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Revolution of ABS top on my agenda – Obidiegwu

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Sir Chidolue Obidiegwu is the Managing Director cum Chief Executive Officer of the Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS). In this discourse with IJEOMA EKWOWUSI, he explained how his vast experience in journalism and broadcasting has equipped him for the job and his revolutionary plan for the organisation” He also discussed Gov Soludo’s strides in 100 days strides in office, among others. Excerpts:

IN your first meeting with the staff of ABS, you seem to be optimistic in the cooperation between management and the staff. What are you going to do differently in your time as the MD/CEO of the organisation that hasn’t been felt before?

  Ordinarily, what one would have to do would have been to rebrand the organisation. Instead of going through the entire process of rebranding, I chose to refresh the brand which wouldn’t involve necessarily going through the entire gamut of rebranding and we want to start this refreshing from first of all repositioning the station internally in the minds of the staff. Change the particular kind of mindset that people have because it is a government owned media organisation. There is this tendency for people to think that’s just where they are working and while away time; checking whether it is 3 – 4:30pm so they could report to work anytime they like.

   First is to address that mindset of negligence to work. Let people know this is business – broadcasting is business. Especially as I am coming from the private sector, it is important for me internally to get my  people to understand the fact that we are here to do business. If government has invested N5 here, it is expected that you are going to get at least N2 on top of that and that is why Mr Governor gave me the mandate when he said, “Chidolue, I want you to give me a media house that is run responsibly, professionally, profitably and passionately.

  The four catch phrases here are: responsibly, professionally, profitably and passionately. How do we achieve all that when people don’t dedicate and commit themselves to work?  Mr Governor said he wanted to build a livable, prosperous, clean, secure and smart state. You can’t achieve that without the media because it is an integral of whatever you are going to put in to achieve that. You can’t achieved that when people are lethargic to their duty. In other words, when we achieve that mindset that people should take it  as business and do it passionately. In fact, that is essentially what we are going to do.

  Again, how do we plan to achieve that? Media, to me, is my natural calling. I can recall listening to ABS Radio few days before resuming work. I heard some people saying: ” Is it not this ordinary MC that they gave this job to do?” And I laughed. In the first place, i am really elated to be called MC because that is my first calling but somebody was very comfortable addressing me derogatorily. In the light of this, let me take you to my background.

  I happen to be privileged to have a very very hard rock, marbled, solid educational foundation. Growing up in the university community of Nsukka, where I was born, I was exposed to good nursery, primary and secondary schools. In fact, I made bold to always say that I attended one of the best secondary schools in the world: St Theresa’s College, Nsukka and at the college, I was the president of the Junior Debating Society and also the school’s Social Prefect. That’s where the foundation was laid.

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  I went to the University of Benin (UNIBEN) to study history in my first degree and came to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) to do my Masters degree programme in Mass Communication. After that, I got into professional practice and gave some reasonable years to advertising, public relations, marketing, sales promotion and broadcasting. In the last 33 – 35 years. I have been immersed in the practice of advertising, public relations, sales promotion, integrated marketing communication and broadcasting.

  I was one of the pioneer staff members of MINAJ Broadcasting International. At Sunrise Communications, I moved from client service to copy writing and then to head the Media Piling and Planning Desk. So when I hold the microphone as an MC, what oozes out is a combination of these vocations and somebody sees and says; is it not this MC?

But what you hear is a conglomeration of expertise in these professional callings and I am carrying the entire gamut while bringing it to bear as the MD of ABS. At MINAJ, I was Manager Content Development which is pivot to any broadcasting outfit. I am going to work seriously on content here. There is no reason why we cannot match the content we have here with other broadcasting stations like Channels TV, AIT and then, the new ARISE TV that is making waves now..

  In ABS, we have talents. We have people who have experience in their various fields. Moreover, whatever we lack here, I can get from some of my colleagues. I have a network of professionals and I also have network of people who can come to our aid here. When we have taken care of content; because broadcasting is not just only about content as you could have a good content and then you don’t have people who will market it. So I am going to strengthen the marketing team and I am going to lead from the front as a sales man.

  In fact, in the first place, I am going to lead from the front and not going to be sitting in this office inside the AC when I know the governor has told me in a very short while that the organisation is going to be self sustained. I am going to step out to look for money. There will be a robust marketing team here in ABS. When we have content, robust marketing team and staff that are dedicated and doing their job passionately, we now go to our engineering because at the end of the day, when you get all these right and you are off – air, it is certainly a wasted effort.

  Sustainable maintenance equipment and engineering must be in order. These are clear areas we must revolutionise. When Mr Governor says solution is here, it is not all about him. Yes, Soludo Solution is here. His own idea about solution is that all of us must be part of the solution and if anybody instead of being part of the solution becomes a problem, we will edge you out because it is all about solution here in Anambra State.

We can only collaborate with people who are ready to provide solution. that is essentially when you hear solution is here, it’s either you are bringing in solution or you don’t ship in to bring solution, you ship out. We are here to provide solution and can only collaborate with people who are willing to also be part of it. Essentially, in a nutshell, that is what we plan to do.

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When is this revolution coming to the fore? Do you have a short or long term plan for this revolution in ABS?

  It is already happening. Immediately I resumed work, the next day, I had a meeting with the members of staff of the organisation and the next day ,by the time I got to the office in the morning, those that are supposed to report for work were already present. We are motivational speakers too as MC. In my address to them, I tried to be motivational, inspirational and I am surprised that I saw the effect the following day. So it is already happening. It’s just that a lot of people don’t understand what we do- they only see me as MC.

  The first time I travelled to the United States when I went to the embassy, the pretty girl that was interviewing me asked several questions and the way I offered my answers then informed the questions: ” What do you do for a living?” I told her that I am a Talk Service Provider ( TSP). She then asked me what does that mean.

I replied her again that I am a TSP. She said that she knows that ISP means Internet Service Provider but didn’t know this one and requested that I break it down for her what I really do for a living. Then, I said I do ‘talking’ on television or i am talking on radio or I am talking at a live event. She then said: “yeah! Really, that’s good, that’s a new one. Now let me add it, I will issue you a visa”. That was it.

  What we do is beyond talking, it’s part of what I am going to bring to bare in ABS. Solution! Everybody must be part of it for us to build a livable, prosperous, smart, secure, clean and green Anambra State.

What is the role of the organisation in partnering the state government in tackling insecurity in the state?

  The thing with security is that one has to be careful the way one divulges his or her strategies in the media. More than anything, what we strive to do is advocacy and security tips like being cautious where you are, avoiding of red spots at a particular time of the night, driving always with your rear glasses, among other advocacies and security tips  to ensure safety of lives and properties. We cannot begin to divulge government strategies because the government is doing so much right now to ensure a livable and secure Anambra State.

  In other words, what you are saying is that you are pleased with Mr Governor’s performance on security in his first 100 days in office?

  His performance is there for everybody to see. Even the blind can see this and the deaf can hear what the governor is doing. Heinous crimes committed in the state are gradually subsiding and believe it, it is a battle that the governor will finally win.

What is your overview of Mr Soludo’s 100 days in office?

  Sometimes you set a hurdle for yourself just because you have to look like others; at the end of the day, you put yourself under pressure. The governor is a man that wants to think things through before he executes.

That is not to say there are no improvements or changes in his first 100 days in office. More than any other thing, waste management has been given a proper attention in this administration. If you see the pictures before and after Soludo resumed office in March 17, 2022, you will agree with me that there has been a difference because the previous government had issues with waste management; that is why the environment was in a terrible condition. In Onitsha, there was this heap of refuse which was almost like a storey building. It has been brought down now. Go to Okpoko today and you will not believe that drainage there has been desilted. So much has been done in the area of waste management.

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   I think that is one. If you look at agriculture, you will see that there is a new approach to it in the state. We have depended so much on oil for a very long time in Nigeria and in Anambra State, we are going back to the time of Michael Okpara, when you have coconut plantation, oil palm plantation and even yam; there is this new way of planting it in sacks.

  Then in the area of security, by the time the governor came in, we were almost going back to Egypt where people had to hold traditional weddings outside the state for fear of insecurity but now, the fear has begun to simmer. My governor is doing so much that I am sure that sooner or later, there will be so much more to brag about.

Staff welfare is inimical in the productivity of staff in any organisation. What do you plan to do differently in this regard?

  It forms part of the first meeting I had with staff the first day I resumed work here. In the meeting, they raised a lot of issues which are germane. Therefore, it falls within my purview to address these issues like training of staff, costumes for presentation, among others. Sometimes when I watch the presenters, I felt the ideal costumes are not utilised. That to me, is within the ambit I can handle because we want to do a lot of batter arrangement extensively.

  I recall most of the vehicles we were using then in MINAJ were not provided for us by Senator Mike Ajaegbo. They were bought with the money made from airtime, nay advertisements.

   There are designers and tailors. We are going to make use of them to dress our presenters, pay them and even promote their trade. If it is difficult for us to get the kind of designers or tailors we want here to dress our presenters, then I will source in other places. They will come and dress my presenters and as the presenter is presenting, the name of the costume designer would be scrolled on the screen.

  Look, the revolution we are bringing about like I told the members of staff is that they cannot keep doing the same thing the same way and expect a different result. It is tantamount to madness. We are going to do it differently. Like I told you, in the area of marketing, I am going to lead at the front; we are going to be on the street. Let me just settle down for a while; let me read the files and we will hit the road.

  There is no way I cannot work in tandem with my boss. He is revolutionising the state: where the man is running, I run. It is a revolution and I must be part of that revolution. If not, I lose my job and I do not want to lose my job.

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