Nduka Obaigbena Biography, Landmark Achievements

One of the most dominant names that surfaces when media ownership in Nigeria is discussed in Nduka Obaigbena, Founder and Editor-in-chief of ThisDay newspaper. This is a man whose entry into the newspaper industry brought landmark changes to the business of print journalism in the county. Read about him and get inspired.

Who is Nduka Obaigbena?

Nduka Obaigbena was born on the 14th July i959 in Ibadan, western region, Nigeria into the royal family of Owa kingdom, Delta state. He is a Duke of Owa Kingdom and the founding Chairman and Editor-in-chief of the ThisDay Media GROUP, Arise News Channel and African focused Style and Culture magazine, ARISE Magazine.

Entry into Media Ownership Business

Obaigbena founded the ThisDay Nigerian newspaper in 1995 introducing disruptive changes that impacted print journalism business in the country. In 2000 Obaigbena founded the annual ThisDay awards which honour those who made contributions to Nigerian society in Global business, Political arena, Women of distinction, and Leading figures in the Nigerian education sector. In 2013 he launched an International TV news channel with an African focus, Arise News, signing a contract with Globe cast for satellite transmission on Astra 2g for broadcast on the UK Sky platform, and to Hot Bird for cable distribution, with bases in London, Ney York City, Johannesburg, and Lagos.

Obaigbena began the publication of the ThisDay Nigerian newspapers in 1995. Nduka Obaigbena also founded Arise magazine. The publication was launched at THISDAY music and fashion festival at London’s Royal Albert Hall on October 14, 2008 and powered the ARISE (AFRICA) FASHION Week starting in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa, and later finding a home in Lagos Nigeria after shows with the African Fashion on collectives in the Royal Albert Hall, London; Kennedy centre, Washington DC; Lincoln centre, New York. The ARISE fashion week also featured a few years at the New York and pans Fashion week. He also started the THISDAY Music and Fashion festivals in 2006. The event included several musical acts such as Beyonce, Jay Z, Rihanna, Alicia keys, Missy Eliot, Usher, Dianna Ross, and Snoop Dogg etc.

Entry into Politics

Obaigbena was a senate candidate in 1991. He was elected a member of the constitutional conference in 1994. He also belonged to international boards and committees. Obaigbena is a regular attendee and sessions moderator for the world Economic Forum and has served as a member of the Nomination committee of the Young Global Leaders of the World Economic Forum. He is the Chairman of the newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) as well as chairman of the Nigeria Press Organization comprising the NPAN, the National union of Journalist and the Nigeria Guild of Editors where he is a fellow.

Giant Strides and Landmark Achievements

Obaigbena’s giant strides in media ownership business in Nigeria is better presented by those who closely worked with him. One of them is Simon Kolawole, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Cable newspaper, and former Editor of ThisDay newspaper. Kolawole, in a piece on his back page column on ThisDay – Simon Kolawole Live, highlighted some of Obaigbena’s best steps, one of which was publishing THISDAY in 1995 without owning a printing press, and many soon followed.

“He also brought about a switch to colour printing after many other newspapers had experimented and retreated. Those who said it was impossible soon joined the fray. He turned the back page of the newspaper to the prime location for columnists. It is now industry standard. He eliminated the practice of printing two different editions of the newspaper for the same day. Others followed. He introduced the publication of the full table of daily transactions at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). It is now, as it were, a law.

“Whenever you see a colourful “style” section in any Nigerian newspaper today, the tribute has to go to Obaigbena, who started it all in 1997. THISDAY Style is arguably the most sought-after weekly supplement on style and fashion in any Nigerian newspaper today. He re-christened rejoinders as “Right of Reply” and that has become part of our media language, tending to suggest that it is somewhere in the Nigerian constitution. In 1998, he introduced “map painting” (as we jocularly call it) to provide at-a-glance previews of how political parties would perform in states and geo-political zones at election times. We have to give credit to whom credit is due. There must be a reason why no politician or business leader jokes with THISDAY.

“In times past, Nigerian reporters submitted handwritten scripts. One day, I think in 1997 or 1998, Obaigbena announced that all reports must now be written and filed electronically. In other words, every reporter must learn how to use the computer. For me, it was not strange — I had started using the computer to write my stories as early as 1994 — but many reporters considered this to be a tall order. Obaigbena had a mantra then: “You either change or die!” Everybody at THISDAY eventually made a switch to electronic writing, even if slightly behind schedule, and this soon became the standard in Nigeria’s newsrooms. It is only fitting to describe Obaigbena as the most positively disruptive and innovative entrepreneur in the history of Nigerian media — on the basis of evidence,” Kolawole stated.

Another Management staff of ThisDay, Eniola Bello, said that in form, structure and content, the innovative ideas he brought to THISDAY have, by and large, redefined the newspaper landscape in the last 25 years. According to Bello, the innovations include having a story on top of the logo, back page columns, full colour printing, running a newspaper without owning a press, printing in multiple locations and hence having a single edition with same news nationally, having the cover fully devoted to an advert in what is called a wraparound, running advert in the early pages of the newspaper at a premium, daily publication of the stock market prices, and style pullout, amongst others.

Obaigbena’s innovations, according to Bello, were copied by other newspapers. “Indeed THISDAY immediate magazine-style analysis of every major news break the same day the story was being reported in a section we called BEHIND THE NEWS probably contributed to the collapse of the weekly news magazine market. There’s the media mogul as culture and entertainment promoter in fashion and music as exemplified in the annual Arise Fashion Week, and THISDAY Music Festival before it,” Bello said.

It is very clear that Nduka Obaigbena is a household name in Nigeria’s media landscape. He is one of the media owners who have made positive marks in the Nigerian Mass Media landscape.

 

The Author

Chinenye Nwabueze

He is a Senior Lecturer in a Nigerian University.

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