After a pioneering role they played at the now rested Weekend Concord newspaper where they distinguished themselves as journalists par excellence and lately, The Sun newspapers, Mike Awoyinfa and his friend, Dimgba Igwe are set to record another landmark in the Nigerian media with the establishment of a newspaper entirely devoted to reporting the entertainment industry called Entertainment Express.
The newspaper is due to hit the newsstand Friday, next week. In this engaging encounter, the duo relay the story of their journey into the world of journalism and what they intend to achieve with their new publication.
The man, Mike Awoyinfa
I’m a graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Lagos. I have been a journalist all my wife. I have always enjoyed good writing and it all started from reading. The more I read books, the more I developed the flair for writing.
If I have to go through my childhood, it was all about reading. I had a very lonely childhood where the only way I could find inner happiness was to read books, especially those books that belonged to my senior brother whom I lived with while I was growing up.
I read to the point where it started robbing off on the way I write, and my performance at school .When I write during my primary and secondary days, people hardly believe I didn’t copy it from a novel or something of that nature .Whatever I read in a novel then ,I would deliberately create an opportunity to reflect the same in whatever assignment I was given at school.
Then, my teachers were impressed and they were also hopeful that I would go places with my writing. That fueled my creative imagination and propelled me to keep on pushing my pen . I’m an entertainer. I like to entertain people with my writing. When I write and it doesn’t move people emotionally and otherwise, I always feel unaccomplished.
My rule is simplicity, clarity and drama. I don’t mind putting the story of my life on the line in order to humour myself, if it is the only way to make my fans happy.
My upbringing was lonely in the sense that, may be, I was a stubborn child and my mother had to ask me to go and live with my senior brother who was a teacher .You know teachers are very strict and disciplinarians. The only way I could find freedom was to read his books and so ,I read virtually everything in his library .
That was the foundation of my writing.I feel inspired and motivated to continue to write. I have a strong passion for writing and that’s why I’m always going into the firing lines of journalism. For me, writing is like a hobby.It has become an integral part of me. I’m addicted to writing, I don’t see myself doing any other thing in life apart from writing.
I don’t know why history is always recurring in our lives. There is always a situation, where myself and Dimgba would strive to take an organization to the very heights and at the end of the day , the table is turned against us. May be, that is our destinies. Talking about regrets, how I wished I had worked for myself all these years. If I’m to start all over again , I don’t think I would agree to work for any body.
No matter what it takes, there is nothing like doing your own thing and nobody will be spying on you to see what achievements you have made, and what property you acquired here and there. At 59, how I wish there are certain things I should have done in the first place.
My only regret today is working for somebody and if I should have my way , I would like to be an entertainer working for myself or partnering with Dimgba Igwe. The formula has been tasted overtime, we can work together as we understand ourselves. I can do business partnership with Dimgba and I will not be disturbed. In our upcoming publication, Entertainment Express, I’m going to take the lead in terms of reporting and I will ensure that I set the standard for my team to follow .
My relationship with Dimgba Igwe
We met many years ago, at the Sunday Concord newspaper, and ever since then, we have been long standing friends. We discovered we are kindred spirits. Dimgba complements my weaknesses, he adds to my strength.
Only God knows why we came the way we are, even twins are not that close. We lean on each other and celebrate and mourn our woes together. We do everything together and I learn everyday from Dimgba, because he has his own areas where he is stronger than myself. Intellectually and spiritually, he is above me in certain respect. Sometimes, we do disagree to agree again, we know how to tolerate ourselves and we are not the greedy type.
Our new publication
Journalism is all about entertainment. In fact, entertainment is the engine of journalism, and that’s why we are embarking on this venture. We have discovered a big market out there we can cash in on. Entertainment Express will be devoted entirely to the reportage of the entertainment industry. Three organisations do this: Sunny Obazu Ojeagbese’s Complete Communications Limited; Ehi Braimah’s Neo Media and Marketing and Macdee Communications.
I’m a detribalised Nigerian— Dimgba Igwe
Working with Mike
It’s a question of synergy of ideas. If you find somebody that your ideas flow with, it’s easier to work with that person. I don’t look at people in terms of where they come from, but I look at their hearts.
If the heart of a man is good, whether he’s an Hausa man, Yoruba or Igboman is irrelevant to me. Personally, I have always been positively affected by the people outside my tribe than the people from my tribe. I’m a detribalised Nigerian. I look at human beings in terms of their quality and Mike Awoyinfa is a very sincere man, a good professional and highly creative person.
I was struck by Mike’s simplicity, humility and sometimes, I was looking up to him as a veteran, whereas he would come to seek professional advice from me. That’s what brought us together. A point came in our lives when we felt frustrated in terms of our career development.
Then, Mike was promoted to an Assistant Editor, while I was made a Senior Staff Writer at Sunday Concord. At that point, we decided to write a book together to decapitate our frustration into creative process. The book was called “The Art of Feature Writing.” After writing that book, we concluded that we could work together. And since then, we haven’t had any fundamental disagreement in terms of money or any serious issue.
Relieving of our jobs in The Sun Newspapers
We felt disappointed at the manner in which it happened. But recently, we have had cause to reconcile with the publisher. We wouldn’t want to talk about it again.
On the defunct Concord Press
It’s a huge disaster and also a lesson to our entrepreneurs that when they set up a company, they should try as much as possible to create an enduring structure that would outlive the ownership. If that was done effectively in the case of Concord Press, it probably wouldn’t have collapsed. But you would also take political factors like Abacha’s military regime into consideration.
The regime was determined to destroy the organisation. But still, the whole issue about Abiola’s legacy is a tragedy. I advocate that Business Schools should begin to study Abiola’s case because once upon a time, he used to be the biggest corporate mogul in this country, and suddenly, none of his business empires is functioning.
That speaks volume about the need for our entrepreneurs to create a system that will make a business distinct from themselves, so that a business can survive even when the owner is not there. The business should not be tied too closely to the life of the owner. Our newspaper, Entertainment Express will outlive Mike and myself. That’s our dream, and that’s the value system we want to deliver to the people.