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At 60, ace broadcaster, Soaga bows out of service

Soaga and wife

It was a moment of excitement for the veteran broadcast journalist, Alhaji Ayinde Soaga, as he recently bowed out of service of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), having attained the mandatory retirement age of 60.

While many people, especially his colleagues, were already feeling the vacuum his exit from office after 40 years would create, the elated celebrant said he was satisfied with his contributions to the industry and was ready to take his leave.

To him, 60 is only a number, as he still feels strong and young at heart. “At 60, I feel strong. I feel young and I am ready to go,” he exclaimed, as he thanked his family friends and colleagues, who had gathered to celebrate with him. “I am so grateful. I have looked around and found everybody.”
 
Soaga thanked God for sustaining him throughout his years in journalism, which spanned 1978, when he joined his broadcasting career with Ogun State Radio until March 2, 2021, when he turned 60 and had to leave according to the rules.
 
The birthday and retirement party was put together by three of his friends: Gbenga Onaiga, Gbenga Adeshina, and Senator Ita Enang, who took turns to extol his virtues.

 
He was eulogised for being dedicated to service and keeping tenaciously to journalism ethics and principles. They commended him particularly for maintaining a peaceful home front without losing focus at work.
 
In his brief remarks, the celebrant stated that it was good and satisfying to be a journalist.
 
“I must say that God has been good to me. I am strong; I feel young and I am ready to go,” he said, flanked by his wife, Monsurat, and children, whom he openly thanked for the unalloyed support granted him throughout the period of his career.
 
He attributed his success to the understanding and support he got from his family.     
 
As he left the stage, Soaga said he nursed no nostalgic feelings. “In fact, I am grateful to God that I am leaving. I have stayed too long in broadcasting. I joined broadcasting when I was only 18 years old.
 
“I just finished secondary school and I went to do the first Joint Admission and Matriculation Examination (JME) in Nigeria in 1978. I wanted to study Law.
 
“As I was coming back from the examination, I saw a crowd. They were having an audition at Ogun State Radio, Abeokuta. I alighted from the vehicle and went to take the audition. I passed the auditioning and the instant popularity of broadcasting lured me away from school. It was not until 1980 that I went back to school to study Mass Communication.
 
“I think I have given my best to broadcasting and at this stage, I am satisfied. I have no regret. I have done the best I could. I cannot prove anything again. I have been a newscaster, a presenter, and a reporter. I have also been an editor and producer and while doing all these, I gave the best I could.”
 
Soaga, who looked back to the time he joined the pen profession and what it is currently, held that there was no good or bad time to work as a journalist in Nigeria.
 
“Because life continues, we must live our lives. There is no good time or bad time. The time you come is defined by that moment and one should make use of that moment. I don’t think there is a good or a bad time in journalism. Rather, the time is defined by the nuances of that time,” he said.
 
Soaga, however, admitted that the media environment is more challenging now than in the past and consequently, admonished the younger generation of journalists to remember that survival is a word that has been in existence and can only be defined by the moment.

“Right now, the challenges are acute, particularly because it is a new world. When I joined NTA, it was the only national broadcast station. If you are on NTA, you know that when you broadcast, the whole nation is watching.

 
“The broadcast industry was so wide and broad. But this is no longer the case. There is a media convergence now. We have over 200 television stations and over 400 radio stations in Nigeria. Right now, you also have a cellphone from where people can broadcast.
 
“So, the challenges are more pronounced, but practitioners must survive. They must find a way to carve a niche for themselves and rise above the tide of the operating environment that they are in.
 
“Everybody has challenges. With so many TV stations, you are not sure people are watching you, but that does not mean you should not give the best you can, because you never can tell who is watching you at that moment,” he stated.
 
Former colleague and currently, the chairperson, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who conducted the cutting of birthday and retirement cake, described the celebrant as a humble, smart and intelligent broadcaster, who made his mark in the profession.
 
She enjoined journalists to be proud of their profession, as there is no better profession to build a career than in journalism.
 
Speaking to the celebrant and some of his friends that had also retired from service, Dabiri-Erewa urged them to join politics to further their service to humanity.

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