The inaugural THISDAY Alumni Association annual dinner held in Abuja brought together former staff of the prominent Nigerian daily, THISDAY Newspapers, for an evening of networking and celebration. Recognising 13 accomplished members who recently concluded their roles in government and political parties, the event showcased the organisation’s enduring spirit of unity and camaraderie. Senator Iroegbu, who is one of the members, writes as former staff reflected on their experiences and achievements. The occasion underscored the unique bond shared by the THISDAY family, contributing to a memorable and significant gathering.
On the evening of December 16, 2023, in the federal capital city of Abuja, former staff members of Nigeria’s prominent national daily, THISDAY Newspapers, gathered to partake in a momentous occasion—the inaugural THISDAY Alumni Association Annual Dinner. Organised under the banner of camaraderie, the event recognised and celebrated 13 distinguished members who recently concluded their impactful tenures in various capacities within government and political spheres.
Beyond the individual achievements, what sets the THISDAY Alumni Association apart is its unwavering spirit of unity. Defined by the axiom “once a THISDAY, always a THISDAY,” both past and present staff view themselves as an extended family forged through shared experiences during challenging yet memorable times. This unique bond extends not only amongst alumni but also with those presently employed by the medium.
A hallmark of individuals who have navigated the crucible of Prince Nduka Obaigbena’s media empire is the indomitable “can-do spirit.” The alumni, like the “Duke” himself, exemplify resilience and determination, resulting in many of them achieving remarkable feats post-THISDAY.
The distinctive quality of THISDAY and its alumni lies in their laissez-faire and liberal approach to management. This open environment fosters creativity and innovation, allowing both current and former staff to seamlessly adapt to the evolving landscape of the professional world. Notably, the adoption of a hybrid work model, blending physical and virtual workspaces, predates the global shift prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, showcasing THISDAY’s forward-thinking approach.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the widespread adoption of remote work, THISDAY had already embraced a forward-thinking structure. This approach, an innovative choice influenced by both the organisation’s liberal policy and responses to security challenges, including terrorist attacks on the THISDAY offices in Abuja and Kaduna, and persistent traffic congestion at the Apapa, Lagos Headquarters. Under this arrangement, staff enjoyed flexibility, not being mandated to be physically present at the office or newsroom daily. The system allowed individuals to fulfill their responsibilities effectively, promoting a hybrid work environment since 2012, long before the global adaptation forced by the COVID-19 crisis in 2020.
In a special address, Prince Nduka Obaigbena lauded the achievements of the THISDAY Alumni Association, drawing parallels with renowned figures who transitioned from journalism to public service, such as Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and Alhaji Lateef Jakande.
He disclosed that about 5,000 people had passed through THISDAY since the newspaper was established over 25 years ago. Acknowledging the significant contributions of THISDAY alumni, Obaigbena expressed pride in their continued commitment to national service. The Chairman THISDAY/ARISE Media Group, who is also the President of Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN), described as a fitting tribute to the public trust bestowed in the alumni that 66 of them had been given political appointments over the years.
“We are proud of the work you are doing and support the social services that you are doing for yourselves. As was said, we have produced ambassadors, ministers and Managing Director of a bank and all that stuff. That is a testament to the hard-work we are doing at THISDAY and Arise and all the media groups under our belt.
“In the last election, the spokesman for Atiku was THISDAY, the spokesman for Tinubu was THISDAY, the two APC leading spokesmen were THISDAY, the PDP leading spokesmen were THISDAY. And we stayed neutral,” he said
The event also saw the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, commending THISDAY and its alumni for their foresight and emphasising the importance of responsible journalism. Idris urged media practitioners to do their job the way it ought to be done, saying criticism of government should be done objectively and factually, adding that freedom of expression also comes with its own responsibility.
“You can’t have freedom when that freedom is also infringing on other people’s freedom. As the minister of Information, I am always an advocate of the media playing its job the way it should be. It is important that the media holds the government accountable, nobody can take that away but it’s also very important that all media practitioners have this enormous responsibility to ensure that whatever they report goes a long way in bringing us together and not in dividing us”, he said.
The minister particularly, hailed Obaigbena for championing many innovations in the Nigerian media landscape. “I want to thank you for everything you have done for journalism-there are so many firsts that you have championed and this is not the first one. I am not aware of any other media organisation that has this alumni association. Maybe there are, and even if there are, this is an alumni association with a difference,” he said.
The President of THISDAY Alumni, Tony Onyima, noted that the Association founded in June 2020, has become a social and professional body dedicated to fostering friendship, fellowship, professionalism, media innovation, and the welfare of its members. The annual dinner, a culmination of the association’s vision, honored 13 outstanding members for their unwavering commitment, dedication, and integrity, contributing significantly to Nigeria’s socio-economic growth.
“Their experiences, expertise and leadership have undoubtedly shaped our nation and inspired future generations. To the honorees, we want to express our deepest admiration and respect. Your commitment to the greater good and untiring efforts makes all of us proud to call our fellow alumni. Tonight, we celebrate you and your outstanding achievements,” Onyima, who was also one of the awardees, said.
The recipients included former Sports Minister, Bolaji Abdulahi; former Nigeria’s Ambassador to Thailand, Oma Djebah; Managing Director, News Agency of Nigeria, Ali M. Ali; Director-General of National Orientation Agency, Lanre Issa-Onilu; former Executive Secretary Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Waziri Adio; Enugu State Commissioner of Human Development and Poverty Eradication, Malachy Agbo and PDP spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan.
Others were Presidential aide, Tunde Rahman; former Personal Assistant on Photography to President Buhari, Sunday Aghaeze; Director, Corporate Affairs Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Pius Ughakpotemi; the Chief Press Secretary to Ogun State Governor, Kunle Somorin and former Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President of the Senate, Alhaji Yusuf Olaniyonu.
The occasion had in attendance the President of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Chris Isiguzo, President, representative of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Eze Anana and MD THISDAY, Eniola Bello among other dignitaries.
As the THISDAY Alumni Association looks back at its journey, it becomes evident that the spirit of excellence, nurtured within the walls of THISDAY, continues to thrive and illuminate the path for current and future media professionals.