Monday , July 4 2022

The Nigerian Observer @54

On May 29, 1968, the Nigerian Observer was born and its first copies appeared on newsstands across the nation.
Yesterday, the newspaper was 54 years in the publication industry.
The Newspaper has no doubt come of age in the Printing, Publishing and Journalism business in the country considering the fact that most state owned newspapers are no more in business.
The Nigerian Observer, one of the legacy projects of Late Brig.-Gen. Dr. Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia, Military Governor of Midwest State and Bendel State is a response to the genuine demands of a people who increasingly began to feel that they need some outlet for the articulation of their own ideals with emphasis to inform, educate and entertain.
The Newspaper was established with the best standard in terms of provision of printing machines, vehicles for circulation throughout the country, offices in all the state headquarters in Nigeria with Media Correspondents to report news to its headquarters at 18, Airport Road in Benin City.
Provision was made for quality delivery of the Newspaper in all ramifications; well-paid professional staff with a Complex that parades all the departments needed to compete with other well established Newspaper companies in Nigeria.
Thus, the Nigerian Observer was a fertile ground for people to advertise their goods and services. The tabloid compared favourably with other National Daily Newspapers in the country in the areas of news content, number of pages, advertisement placement, planning of pages, printing of the Newspaper and circulation.
Everything was in place as the Newspaper comprising the Daily, Weekend and Sunday Observer touched down in every state capital every morning. The correspondents were alive to their professional responsibilities and there was pride being an editorial staff of the Nigerian Observer anywhere in the country.
Pickup vehicles in large numbers were acquired by the state government for effective circulation of the Newspapers throughout the country. In short the Nigerian Observer was then a training ground for most successful journalists in the country who later moved to other national newspapers and magazines.
The Nigerian Observer produced many successful journalism veterans in the country and in the late 60s, 70s and 80s, a copy of the Nigerian Observer was a hot cake on the Newsstands and most individuals and institutions made it a must on their reading desk every morning.
The Newsprint of the newspaper was as attractive as other National Dailies with well laid columns covering all aspects of human endeavour, both at the local and international scene.
It will be interesting to recall that the celebrated “What did Amakiri do?” matter, was a Nigerian Observer Journalist and Rivers State Correspondent based in Port Harcourt then under the military regime of Alfred Diette-Spiff as Governor of Rivers State, whose head was shaved by the military junta, because Amakiri did not compromise the ethics of the noble profession.
However, the sudden drop of the Nigerian Observer in recent years has left much to be desired apparently due to dwindling funding and this gave much concern to well-meaning citizens of Edo State and other admirers of the once popular and widely read Newspaper
These and other reasons drew the attention of the Governor Godwin Obaseki led administration to this essential service sector of the Communication industry in Edo State.
The state government has embarked on the overhauling of the newspaper and publishing outfit to ensure that it takes back its pride of place in the society. The fact that the establishment needs government attention in terms of funding and moral support need not be over-emphasized.
With the elaborate plans being put in place by the government, which includes acquisition of state of the arts printing press and conducive working environment for staff, the company will generate money for the state government through advertisement placement and commercial printing.
With good welfare package for staff, the newspaper will no doubt regain its lost glory and bounce back to business. It has the potential of earning revenue for the state government and being able to stand on its own in future.
It will also boost the information dissemination organs of the state government and be able to bring the good works, policies and programmes of government to the people, as well as feel the impulse of the people towards government.
Quality printing and professional delivery of the newspaper on the newsstands with a robust circulation that cuts across the country will make Edo State indigenes and other citizens in the state and beyond to channel their advertisement to the Nigerian Observer.
It is worth mentioning that the hierarchy of the company parades competent and tested journalists who can deliver more for the newspaper than they are doing now if given more moral and financial support.
One of the challenges faced by the newspaper has been due to the fact that the printing machines which are obsolete were bought in 1968, hence the poor quality of production experienced.
This has affected production of the newspaper as obsolete machines lead to low quality print. Unlike in the past when the company could boast of so many vehicles for circulation, there are no more vehicles in the company.
The paper succeeded in not only preaching the Nigerian case in the domestic conflict, during the civil war it struck fear into the hearts of rebel propagandists who saw in the Nigerian Observer, a superior to their nefarious publicity machinery.
The newspaper was published as document for daily circulation that would inform the public on the activities of the government of the then Midwest state, educate as well as provide a forum for a two way communication.
The founder of the newspaper Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia had once observed that,” if the publication is to discharge its sacred functions effectively and efficiently too, it should be free from government control as to what it should write or not write.
It should also be free to criticize any aspect of government policy which it considers worthy of criticism in public and he gave the management and staff of the newspaper house free hand to operate a free press and provided all the resources needed to make it the flagship among its contemporaries
Thirty five years after its establishment, the Nigerian Observer had to its credit three editions; Daily, Weekend and Sunday observer which are exclusively owned by the Edo State government. While the Sunday Observer was established on October 27, 1968, the sporting observer (Now defunct) was established in 1974 and the Weekend Observer On October 6, 1990.
As at the 4th anniversary of the establishment of the corporation, the daily circulation of the Nigerian Observer throughout the then 12 states of the federation had risen to 95,000 while the Sunday observer maintained a steady circulation of 180,000 copies weekly
Within the first decade of its existence, the name Midwest Newspaper Corporation was subjected to geo-political changes that affected the political structure at the federal level. First it was Midwest Mass Communication Corporation and following the creation of more states including Bendel from the defunct Midwest state, the corporations name was changed to Bendel Newspaper Corporation.
After several reforms, in January 1, 1989 in a bid to accentuate its news value and determination, the Corporations name was changed from Bendel Newspaper Corporation to Bendel Newspaper Company Limited, BNCL, a name taken at a management meeting as a means to deliberately strip the company of all elements that made it a parastatal and it was subsequently registered under the company and allied matters act.
Following the creation of Edo and Delta states from the then Bendel State in 1991 and subsequently sharing of assets and liabilities of both states, Edo State retained Bendel Newspapers Company Limited and the government of Delta state on its part set up the Delta Printing Press on August 8,1994 to produce a state owned paper.
The newspaper which was later known as the Pointer first appeared on the news stand on October 25 1994 and it was set up basically to accommodate staff of the Bendel Newspaper Company Limited who were displaced from the company following the sharing of assets and liabilities by the two states.
Today, Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has commenced the process to repositioning the state-owned newspaper, the Nigerian Observer to meet national and international standards.
Two New printing press machines have been installed at the newspaper’s head office in Benin City to revitalize the state-owned Nigeria Observer Newspaper.
The plan of government is to make the Nigerian Observer a printing hub for the state and across the nation.

Eubaldus Enahoro is Editor of the Nigerian Observer (Daily)
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