“This is a paper that was established in 1949 and at that time we were yet to dream of Nigerian independence. This paper has remained on the newspaper stands for the last 66 years and still counting. For us, it’s a big responsibility managing this kind of institution.”

Dixon Edward

Dixon Edward, although a man whose profession is finding out the need to know on politics, the economy and anything newsworthy, he is ironically a very private man. His power lies in his deep love and understanding of Nigeria and its people. He was one of the print media major players during the famous June 12 period in Nigerian history. Through his knack for exposing issues, he crusaded for the Nigerian people, fighting for justice, liberty and peace.

What is your educational background?

I had all my education in the South West although I’m not from the here; I’m from Delta State. I’ve been in Ibadan all my life; I was born here, went to primary and then a private secondary school in Oyo. I then proceeded for my HSCE in Ogbomosho Grammar School before returning to the University of Ibadan where I studied Classics for my first degree and Managerial Psychology for my Masters. I am a Fellow of the International Center for Foreign Journalist in the U.S, a member of the Guild of Editors and a member of the LUJ.Centre for Foreign Journalist in the U.S, a member of the Guild of Editors and a member of the LUJ.

What was the journey like leading to your position as MD of Tribune?

I started my journalism career at Tribune in 1989 or thereabout. I worked as a reporter on the politics desk. In March 1993, I had to move on to The Punch newspaper. I was also on the politics desk in the thick of the crusading for the validation of June 12. One thing that is a bit instructive about my going to The Punch was that it was not on my radar. I was invited one afternoon and the rest became history. I joined The Punch that year in 1993 and was with them for a couple of years. At that time, The Punch was not known to be in the category of major newspapers before March 1993 but they had this challenge to give a new direction to the paper to report serious journalism as the paper was just known at the time for writing on entertainment and the Page 3 Girl. When we got there, there was a repackaging of the newspaper at the thick of the revolution that took place in The Punch. As a matter of fact, our set gave a new definition to whatever you have in The Punch today. We pioneered that and we did the crusading for 17 months. It would interest Nigerians to know that we did the crusading during the IBB era and June 12 and within 17 months The Punch was closed down twice and proscribed twice. The Punch crusading was under the editorship of Mr. Abolawole and was very intense.  Yet, during that time I overheard some Nigerians on the bus talking about how, despite our crusading, it was good that the Federal Government had closed us down, that we were writing trash! I sat back on the bus and wondered that if we had been killed in the course of the crusading was this what people would be saying? Right at that point, I felt disenchanted and disappointed. So I left The Punch newspaper and ventured into the world of business because I felt that Nigerians were not receptive to the crusading that we were doing back then because it seemed a thankless job. But somehow because of my flair for journalism, I found my way back to The Nigerian Tribune. Upon my return, I was appointed the Group Politics Editor and after four years, I became an Editor of an arm of the Tribune. After another four years, I became the Editor of the Nigerian Tribune then after another 4 years, I became the Managing Director. In September 2016, I’ll be four years as the MD.

How have your experiences shaped the governing of Tribune as MD?

The truth of the matter is that when I came back, it was from the background of the crusading. There is something about Tribune; you’d find that of the three editors they have at The Punch, two of them were ex-staff of the Nigerian Tribune newspaper. Upon taking over as the MD, we came with a 4- point agenda. We’ve been able to so far achieve three of the four. We’ve been able to cut down on staff from 800 when we came into less than 400 including contract workers. We’ve repackaged the newspaper by giving a new editorial direction to the paper. And finally, we’ve incorporated technology into the paper; we’ve gotten a new machine that has helped us to be competitive.  The fourth aspect concentrates on the marketing of the newspaper, which requires a lot of effort, especially with the current economic problems. By the grace of God, we keep getting better and the truth of the matter is that Tribune has a better and bigger pedigree when it comes to crusading for the masses because of the ownership of the paper. The owner of the paper dedicated his life to crusading for the masses, Awolowo’s life, politics; everything about him was dedicated to improving the life of the masses. So there is no paper that is better placed than the Nigerian Tribune newspaper. It is instructive to say that Tribune is the only nationally known institution when it comes to the media because Tribune predates the independence of this country and it is a national institution to that extent. This is a paper that was established in 1949 and at that time we were yet to dream of the Nigerian independence.  This paper has remained on the newspaper stands for the last 66 years and still counting. For us, it is a big responsibility managing this kind of institution. It goes without saying that The Tribune is not just any type of newspaper.

How is the newspaper planning to engage the Nigerian youth and getting them to read the newspaper?

Our focus now is connecting with the younger generation at different levels, giving them expert opinions on history, politics and the economy. All the problems of this country in the last 20 years were issues that Obafemi Awolowo talked about and proffered solutions to but the young people today don’t know. If they do not know, it is our duty as a newspaper to bring this information to them. We regard this as important. We intend to do this through the youthful passions such as music, sports, and entrepreneurship and in doing this we hope to be able to pull them. Once we can, we know they will go beyond entertainment and sports to read other aspects contained in the newspaper. It’s such a huge job and we trust that by God’s grace we should be able to achieve it. These are the tasks we’ve set for the youth, to bring them out and put them where they ought to be and make them people that can intelligently engage our leaders. We don’t want a society that continues to allow frivolous people to run the country. We need our youths to be able to ask the right questions, and have a national movement that can handle issues. This is what we at the Nigerian Tribune, we are elected to do.

 

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