Don urges NGE, FG to honour pioneer editor-in-chief of NAN

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By Anayo Ezugwu

THE Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, has been urged to confer a ‘Fellow of the Guild’ on Victor Olufemi Adefela, a professor of Mass Communication and pioneer editor-in-chief, News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, for his roles in the development of journalism in the country. Innocent Okoye, professor of Journalism and Mass Communication, said Adefela was a quintessential subeditor, who deserves the honour.

Okoye, who made the appeal in a keynote address delivered at the public presentation and launch of a book ‘Mind on the Wing,’ on Saturday June 16, in Lagos, also urged the federal government to honour Adefela. The book was written by Adefela as part of activities marking his 80th birthday.

Adefela and his wife
Adefela and his wife

According to him, Adefela is being celebrated not only because of his intellectual endowment and spartan discipline but also because he was the fulcrum upon which NAN was built. “Adefela set up NAN’s regional, states, districts and even rural editorial offices.

“Credit of setting up the first foreign bureaux of NAN also goes to Adefela. They were in London, Washington, New York, Moscow, New Delhi, Belgrade, Cairo, Abidjan and Harare. In deploying reporters to the foreign offices, Adefela was not only professional but detribalised. He also kept the spirit of the constitution and reflected federal character.

“Adefela accorded training of journalists a very high priority. He sent correspondents on attachment to AP, Reuters, TASS and UPI. He also frequently invited journalism scholars from Baylor University, Waco, Texas and University of Lagos, to run workshops for NAN journalists,’’ he said.

Okoye added that Adefela spared no effort to ensure that NAN was the driver of journalism in Nigeria and indeed, the West Africa sub-region. He said an award to recognise outstanding journalists was set up by Adefela just to motivate the staff. “Winners of the awards received twenty naira which was a substantial amount in those days.”

Members of the high table
Members of the high table

He urged the agency to do something tangible to remember Adefela on a continuous basis in NAN and in Nigeria as a whole.

In his opening remarks, Biola Olasope, former chairman, NAN board of director and chairman of the occasion, described Adefela as a very humble and simple man who prioritised excellence. “His simplicity is beyond what you can expect.

“Throughout my period with him in broadcasting, we never had a cause to quarrel. His humility is also beyond description. He has set a good example which we all should emulate,” he said.

Olu Falae, national chairman, Social Democratic Party, SDP, and chief launcher of the book, described Adefela as the nicest person he had ever known. “He is patient, kind, generous, a noble-hearted and an extremely brilliant and analytical person,” he said.

Falae recalled that they were school mates at the Government College, Ibadan for their Higher School Certificate programme.

On his part, Bayo Onanuga, managing director, NAN, said he never met the celebrant but his reputation in NAN was so good that many people talked about him. He described Adefela as a great hand and a grand master in journalism.

“I am here to pay homage to him. I will continue to ensure we keep the standard of the agency higher. The agency is 40 years and we will continue to give journalists a lot of training and retraining. We shall continue to keep the flag flying. I wish you many years in good health and happiness,’’ Onanuga said.

Launching of the book Mind on the Wing
Launching of the book Mind on the Wing

Adefela said he had had a lot of wonderful experiences, noting that the most wonderful in recent times was the book launch. “I have never dreamt of this type of situation. I want to say a big thank you to all of you and my former colleagues in NAN.

“I left NAN more than 30 years ago and after this, they said a lot of good things about me. I thank members of NAN through the managing director, Mr Bayo Onanuga. NAN is part of me and I am part of NAN. We thank the managing director of NAN for the good works he is doing. We pray that God Almighty will assist him to record more success during his tenure,” he said.

Bisi Olawunmi, reviewer of the book, described the 92-page book by Adefela as a collection of poems. He said it reflected the writer’s thoughts on a wide range of issues facing mankind. According to him, one can say the book is star-studded.

He noted that each poem in the book bears a message of its own but a common thread runs through most of them, beginning with the birth of a star and ending with an encounter with the brightest light and the discovery of the shining way. “The poems seek to provoke further thinking and discussion on man’s ever- changing environment and his perception of some of the challenges currently facing humanity,” Olawunmi said.

– Jun. 18, 2018 @ 11:15 GMT |

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