What Made Isoko Mirror Newspaper Thick-Felida Essi
LAGOS APRIL 6TH (URHOBOTODAY)-Comrade Felida OsedeEssi is a journalist, an actress and author. She is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of FONE Media Integrated Company, Publisher of Isoko Mirror Newspaper and Organizers of Heroes and Heroines of Development Awards
She was once chairman of Association of Community Newspapers publishers of Nigeria (ACNPN), Delta State Chapter and Founding member/Public Relation Officer (PRO) of South-South Women Organization, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). She is passionate about the development of Isoko Ethnic Nationality and has been show casing the developmental potentials of Isoko land through articles and interviews. She has published a book titled the Historical Facts on the Isoko People and Communities. She hails from Uzere and Olomoro, both of Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State, she has won many Awards.
In this encounter with Urhobotoday correspondent during the twelve anniversary celebration of the newspaper, she went back the memory lane on how Isoko Mirror passed through the turbulent times and what made the community newspapers became not only the choice of Isoko people, but equally gained national acceptance.
Madam congratulations,Isoko Mirror is 12 years now, how did the Journey begin?
Thank you very much. To me, I took it as a joke because the plan I had in 2005 was to take a television production course at ITPAN (Independent Television Producers Association of Nigeria School), but when Dr. (Mrs) Ofo met me at a party and said “Felida we must have a newspaper in Isoko,with your experience of Managing Isoko Times after the demise of the Publisher, late Patricia Akpavie coupled with your experience in IsokoNews, I believe you will do well!!. I replied her I will think about it, that was in 3rd week of January 2005. In 2nd week of February, Chief JAD Iboma came and repeated the same thing saying it is not acceptable for Isoko not to have a voice after the defunct of four Newspapers. In another 2 weeks, he gave me 30,000 to start saying get somebody else to also invest in this project. Even as I tried to explain how capital intensive it was, he was not ready to listen “I know your capability I know you can make it and he left. I went to work with the assistant of my friend in the Media in the person of Fidelix Umukoro of Urhobo Voice at the end of March 2005, we hit the Newsstand. Before the 2nd edition came out Iboma had already made the money up to 100, 000.
You mentioned four defunct Newspapers, what really happened to them?
It was due to lack of funds. Isoko Hope, no funds. IsokoNews, no dedicated staffs, Isoko Vanguard, the founder died and Isoko Times which I later managed for some months after the lady publisher’s demise. I was sponsored by Chief Godwin Ighodheme
But you also worked with Isoko News why did you leave?
It was too stressful especially as I was the only lady among so many men. I could not cope with them so I went back fully to the Movie Industry. I joined Isoko News in the year 2000 on part-time bases
What type of exclusive stories brought Isoko Mirror to limelight?
Because I chose not to be a political paper, we were hitting the nails on the head; we spoke with Late Chief James Ekpre Otobo, Late Senator Okpozo and non Isoko Indigenes. Chief Barr. Andrew Oru, Comrade Joseph Evah and Prof.Itse Sagay among others. Even back then, we had interviews with Olorogun Otega Emerhor the Delta APC leader to mention but a few. They were dishing out information that enlightened our people.
What is the most traumatic experience you have ever had since Isoko Mirror is published?
Well, my invitation to Abuja, by SARS for a story that was firstly published by Daily Independent and Delta State owned Newspaper, The Pointer, before Isoko Mirror which is a monthly Newspaper published it, To crown it all, we even took our time waiting for his response, as there was no response we went to press, if not, we would have been the first to publish the story.
Any way, it was a traumatic experience to be travelling to SARS in Abuja though it gave us a lot of publicity just like the OC SARS asked then, why did you petition your constituency Newspaper only and not the state and national papers?
What plan is in the Pipeline to ensure that the Newspaper becomes one of the best’s grassroots Newspaper in Delta State?
We will continue doing our best by reporting the oppressed and less privileged, I mean Human Angle Stories. Educatingour people of what is happening in other parts of developing countries, to help our people wise up, showcasing the ordinary people doing extra ordinary things. In short, with the social media coming to our aid, Isoko will have a dramatic change, unlike before when we were being oppressed for publishing facts.
Are you planning to add greater value to the Newspaper?
We will continue dishing out Developmental Interviews and Stories to change the mindset and orientation of some of our people. With God helping us we shall be organizing educative programs from time to time.
How will you describe the readership base and circulation of the Newspaper?
I think we have done very well, at least the government reads us, we act as a bridge between the government and those at the grassroots let me share an experience with you. During Dr. Uduaghan’s administration, the then commissioner of information Barr.Chike Ogieh, encouraged me to vie for a position in Association of Community Newspapers of Nigeria (ACNPN) according to him, government like working with Newspaper like Isoko Mirror as it is rated one of the best among the community Newspapers in Delta State because of our policies. That is why I contested as Vice Chairman of the state and I won. Something happened under three months and the Chairman was impeached and I became the Chairman, a position I held for three years.
You do celebrate Isoko Mirror anniversary annually with an award and lecture, why is it so?
It is not an annual event if so, we won’t be celebrating 5th edition of Heroes and Heroine of Development Awards on the 12th Year of Isoko Mirror on the Newsstand. One of our policies is to educate our people to change for the better in other to attract development to the land. Isoko is so blessed we have resources we don’t see nor feel the impact because of some selfish individuals.We are blessed with so many talents I mean inventors. For instances, Isoko language is going into extinction, so we should be educated on reasons why we must preserve our language. So you see, it is our policy and calling to continue to educate our people and to keep record of happenings.
Who are the eminent personalities that ensure that the newspaper remains afloat?
Hmmmmm, they are so many but I will mention some.Do you know apart from Chief JAD Iboma who brought the funds to start Isoko Mirror, Chief Dr (Mrs) Ofo Phd tried all her best, she could not raise funds, but for the past twelve years, she had been promoting the Newspaper. I was in a party some time ago where they were having a discussion about how she forced the Newspaper on people to buy according to them, “if you can buy National paper you must buy Isoko Mirror because it is promoting our course” one of them now said, she don’t even know how much commission she is getting. I smiled because most people didn’t even know that she was the one who talked me into it before Iboma came with funds. Opa Williams,was the one who recognized that I was sent on a mission. After the third edition, no funds, so I had to go back to my original plan of taking up a course at ITPAN hence I went to him, Opa to sign as a guarantor to enable me take the course I had in mind but he said “where are you running to? I am not running anywhere I replied I just want to take a course on TV production because I had a dream of having a TV program so I was shocked when he said I have been sent on an errand “study your bible, how those whom God choses for a mission but refused suffered. You will understand that you are not suffering. But should you refuse to continue with the Newspaper, we shall make sure you are not in the movie industry” he said. He asked for the price of the bottom strip of IsokoMirror, I replied Five thousand naira, he wrote a cheque of Sixty thousand naira for a year. The advert?“ISOKO MAN WHY WON’T YOU HELP ISOKO MAN”. Go and continue with the project you are given, God knows you are qualified that is why he choose you. We shall be calling you for recordings. I left Opa Willaims office with a heavy heart, I was sad because he has committed me and because I have integrity, when I got home, I cried my heart out. so we produced the 4th Edition Comrade Joseph Evah saw it and invited me over, though he is an Ijaw man, God has used him immensely to breath live into Isoko Mirror. Mr Jevi Eduzuka saw the paper at Irri and that was it. Chief AugustinOwah, Sir Simon Uchenunu (Planet Press) Chief Lucky Esigie (ESCO Superstores) Chief Barr. Joe Arausi (I.C.- Global) Mr. Rex Azere, Chief John Araka, Dr IsaacEjebe, HRM Captain Frank Okurakpo, the Odiologbo of OkugbeIsoko kingdom in Bayelsa, SirVincent Omovusu former publisher of Isoko News and my former boss keyed in.These people have been wonderful apart from adverts.
This is the second time your event is taking place in Warri, why not Isoko?
My brother, I don’t know the bad belle people who usually destroy my posters and banners in Isoko each time I am having programs. To an extent they would be calling my invitees not to waste their time attending because I have postponed the event while some of my guest will call to know why, without informing them or why I shifted the program. I just reply it’s all lies. As I speak with you, there is a particular Isoko Community who gave order that IsokoMirror must not be sold in their town, that Isoko Mirror is an Isoko South Newspaper. Can you imagine, with just two local Governments? This is not hear say, first they informed my crew during a research on a program we were carrying out to mark Isoko at 50 years. I went into the matter I was informed by a learned man ( I mean a Lawyer) that it is true such a meeting was held and that he tried to disabuse their mind that we are reporting the whole Isoko but they refused to listen and they attached a fine to it. I said no problem. Till date our Newspaper is not on the Newsstand in that town even the vendors who shows interest, once they hear it is Isoko Mirror, their response would be No. This is only happening at home not in diaspora.
T.D. Jake, the great speaker amplifies that “I will never waste time to be jealous of any man or be intimidated by anybody’s achievement. God gave us various talents on this earth and no one person can fulfill the purpose of God for this earth.” So I leave them to God to deal with, including those who are owing but, deliberately refused to pay for services rendered.
What are your special messages to your readers, client’s supporters and associates?
I want to say thank you immensely for being there for us always. Thank you for reading us, thanks to our vendors for selling our Newspapersfor without you we won’t be here. Thank you to all our advertisers, you have kept us on our feet thank you to my associates and co-publisherswhom I rub mind with from time to time includes: The Urhobo Voice, The Commoners, Fresh Angle, Ndokwa Vanguard, Rural Front and Zion Nationale, thank you all and God bless.