The Nigerian media industry is fiercely competitive with very vibrant privately owned organizations giving government owned establishments a run for their money. With the entry of private media owners into radio and television business in the country after the broadcasting industry was liberalized in 1992, Nigeria began to witness amazing new entries that started lifting the status of the industry across the globe in terms of innovations and quality programming. Some business entrepreneurs are behind the success of the industry with chains of media businesses which they founded and nurtured to become the best among the rest. Here’s a list of the biggest and most successful media owners that have shaped the success story of Nigeria’s press history. This list is made up of media owners currently overseeing affairs of their establishments directly or indirectly, with innovations that are benefiting the overall professional outlook of the media industry in Nigeria.
10. Kabiru Yusuf
There are personalities that are better described as silent achievers. This is premised on the fact that the impact of their achievements on the society is huge yet you hardly realize they are the ones behind that monumental feat. One of such persons in Nigeria is Kabiru Abdullahi Yusuf, founder of Media Trust Limited, the company that publishes of Daily Trust, the largest circulating newspaper in Northern Nigeria. Yusuf is a former University Lecturer who became a media mogul in Nigeria after following his passion for news reporting through the field to ownership level. Yusuf is better described as the King of Media Business in Northern Nigeria. His publications are so popular that they play crucial roles in shaping opinions of readers in Northern Nigeria and Hausa-speaking audience anywhere in the country and in West Africa.
Media Trust is a privately owned Nigerian newspaper publishing company based in Abuja that publishes the English-language Daily Trust, Weekly Trust, Sunday Trust and the Hausa-language Aminiya newspapers, as well as a new pan-African magazine, Kilimanjaro. It is one of the leading media companies in Nigeria. The Weekly Trust was established in March 1998 while the Daily Trust was launched in January 2001. The two newspapers are the largest circulating newspapers in Northern Nigeria. It has also been reported that the group of newspapers ranks among the top seven in Nigeria in advertising revenue. Aminiya is one of the leading Hausa language newspapers in Nigeria.
Yusuf was editor at Daily Triumph, Today, and Citizen Magazine. He was also the Southern African Correspondent of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). He has also written for Newswatch and Daily Times. He actually understands the terrain of journalism in Africa very well. He was Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Trust Newspaper for many years and is now the Chairman and Chief Executive officer. He is a Fellow of the second class of the Nigeria Leadership Initiative and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. Yusuf is one of the biggest names in media ownership landscape in Nigeria.
One who is credited with pioneering professional online journalism in Nigeria is Oyedapo Oyekunle Olorunyomi. No meaningful list of top 10 media owners in Nigeria will be compiled in this digital age without Olorunyomi’s name popping up prominently.
Olorunyomi is the founder of Nigeria’s leading online newspaper, Premium Times. He was born on the 8th of November 1957 in Kano, Nigeria. You can describe him as the godfather of online journalism in Nigeria, as his publication ushered in a new era where online newspaper ownership and online journalism practice constituted a force to reckon with in Nigeria’s media landscape. Olorunyomi is a veteran journalist who had turbulent times while practicing during the military era in Nigeria, as he was forced at some point to go on exile to the United States of America. He is publisher/editor-in-chief of Premium Times, a newspaper he founded in 2011. His show of bravery and desire to explore the untapped is impressive, as he ventured into an area of media ownership which many thought would not succeed in Nigeria – ownership of a strictly online publication. Today, several other Nigerian online newspapers have come up, only to queue behind Premium Times, the leader of this specialized area of journalism in the country. Olorunyomi played a monumental role in making online journalism a credible specialized practice in Nigeria which many upcoming journalism graduates and people with flare for new reporting are willingly moving into.
Olorunyomi is one media owner who does not own a chain of media houses but stands out as the pioneer of online journalism that adheres to basic tenets of the profession. When talking about online newspaper owner in Nigeria, one name that will always be mentioned for fostering remarkable integrity and professionalism in the face of challenges in this particular is Dapo Olorunyomi. He is a role model whose inspirational story serves as encouragement to many Nigerians who would wish to delve into online journalism and newspaper ownership, now a trending area in the country.
Lady Maiden Alex Ibru is the Chairman, Publisher and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Guardian, one of the biggest and most popular newspapers in Nigeria. The newspaper was founded by her husband, Alexander Ibru in 1983. After Mr. Ibru died in November 2010, Lady Ibru was made the new CEO in January 2011. She has been CEO of the establishment since 1999 before she was elevated to the rank of Chairman/Publisher 12 years later. She is a Public Affairs and Communication Consultant, Media Executive and Newspaper Proprietor.
Lady Ibru is the most powerful female media mogul in Nigeria, by virtue of the high-profile status of the newspaper she oversees. She graduated from the University of Ibadan in 1972 and holds a Master’s degree in Communications and Media Studies from the American University of Washington DC (1974). Ever since she became the CEO of The Guardian in 1999, the policy formulation function of the establishment has entailed mobilizing the staff and providing Leadership in the direction of monitoring Nigeria’s democratic process. She provides the strong leadership which is very essential in strengthening the resolve of an independent newspaper in the face of threats to Nigeria’s democracy. Lady Ibru is one of the biggest media owners in Nigeria’s media landscape.
Orji Uzor-Kalu is another business giant that runs successful print media in Nigeria. The former governor of Abia State is the Publisher of Daily Sun, one of the most widely circulating national dailies in Nigeria. It was established in 2001 as a Weekly publication but became a daily newspaper in June, 2003. Uzor-kalu is also the publisher of New Telegraph newspaper, another popular national daily in Nigeria. It was established in 2013 but the first edition was published in February, 2014.
Uzor-Kalu who was born on the 21st of April 1960, is the chairman of Slok Holding, a Nigerian conglomerate with branches across West Africa. Slok Holdings has businesses in oil and gas, banking and finance, media and publishing, real estate, trading, manufacturing, insurance and tourism. Uzor-kalu is a Senator elect of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He was a presidential candidate in 2007, a two-time governor of Abia State (1999-2007) and was a member of the House of Rep in 1991. He was however convicted of fraud in a Federal High Court and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment in December 2019. He is married to Mrs. Ifeoma Ada Menakaya and they are blessed with four children. He is among the biggest media moguls in Nigeria with newspapers that shape opinions in the nation.
6. Sam Amuka
There are very few journalists in Nigeria who embody values-based journalism and carried this virtue through from the time they practiced as field reporters to the time they became giant media owners. Such persons have qualities that are admirable but rare. They have practiced the profession for decades without caving into unethical pit for a second due to the turbulent nature of the profession. One of such vintage legends of the journalism profession is the founder of Vanguard newspaper, Prince Sam Amuka-Pemu, a personality whose footsteps resonate with the core values of journalism; an inspirational legend who cares about the future of quality journalism in Nigeria.
Prince Samson Oruru Amuka-Pemu is the oldest and most celebrated practicing journalist in Nigeria. H has practiced for over 60 years and is still waxing strong even as an octogenarian. He was born on the 13th of June 1935 in Sapele, Delta State, southern Nigeria, into the family of the late Pa Amuka-Pemu and Madam Teshoma Amuka-Pemu. Amuka-Pemu is a Nigerian journalist, columnist and publisher. He is the founder of Vanguard, one of Nigeria’s all-time leading newspapers. He was also co-founder of The Punch, the most widely read newspaper in Nigeria.
Amuka-Pemu’s journalism career is a true reflection of inspirational journey of a successful model. He worked with Daily Times, one of the most popular and most widely read newspapers in Nigeria when he became editor due to his impressive contributions. He was editor of Sunday Times (1967-1971). He was also the first editor of the Sunday Punch. After having a successful career at Sunday Punch, Amuka-Pemu established The Punch with his friend, the late Olu Aboderin, in 1971. The Punch has since grown to become one of the leading national dailies in Nigeria. Amuka-Pemu created the foundation for the success story of The Punch, but he put in just about 12 years there before establishing Vanguard Newspaper in 1983 with three other Nigerian columnists. Amuka-Pemu was a very popular columnist with the Daily Times in the late 1960s and early 1970s (before he left to co-found The Punch). His column entitled “This Nigeria” which he wrote under his pen name “Sad Sam” made Sunday Times a must-read in the country at that time.
One of the entrepreneurs who took Nigeria’s broadcasting industry by storm after it was liberalized in 1992 is Raymond Anthony Aleogho Dokpesi, founder and former Chairman of DAAR Communications. The high level of reckoning being enjoyed across the world today by Nigeria’s broadcast industry is largely due to the quality Dokpesi brought with him into the industry that revolutionized broadcasting in Nigeria. He established phenomenal broadcast media organizations that marked turning point in the history of the industry.
Raymond Anthony Aleogho Dokpesi was born on the 25th of October 1951 in Ibadan, Oyo State. He hails from Agenebode in Etsako East Local Government Area in Edo State of Nigeria. He is one of the biggest media moguls in Africa, as his DAAR Communications company oversees media organizations that are among the best in the continent. DAAR Communications Plc was established on August 31, 1998 and got converted to a public liability company on April 23rd, 2007. The company is the first private owned broadcasting company with 24 hour radio and TV operation in Nigeria. In 1994 Dokpesi launched the first Nigerian private FM radio station Ray Power 100.5 FM. Two years later, he launched Africa Independent Television. His bold steps in taking the risk of pioneering establishment of privately owned radio and television stations in Nigeria ushered in other entrepreneurs who saw that the industry was actually interesting and business friendly. The likes of other top quality stations such as Galaxy TV, Silverbird TV, MBI television, Rhythm FM, among others, came into the scene and made the industry more competitive and exciting.
Raypower started on September 1, 1994, in Alagbado, Lagos. Raypower 100.5FM is the choice of many in Nigeria and beyond. Its operation now spread across thirty two out of thirty-six states in Nigeria. In December 6, 1996, DAAR Communications Plc pioneered a free to air TV Network Channel called African Independent Television (AIT) with headquarters in Abuja. AIT broadcasts throughout Africa and via Dish Network to North America. It also operates an International Satellite TV in USA, Europe, and through International Channel in UK (Channel 187 on Sky Digital). On October 7, 2008, DAAR Communications plc launched the first Nigerian based digital multi-channel direct-to-home subscription TV known as Daarsat. Another popular addition to the stable of Daar Communications in FAAJI FM which was launched on December, 12, 2012. It is a Yoruba and Pidgin English radio station with wide listenership base among audience members in both rural and urban areas. Dokpesi is indeed an inspiration to many Nigerians who believe that hard work can lead to monumental success. He has made an indelible mark in Nigeria’s media landscape with a record as the pioneer of modern digital broadcasting in the country.
4. John Momoh
One of the media organizations that came into the industry and began a journey to conquer the market with top quality offer to the public is Channels Television, winner of best “Television of the Year” Award from Nigeria Media Merit Award (NMMA) 13 times. This station came into existence in 1995 and began a journey to conquer the television landscape in Nigeria with unbelievable level of success recorded so far in achieving that goal. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of this station whose vision and dream made Channels Television a reality is John Momoh, a veteran broadcaster himself. He is now one of the all time biggest media owners in the history of broadcasting in Nigeria.
John Olatchy Momoh was born on July 1, 1957 in Lagos, Nigeria. He is happily married to Olusola Momoh, the Vice Chairman of Channels Television. She is also a broadcaster and they are blessed with three children. He founded Channels Television in 1992. The station has won the Nigeria’s “Television Station of the Year” Award 13 times from the NMMA. The station also won the African Achievers Awards Trust’s 2014 “Best Television Station in Africa”. The station is also the first Nigerian broadcaster to be nominated at the International Emmy for the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting Award.
With the achievements of Channels Television in Nigeria’s Broadcast media landscape, including recognitions by international organizations, it is clear that John Momoh is among the biggest and most successful media owners in the history of Nigerian mass media.
One of the media owners, who has become a positive reference point in Nigeria’s press history and is also among the biggest media moguls in Africa, is Benedict Murray-Bruce. His contributions to the media and entertainment industry in Nigeria are phenomenal and commendable. Murray-Bruce was born on the 18th of February, 1956 in Lagos Nigeria, though he hails from Bayelsa State. He was born to Ijaw parents – Mullighan and Margaret Murray-Bruce, both from Akassa, Bayelsa State, Nigeria. He is one of the personalities that made the media industry in Nigeria vibrant. He became a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in March, 2015 where he represented Bayelsa East Constituency. Murray-Bruce holds the national honour of Member of the Order of the Niger (MON). He is the author of the book ‘Common Sense Revolution’.
Murray-Bruce is one of the biggest media owners in Nigeria with a chain of successful media houses to his credit. In the 1990s, after the government liberalized the radio air waves, Silverbird Group established Rhythm 93.7 FM. This station was very unique at that time for promoting a less talk, more music brand. The radio started with old school jams and later began playing Afro hip hop. Rhythm 93.7 FM Port Harcourt, Rivers State was established in 2002. The radio station was also established in Awka, Abuja, and Yenagoa. Rhythm 93.7 FM radio stations are among the most-listened-to entertainment stations in the country. Murray-Bruce also wanted a television license but his application was delayed as a result of conflicts with the management of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission. When he was appointed director of Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) in 1999 during the administration of former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, Murray-Bruce was soon able to get approval for Silverbird Television, a station that also took the country by storm. The television station initially filled programming slots with syndicated foreign shows. Silverbird Television is one of the biggest television stations in Nigeria.
Murray-Bruce’s Silverbird Group is one of the leading media and entertainment companies in the African entertainment industry, having hundreds of staff, and also becoming a conglomerate that owns radio stations, Silverbird television, Silverbird Cinema, Silverbird Entertainment and Silverbird Galleria. Bruce is also credited for rejuvenating Nigeria’s cinema culture with the launch of Silverbird Cinemas. Murray-Bruce also established Magic Morning Television in Los Angeles, which the Nigerian Diaspora and other Africans rely on for information about developments at home. He is in deed, a giant in Nigeria’s media ownership landscape.
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. Nduka Obaigbena was born on the 14th July 1959 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.
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. 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.
One name that is prominent in Nigeria’s media landscape is Bola Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu. He is more popular as a high-profile Nigerian politician, first elected Senator for the Lagos West Constituency in Lagos State, Nigeria in 1993, then elected governor of Lagos State (from May 29, 1999 to 29 May 2007). But his contributions to the media sector in Nigeria are monumental. Tinubu is said to be the owner of Vintage Press Limited which publishes of The Nation newspaper, one of the most widely read newspapers in Nigeria. The newspaper was founded in 2006. He is also reported to be the founder of TVC Communications, an establishment that operates TVC Entertainment, TVC News (television channel), Adaba 88.9FM (in Akure, Ondo State), and Max 102.3 FM (formerly Radio Continental) based in Lagos. TVC News is a Nigerian 24-hour television news channel initially owned by Continental Broadcasting Service Nigeria Ltd. (now TVC Communications) based in Lagos. This is one of the most watched television stations in Nigeria. It was founded in 2012. The channel airs on British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc (BSKYb) in the UK, Naspers Ltd. (NPN)’s DStv and Startimes in Nigeria, and Multi TV in Ghana.
Tinubu was born on the 29th of March 1952. He is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) party. Tinubu also holds both the chieftaincies of the Asiwaju of Lagos and the Jagaban of the Borgu Kingdom in Niger State, Nigeria. He has been routinely referred to as the national leader of the APC during the presidency of Muhammadu Buhari. He is one of the leading media moguls in Nigeria.