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March 4, 2024
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From left: Representative of the book Reviewer, Dr Kingsley Kubeyinje; Mr Tony Nezianya; Managing Director, NAN, Mr Buki Ponle; the Author, Prof. Victor Adefela, and his wife, Oluyemisi; Mr Isaac Ighure; and Ag Head of Lagos Office, Mr Kayode Olaitan

Adefela’s Memoirs: Journalist’s journey of transcending barriers of Lockdown

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By Dianabasi Effiong, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

 

The presentation of the book, `Notes Along The Way’, written by Prof. Victor Adefela, was a net worth event from the perspective of some retired and serving staff of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

The conviviality that prevailed on June 30 among management, former and present staff at the NAN Media Centre, Iganmu, Lagos State, was awesome.

Mr Buki Ponle, the Managing Director, NAN, in his preamble said the book presentation was like “giving honour to whom honour is due’’.

Ponle, who led the staff to sing: `Count your blessings’, described Adefela as father-mentor, before ushering him and his wife, Oluyemisi, to the high table.

After the rendition of the Nigeria’s national anthem, Ponle said the author opted for a simple presentation and donation of 50 copies of the book to fellow retirees.

“He called to express his desire to present `Notes Along The Way’ to retirees and former pioneer staff of NAN.

“I suggested that we should do a formal launching; give the book the visibility required. But he said: `No’.

“He is publicity shy, insisted that it is for NAN staff only; that he would simply present the book. I realised that since he had made up his mind, I should not argue with him!

“Adefela joined NAN before anybody joined, having been appointed as the pioneer Editor-in-Chief in 1977.

“I am one of the pioneers, started here in 1978. Onuora Nzekwu was also appointed the pioneer General Manager. The office was at the National Arts Theatre.

“He celebrated his 85th birthday on June 19. He is humble; a disciplinarian. These are virtues that kept him,’’ Ponle said.

Ponle also recalled an incident during a four-day Editorial Conference in the 80s in Port Harcourt: “We saw him sitting alone, eating watermelon opposite a hall where there was a party.

“Those of us who took stout and other brands of beer, said: `Can you imagine Oga eating watermelon alone instead of joining us?’.

“But we know better now. What you give yourself when you are young and growing up is what you get at old age. He is still strong,’’ Ponle said.

He further recalled `an exigency then’ when he advised Adefela to drive against the traffic, `He refused’.

“When you are with Adefela don’t suggest anything bad because you are on your own. I am happy that I met him, happy that our paths crossed several times.

“We used to call him `NAN Headmaster’. We had spies then to monitor for us when Adefela will come, for us to tidy up as the case may be.

He also lauded Adefela “for imparting some of these virtues and for making me what I am today and the sacrifice to make us what we are today’’.

“He made us his sons and daughters. I want to emulate him, write books. We are here for his book presentation, not a launching,’’ Ponle said.

The Book Reviewer, Mr Segun Adeyemi, was represented by a retired staff, Dr Kingsley Kubeyinje, who joined NAN in 1984.

Adeyemi, formerly New York Correspondent, NAN, is the immediate past Special Assistant to the former Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

Before reading Adeyemi’s message, Kubeyinje reiterated: “Adefela , who was in NAN from 1977 to 1985, was the first journalist to be employed in NAN.

“There is no way you write the history of NAN without devoting a chapter on him. NAN is: `N’-Nzekwu, `A’-Adefela and `N’- others!

“He interviewed, employed me; used to ride the car with registration number: FGN-02. He was number two after Onuora Nzekwu, the then General Manager.

“He never smiled. Hard to know what is in his mind, but he seem to know everything, everybody.’’

Adeyemi, said that though he initially misunderstood Adefela during his working days in NAN, Adefela later became Adeyemi’s  hero.

He said the book captured the reality of the life of the reputable journalist, academician who had travelled 40 countries.

He said 22 of the book’s pages were dedicated to his times in NAN, adding that it also captured escapades of his early adventurous childhood which were daring, with many turns and twists.

“Notes along the way, the imaginatively-titled memoir of now Prof. Victor Olufemi Adefela, captures the life story of a boy who was born in Lagos, grew up partly in Igbara-Oke and Ile-Ife, went to school in both, as well as in Ibadan and the United States.

“He then became a world citizen, a renowned Journalist, a global Consultant and a University Teacher who has visited 40 countries in three continents!

“What many readers, especially from the NAN family, will look forward to in the memoir is his notes on the time he spent in the agency.

“Especially because he was the very first journalist to be employed in NAN, and the agency’s pioneer Editor-in-Chief, who largely charted its editorial pathway.

“Only 22 of the 274 pages in the book were dedicated to the eight years he spent in NAN, but so much was packed into those pages that I do not think he left much untouched.

“Find out why the story of NAN will be incomplete without this man,” he said.

 

From left: Representative of the book Reviewer, Dr Kingsley Kubeyinje; Mr Tony Nezianya; Managing Director, NAN, Mr Buki Ponle; the Author, Prof. Victor Adefela, and his wife, Oluyemisi; Mr Isaac Ighure; and Ag Head of Lagos Office, Mr Kayode Olaitan, at Adefela’s book presentation at NAN, Lagos. Picture Credit: Atolagbe Babatunde/NAN.

 

Also, a former Editor-in-Chief, NAN, Mr Isaac Ighure, and others respectively reminisced about exciting moments in NAN where Adefela laid the right foundation.

“Adefela was `the Editor-in-Chief of the Editor-in-Chief’. We met NAN that was sweet, well-organised with incentives, especially the Editorial Department.

“Hardworking people had double promotion in a year. The NAN we have now is different from the NAN we had then. We were breaking the news and the others were following us,’’ Ighure said.

He recommended the book “for those seeking growth…and to those seeking better understanding outside the agency’’.

Mr Tony Nezianya, Public Relations Officer, Nigeria Olympic Committee;a former Deputy Editor-in-Chief and Head of Sports Desk in NAN said: “If your copies lacked clarity or coherence, Adefela will tell you, `my friend, read what you are writing’ ”.

Adefela, the author, recalled the circumstances that made him to write the book, saying that, while on vacation in the U.S., he remained indoors for about six months during COVID-19 lockdown.

He decided to write the book to kill boredom!

He expressed his passion for the journalism profession, adding that his experience had been wonderful, having traversed more than 40 countries across the globe.

He said that life is interesting and meaningful when people do what they actually like, as against professions imposed by parents for various reasons.

“I am that I am a journalist. It has been a wonderful experience being a journalist. I have visited more than 40 countries.

“I have interviewed Presidents and Prime Ministers, criminals, convicts and others. I pray and hope that many of you here have that kind of experience.

“Please, give your children the necessary support to be what they want to be; that is the only way they can fulfill their dreams

“Let people be what they want to be, that is the only way they can find fulfilment,’’ Adefela said.

According to the professor, although change is constant – in people, institutions and everything – passion endures.

“In whatever you do, it is self fulfilment that matters. There is progress today in NAN.

“The first building we put up here sank because of the marshy nature of this place. Now we have an edifice here.

“Things change; human beings, institutions change. There is no way that NAN then will be NAN today. The feeling now is that of great experience.

“Do your best to serve people. You are employed to serve. I hope that you find my book interesting and learn a few lessons from it.

He said although he started his career in the Ministry of Information in 1961, working in NAN (1977 to 1985) was the highpoint and most fulfilling of his career life.

He said he spent one tenth of his life in NAN, devoted one tenth of the more than 200-page book to NAN which had impacted his life and journey in life positively.

Adefela said the book remained a collective story of his life journey and not just about NAN.

“This is not the story of NAN, this is the story of Victor Adefela,’’.

He said that his colleagues at the onset of NAN were excited working hard to achieve something new and useful for the growth of the nation.

He expressed the hope that the present crop of NAN staff would uphold the high standard they met.

“In all my working years, I think the years in NAN were definitely the most productive and the most satisfying.

“NAN made such an impact on me although others say I made an impact on NAN,” he said.

“We had a wonderful experience then because none of us did anything wonderfully new. We were all working hard to make an impact on the development of our country,’’ he said.

Adefela also served as Director of News, Pan African News Agency (PANA) in Dakar, Senegal, on leave-of-absence from NAN, from late 1980s to early 1990s.

He had at various times, between 1982 and 2008, conducted media capacity-building workshops in 16 African countries as a Consultant to World Health Organisation and UNESCO.

Adefela had, during an occasion to mark his 80th birthday at NAN, Abuja, unveiled one of his books, `Mind on The Wing’.

The 92-page collection of poems reflected his thoughts on wide-ranging issues facing mankind, including change.

He brought intellectualism to NAN editorial operation which also impacted on staff.

Staff under him, who further acquired more academic laurels, included a the former deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Prof. Adigun Agbaje, Prof. Innocent Okoye of Kwara State University and late Prof. Lai Oso of Lagos State University.

Oso (67), died in a car accident on June 24 while returning from a conference at the Delta State University, Abraka.

Although this is `Not the story of NAN’ but `the story of Victor Adefela’, it also demonstrates the power of the mind and human beings over obstacles – natural or man-made.

It is man versus limitations. It is about growth, change and perfection. (NANFeatures)

**If used, credit the writer and News Agency of Nigeria**

 

Edited by Vivian Ihechu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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