✕ CLOSE Online Special City News Entrepreneurship Environment Factcheck Everything Woman Home Front Islamic Forum Life Xtra Property Travel & Leisure Viewpoint Vox Pop Women In Business Art and Ideas Bookshelf Labour Law Letters
Click Here To Listen To Trust Radio Live
SPONSOR AD

It’s baffling that a woman is yet to head the NTA – Eugenia Abu

She is one of Nigeria’s frontline broadcast journalists who graced the screen to cast news on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA). She is also a…

She is one of Nigeria’s frontline broadcast journalists who graced the screen to cast news on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA). She is also a writer, poet and media strategist, mentor, motivational speaker, wife, mother and many more. Eugenia Abu anchored the 9:00 pm news on NTA for seventeen years and retired as an executive director at the NTA and later joined Trust TV. She recently turned 60 and had a chat with Daily Trust on Sunday.

You just turned 60. How do you feel, and what are you grateful for?

Wow! It feels like 60 just crept up on me when I was not looking. I do not even feel that age, at least not in the way we used to know it – old, tired, sedentary. I am healthy, agile and active. God has been kind. I am grateful, first for my life, good health, sound body and mind, God’s mercies and many gifts, my family, work and all the things I enjoy that I still do. I am very grateful for my sight – I am a reader and writer and I can still read without my glasses. I am thankful.

Are you happy with your career trajectory?

That’s an interesting question. I am truly grateful to God for my journey. When I joined Radio Benue, Makurdi as a vacation jobber in 1979, I had no idea where that would take me. Working at the Ogun State Broadcasting Corporation in 1981 as a youth corps member and ending up as an information officer in the Benue State Ministry of Information were all adventures for a young woman at the time. And I was quite happy working and learning. 

There was Mr Dan Agbese at Radio Benue, Professor Sambe and the late Yima Sen at the Ministry of Information, as well as Mrs Keji Okunowo and Otunba Deji Osibogun at the OGBC, Abeokuta, among many others I met, learnt from and worked with.

While traversing these institutions, I was unaware of God’s future plans for me. I was at the Benue State Ministry of Information when I was headhunted to join the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Makurdi as news editor by the then general manager, Isaac Wakombo, an engineer, who later became the Executive Director, Engineering.

My foray into broadcasting was accidental, and the rest, they say, is history. My journey has been phenomenal. To say I am happy is an understatement. I am truly grateful to God for my journey. I ended up as an executive director of programmes at the very top of my career at the NTA. I am truly thankful.

How have you kept busy since leaving the broadcasting field?

I have not really left broadcasting. Nobody ever leaves. Every broadcaster really just remains a broadcaster for life. If you mean leaving active public service after bowing out as an executive director at the NTA, then maybe that’s what you mean. But I am quite busy now in the private sector and the academia. I am the managing partner and chief executive officer of a creative media and training hub, The Eugenia Abu Media. Here, we are involved in training for public speaking, customer service, life coaching, leadership, etiquette and an annual weeklong children’s creative workshop, which I have run for nearly 15 years.  We also train broadcasters in reportage, presentation and editorial roles.  We are engaged with writers and artists and provide training and advisory for column writing, how to write a book and offer premium creative direction for book presentations and art exhibitions.

I am a media consultant to several national and international organisations, including United Nations bodies. In addition, I continue to offer high level compering, moderating and keynote speaking services and I am a mentor to thousands of young people. I also remain a broadcaster in many areas offering advisory and training to many broadcast institutions both fledgling and well established.  I am a visiting lecturer at a university and I am currently pursuing a PhD at the Bayero University, Kano. My hands are full.

Would you want to share some of your best experiences as a newscaster?

I spent 17 years as a newscaster on the NTA Network Service and 10 years at NTA Makurdi. Every day I spent on the screen as a newscaster was always a new and elevated experience. I leant everyday and arrived at everyone’s home across Nigeria uninvited. It was a humbling experience. Also, be mindful that I was also a news editor and producer of the network news and several lifestyle television programmes. I am a documentary producer, interviewer and screenplay writer. News casting was one of the many things I did at the NTA.

At the peak of your career, how were you able to balance being a career woman, wife and mother?

Balancing work and career has to be one of the most challenging roles in a woman’s life. It is challenging for men as well because you can lose your entire family if you are not intentional about how you balance your work and family life. It is harder for a woman, more so, a woman in a profession like broadcasting, where there are no defined closing hours. We were at work 24 hours per week. Off days were far and few between; and those were in my younger days.

As you rise in the profession you are on a 24-hour duty, where a call can come through at 2am for a transmission error. As an executive director of programmes I had responsibility for a 24-hour transmission.

Part of managing work life is to be intentional. I literally cut down a lot of my social schedules when the kids were growing up, understood family dynamics, created time with my family and scheduled my meetings to be family appropriate as much as I could. As an executive director, I avoided late night meetings as much as I could.

I love to cook, so cooking and eating with my family was bonding time. I also make time to take the kids out and celebrate them and tried to drop them and pick them from school as much as I could.

I am very lucky to have the husband that God gave me. He is highly supportive of my career and has been my unpaid counsellor over the years. He keeps me centred and is very funny. He is my lifelong friend.

I stay in touch with my family throughout a workday and I enjoy taking an hour or two off work, at least twice a week, to join my family for lunch; and it does not always have to be at home. We can meet up at a restaurant. It is hard work, but it is what one must do to stay balanced. My family has always been my rock. I thank them for their support and prayers through this journey.

If not the media, what other career options did you have?

I love the legal profession because I detest injustice. My first choice when I applied to the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria in 1979 was Law, but the good Lord deemed it fit that I would read my second choice, which was English.  Who knows what my life could have been if I had read Law? But I guess all of it is providential and pre-destined.

I also love to teach, and over the years I have done just that. I taught at the Federal University of Technology, now Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi when I was much younger. I taught English for Science students. I teach young kids between seven and 14 at our creative annual summer boot-camp for children. I currently teach International Communication and Specialised Reporting at Bingham University. I am happily busy.

Aside being a veteran broadcaster, you are also an author. Where do you draw inspiration for your books?

The world in its entirety is canvas for all writers. I am an author of two published books and two books in waiting. I am also a columnist. I am a lifestyle writer but also a newsperson. So, I can pretty much write about anything as long as I can engage.

My inspiration can come from the street, can be an encounter or even from nature. I can write about a beautiful setting sun in Nairobi or an orange seller in the streets of Lagos. I can write about campaign posters of politicians or celebrity foolishness. My Friday column in Business Day bears testimony to my range. I held down a column in Sunday Trust for 10 years on Books. I have just finished work on my third book, which is a Memoir on Encounters. I enjoy writing very much. The world is my canvas. 

How did you feel when your book, In the Blink of an Eye, won the ANA/NDDC Flora Nwapa prize for best female writing in 2008?

I was ecstatic. To win such a prestigious prize pretty much propelled me to write more. I had been a great admirer of Flora Nwapa, one of Nigeria’s earliest female writers and first female publisher in a male- dominated world. She was audacious, even for her time. And to win a prize in her name was such an honour. I am a very good friend of her children today.

Do you wish for any of your children to choose the same career path like you?

Honestly, with today’s children, that’s practically impossible. And I am one to say let them be. My last child is over 20, and I allow all my children decide what they want to do as long as they are happy and they do it well. The older children were science-based in school and have ended up in banking and agricultural insurance. Some are running salad bars and others, a cocktail bar.  The younger ones are highly creative. I have an architect who is a body art painter, an industrial designer who is a photographer and an aspiring model, and the twins, who are performing artistes and songwriters. I guess the twins are the closest to my line of work. Who knows if there is broadcasting about to happen somewhere? Never say never.

If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?

I look back with gratitude and really would change nothing about my life. Everything, no matter how challenging, was placed there to polish me for gold. All my experiences were meant to make me better. I am thankful. I only look forward.

You are back on the broadcast radar with Trust TV; is there any particular reason you returned to the screen?

I had actually planned to return in 2023 to have a talk show, but I was bidding my time and deciding after a decade off screen, where I wanted my broadcast career to regenerate. But then, Trust TV came along. It took some doing to get me back on. The management of Media Trust Group gave me enough reason to return. They wanted me to use the platform of reading the news as practical for their on-air staff. They wanted me to train their young staff and they give me my due 100 per cent. There is mutual respect. They respect my views and suggestions. We have a good relationship. In addition, they have a good business and ethical model. I read Trust News Hour at 9pm on Mondays.

What advice do you have for girls who desire to be career-driven like you?

Let me start by correcting the assertion that I am career-driven. I love my work and I put in my best. I am the least ambitious person I know. There is nothing wrong with being ambitious, but I am just that woman who enjoys her work and tries to do it well. That’s really my essence. I do not know how to lobby. Again, there is nothing wrong with that, but my dad would always say that your work will speak for you. And that is my mantra. Young girls who want to build a career in broadcasting should learn from the masters. They should work hard, be patient, focused, give honour to those senior to them and keep a good relationship with their peers and subordinates. Be fair always and do not have an attitude. Stay humble, no matter how popular you become.  Go over and beyond the call of duty. Also, they should remember that family is sacrosanct. And like I always tell people, I can give up my job if my family is threatened. Never forget that who you marry can ruin or enhance your career. Marry your friend who has your best interest at heart and who will support you.

Also, whenever there were opportunities, I sometimes got the pathway to try, but there were also many sleepless nights and obstacles. But never give up. Keep striving, be knowledgeable and be professional always

Any regret?

I have none whatsoever. Maybe I could have started writing my books earlier, but then, God’s time is always the best. So, no regrets.

What misconceptions about yourself would you like to correct?

How many misconceptions can you correct? Honestly, when you are in the public eye you hear many things. But once you are true to yourself, believe you have done your best, then you should not be bothered about what people who do not even know you are saying. 

What would you want to change in the mass media and how can the industry be improved?

I think media owners, including the government, must rise up to the occasion by providing top-notch equipment, capacity building and better pay. It is sad that many broadcasters and other journalists are not insured. And they still receive very poor pay. The hours are unfriendly and the job is hard. Throughout my career, for example, I never received wardrobe allowance, yet we were the face of the station. I was also mostly self-trained. That’s hard. I think it is unfair. So, I would say that all of this can be improved. The world is going digital, and media institutions that do not step up would be left behind.

I also see that the craft of broadcasting and journalism is losing its edge. If we are broadcasting in English, for example, then let those on our screens speak better and dress better. I am a columnist as well and some of what I see on the screen and in the papers these days are pretty dastardly.

Who are the most remarkable professionals you have met/worked with, and why?

Everyone I have worked with in the industry taught me a thing or two. From some, it is positive, from others I learnt how not to treat a subordinate by the way they treated me badly. But I learnt from that; so for me, everything is a learning curve. Quite a number of my bosses mentored me and I am thankful. All my bosses, industry greats, from producers to newscasters, have been my colleagues, friends or ogas. To mention names would be uncharitable. Everyone, including juniors, taught me a thing or two in my broadcast journey. I am truly grateful.

How do you see the NTA now?

The NTA is doing its best under the circumstances. It is now top heavy because hiring has been slow and sporadic.  Attrition rate is high and some of the best hands have moved into the corporate world, especially the men. Women are often the largest population in the NTA and have remained the strong arm of the workforce and long suffering.  Without prejudice to the current director-general and past deputy directors-general, it is a thing of wonderment to me that after nearly 50 years of existence, and with the sacrifices of NTA women over the years, no woman has ever been considered worthy to head the institution, held up majorly by women. It is sad.

Pay is still very poor and needs to be improved, otherwise they can’t retain the best or even keep newly employed young people and even the older ones. I believe the government can improve the pay structure to attract the best hands and revolutionise the NTA. Equipment and capacity building is an imperative. There is still so much to be done, especially in content improvement and the resuscitation of ever green content so that we can return to the good old days of Cockcrow at Dawn.

The NTA remains the best training ground for broadcasters in Nigeria. It gave me my brand. I learnt everything broadcasting from there.  I am thankful. is providential and pre-destined.

I also love to teach, and over the years I have done just that. I taught at the Federal University of Technology, now Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi when I was much younger. I taught English for Science students. I teach young kids between seven and 14 at our creative annual summer boot-camp for children. I currently teach International Communication and Specialised Reporting at Bingham University. I am happily busy.

 

Aside being a veteran broadcaster, you are also an author. Where do you draw inspiration for your books?

The world in its entirety is canvas for all writers. I am an author of two published books and two books in waiting. I am also a columnist. I am a lifestyle writer but also a newsperson. So, I can pretty much write about anything as long as I can engage.

My inspiration can come from the street, can be an encounter or even from nature. I can write about a beautiful setting sun in Nairobi or an orange seller in the streets of Lagos. I can write about campaign posters of politicians or celebrity foolishness. My Friday column in Business Day bears testimony to my range. I held down a column in Sunday Trust for 10 years on Books. I have just finished work on my third book, which is a Memoir on Encounters. I enjoy writing very much. The world is my canvas. 

How did you feel when your book, In the Blink of an Eye, won the ANA/NDDC Flora Nwapa prize for best female writing in 2008?

I was ecstatic. To win such a prestigious prize pretty much propelled me to write more. I had been a great admirer of Flora Nwapa, one of Nigeria’s earliest female writers and first female publisher in a male- dominated world. She was audacious, even for her time. And to win a prize in her name was such an honour. I am a very good friend of her children today.

Do you wish for any of your children to choose the same career path like you?

Honestly, with today’s children, that’s practically impossible. And I am one to say let them be. My last child is over 20, and I allow all my children decide what they want to do as long as they are happy and they do it well. The older children were science-based in school and have ended up in banking and agricultural insurance. Some are running salad bars and others, a cocktail bar.  The younger ones are highly creative. I have an architect who is a body art painter, an industrial designer who is a photographer and an aspiring model, and the twins, who are performing artistes and songwriters. I guess the twins are the closest to my line of work. Who knows if there is broadcasting about to happen somewhere? Never say never.

If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?

I look back with gratitude and really would change nothing about my life. Everything, no matter how challenging, was placed there to polish me for gold. All my experiences were meant to make me better. I am thankful. I only look forward.

You are back on the broadcast radar with Trust TV; is there any particular reason you returned to the screen?

I had actually planned to return in 2023 to have a talk show, but I was bidding my time and deciding after a decade off screen, where I wanted my broadcast career to regenerate. But then, Trust TV came along. It took some doing to get me back on. The management of Media Trust Group gave me enough reason to return. They wanted me to use the platform of reading the news as practical for their on-air staff. They wanted me to train their young staff and they give me my due 100 per cent. There is mutual respect. They respect my views and suggestions. We have a good relationship. In addition, they have a good business and ethical model. I read Trust News Hour at 9pm on Mondays.

What advice do you have for girls who desire to be career-driven like you?

Let me start by correcting the assertion that I am career-driven. I love my work and I put in my best. I am the least ambitious person I know. There is nothing wrong with being ambitious, but I am just that woman who enjoys her work and tries to do it well. That’s really my essence. I do not know how to lobby. Again, there is nothing wrong with that, but my dad would always say that your work will speak for you. And that is my mantra. Young girls who want to build a career in broadcasting should learn from the masters. They should work hard, be patient, focused, give honour to those senior to them and keep a good relationship with their peers and subordinates. Be fair always and do not have an attitude. Stay humble, no matter how popular you become.  Go over and beyond the call of duty. Also, they should remember that family is sacrosanct. And like I always tell people, I can give up my job if my family is threatened. Never forget that who you marry can ruin or enhance your career. Marry your friend who has your best interest at heart and who will support you.

Also, whenever there were opportunities, I sometimes got the pathway to try, but there were also many sleepless nights and obstacles. But never give up. Keep striving, be knowledgeable and be professional always

Any regret?

I have none whatsoever. Maybe I could have started writing my books earlier, but then, God’s time is always the best. So, no regrets.

What misconceptions about yourself would you like to correct?

How many misconceptions can you correct? Honestly, when you are in the public eye you hear many things. But once you are true to yourself, believe you have done your best, then you should not be bothered about what people who do not even know you are saying. 

What would you want to change in the mass media and how can the industry be improved?

I think media owners, including the government, must rise up to the occasion by providing top-notch equipment, capacity building and better pay. It is sad that many broadcasters and other journalists are not insured. And they still receive very poor pay. The hours are unfriendly and the job is hard. Throughout my career, for example, I never received wardrobe allowance, yet we were the face of the station. I was also mostly self-trained. That’s hard. I think it is unfair. So, I would say that all of this can be improved. The world is going digital, and media institutions that do not step up would be left behind.

I also see that the craft of broadcasting and journalism is losing its edge. If we are broadcasting in English, for example, then let those on our screens speak better and dress better. I am a columnist as well and some of what I see on the screen and in the papers these days are pretty dastardly.

Who are the most remarkable professionals you have met/worked with, and why?

Everyone I have worked with in the industry taught me a thing or two. From some, it is positive, from others I learnt how not to treat a subordinate by the way they treated me badly. But I learnt from that; so for me, everything is a learning curve. Quite a number of my bosses mentored me and I am thankful. All my bosses, industry greats, from producers to newscasters, have been my colleagues, friends or ogas. To mention names would be uncharitable. Everyone, including juniors, taught me a thing or two in my broadcast journey. I am truly grateful.

How do you see the NTA now?

The NTA is doing its best under the circumstances. It is now top heavy because hiring has been slow and sporadic.  Attrition rate is high and some of the best hands have moved into the corporate world, especially the men. Women are often the largest population in the NTA and have remained the strong arm of the workforce and long suffering.  Without prejudice to the current director-general and past deputy directors-general, it is a thing of wonderment to me that after nearly 50 years of existence, and with the sacrifices of NTA women over the years, no woman has ever been considered worthy to head the institution, held up majorly by women. It is sad.

Pay is still very poor and needs to be improved, otherwise they can’t retain the best or even keep newly employed young people and even the older ones. I believe the government can improve the pay structure to attract the best hands and revolutionise the NTA. Equipment and capacity building is an imperative. There is still so much to be done, especially in content improvement and the resuscitation of ever green content so that we can return to the good old days of Cockcrow at Dawn.

The NTA remains the best training ground for broadcasters in Nigeria. It gave me my brand. I learnt everything broadcasting from there.  I am thankful.

Join Daily Trust WhatsApp Community For Quick Access To News and Happenings Around You.

UPDATE: Nigerians in Nigeria and those in diaspora can now be paid in US Dollars. Premium domains can earn you as much as $17,000 (₦27 million).


Click here to start earning.