To mark his birthday, SUMMIT POST has interview session with Pa Hussain Abdullahi, veteran journalist, who said, he was very privilege to be a journalist. Pa Abdullahi’s journalism carrier traversed the Nigerian Citizen, the famous New Nigerian Newspaper, Kaduna. Broadcasting Corporation of Nigeria (BON). He covered the Nigerian Civil War of 1967 to 1970, series of military coup and counter coups, Festival for Arts and Culture FESTAC 1977. He retired in 1993, as Director News and Current Affairs of Adamawa Broadcasting Corporation.
Pa Abdullahi went down memory lane to compare what worked for journalists of his era.
I was among the pioneer staffs of the New Nigerian Newspaper (NNN), after a brief stint with the Nigerian Citizen. I was with the New Nigerian Newspaper between 1966 and 1969. I was with the NNN, when the first military coup of 15 January, 1966 took place, and all through the problems that ensued after the coup. I was among the journalists that covered events of that era. We were energetic and hard working. We were all over the place. That period was a very busy time for us. Surprisingly enough, the military were friendly. They didn’t trouble us at all. They speak to us freely,and we had no problem performing our duties. Kaduna then was a very busy city. There were hotels, industries and other businesses. In fact, Kaduna was booming. I covered the pogrom that followed the first coup, a situation that saw to the mass exedus of the Igbos back to the South East.
Even the second military coup, which some people call northern coup in Ibadan in July 1966, I was among the journalists that covered it. When the Nigerian Civil eventually broke out, we were the journalists at the forefront, while other were at the rare.
Then the busiest news mediums in the north then were New Nigerian Newspaper and Radio/Television Kaduna. We were all out to ensure things were done properly. We at the New Nigerian Newspaper, we worked hard. Even KTV also worked hard. So it was throughout the Civil War.
After the second coup brought Gen Yakubu Gowon on board, we covered the events of his regime. I know Gen Gowon very well and he knows me. He was a leader we were all proud of, even till today. He is a man I will love to be like. It was God that gave Gen Gowon to Nigeria because of that, we cooperated with him. It was unfortunate he was overthrown in a coup. That is military politics. We covered Gen Murtala Muhammed that succeeded him throughout the six months he lasted in power. Even when Gen Olusegun Obasanjo, his chief of staff succeeded him, we still maintained our cordiality with his regime.
When Gen Obasanjo handed over to Alhaji Shehu Shagari on 1st October, 1979, we continued to report his activities. What didn’t we cover? Military Government, industries. The difference between the journalists of my era and today’s journalists is dedication, and in the case of New Nigeria, we were well motivated to put in our best. The management took good care of us. The Managing Director at that time was a British Man. He was a very hardworking and intelligent man. He knew virtually everyone in NNN. He was ever prepared to come down to our level to ensure that we knew what we were doing. The NNN was very popular at the time. Indded, people will come from Lagos and other parts of Nigeria to give us their news. When Nigeria hosts foreign heads of state and dignitaries, we cover them. We covered the massive reconstruction work under Gen Gowon. When Gowon left, FESTAC 77 came during Gen Obasanjo. Once again, I was among the journalists that covered the event. I was the one that edited FESTAC 77 news for Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON).
When Gen Murtala created seven additional states in 1976, I was one of the seven editors posted out to head the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation Stations in those states. In my own case, I was posted to Yola, then Gongola (now Adamawa and Taraba). When Gongola was broken into two, I was one of the staff who stayed back to train the staff. By the grace of God, I was able to stay till 1993. I left as Director News and Current Affairs, Adamawa State Broadcasting Corporation.
I thank God He gave me the opportunity to be a journalist. I worked with good journalists like the late Chief Press Secretary to Gen Sani Abacha, David Attah, who was a close friend and a colleague. I also worked with Dan Agbese. It was wonderful been a journalist.
In a tribute, Pa Abdullahi’s son, Moses Abdullahi described his father thus “One man upon who’s life i have seen God’s faithfulness. A man who believes in the perfect will of God and the unity of Nigeria. A father indeed and a friend. A veteran journalist and a civil servant. One of the very few that covered the Nigerian civil war and the FESTAC 77. You have proven to us, your children that integrity pays. Fatima, Moses, Abraham, ur baby Deborah and your grand children celebrate u and God’s faithfulness upon your life.today we join ur friends and well wishes to wish u Happy Birthday.”