By Prince Osuagwu
VETERAN journalist, Dr Chidi Amuta, is 60 today. Though Amuta is not throwing a party to celebrate this milestone, it is almost impossible to let the day go without highlighting some of the activities that shaped today’s journalism, which the famous author of Prince of the Niger, is part of.
Born in Nigeria on July 24, 1953, Amuta has spent more than 20 years in public communication and journalism. During this period, he had held senior editorial positions as foundation member, Editorial Board, The Guardian; Chairman, Editorial Board and Editorial Adviser, The Daily Times Group and, until 1999, Chief Executive, The Post Express.
At The Post Express, he pioneered internet publishing in Nigerian journalism by establishing The Post Express as the first Nigerian newspaper to be reached by e-mail and the first Nigerian business to own a website on the internet. In addition, he used his wide international media contacts to establish strategic relationships between The Post Express and major world publications like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune.
In his journalism career, a proud Amuta will always tell you that he conducted interviews with key world leaders like former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher of Britain, late President Francois Mitterand of France, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Dauda Jawara of the Gambia, Laurent Kabila of Democratic Republic of Congo, Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria among other top diplomats and government ministers around the world.
Obviously a prolific and accomplished writer and stylist, Amuta has written articles and columns for major newspapers in Nigeria and abroad in addition to authoring three major academic and historical books including The Theory of African Literature. He currently writes an occasional column for ThisDay Newspapers in Lagos, Nigeria.
Prior to coming into journalism, he taught Literature and Communications Strategies for over a decade at the University of Ife, UNIFE (Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU) and University of Port Harcourt. As a literature lecturer, he established a leading name in the radical/Marxist tradition of criticism as evidenced in his numerous publications in that field.
He was briefly the founding director of the Rural Development Programme in the old Imo State. His versatility in almost every field is, however, not a coincidence. Amuta holds a First Class honours degree and a Doctor of Philosophy from the OAU, specialising at different times in Education, African Literature, Sociology of Culture and Communication. He also did a host of courses and training in public policy strategies and intelligence in universities and think-tanks around the world including the influential Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Currently, Amuta is the Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of Wilson & Weizmann Associates Ltd, a Media and Information warehousing company as well as Outcomes, an international Public Affairs and Policy Consulting company with head office in Lagos and affiliate offices in London, Atlanta and the United Arab Emirates. In the area of public policy and perception strategy, he has consulted for governments and multilateral agencies in Africa and the Middle East. Celebrating this milestone with him included his illustrious children and a wonderful family among many Nigerians who have been affected by his style of writing.