WHAT GOT ME INTERESTED IN JOURNALISM – Breakthrough Television’s Ganee Adewuyi
Mr. Ganee Adewuyi has come a long way in the pen-pushing profession. Currently the MD/CEO of Breakthrough Television, the producers of Check It Out, the erstwhile Climax Magazine and Worldwide Sports staffer opened up on his career and family in this exciting interview with YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, AZUH ARINZE, in his office in Ikeja, Lagos, on Monday, July 21, 2014. Enjoy…
First, can we meet Mr. Ganee Adewuyi?
Yeah! Ganee Adewuyi is a young man; younger than Azuh (General laughter)…I was born over 50 years ago; from Osun State. I studied Journalism at NIJ (Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Ogba, Lagos). I left in 1993. I’ve worked with so many media houses. I was an editor of a soft sell in those days, a pictorial magazine called Romance International. That was in the 80s. Later I joined Complete Football; we started Climax Magazine with Sunny Obazu-Ojeagbase, Moji Danisa; later, FAJ came (Femi Akintunde-Johnson), Ehi Braimah, then Mumuni Alao. He’s the MD of Complete Communications Limited now. Later, I went to Alpha Communications and Alpha Advertising. I was PA to the MD. From there, I went to a bank, Horizon Mortgage Finance, a mortgage bank then. I spent 4 years there, left and went back to join Segun Odegbami. He was publishing a football magazine then; I’ve forgotten the name. I was the GM, Worldwide Sports. We were producing sports programmes on TV. I remember Saturday Sports Special that pioneered sports broadcasting in Nigeria. Then, we had One Hour With Segun Odegbami on AIT and so many other TV programmes. I left there in 1999 to set up Breakthrough Television. Our first programme was Sports Circuit on LTV 8. Later, we moved into entertainment with a programme called Check It Out, where we interview celebrities, we do documentaries and so many other things. And to God be the glory, that programme, Check It Out, clocked 15 years, February this year. So, that’s precisely the story of Ganee Adewuyi.
Tell us about your family…
I’m married to Deaconess Funmi Adewuyi, from Agenebode in Edo State. We have four children to the glory of God. My first daughter, Yinka wedded on August 9. We’ve been together for 30 years. That’s my life.
As someone who has been enjoying married life for 30 years, what would you say has keep your marriage going and intact? What is the secret?
I want to say God is the secret. From what I read in the papers about these celebrity marriages, most of them are not compatible. I got married very early in life. I had my first daughter when I was barely 24 years old. I was working with Leventis Stores, I was a typist and sincerely, there was nothing on ground. Although everybody will say I had a future, I didn’t think about my future then. I was just doing my thing as 2 Face said. Just doing my thing. Typing with Leventis Stores, we met and the chemistry just worked. I love her, she loves me. We’ve been through so many thick and thin, but one thing I’ve noticed with her is that she loves me so much. When I had no job for 9 months, she was there, feeding the family. That’s how I got a job with Segun Odegbami, just like I said earlier. Things changed.
Up till now, she’s still professing that love. So, when I see marriages break up soon, I tend to ask: what is the problem? Are they not compatible? Celebrity marriages, sincerely, that word – celebrity, when I hear it, I laugh. Because it looks fake to me; like you are acting. It is not what you are really that you portray outside. You want to tell people that I am known, fine! If you are known, you are known outside, but with your wife, you should just be Azuh Arinze at home and let her know everything about you. But it is not the case in Nigeria and it is very unfortunate.
What don’t you like about your wife?
Hmmm! I’ve not seen anything! On a very serious note, Azuh, I just love everything about Funmi.
Any time both of you disagree, how do you resolve it; who apologises first?
If I err, I will have to apologise and she does the same. You know in the Bible, there’s a word of God that says yes, you can be angry, but don’t let it go beyond 12 hours. That’s what the Bible says. Because we pray every morning in the house and you know you have to read Bible passages in the morning and we hold each other’s hands. So, how can I fight you yesterday and still hold your hands this morning? So, before every new day, we try to settle our quarrels and that has kept us going.
What is the toughest battle that both of you have fought to keep your marriage?
That was when I was jobless for 9 months. It was like 9 years. I had to withdraw some of my children from the nursery school that they were in then, borrowed money. She was, I don’t know how to put it now; she was working on nylon. We call it nylon; nylon that they use in packaging bread. She had this hand-made engine that was bringing it out and I was at NIJ at the same time. She will buy oil for my car, buy petrol into that Beetle car then. That was the toughest time in my life. But thank God we were able to overcome.
Let’s go back to your business. What prompted Breakthrough Television?
You know I said I went to NIJ. In fact, initially, I wanted to read PR (Public Relations) at NIJ. Ehi Braimah, we worked together at Complete Football. He now called me, he was GM of Ideas Communications then. Ehi now said why do you want to read PR, why not read Journalism? There, you will read PR, you will do Marketing, you will do Law and so on. Media Law and Ethics. And that was how I changed from PR to Journalism at NIJ. And one day, there was this Good Morning Nigeria programme, which Segun Odegbami was the Executive Producer. I was watching it on NTA 10 then. One hour programme. It was a documentary programme and I saw some ‘faults’ and I wrote a letter to Segun Odegbami. He now called me and said ah-ah, do you know anything about broadcasting? I said I just graduated from NIJ. And that was it! He called me and said okay, come and handle my business arm and that was how I became the GM of Worldwide Sports. And from there the interest grew. Although I developed that interest a long time ago. Just like I said, I started reading, I think, from age 17, Spear Magazine in those days, Drum, Time magazines. In fact, there was a time I got admission to College of Journalism, London, but there was no money for me to pursue it. So, I developed interest in journalism about when I was 17 years of age and later it now came to broadcast journalism and since then, I must confess, God has been so good.
So, what would you say has kept you glued to journalism?
I think it’s perseverance. Yeah! Perseverance! I am passionate about this. Once you have passion…Just like I was asking you the other time about print, once you are passionate about something, you will continue to do it. Everyday I spend here, I enjoy it.
What distinguishes Breakthrough Television from the other people who also do what you do?
Yeah, ours is different because where I was coming from – from Climax where you interview celebrities. I’ve been reading FAME from inception. I remember that their pay off – only a thief will ask for more. And so on. From the beginning! So, that’s the difference there. We’ve been interacting with celebrities for over 20 years now.
What will you say makes a good journalist?
I must confess to you, to be a good journalist, I wouldn’t say we don’t have them now. We have them, but it is not as it was in those days. Because the remunerations are no longer there. I know some people are making it in journalism, but not everybody, because of the economic situation in Nigeria now. To be a good journalist, you must be passionate about the profession. I used to love somebody in Newswatch then – I think his name is Wale Oladipo or something. He was an investigative journalist. This man will go to Nigerian Railway, pick vouchers’ numbers and publish it in Newswatch. I started reading Newswatch from the first edition of that magazine. Later, to Tell, to The News and so on. So, to be a good journalist, you must be clean. Most of the time these days, our people don’t dig deep. Once they hear something, it is gone. I remember Climax in those days, they were calling it a junk magazine. It wasn’t! And I will say it again and again. When we said Folawiyo was going to marry that woman (Abbah); somebody heard it, I’ve forgotten that boy’s name, a reporter and then we confirmed it, we published it. The following day, the guy, Alhaji Wahab Folawiyo, took a quarter page in The Guardian or The Punch and said it was not true. At the end of the day, did he not marry her? When we said Ojukwu was to marry Bianca, the man took us to court. At the end of the day, did it not happen? So, when they say that soft sells are junk, it is not true. The point is, you tell them what they do in the secret and they don’t like it.
What do you like most about being a journalist?
What I like most? Maybe I should say you get to know so many things. Like now, I can talk finance, I can talk sports, I can talk so many things. That is the exposure I have gotten from being a journalist.
What don’t you like about being a journalist?
No money there! No money! But just because of the love…
What is the greatest thing that journalism has done for you?
Maybe I should say I’ve been able to express myself. I remember I was anchoring a programme in Ibadan for 8 years and I saw so many things that were happening in the then Ladoja government and I was highlighting them on the programme and people were looking at me like this guy, how brave; how can you be saying all these on air and nothing has happened to you? I remember Arisekola, Ladoja, Adedibu and…I interviewed Alhaji Adedibu several times, one on one. I will go to the Special Adviser on Media to Ladoja to corroborate whatever Adedibu said and I loved it. I loved it!
What has journalism not done for you?
Not done? (Yes) What has it not done? I think everything I have asked for; to God be the glory! I have three children that are graduates. Yinka is the first; graduated from Covenant University; Abraham is second; graduated from Covenant; then Coventry University in the UK; I have a son now in Sydney reading Petroleum Engineering, Master’s level…
(Interruption) – What’s his own name?
How about the fourth one?
The fourth one is just 17, just finished secondary school. The name is Eniola Adewuyi. So, I’m a young man (General laughter).
What’s your dream for Breakthrough Television?
The dream is to have a channel and we are praying towards it, we are working towards it as well to have a TV channel.
Away from work, what do you do for relaxation?
I’m in the church, I’m a pastor. I love to go out as well, but most times, time does not permit me. I like to go to all these awards: YES! @ 3 and so on and so forth (General laughter). I love to be there. But by the time it will be on Sunday, I will be in the church.
Can you recollect the most memorable story that you have done as a journalist?
That was when I interviewed the Special Adviser to Ladoja (Rashidi, former Governor of Oyo State), Prince Adekanbi and he said one million Adedibus cannot impeach Ladoja. And I went back to Adedibu to corroborate that and he said I should not bother, that in the next 6 months, it will be done. And he did it (Laughter). And he did it!
Can you recollect the worst story that you have done?
I don’t think I’ve done any. You know I have a guiding principle – I want to dig deep. I remember Sunny Ojeagbase used to say you can squeeze water out of a stone. So, I love to dig deep into a story before it is out. That’s why in those days, we can do a story for 2 weeks, before we broadcast on TV. But these days, we no longer do that. We are purely an entertainment programme now.
A lot of people in the traditional media are worried about the coming of the social media. In what way has it affected your business?
We have so many social media journalists now (General laughter). When I read some things on FB, I just laugh. There was a time I think a plane was bought by Omotola Jalade’s husband (Capt. Matthew) and it was being towed, I think, to Badagry or so. And it was parked at a petrol station in Igando, where I live. Before I got there, people were just posting funny photographs. Photograph that was not the real plane that was parked there was online. And I had to take the photograph, I interviewed the DPO of Igando and I posted it. Things like that, I don’t like. When you post it that something like this is happening, whereas it is not. So, that is what I don’t like. Because everybody is now a journalist on Facebook. I love what is going on in Osun now, I call it social media war – PDP and APC, cooking up stories and so on. And what they don’t know is that most of the people on Facebook don’t reside in Osun State; they are in Lagos here. How does it affect what is going to happen on August 9? So, those are the things I don’t like about social media.
You’ve admitted that the Almighty God has been nice to you, what more do you want from Him?
No doubt about it. Long life and good health. I want to serve Him more. I’ve been a pastor for 12 years; from 2002. Yes! 12 years. And we are building a church. I will invite you when it is completed. Long life and good health.
The church you pastor, what is called?
Christ Gospel Apostolic Church…
You founded it or something?
Nooooo! I’m just one of the pastors. The founder is an 89-year-old man and we have our headquarters at Isolo (Lagos). Good health! I want to serve Him more. Contentment. That’s what I have now.
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