportunity of a lifetime to move around the Niger Delta and have first-hand experience in the Oil and Gas of the Nigerian economy. The effective reportage from the on-shore and offshore platforms sharpen my reportorial skills.

Ben Shemang, Yemi Fakayejo, and Chris Okoyomoh were at various times Head of the Reportorial Corps. They were always there to provide a guide for good Correspondent Reports.

At various times, I covered Education, Politics, Foreign Affairs and the Business desk. I had a long stay in the Business Desk until I was redeployed to the editorial unit.

My longest trip across the world was achieved in the Reportorial Unit. I started with travels to the neighbouring countries of Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana, and later Senegal and Cote D’ Voire for international assignments for VON.

South Africa Highway Africa Conference completed my duty tours of the Continent. I was in South Africa back to back from 2006 to 2010.

The First Africa-EU summit in Portugal was the gateway to start my exploits in international assignments in Europe. The postgraduate years in the UK and the mid-term election in the US capped the Reportorial work in the Americas.

The Journey to Asia and the Middle East began with the Singaporean experience with Hajia Sani through the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association, CBA, Broadcasters Internet Course. In 2008 and 2011, I covered of the Holy pilgrimage in Makkah and Medina. I travelled through Egypt and Morroco.

My last reportorial duty was in the Lagos State Government House, Alausa Ikeja. I covered Governor Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu’s last lap in the” Round House” and the early years of Governor Raji Fashola administration.

Our working tool then is the “Nagra” , a heavy audio equipment. You must have enough strength to carry this equipment. You are also duty-bound to flag sections of reel-to-reel tapes for sound bites.

The Editorial Desk in the Newsroom was a perfect place to learn effective writing skills for an international audience. Mr Pius Mebie, Akara, Tolu, Chris Okoyomoh, Hajia Sani, Atolagbe, Atohengbe and the late Ngozi Anibogu were News Editors, I worked with as Sub -Editors.

The tasks were listening to BBC, and VOA news, transcribing, and sourcing stories from NAN bulletins.

Here you must be able to listen and write fast. The introduction of the internet into the newsroom then makes work very easy in the late 90s and early 2000.

Many thanks to the Assistant Director News, who redeploy me to the Current Affairs Desk. I went through the tutelage of the Late Mr Roberts. Udoh Etefiah, Hajia Sani, Funke Atohengbe, and Bartholomew Ikiebe were “Deans ” of Vonscope and Sixty Minutes”, programmes. Ahaziah Sulyman and Francis Ehikhase handled the Sports Desk.

Muhammed Hamman, Osaze Iyamu, Olajide Zubair, Juanita Iwuna were some of the golden voices of news presentation.

Mr Taiwo Alimi, the Director General, DG , had a vision of a multimedia international radio station. He set the ball rolling for the Online news unit for VON. The unit now metamorphosed into the Digital Media Department today. Hajia Sani, Mrs Mary Atolagbe, myself , Akin Adumasi, Amina Fagbemi were some of the pioneer staff of the unit.

Mallam Abubajar Jijiwa, DG after Alimi gave necessary support. It is indeed a good story for the Digital media department today under Osita Okechukwu, the current DG.

My promotion from level 09 Editor 1, to present grade level 16, Deputy Director came through hard work and discipline .

My Service to NUJ

At the inception of my broadcasting career, in 1994, I joined the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ,Voice of Nigeria chapel. I rise from Financial Secretary to Vice Chairman between 1996 to 2002.

This stewardship propels me to the state council of the NUJ. I started as a committee member for education/ training, website management, and publication to be elected as Chairman, of NUJ Lagos state council in 2017.

This was a remarkable public service I ever cherish from 2017 to 2020. VON management and staff gave me all support needed to achieve resounding success.

I later served as a member of the local organising committee to host the international conference for the International Press Institute in 2018. I travelled with the Nigerian delegation to the IPI conference in Switzerland in 2019. Today, I am a proud member of IPI and the Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE.

That has been the journey so far.