Saturday, 14 February 2015

Valentine Special with DAAR GMD, TONY AKIOTU: “The Secret of my 22 years marriage” + Why Many People fail in life & how he runs AIT


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Anegbe Tony Akiotu to Asabeafrika....'There is no short cut to hard work'

Prologue...
 Anegbe Tony Akiotu is one of Nigeria’s busiest media CEOs if you know what it means to be one. The Chairman, Media Committee of the Nigeria Election Debate Group is a man of huge responsibilities who calls the shots as the Number 2 man at Nigeria’s most watched private licensed network, AIT.
The London School of Journalism trained broadcaster is one of the reformers in the African Media sector with huge responsibility to create, direct and manage innovations that will put his organization in the league of leading media concerns in the continent of Africa.  In the hierarchy of power, at DAAR Group, the Auchi, Edo state born media guru is actually the Number 3 with Chief Raymond Paul Dokpesi Jnr, scion of the DAAR Group’s founder, High Chief (Dr.) Raymond Aleogho Dokpesi’s dynasty coming first  and his father who is presently on sabbatical coming second.  But with Chief Dokpesi Snr’s leave of absence due to political activities, Mr. Anegbe Tony Akiotu comes second as the next man in line.  
Mr. Anegbe Tony Akiotu poses for Asabeafrika

He has served in various leadership capacities at DAAR Communications and the Nigerian media industry as a whole. He was the former Executive Director of News and Sports at DAAR Communications. He also served as Vice President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors at a particular time and was recently appointed as the Chairman of the Media Committee of the Nigeria Election Debate Group.
 Akiotu, a former Head of Marketing and Sales at DAAR Communications started his career as a sport journalist at the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) which culminated in several promotions prominent of which is Head of the Sports Unit of FRCN. He joined DAAR Group as one of the pioneer staff in 1994 and rose through the rank to become the group’s number 2 man. An alumnus of UNILAG and Deutshe institute, Germany, Akiotu is a well-travelled and accomplished Sports journalist of over two decade experience. Today, the 56 years old Akiotu who cherishes hard work above any other virtue of life sits atop a media empire that is not only vast in outreach but equally the most talked about in present day Nigeria.
Mr. Anegbe Tony Akiotu stressing a point to Celebrity blogger, Gbenga Dan Asabe during the encounter

Meeting the DAAR GMD.....
On my arrival at Abuja in the evening of Saturday January 31st, Mr. Akiotu was one of those Very Important Nigerians i planned to meet and the need to meet him was real as I needed him to contribute to a private research i am working on. It actually started from his Lagos office in the last couple of weeks until luck smiled me in the late hours of Monday February 2nd in Abuja. We arrived the DAAR Communications Complex, Kpaduma Hills by Ladi Kwale Drive off General TY Danjuma street;  Asokoro Abuja office some minutes to the agreed 2:30pm appointment time with him but we couldn’t talk to him until 6pm in the evening.
 It was an encounter full of suspense and drama as the DAAR Communication boss was very busy on his desk with several engagements and we had to wait for hours before a slight opportunity presented itself in the later part of the evening for us to engage Mr. Akiotu. At the appointed hour your soar away Africa’s number 1 celebrity encounter blog Asabeafrika had the honour of meeting one of Nigeria’s best brains in media business at the board room side of his giant spaced Abuja office. Akiotu told us the story of his life from nothing to something and how he has been able to play his role as a husband, leader of men and role model. He equally shared the secret of a successful marriage with us as a veteran of over two decades. Enjoy the excerpts.
Gbenga Dan Asabe of Asabeafrika with the Media CEO, Tony Akiotu of DAAR Group after the exclusive encounter

The CEO who works 36 hours in 24 hours...
Considering the fact that the encounter nearly proved difficult to achieve due to his in and out schedules between Lagos and Abuja office of DAAR Group, we asked Akiotu why it was so difficult for him to be pinned down and this is how the Auchi, Edo state born Media guru put it “Thirty six hours of work in twenty four hours is amazing. I was telling a friend of mine that was seated in my office who was one year my senior in secondary school before you arrived, that on Thursday night I slept at 1am and on Friday night I didn’t sleep until about 4am of early Saturday and on that same Saturday I was up and about with the presidential debate organization as the media spokesman. I am the chairman of Media committee of the presidential debate group and on Sunday I slept at 3am and my friend said to me ‘ooh and you are still looking as calm and relaxed?’ I said ‘well, I am already used to it. It doesn’t come this way every time it is because of the political season that we found ourselves and that is why it became unusual. But in terms of the work routine, the work routine remains the way it is. I mean you work in a company that is a licensed network all over Nigeria. 
The GDA hands a copy of General Sam Momah's new book, Nigeria

One of the two, three top license networks on radio and TV and then you are also viewed across almost every part of the world. So, there is every reason to believe that on daily basis, there have to be positive and negative complaints about the contents we dish out; how it impacts on people and the society at large. So, it is a routine I am used to; haven been in the media for about 37 years. I have lived all my life working as a journalist, as a broadcaster. So, I am used to it and I believe someday I will also write my memoir about “the high and low moments” of administration. Particularly I have been in administration for close to 15 years. So, I think I will leave my foot print in the sands of time and for people who are going to document history like you.
 “I have travelled all over the world. I have covered about three editions of the world cup, I have covered two Olympics, I have covered almost four to five All African Games, I have covered Commonwealth Games, I have covered the Nation’s Cup and I said ‘Look, I have seen it all. So, what else do I want to achieve? And I said to myself ‘well, the next place to be is to impact knowledge in the younger generation, it is to be a role model; it is to inspire the youth”.
Mr. Anegbe Anthony Akiotu waiting on the GDA as we fired the first question during the rare encounter
The transformation: from Sports Analyst to Media CEO
I wanted him to tell this blog how comfortable it was for him to transform from a sport analyst/broadcaster to a media CEO within a career life span of three decades “I can’t explain; perhaps, it is difficult to explain” Akiotu noted with a strong passion on his face “I have always wanted to make a name and a mark in sports journalism. I have always believed that the average Nigerian, the only thing, the elixir, the tonic the average Nigerian needs especially at times of stress, especially at times of critical distraction like we have today in politics, is sport. That is particularly football. All along I was never a good footballer so to speak; even in school but I just have the natural talent of being able to interpret or analyse the game of football almost effortlessly, almost effortlessly. In more cases than one, if I tell you out of every two cases that the result will be merged or a performance of a team will come this way, I am always right. So, most times when my colleagues sit down with me and we analyse sports they always concede the skill to be a perfect seer to me. For instance for the first time, in almost eight years, I told some of my staff at the sport department of AIT two weeks ago that Arsenal was going to beat Man-city at home in a football match in so many years apart and they were shocked why I said so. 
Mr. Anegbe Tony Akiotu poses for Asabeafrika

So, such things happens and it is based on a rare gift that I had and that got me attracted to sports and I thank God that I was able to leave a little mark in that industry. But something that I have a knack for, haven been in the media for as long that I have, after about seventeen, eighteen years I asked myself ‘what else do I want to do?, what would I want to do?’ I mean I have travelled all over the world. I have covered about three editions of the world cup, I have covered two Olympics, I have covered almost four to five All African Games, I have covered Commonwealth Games, I have covered the Nation’s Cup and I said ‘Look, I have seen it all. So, what else do I want to achieve? And I said to myself ‘well, the next place to be is to impact knowledge in the younger generation, it is to be a role model; it is to inspire the youth. To make them believe that they can do as much, even better than me. And how would I do it? The only way to do it is for me to take up managerial position and then I gradually started taking up courses in management both in Nigeria and outside Nigeria to prepare myself for that role. I took courses in Germany, in America and the United Kingdom, I went for different trainings, preparing myself for the position I found myself today. So, that has prepared me for this task of micro-managing or managing on a large scale in terms of running a media empire”. 

“In most cases you discover that issues that creates problems, tension in marriage, social tension, matrimonial tension, financial tension or whatever tension are things that are engineered from the outside. They are caused by people who either give one of the parties a false opinion of what is not true. And then it is either you take it or you hold it or you try to escalate it”
The GDA hands a copy of General Sam Momah's new book, Nigeria
Raymond Aleogho Dokpesi according to Anegbe Tony Akiotu
Working at such a close range with the founder of DAAR Communication Group, High Chief (Dr.) Raymond Aleogho Dokpesi (OFR) Tony must have taken more heats than any other person in the empire as the No 2 man. We asked him to describe his boss to this blog and  he goes like this “He is an enigma, a pragmatic indescribable philanthropist, a lion with a baby’s heart. A kind hearted benevolent humanist, a man ahead of his times who will only be remembered and cherished after he has passed on. He has insatiable appetite for work; his effortless memory for facts, dates and figures is legendary. A thorough professional; an engineer who “Strayed” into broadcasting and has acquired more skills, knowledge of broadcasting than broadcasters who have put in decades into the profession. So, Chief Raymond Aleogho Dokpesi is much more than the way I have described him. This is just the tip of the iceberg about my rating of him and interpretation of his person”
The charming ambience of Mr. Tony Akiotu's Abuja office

Me, marriage & Work
For a man who works 36 hours in 24 hours, his wife and family would naturally feel the backlash. How does the DAAR Communications GMD compensate madam for his several off home assignments as a busy media CEO? He told us after introducing his wife “My wife is Mrs Ann Charity Akiotu, she is into events management. She is one of the most beautiful women that I have ever met, a very caring mother, loving, kind, and understanding. If you don’t have an understanding wife, she will never be able to keep a marriage beyond twenty-four hours in this profession. Especially in broadcasting; so, she has shown tremendous understanding. Sometimes to call me at work time, she must summon a lot of courage because she is not too sure that I will pick the call. So, she has sometimes through social network, had to chat with me so that she will be sure that her husband is still alive, kicking and strong (Laughter). 
DAAR GMD, Akiotu to Asabeafrika...'Marriage is a secret deal between the man and the woman, no 2nd party allowed'

Once in a while she does that. But for me, my greatest consolation is the fact that while I am here like a soldier on the field, trying to conquer many fronts, she has kept the home front going; the kids have had the best of education outside Nigeria. Some of the best schools in England and she is always there tendering to their needs and seeing to their challenges. As we speak, she is in London to see one of the kids and find out how he is doing at the university, to make sure that he is in good company and in good comfort. So, these are the things that stand her out but every day I make it a point of duty that at least, we must speak at night before she goes to bed or I go to bed. But in the past ten years we have had to almost leave apart but that has not in any way affected the marriage for the fact that, she has a husband or I have a wife who occasionally have to be in Lagos, Abuja, London or different parts of the world to take care of family needs and responsibilities”. 
“For me, I have always been enamoured. I have always been fascinated by broadcasters and broadcasting right from when I was in class one in secondary school. So, I told myself this is the way I was going to be. So, I lived my dream, I did not allow myself to be distracted”.
The DAAR GMD in a rare pose with Asabeafrika's GDA
Less gossip...secret of successful marriage...
Our special guest on Asabeafrika is graduate of 22 years marriage with a genuine certificate in love and credible home management and that was why we asked him to tell us the secret of building a successful marriage especially for couples in this valentine period “I don’t know if about twenty-two, twenty three years is makes me a veteran like you said but if that is what it is, I will like to say it is a lot of tolerance, it is a lot of patience. Less or non-existing gossips; one of the greatest challenges to a surviving marriage is gossip and allowing a second party to be involved in your marriage. Don’t ever, don’t ever allow a second party to be involved in your marriage weather it is your father, your mother or her own father or mother, brother, sister; marriage is strictly between two people; it is like a deal, a covenant, an agreement signed between two people no other person has a role to play in it. Whatever issue, whatever problem between the two of you, you must lock up yourself in the house weather at night, morning or afternoon to iron out whatever the issues are between yourselves. You and your wife or your partner can best iron out whatever differences that you have. In most cases you discover that issues that creates problems, tension in marriage, either social tension, matrimonial tension, financial tension or whatever tension are things that are engineered from the outside. They are caused by people who either give one of the parties a false opinion of what is not true. And then it is either you take it or you hold it or you try to escalate it. But in a situation where you don’t allow a second party like I said, in whatever form, to get involve in your marriage you will find out like a muster seed, you will continue to grow and grow into an oak tree overnight and you have no reason to believe you can’t take it from one decade to another decade to another decade. I really think it is high level of understanding, tolerance and goodwill”
The GDA showing Mr. Akiotu the special autograph by General Sam Momah to him

I dreamt of becoming a successful broadcaster at age 12...
Mr. Akiotu who is an experienced management expert told us certain things young people need to be able to grow in their endeavours when we asked him to give us his opinion on how to develop the younger generation “The first thing I always tell the younger ones is to find their passion. I mean I made up my mind that I was going to go into broadcasting at the age of twelve. I say to people “Live your dream; live your dream”. For me, I have always been enamoured. I have always been fascinated by broadcasters and broadcasting right from when I was in class one in secondary school. So, I told myself this is the way I was going to be. So, I lived my dream, I did not allow myself to be distracted. Most of my colleagues you will permit me to keep their names, most of my colleagues who schooled with me at Baptist Academy, even Mr. Bola Bakare who is seated (Sitting across the large room) as this interview run, was one year my senior. 
Tony Akiotu to Asabeafrika....'36 hours of work in 24 hours is amazing'

So, most of them if you ask them they will tell you that right from class one in secondary school, they knew I was going into broadcasting even most of them did not know probably if they are going into banking, engineering, medicine but I knew. I was focused, I was determined. So, it wasn’t a case of a mismatch. I knew what I wanted to be; so, most young people today try to look for a job because they want to pick a living, they want to earn an income but you must do something you love doing; from love will come material gains, material benefits and other things that will accrue. Some people will tell you ‘ooh, we don’t believe broadcasters or journalists are well paid’ but I always tell them ‘yes, you can be a broadcaster or a journalist but you can always do something else. Who says that journalists cannot also become auto biographers? Who says a journalist cannot also have an estate? Or go into real estate business? Of course you can, you can also manage an estate business. Your knowledge and expertise acquired as a broadcaster or a broadcast manager, can also be used to manage other businesses. You can be an entrepreneur in other areas. So, it doesn’t mean that because you are a successful broadcaster you can’t do any other thing. As a successful broadcaster you can manage any business. 
The GDA....waiting to meet the GMD

Broadcasting is a business; so, if you can manage a broadcast house, you can manage a bank. You can manage any other business or any other portfolio. So, I do believe that young men should as I said earlier, young men should identify their God given talents and passion and don’t get distracted. You see some young people, they will say ‘ooh, I have worked on radio and TV or magazine or newspaper for three, four to five years, oh, there is no money, and materially I am not better off, now I want to cross over to banking. I can tell you that about 25% to 40 % of people in our profession; weather it is in print or electronic media have at different times strayed away only to come back. Some will go into banking, some will go into different areas of endeavour and they will realize that ‘oh, they are not finding fulfilment or they are not finding happiness and they will come back again because it is a passion. Writing is a passion, it is a skill; if you don’t have it, you don’t have it and once you have it you don’t want to leave it and you don’t want it to leave you. So, it is the same thing with a broadcaster, once you are used to the microphone. Once you are used to having what we call the eloquence and if you communicate on a daily basis it becomes a part of you and you don’t want it to leave you and you don’t want to leave it. Quite honestly, I think the younger ones today, have to do some kind of re-appraisal, reconnection of their goals, their vision in life and I am sure by so doing they will get it right”
Anegbe Tony Akiotu, GMD, DAAR Group

Why AIT is No 1
  On what the GMD feels about the perception that his organization AIT is partisan  and a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Sympathizer, Akiotu denied the notion with a strong defence  “Our mantra has always been the same “to reflect all sides all the time”; we don’t in any way allow our offices to affect the editorial judgement of the station. As an independent station, AIT is founded on the principles and basics of fairness and giving all sides the opportunity; an opportunity to speak or to air their views on all issues at all times and we have had reasons for some people to doubt our editorial independence because the founder of the company has a political affiliation but sometimes people forget that like every human being, he is entitled to his political life and each time he does this (Joins any political train) he goes on sabbatical. He doesn’t in anyway tamper with our editorial independence. And this has happened over and over again. There was never a time AIT, Raypower or DAAR Communications would carry a story or a news report and then we deny the other party a chance for fair hearing or a chance for a reaction or right of reply which is legitimate in this profession. So, a right of reply is guaranteed, legitimate and for us it is a tradition and a very serious aspect of this profession that we don’t joke with”. 

(This blog later handed a copy of the book Nigeria: beyond Divorce by General Sam Momah to Mr. Akiotu for giving us his precious time)

Gbenga Dan Asabe

Africa's Number One Celebrity Encounter Blog

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