The history of the Nigerian mass media started with a robust and fierce competition among Newspapers, the early arrivals in the landscape. The industry was dominated by vibrant journalists most of whom doubled as editors/publishers. After Rev. Henry Townsend established the first newspaper in Nigeria in 1859, a plethora of other publications began to spring up by the day. The scene was dominated by activists like Sir Akitoye Ajasa (who published the Nigerian Pioneer in 1914), Ernest Sese Ikoli (African Messenger, 1921), Herbert Macaulay (Lagos Daily News, 1925), Malam Abubakar Imam (Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo, 1939), and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (West African Pilot, 1937) among others. These early newspapers pioneered a general protest against the British colonial rule and resulted to the eventual attainment of independence in 1960. This powerful influence manifested by the newspaper led to the establishment of many newspapers especially in the 1960s and beyond.
Among the newspapers that came into circulation after independence was New Nigerian Newspaper. It had its head office along Ahmadu Bello Way, Kaduna. It was established by the then government of the Northern Region on 23rd October, 1964. The first copies of the newspaper hit the newsstands on January 1st 1966. Its initial name was Northern Nigerian Newspapers Limited. But when states were created out of the northern region in 1964 it was changed to New Nigerian Newspapers Limited as it is known in present times.
The Northern Nigerian Government had already made a mark in Nigeria’s print media landscape even before the establishment of the New Nigerian Newspapers. The region had established the first government-owned newspaper in Nigeria, a Hausa language newspaper called Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo in 1936. Within the stable of Gaskiya Corporation, printer of the paper, an English language vision, Nigerian Citizen emerged in 1965. Then a few months later (in 1966) its name was changed to New Nigerian and the headquarters relocated to Kaduna where it is now based.
In March, 1973, the company set up the southern plant (printing machine) alongside the one in Kaduna. This led to the simultaneous printing of the newspaper in both Kaduna and Lagos which increased the circulation and audience base of the publication.
With the division of the Northern Region into six states through the creation of 12 states by the Federal Government in July 1967, the ownership and management of Gaskiya Corporation was transferred to the Northern states, managed by the Interim Common Services Agency (ICSA). Then later the company was fully taken over by the Federal Government in August 1975 and placed under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Information. It was handed back to the Northern states in 2006 and is presently owned and controlled by the 19 states.
Gaskiya Corporation currently has four titles in its stable: New Nigerian, (daily) Gaskiya Tafi Kwabo (Hausa publication, published every Monday and Thursday) New Nigerian On Sunday and New Nigerian Weekly (published on Saturdays). As was noted earlier, New Nigerian was first published on 1st January 1966, Gaskiya Tafi Kwabo came on board on 1st January 1936, New Nigerian On Sunday was set up on 24th May, 1981 and New Nigerian weekly was established on February 21st, 1998.
Gaskiya Corporation does not only run New Nigerian Newspaper but also operates a commercial/stationery printing department which undertakes printing jobs of various types and produces high quality exercise books and other stationery. In order to consolidate its economic base, the company went into property development projects in 1977 with the construction of Imam House (named after the first indigenous Editor of Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo, Abubakar Imam) and the multi-storey building known as Nagwamatse House, presently housing Unity Bank, AIT station, Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, etc. This is in addition to the senior staff quarters at Isa Kaita and Malali Village, respectively.
(additional source, Sumaila Umaisha)