My Broadcasting Journey Landscape in ‘Reel Life’– Pioneer NTA DG, Vincent Maduka
Veteran broadcast engineer Vincent Maduka’s ‘Reel Life’ chronicles the history of public broadcasting service in Africa, particularly from a Nigerian perspective.
The memoir captures both his personal and professional experiences at Western Nigeria Television (WNTV) from 1961 to 1968, to when he became the Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) from 1977 to 1986.
One of the memoir’s key themes is the use of TV programme content as a tool for unity and cultural change. Maduka provides exhaustive and relatable examples of how programmes such as ‘Village Headmaster’, ‘Cock Crow at Dawn’, and ‘New Masquerade’ promoted Nigeria’s diversity and culture. He also details the background, development, and training of manpower that formed the core of the personnel that started Nollywood.
“The Nigerian constitution of 1979 gave power to not only regions but also to individuals to set up TV stations. And the quality of TV today is likely the root of that. It has opened up competition, and people now have the choice, and stations are now competing for viewership. Clearly, the quality has gone up compared to what could have been a monopoly.
“With monopoly, we were the ones struggling to set standards, set benchmarks. The BBC, the American, those were the people we looked up to. Today, you look at your neighbour, you want to beat them,” Maduka said at a book reading recently held at Rovingheights Bookstore, Landmark Centre, Lagos. The War Against Indiscipline (WAI) campaign, which aimed to execute a mass mobilization or change of culture campaign with the use of themes and related actions on indiscipline, is another highlight of ‘Reel Life’. Maduka provides details on the background, development, and successful execution of the campaign, including how NTA filmed and edited the related actions and corrections for broadcasting.
His personal experiences with different military governments are also highlighted. He provides an insightful account of how civil servants deified military rulers, and how the civilian government of Shehu Shagari removed him from the role of NTA Director General (DG) for the station’s non-partisan role.He also demonstrates courage in his voluntary retirement from public service at the relatively young age of 50. ‘Reel Life’ shows that one can still achieve a lot after public service, considering Maduka’s exploits and achievements after retirement, including his work on the liberalization of the Nigerian telecommunication sector and the birth of its regulator, Nigerian Communication Commission.