1 2 3 4 5
Published On: Tue, Oct 20th, 2020

Felida Essi Goes Back Memory Lane As Isoko Mirror Newspaper Celebrates 15 Years

Dr Felida Essi, Publisher Of Isoko Mirror Newspaper


LAGOS OCTOBER 20TH (NEWSRANGERS)-As ISOKO MIRROR Newspaper marks its 15 years on the news stand, the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Comrade (Dr.) FELIDA ESSI, goes down memory lane with tales of the hurdles, the struggles and the feats recorded so far. It is worthy of note that the grassroots reportage and accomplishments of the medium earned her a honourary doctorate degree by an international institute, in 2017.
In this interview, she gives an insight to the factors that shaped the Isoko Mirror brand and advises upcoming journalists on the key to succeeding in the profession of the fourth estate
.

Excerpts:

Isoko Mirror has spent 15 years on the newsstand, please tell us how it all began…
It started as a joke, when Chief JAD Iboma pushed me into being the pilot of the ship. I just wanted to please my kinsman’s wish of having a newspaper in Isokoland.

Did you ever picture yourself becoming a journalist and then publisher of a newspaper? And why the shift from acting?
No. I never knew I would go this far but I loved writing. It was by chance I came across an Isoko newspaper in 1999 at Ajegunle where I went for a visit. I was the coordinator of an Isoko movie “Kenoja,” which was about to be launched into the market. It (newspaper) was very interesting and I was fascinated about it, I mean the Isoko newspaper. I had heard and seen Urhobo Voice, Ijaw News and some other grassroots newspapers. I became very excited because the “Kenoja” meeting I was called for was already completed, but without stars in the movie. So I had to introduce Rachael Oniga, Zack Amata, Becky Wiliky and Fred Amata into the film to boost its standard.
When I visited Isoko News office for an appointment, they all chorused “Ogbeta, welcome to Isoko News. Come and contribute your quota to the print media, don’t remain in the movies only…” I laughed. By the way Ogbeta was a role I played in “Royal Tears” which was aired on AIT and MBI (Minaj broadcasting international) TV, at that time.
At the end of the day, I agreed to be their advert executive on part-time basis. There was no salary, but, on commission from adverts published. I had a column titled ‘you and your health’ there till 2004 before going back to the movie industry fully. That was my journey into journalism.
I was not back to Nollywood up to four months before late Patricia Akpavie, publisher Isoko Times came to look for me at the national theatre. No, she had earlier called me to give me an offer which I declined. I agreed to it to be on part-time and N7,000 transport for which she later beat it down to N5,000 with commission. I only worked with her for 3 months before her sudden demise and I only got paid twice. The journey into being a publisher started when one chief Godwin Ighodeme assisted me with the newspaper, Isoko Times, pending when the Akpavie family showed up. He chose to sponsor the printing of the newspaper, saying that Isoko must not lag behind and there must be a newspaper to present our aspirations to government and to also have a voice.
I agreed to manage the paper pending when the Akpavie family will show up. They never did so I quit the management of Isoko Times and went back to nollywood. Then, late Chief JAD Iboma came with his own Isoko project, on how I can manage a newspaper. Even when I tried convincing him that I can’t, he insisted “yes you can”. That is my journey into becoming a publisher.
Becoming a publisher is no easy feat. What are some of the challenges you encountered along the way?
Thank you. My experience are enormous, the issue of debt is one of the major problem. When some of our people advertise with us, they deliberately don’t like paying. Not just men, even women are involved. We have some who boasted that if they pay money owed, then they are “bastards”. Of course they are bastards. Some time ago one woman boasted that her husband had given her the money for the second time, but she would not give it to me; that if she does, I should change her name. We have been harassed with lawyers. We have some recorded interviews with their voice and when the publication comes out they denied. At times when we approach some of them to hear their part, they call us “local newspaper,” but when we hit the newsstand, they start using the Police to harass us. It has been God fighting our battles and some few well-meaning sons of Isoko nation and non-indigenes.
How have you continued to sustain the newspaper, fund-wise, seeing that some others, including national dailies, which started about the same time with Isoko Mirror, have closed down or stopped printing hard copies?
Like I said earlier it has been God and the few well-meaning progressive indigenes and non-indigenes who feel we are doing a great job, most especially our board of directors who says the Isoko project must not die and have been supporting us financially. I want to specially mention late Chief Rex Azere who sponsored the first Heroes and Heroines of Development projects in 2008. We have taken loans with interest just to keep the newspaper afloat, couple with self-denial.
Organisations such as yours do come under criticisms and legal battles. Can you mention some criticisms and legal fights you have experienced in the course of the years?
Some of our people who owed and don’t like paying resort to blackmail, so it has not been easy. They fight spiritually and physically. The biggest of the problem we have encountered is some elites and so who believe that by colonizing our people saying that Isoko Mirror is an Isoko South newspaper so it shouldn’t be sold in the North especially in Ozoro.
Anytime I am opportune to speak, I always educate our people on this Isoko South and North thing. We have just two local government area yet we are divided, late Chief JAD Iboma from Uzere in Isoko South, had the dream and he needed someone to actualize it and I was chosen to pilot the ship. When I was tired and wanted to quit, Chief Dr Opa Williams from Aradhe, Isoko North, gave us an advert for one year and said I should run the newspaper for one year and if our people are not ready for change, you can now talk about quitting.
Isoko South started it and Isoko North cemented it. If I did not have integrity, I would have gone with the N60,000 Opa gave me in 2005. But I have a name to protect, I have always had a name and my late parents always advised to choose good name above riches saying “when there is no money you have your name and it will take you places”.
Being a woman, the challenges must have been twice, if not thrice, as hard in a male dominated industry. How has this shaped your personality?
Well, because I have always been in showbiz, from music to acting, to journalism I have gone through a lot of phases. My upbringing has helped to shape me. I resigned from Isoko News because of integrity. I was not ready to compromise. So some of my colleagues then fought with me physically. But when they went spiritually, I had to resign. Also, when I was the chairman of the publishers in Delta state, it was the same. They didn’t want an office, I stood my ground and rented an office and for the three years of my reign as chairman of the publishers, we had an office and secretary. They nicknamed me “Iron Lady.” I did not care all I wanted was our comfort, not sharing of money, or a few eating alone. In everything I give God all the glory because His grace, mercy and favour spoke for me.
Any regrets that you ventured into journalism, is there something you wish you could change?
No, I don’t have regrets because God has been my drive force. I may have had hard times in my journey of life. I still give God the glory for enabling me move from one stage to another in the spheres of life. One must know and believe that we are created for a purpose. You don’t dictate where you are born. So whatever talent God has deposited in you must be carried out and with God on your side you eventually succeed.
What are some of the landmark achievements you have accomplished as the publisher of Isoko Mirror?
The achievements may not be much, but I have established that when you set out to do something and you’re focused, you can excel. My major achievement is sustaining the newspaper for 15 years and to have discovered an Isoko talented youth in 2002 who could assemble speakers at the age of 24, with only a primary school leaving certificate. It is a great feat and to have sent him to school to upgrade his talent at Ogor technical college without any help from our people except for one person who supported us with N50,000, is a bigger achievement to me.
Why did you choose Isoko Mirror as a name? Isn’t that limiting your readership and scope?
Well during consultation at the beginning, we arrived at the name Isoko Mirror because of the aims and objectives. Mirroring our cultural values, yearnings and activities happening in Isokoland and environs to the world, and to also import news from across the world to the Isoko people. So even when investors came and said we should change the name from Isoko Mirror, I said we cannot because other tribes are promoting their brand so why should the name “Isoko” die?
However, what the man who had the dream, late Chief JAD Iboma, had in mind is to place Isoko in the map of the world and the man who cemented it Chief Dr Opa Williams had Isoko at heart. So what we did was to rebrand our online name to imirroronline.com.ng. What matters most is the concept of the brand which is educating, promoting, entertaining and celebrating.
What are your hopes and expectations for the newspaper in the coming years?
Thank you. At a point, the man who had the dream got discouraged because our people were not encouraging. I told him that we shall get there. There is nothing God cannot do. If other tribes can keep their brands, why can’t we? I know we are not a cursed land.
Isoko Mirror is beyond Felida, the man who had the dream is dead even while he was alive he did not believe we will go this far. The Isoko Mirror is beyond me. I look forward to when I will retire and rest while the newspaper continues. I believe God will bring the right people who will invest in this Isoko project. The first newspaper in Nigeria is Iwe Iroyin founded in 1859 by a missionary, not a Nigerian. Till date the paper is not dead. It is not a political paper that is why it survived. The newspaper is for everybody. I am looking forward to Isoko patriots who will invest in the project and keep the brand and the flag flying.
What advice do you have for upcoming journalists, especially the female folks?
My advice for upcoming journalists is to be creative, focused and dedicated in their line of job. Above all, let integrity be their watchword, perish envy and jealousy for them to grow, but most importantly they should have passion, for, passion is the driving force behind every success.
How are you celebrating the Isoko Mirror 15th year anniversary?
Thank you, we have special programs lined up for this special anniversary. We shall be celebrating the entrepreneurs in Isoko who have made Isoko thick and mentors who are role models and have inspired and shaped our people. Lastly, a lecture will be part of the events coming up in December. Date and venue will be made public soonest.

Subscribe to our newsletter for news update:

About the Author

-

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Konga Verified Blogger

Konga Verified Blogger

IN THE NEWS