…My greatest desire is to see Nigeria lead in content dev’t, production, talent mgt, others
Beyond the usual hazards of the journalism profession, Adaora Onyechere, AIT Kakaki presenter, in this exclusive interview with DOOSUUR IWAMBE, talks about her career, challenges as a broadcaster, and why she is finally venturing into politics.
As a TV gal, what has been your experience so far?
That’s an interesting question. It’s been quite a cocktail of experience yet most importantly, the experiences have become the shaping moments of my life, the birthing of my strengths, a learning curve all the way.
Been on kaakaki, the African Voice was one the most pulsating and perhaps thought provoking seconds because there were times when burdened with certain national issues or dialogue, there was a dire need to see that things will work ultimately for the good of every Nigerian;
the belief that every step we took to bring the issues to the fore by discussing and helping bring clarity to these issues would aid in finding solutions.
As far as TV was concerned, the most engaging and emotional for me was hosting and producing Gender Agenda which also was on AIT, reaching out to women and going through their lives and finding a way to intervene on the conditions and cases that affects them daily.
How do you work under stress and time constraints?
I thrive under pressure, however in other to beat time and deadlines, I would always set time lines and deadlines for whatever project I am on and that guides me, giving me control on the output and the method of delivery.
However, for the TV, it was quite engaging and also time was everything especially for live shows. Wen I was on Kaakaki, which was a live show, I was required to be in the studio for 5am every day.
My waking hour was 3.30am everyday. It was tough, sometimes I barely slept more than 3 hours a day. There were days I woke up with matters in form of migraine; some days, I was half asleep.
For a three hour show, you have to prepare, dedicate your mind to been on ground and abreast of issues.
When I wasn’t on air, I was doing research, reaching out finding the alternative background, investigating issues and sometimes going on fact finding journeys. Yet in a way, I truly think I wouldn’t have had it any other way because these all were the shaping rocks.
Who inspires you?
My Mother. She’s the strongest, most devoted mother I know. She believes in staying true to what you believe in and creating opportunities for everyone who come in contact with her.
Above all, she was full of love yet will not fail to put in check when you take her sensitivity for granted. My Dad, well, because I am the apple of my dad’s eye, I have never seen a more protective father, a more intelligent man and one of the transparent persons I have known.
My father will not compromise his values. Finally, I can’t help not mentioning three of my greatest inspiration of all times: Deborah from the book of judges in the Bible, the only female judge in the Bible who brought peace to Israel for 40 years and Queen Esther who sacrificed herself to serve and deliver her people also from the Bible.
Finally, Sophia Abdi – Noor, a Kenyan Gender Advocate who influenced her people greatly through representing the voice of the oppressed and women.
She became the first female parliamentarian from her constituency, she was spurred on by the need to look at policy development for her people in other to engineer productivity.
Have you progressed in your career as you had hoped?
Significantly, more so than I expected. It all happened like I was jet skiing. Yet I believe sometimes in life God plans our destinies the way his plans are set out, more so when you know where you are going and what your purpose in life is.
Eight (8) years on a air and it has inspired the impact especially in the areas of Advocacy and social innovation and the policy thrust of governance. For me, I believe also television is time wise.
On the other hand, the broadcast industry in Nigeria has the potential to be much more especially in the areas of talent development and content.
The industry is an avalanche of both the good, the bad and the ugly and only those who have a true definition of what they seek to influence truly makes the mark. The issue of ownership also comes into context.
The NBC and BON precisely, what really regulates the ownership of television and radio stations and how unbiased and effective has it been?
The sanity of the public and the sanctity of News and information can only be streamlined into context by standardisation of the industry especially as it regards the branding of Nigeria, accuracy, objectivity and professionalism.
For me, one of my greatest desire is to see Nigeria take the lead in Africa in content development and production, talent management, training and proper data management, digital/New media. There is a huge void in Nigeria.
Training and development of talent in Nigeria and that for me is something I am passionate about looking into the future where we can have a state of the art all rounded Media Academy with the ability to engage the best resource persons in the world, with the possibility of practical learning and exchange programmes from across the world.
What has been your most challenging moment as a broadcaster?
Waking up by 3.30am to get started for my day. It’s not something I ever got used too. I think I am still trying get my body back into a normal sleep cycle and insomnia took over.
However, it made me more disciplined with plans and taught me how to multi-task, from been on TV to production, to running my foundation which is close to my heart especially as 100s and 100s of women and children depended on me to see that their lives count.
Now the other frustrating issue for me was seeing the lacking compassion, dedication and the confusion in governance.
Sometimes literally while on air, there would be an incoherent, Ill-equipped repertoire representation of an organisation, institution, Government and the intentional calculation to mislead the public almost gives me a blackout.
There were times when it was obvious that some representations had no connection whatsoever with their primary beneficiaries or even understood leadership and that made us re-evaluate our value system as human beings and as a nation, what really matters?
Is it obligation to do right by the people you serve, the citizenry or is it a self-righteous, self-help agenda for the benefit of a few? It is obvious that if Nigeria must get it right, character, ethics, our value system needs a total overhaul, mental revolution.
Recently you declared your intention to venture into politics, what prompted the idea?
It’s not enough to just sit at and cast aspersions, make recommendations without wanting to truly see how we can work together to bring about the changes that we truly desire.
Working closely and been truly committed to seeing a new Nigeria, it became a burden on my heart to do what we can with when we are able to especially at the grassroots.
I believe that the failure of government is the inability to connect with the most important status-quo in the governance model, those at the rural level.
There is a huge disconnect with what is been done and what needs to be done and those who are supposed to do it. There is a lack of love, commitment and dedication to the one of the productive population in Nigeria.
I have a passion to be a voice for those who are insignificant and under-privileged, those who are considered the non-essential of our society because whether we like it or not, what we leave undone today will be the catalyst for Nigeria tomorrow. We are ONE and the same.
I believe in an egalitarian society where every family should be able to have 3 square meals a day. I believe in Love, Love your neighbour as yourself, giving hope and bring it into fruition through action.
I have a quote I made when I was in school back then – “To be the person you want to be is to waste the person you are”.
There’s so much I can say and cry about but we need those who believe in Nigeria more so those who truly can bear the burden of others to become mainstreamed into politics and governance and that’s why I decided to run for the state assembly.
You cannot give what you don’t have; starting from where it all begins is the most important, understanding their journey, growing to unlearn the stereotypes and see the reality and truly priotise the policy development according to their needs.
What do you intend to do differently when voted into office?
Traditional politics has always been about using people, failed promises and enriching of self as seen time and time again.
I come with love, an open essential in spirit to be one like they are, no airs, no alienation, and no unnecessary bureaucracy; a leadership that can communicate with those she represents in order to put the desired policies and intervention into place.
A woman who is here to serve and be used by her people to serve their core demands. I will also look at the uniformity of interest and mandates of others regardless of party, in other harmonise interventions and expand productivity.
Like I always say, it’s about collaboration not competition. In every way, one for the other and together we can.
What is your take on low representation of women in politics?
It’s almost the case of the more we look, the less we see. It has dwindled drastically over the years and has no presence in some areas especially at the rural level, institutional representation and at the parliament.
It will be foolhardy for anyone to say women are not the bane of development for this continent.
54 countries make the countries in Africa with a relatively low growth in population except for countries like Uganda and Nigeria where the population margin or ratio is almost 5 percent ahead of other African countries with women been the largest ratio of that population.
So it is mind boggling to have less representation of the gender that makes up the highest ratio in population. An egalitarian society starts with equity in service and opportunities.
The policy and development model for Africa can only be enhanced if we look at mainstreaming the population in-charge of birthing nurturing and building and most importantly mentoring at the family level.
Our productivity as a nation can only be wholesome if all sectors of leadership and decision making incorporates the essence of women becoming part of that statistics.
Women should also learn to take charge of their next generation of girls by leading right. You can only lead right when you make yourself available, work the talk and work collectively with the men to de-emphasise the barriers.
Politics entails a lot of mid night meetings and other activities. Do you have the capacity to cope with the trend?
I think it is relative. Politics does not have to be nocturnal, it depends on the understanding and the importance of the gathering or the meetings.
The biggest political plans are concluded at the weekend hours of the morning when the decisions of the after hours at night has festered and vice versa.
Yet what it means is that the priority of those decisions come into play when thinking and considering the time of the discussions, it should be about the purpose of the discussion and not necessarily personal intentions but for the benefit of the end result.
What is your experience with social media?
As great as I think it is and as indispensable as it has become, I do think there are odds in as much as the gains. Issues of fake news, misinformation, false impression, impersonations amongst others.
Overtime it has grown to be a source of image Branding and social classification for young people.
The social media has created an environment filled with more superficial people, false identifications and an addiction to comparative life style leading to a higher number of misled young people, misled on values, priorities and lacking in originality. Marriages have collapsed because of social media.
People have been scammed, duped because of social media. Wrongful arrests have been made because of social media.
On the gains, it has given young people, budding entrepreneurs an edge in starting their businesses, building viable platforms of engagement and truly creating an amazing platform for networking and business opportunities and yes true love sometimes happen on social media.
How is the internet changing political broadcasting?
The Age of Internet is the age of speed, access and variety. For content development, it’s given a wider reach to research and network.
To the traditional media especial print, it has brought about a new indefatigable competitor which increasingly has migrated a lot of hard copy readers to the Internet and social media.
However, I do think that the two can exist side by side in more ways than one, filling in the gaps where the others lacks especially in terms of readership.
Your favourite food?
Fresh Fish pepper soup with sweet potatoes anytime any day. My favourite soups are Ofe Owerri (comes with mushrooms, fresh stockfish, dry prawns, achara (a special kind of leaf found in the South East, quite crunchy,) with any protein of choice). Then Afang soup 24/7 if I could.
How do you unwind?
Watching Biographies, Swimming, Yoga, yes cooking. I love to cook and I cook well. Sometimes, I invent my own recipes especially when it comes to salads and grills. I also like to be creative with cocktails. I also love writing and good at it.