VON former Director General Taiwo Alimi @79

Almighty Allah, in His grace and favour, has given Mr Taiwo Alimi one more year to live on earth. He turned 79 years on 17th of December, 2023.

This is symbolic as he has been struggling with old age illness in his Sagamu home. I had the privilege of visiting him before my transfer to Abuja early in the year. Ogun state government, VON, His colleagues and contemporaries , such as Prince Bayo Osiyemi and others have rallied round to assist him. But he still needs more though.

An accomplished broadcast journalist and a stickler for excellence in his accomplishments. Mr Alimi has penchant for good service delivery.

He had a remarkable feat in Voice of Nigeria as the Director General from 1999 to 2003. Aremo Alimi, as fondly called by his peers, took Voice of Nigeria to greater heights for five years.

The memory Lane

To the credit of Mr Taiwo Alimi, he brought a compact team to the office ,mainly from his close allies and professionals to man the Programmes Directorate, News,Engineering and Finance. Mr. Ayodele Sulaiman led the pack as the Director of Programmes.

In the News Directorate, four journalists join us in the newsroom. Dr Bisi Olawunmi, a former News Agency of Nigeria, NAN , New York Correspondent. He was the Assistant Director of News. Mr Austeen Elewodalu, former Punch and Thisday newspaper senior journalist , now Director of News ,another retired NAN staff Chris Adebanjo and late Tope Idowu . Tope was the personal assistant in the DG office. After Alimi ‘s exit, he left for Chevron oil company.

Aremo Taiwo Alimi had a robust plan for VON and executed it with all vigour at his disposal. First , he set out a vision and mision” for VON. This was couched aptly. Vision:” to become the International Radio Broadcasting Service of the first choice for anyone genuinely interested in Nigeria and Africa ” . Mission: ” reflecting Nigerian and African perspective in our broadcasts, winning and sustaining the attention ,respect and goodwill of listeners worldwide ,particularly Nigerians and Africans in the diaspora ..making Nigeria’s voice to be heard more positively in the shaping of our world”.

That was his guiding light. He walked the talk, of both vision and mission establishing VON bureau in Pretoria, South Africa. VON voices were louder and clearer in Southern Africa and beyond. Yoruba and Igbo languages were added to broadcast languages on VON . He then opened up VON offices in geo- political zones in Nigeria, building alliances with international broadcasting stations and media organisations across Africa , Europe, the US, and Asia.

These alliances culminated in exchange programmes between VON and others International radio stations like SABC/ Channels Africa, Egypt Radio,Radio Sudan ,Radio France International, RFI, VOA and Deuche Welle VON staff benefitted immensely from this arrangement. Staff of these foreign stations equally came to VON newsroom to interact and exchange professional ideas. I took one of the RFI colleagues on a guided tour of Lagos.

Training was given a top priority by Mr Taiwo Alimi. After building alliance with Commonwealth Broadcasting Association, CBA, he became the president of the media organisation, and VON benefited from training and travel bursaries. Hajia Sani,Director Digital Media and Myself, went to Singapore for the CBA Internet Broadcasters Course at the Singapore Media Training Centre in year 2000. That was my first international travel and foreign training. I will ever remain greatfull for this gesture from Mr Alimi. The nomination for training was keenly contested among seven staff.

My career in the digital media space had its root from the Singapore training. Aremo Alimi equally approved my study leave for a one year Masters programme in online journalism at the Nottingham Trent University, UK, in 2002. Mallam Abubakar Jijiwa, his successor, ensured that my programme was completed despite funding challenges. Ganiyat Adenle equally travelled for the CBA Bursary Award in Mauritius, among other beneficiaries.

He established a VON training centre in Ikorodu, bought new transmitters, and Outside broadcast vans.

Mr Taiwo Alimi led the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria, BON, his tenure, and gave direction to BON activities.

Perhaps Taiwo Alimi success at VON was an offshot from another remarkable performance at the Lagos State Television. He stamped his authority in TV programming at LTV with weekend television and political broadcasts , leading the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, and other state Broadcasters .

For anything project he embarked upon, he put his best foot forward. those who worked with him ,can attests to this fact.

Different strokes

As strict professional and disciplinarian, Mr Alimi actions are viewed by some as too hard. While many, staff in VON, including myself, admired him ,others do not. The fear of Alimi is the beginning of wisdom. His first port of call is the newsroom every day. At first sight some staff will go into hiding. Having listen to VON broadcast major flagship programmes in the morning, for any professional mistakes, Alimi will call you out. He never condones any indolence or loitering in the premises. Indeed , we are all humans, prone to errors as the axiom goes ,” To err is human ,and Divine is God”

As he celebrates 79th birthday, I wish my former Director General VON more prosperous years in good health.

Qasim Akinreti Ph.D Deputy Director Digital Media, Voice of Nigeria.

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