NEWS

RADIO…MY LIFE!By Ben Shemang


I should forget radio? No! More so when it’s WORLD RADIO DAY? Radio has influenced my life so much. I bought my very small shortwave radio set in 1977, it was my second year in secondary school. Before then my uncle Mr Mathias Shemang, late District Head of Bondon in Kaduna State, who read French language in ABU Zaria/France had a very big transistor radio. It was from there each time he was listening to it in his room we outside would hear it but mark you hearing or listening to radio that time never meant I understood what they were saying. He’ll listen to Radio France International and Radio Cameroon in particular, then BBC and Deutsche Welle Radio. I was then in primary school when he did that.So when I bought my own set I had fun. I smuggled it into school but made sure I never used it where my seniors would see and seized it. In fact no student knew I had a very small radio set with me.When General Olusegun Obasanjo hand over power to a democratically elected president Shehu Shagari my radio listenership increased. I could follow programmes very well via radio.I knew call signs and signature tunes of radio stations at home and abroad like Radio Nigeria Lagos. I recall as if it’s just yesterday that before network news there was about two minutes philosophical sayings or expressions (the words of our elders are words of wisdom. The wise man hears and gets wiser). The talking drum was used to render the message. The producer was Adedun Ogunloye. I grew up to meet him in Radio House Ikoyi Lagos. Thank you sir. How do I forget VOA request programme with a presenter like George Colinace. I hope I got his name right. The joy of it was that he was always battling greatly to pronounce African names effectively. Imagine George pronouncing Ugochukwu Nwachukwu! I salute you wherever you are. I was a salient follower of your show!  Radio Elwa? Hmm coming from Kwara State where I had my secondary was in Kwara…Okene then! I enjoyed your melody. Today you’re still one. Radio Plateau Jos where is that blind Professor Bitrus Gani? A  medical doctor when I was listening to news about you from Jos yeah you made me happy just as it was soul soothing listening to that your voice. They’ll play Hosanna songs (Good news to you, good news to me). Prof wonders will never end…hear me and listen to my top breaking news. And here it is…your wife Professor Theresa taught me English Language in ABU. I thank that family.I never knew I would have anything to do with Radio France International and Deutsche Welle Radio of Germany, Voice of Israel and South African Broadcasting Corporation any my state Voice of Nigeria had MOUs and it turned out that I was on either exchange programmes there, gone for training or stories are picked from me. And you want me to forget radio? For what when the globe is marking World Radio Day? What took me to about 30 countries? Radio! Rabin White of the BBC thank you . I’m so happy you trained me.I can’t throw Akoko Ndem away! Ben Egbuna DG FRCN and then Director News VON you just died not yet buried! Rest in peace you gave me professionalism. Tunji Oseni you were spokeman for President Olusegun Obasanjo after being OPEC Image Maker. You, Ishola Dada, Mohammed Okoriojior made great impacts on me via radio. Mrs Stella Bassy, the madam who insisted that you must get it right before you go! Mrs Ekpo Obadam soft boss that you won’t want to offend because of her kindness! Engineer Godwin Ogwu, the radio wizard who performed wonders with one transmitter for years. Through your magic fingers we were heard loud and clear. Mallam Abubakar B Jijiwa Mr Do Good. Your legacies still stand in VON.And how can I forget Radio Nigeria Kaduna and it English language programme DEMOCRACY IN ACTION? Or you want me to forget JAKAR MAGORI and that insightful rendition in Hausa language? I remember my Boss Mallam Yaya Abubakar! He was Director General Voice of Nigeria much later. That Fulani man groomed me. He identified me very early. He never saw my being a Christian and his bring a Muslim as a hindrance. He called me Running-Mate all through. Another Radio Nigeria man was AlhajiYusuf Lawal Saulawà after radio Nigeria Kaduna he joined Voice of Nigeria with Yaya Abubakar. He also had a nickname for me – “Deputy” or “Deputy C-inC”. These two media gurus I never knew I would meet them physically but I kept carrying them about in my small shortwave radio or they were always following me here and there through the airwaves.Just tell me how and why I’ll forget those who attracted me to radio some up to know we have not met and I don’t know where they’re. Their memories linger on in my mind. So the list goes on! Where is Halilu Getso? Is Nyakamin Ndapa there? What about Onyeka Chikelechi ( Isah Amin Kekechi)? John Adukwu you made the list. Isa Edime! We never met but about five years back I saw you obituary and you ended up being a king! My face refused to leave your photo seeing your obituary photo in Radio House Abuja. Kingsley Honuhashi ha! You’re on the list. Layiwola Lawal we covered the aborted June 12 Presidential election of 1993 together in Abeokuta. It was great meeting you. I still recall and smile at a very simple expression by a late Governor of Kano Abubakar Rimi who belonged to the Progressives Governors then. The breaking  of accord between the Nigeria People’s Party of Zik and Waziri Ibrahim’s Great Nigeria People’s Party on one hand and then the mud slinging between Unity Party of Nigeria led by Awolowo and the Nigeria Peoples Party of Shehu Shagari on the other. Governor Abubakar Rimi who never belonged to any of the political parties but the Redemption Party accused the governing party of Shagari of meddling and pognosing into the affairs of other parties to disternilise them. The programme DEMOCRACY IN ACTION sought for Rimi’s further clarification on the matter. His reply went thus in the programme “this is what at best could be described as executive rascality on the apart of an incumbent Government”.I held my head on hearing that expression and wondered when I would speak that kind of English language! I promised myself I would try. The rest is historyRadio, I salute you, so powerful and influential. Tell me how I would put a phone call to the office of the then sitting Secretary General of the Commonwealth Mr Don MacKinnon in  London. He was billed to be in Nigeria and I requested that he should be my guest in my show Global Guest On VON he agreed and came to Radio House for it! Many other guests did same too numerous to be mentioned. Radio, the mass mobilizing medium, the teacher, the informer, you can be improved upon, transformed, changed, but never stopped. Thank you radio. And happy WORLD RADIO DA

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