Excitement went unabated as Ray Power 100.5 FM came on
air in 1993, so followed by Minaj Broadcast International as a counter
to its television arm, African Independent Television. But these
heralds of private media broadcast ownership just like their prints
counterparts have not in any way changed the lot of the

journalist nor producers. Even as it would have served the purpose of
their owners in self aggrandisement or ill-prepared venturesomeness;
and there remains the social impact that media people are doing a good
job guarding popular interest therefore ensuring social accountability.

I was not into it yet. I simply longed to be in, but it meant
breaking out of some of the confinements in order to be professionally
part of the exciting world of private broadcast media. The major reason
why I would miss all the excitement was simply because Nigeria's
university system had and might still have a way of making knowledge
gained from training impracticable. That is to say vocation which is
the greatest need for a communication media scholar to possess was
simply absent in my skills as a Communication Arts graduate from one
those hurriedly contrived campuses. Therefore an average employer would
spot the difference between mass communication and communication arts.

could not even become a professional music artiste, because I did not
acquire enough skill to even think of surviving in Lagos, where Ray
Power 100.5, Nigeria's premier private radio station took off. The
airwaves was saturated with the voices of the likes of Steve Kadiri,
Kenny Ogungbe and D1 on the brand new radio. They seemed to have become
replacements for the like of Jones Usen, of Radio Nigeria 3.I simply
gave up after trying to corner Jones to listen to me at a friends
place, while he was new in retirement. That was about the time Ray
Power increased my longing to be in broadcasting..

publishing firm I worked for simply made things worse. On a salary of
USD$30, by today's equivalent, I could not even cope with a traveling
allowance of about USD40, to cover three states in the enchanting
North-East zone of Nigeria. But in every two weeks I would cover the
zone to sell a government sponsored publication to corrupt local
council civil servants, who could divide an average subscription fee of
about USD1,800 under the table. My colleagues were deep into, while I
carried on dreaming just to work for a broadcast media outfit. I
resigned in protest after spending more than a month in Damaturu,
capital of Yobe, without adequate nutrition, and surviving off Potiskum
girl., whom I had sex with every other night.

It was simply
the trend amongst entry level corporate graduates of the mid to late
90s. Bosses owed salaries up to six months; and in the media where I
belong salary arrears simply ran up to six months. My boss could not
see any reason why I reached him home at to get my salary, for the
Easter celebration of 1998. General Abacha was in power, after General
Babangida stepped aside for a civilian stooge; and life was not not
easy. Quartered at a very high monthly rent of USD8 a month in a YMCA
block, I got kicked out of a friends apartment, when I could not afford
it any longer. On the street again like it was in the very early 90s, I
finally put up with a friend from the same ethnic group.

I wrote for the Diet Newspapers founded by the present Governor Of
Delta State South-South zone;, whose sole aim for setting up, might
have been to promote his political ambition, especially as an Abacha
boy. I left there after six moths without satisfactory payment of
earnings. Fortunately for me General Romeo Ishola whom I met by stroke
of luck, paid my way to Enugu, capital of Nigeria's Eastern Region in
the 60s.

It was in the course of a job offer by the first Managing Director of
Minaj Broadcast International, where I work now as a producer. It meant
by some Design I had to work for the first manager of one of Nigeria's
foremost private media outfit, before I could smell a broadcast house.
My experience was simply pathetic, because he is still owing me six
months salary. If I had known I would have settled down to shooting
musical videos. Indeed my only qualifications to become a producer then
on two productions were my ingenuity at creating original stories out
of mere challenges he thrust at me; and my maiden membership of a
camera crew. That is when I was supposed to double as the Assistant to
the Executive Producer of a biographical movie on Rev. Fr. Michael
Iweren Tansi, beatified by the present pope in 1998

I arrived
Lagos, fare fully paid by Minaj Broadcast International's Executive
Vice Chairman, who appealed in the sweetest of voices that the
broadcast outfit needed me more than ever. Not minding the fact that
back in Enugu, where Minaj Cable operated I heard stories of how staff
were owed salary. I simply ignored that tradition common to most
broadcast media houses in Nigeria. Except may be Channels Television,
where the policy is all about small size and professional management.
So after the ceremonies of interviews and being applauded for my
brilliant answers, I came to get to used to be owed salary in the first
three months after resumption. It is no secret and it is a lot of pain,
that the media in Nigeria, especially the private one are simply
ruining the lives of talented Nigerians. Therefore there is a certain

It is simply the fact some older professionals,
who left units like the government Nigerian Television Authority or
Federal Radio Corporation, before the Obasanjo government, because of
non-payment of salaries flooded the private ones like Minaj and AIT.
Regarded as experienced they might still be occupied with
misappropriating money for their selfish gains. Moreso the moment the
owners of these outfits realise this, they also device means of taking
away any money coming in via commercials.

Another factor responsible is the issue of ethnic politicking. The
owners of private media were at a point under real pressure from the
extended families to employ their kinsmen, who might know next to
nothing about the profession. Therefore everyone including their
kinsmen get occupied with diverting company income. Hence
discrimination and fraud may come to remain Nigeria's private media
most potent enemies. An average media professional suffers and
sometimes gets ruined by these two factors. That is notwithstanding
they are also the prime culprits in Nigeria's bad fortunes.

Indeed journalists, who do well in Nigeria, might simply be for luck or
strong patronage by the economic and political powers. And it is less
dangerous, only now that democracy may have enhanced the performance of
the media, especially in the post-Abacha era. And going back in time we
can remember when Dele Giwa the Editor-in-Chief of Newswatch Magazine
was bombed. But that would help radicalize the practice, which became
really potent from 1999.

On the whole media people are doing a
good job, though surviving mainly on patronage. We are exacting social
impact that has however not been really effective because of low income
for the professional and even the establishments. Many communication
schools graduates have come to find jobs, though they hardly get paid
for a job that a few serious one do. But the few conscientious one are
simply carrying the flag of media practice in Nigeria.

By Efefiong Akpan - Sixfei.mediabroadcast.com Lagos Nigeria.