I joined Thisday after my marriage collapsed in 1995—Ijeoma Nwogwugwu + How she became Nigeria’s Most Powerful Woman Editor

Ijeoma Nwogwugwu…..Nigeria’s Most Powerful Woman Editor

Not many people know that the Editor
of Thisday Newspaper is a woman, and
a brilliant one for that matter. Only few people even know that she is one of
the most respected journalist in the industry today.
Again, talk about one of the most
versatile editors in Nigeria today and her name will pop up. Talk about an
editor who is quite erudite and learned and her name will come up for mention
too. This is because Ijeoma Nwogwugwu
didn’t just spring up from nowhere to become Editor of one of the most
influential newspapers in Nigeria overnight.
An intimidating CV…
She has paid her dues. If you check
out her credentials, it is intimidating and formidable. She came into the media
after having worked in the banking industy. 
And after joining the business desk of Thisday over 20 years ago, she rose through the rank to the very
Ms. Ijeoma Nwogwugwu a native of Obuzor, Asa in Ukwa West Local Government Area
of Abia State, boast of a background
that embraces the public and private sectors as a banker, financial analyst,
business strategist, and a journalist.
Her public service experience covers
a 4-years stint between 2001 and 2004 as a World Bank Consultant contracted to
the Bureau of Public Enterprises,
the Nigerian Government Agency responsible for the privatization and
commercialization of state owned companies. In that period, she was designated
Deputy Director /Transaction Adviser in the BPE responsible for the sale of the
National Mint to the Central Bank of Nigeria, Daily Times of Nigeria PLC,
restructuring and transfer of New
Nigeria Newspaper
to the 19 States of Northern Nigeria, and review and
negotiation of the management contract of the National Hospital,
Abuja, among other enterprises.
Ms. Nwogwugwu also worked on the Power and Oil & Gas Reform Teams of the BPE and the first attempt to sell the
state owned telecoms firm, NITEL, in 2001
As the Transaction Adviser for the under listed government agencies, she sat on the boards of the Nigeria Security
Printing and Minting Company, Daily Times of Nigeria Plc and the National
Hospital, Abuja.
Her feats…
Before her elevation in June 2012 as
the 2nd woman in over 100 years of journalism in Nigeria to the
position of Editor/Divisional Director, Editorial of a mainstream newspaper, Ms. Nwogwugwu was the Paper’s Group
Business Editor between 1999 and 2001 and had edited the Saturday and Sunday
papers under the THISDAY stable from
2007 to June 2012. She has also penned the award winning column ‘Behind the Figures’ on the back page
of THISDAY Newspaper for 16 years.
In addition to her post as Editor, Ms.
was elevated to the Board of THISDAY
as Group Executive Director in June 2016. Ms Nwogwugwu also currently sits on the Board of First Pension Custodian Nigeria Limited (FPCNL), a subsidiary of First Bank of Nigeria Limited and the
second largest subsidiary under First
Holdings PLC
, as a Non-Executive Director.
She possesses a degree in Accounting
from the University of Lagos and a
Post Graduate Diploma in International Housing finance from the Wharton Business School, Pennsylvania, USA. She has also attended several management
and professional training programmes in Nigeria, Europe  and the United States.
Ms. Nwogwugwu is a member of the Nigerian Union
of Journalists
and the Nigeria Guild
of Editors
. She is widely traveled and is an avid tennis player, music and
literary enthusiast.
She has also come of age. She turned
50 a few weeks back and City People
Magazine Publisher, Dr. SEYE KEHINDE
who has known her for over 2 decades visited her last week Monday at her Ikoyi
residence to talk about her experience as 
Editor of THISDAY and the
challenges facing Newspaper industry.

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What has been your experience as the
Editor of Thisday?

THISDAY Newspaper…..Nigeria’s No 1 elite Newspaper edited by a Woman Editor

Its been
challenging. The industry has a lot of issues stemming from the challenges of
financing, quality of personnel you work with, we wish it could be better; to
ethics of the profession, by that I mean to ensure that we maintain standards.
There are also exogenous challenges coming from the society we live in. So, it
has its challenges and it also has its rewards. Its almost one of the most
exciting professions in the world. It gives the individual a lot of power and
clout. It expresses you. You learn a lot. Its been a mixture of good and bad.
But I wouldn’t exchange it for any other profession in the world.
You are an editor at a time when the
Print industry is facing global challenges. What is your take on the way out?

Ijeoma Nwogwugwu…..She is frank and honest to agree that online journalism is killing traditional journalism

I am on the
divide of those who believe that the print media is becoming extinct. As you
know, we are in the technology age. People can get news on their finger
tips.  If they are not carrying their
phones, they are carrying their IPADS.
And soon we will have watches that will be offering the same sort of news. Not
only are we contending with on the spot news with online media, we are also
contending with Citizen Journalism. Social
has a critical role to play but our problem is how can it be
regulated and people are not fed with misinformation or lies. Every Newspaper
in the world is very conscious of the fact that the shelf life of newspapers is
getting shorter by the day and that is why they are expanding into the digital
media. Look at the Daily Mirro Online. That is one of the best newspaper websites
in the world. It has millions of hits. The trend all over the world is that
newspapers and their publishers are moving in that direction. If our publishers
here don’t seem to understand then, there is a fundamental problem. We in Thisday
have moved in that direction, don’t forget we are one of the first to start
multiple printing in various locations across the country. After some years, so
many media houses followed.  Then we
realized over time that if we actually did a proper audit of all those printing
presses we were operating at a loss. All of us today operate at a loss. But we
don’t acknowledge it. Our advertising revenue has dropped. It dropped a long
time ago, even before recession set in. if you pick advertising revenue, pick
circulation, pick print runs, pick the cost of new print you will see that we
cannot cover the cost of running this business. 
Because you are talking of full retinue of staff for each press that you
have, from circulation to the printers, to the engineers. And then, the cost of
running that press exclusively just to print perhaps maximum 10,000
. It is not worthwhile. What we should have done is something
similar to what fleet street publishers did in London about 2 decades ago. All the newspapers on fleet
pulled resources together and invested in massive state of the
art presses in the dockland. They had minority stakes in those presses, while
they have a special purpose vehicle whereas some private investors took up
majority shares and they just put themselves on a kind of queue. So each one
knows the time allotted to each one; within 30 minutes to an hour each title is
printed because it is a state-of-the-art press. We are not being realistic here
in Nigeria. That is what we should
do. It will be cheaper. It will be faster and more economical. I discussed it
with my chairman before he became the president of NPAN, he should get others to rally round the idea. That way, we
would not have to buy newsprint. It will be the wahala of the printers. Our partners will do that. All we are
required to do is meet our deadline and submit our pages. So, that’s one big
challenge that we face in the industry. 
Other than that, digital media has given us a serious run for our money.
Most of the stories we print in our print edition have been read the previous
day online. It is a big problem. If you bring it out, people are hardly
interested. They have seen it on so many online sites.

THISDAY’S Newspapers’ best column ‘Pendulum’ published every Saturday by Dr. Dele Momodu

So, we
should be ready to fortify and improve on the quality of our websites. If not,
we would have problem. That is why Thisday went into the TV project
with ARISE. Now, we are having
studios in Abuja and then, Lagos. And we would be broadcasting
more from Lagos.
So, what has been your survival
strategy. Can you tell us how you have survived all these challenges?
It has not
been easy. What I did was to put a lot of pressure both on myself and all my
colleagues. So, we try to make sure that for the 5 days we are producing, we
get exclusive reports that the online media will not get. Exclusive
stories attracts readers to our brand. Its not been easy. A lot of media houses
are struggling. We also keep pressure on our staff to do a lot of investigative
reports. And that is also another dying brand. That is because we are not
financing it well. There are so many stories that needs to be investigated. So many but funding is the problem. To do proper investigative stories, it has to
be funded.
What was the attraction that the
media had for you? Why go into the media? Why not something else?

THISDAY Newspaper….Business & Politics in one full swing of reportorial

Well, I got
into the media by chance. It wasn’t planned. It was in 1995. I didn’t study Journalism or Mass Communication, I studied Accounting and I strated my career
in banking. I had left the job 5 years after being in banking and I was in
between jobs. My marriage had broken up, I had 2 children and I wasn’t doing
much and a friend of mine said look
‘Nduka was requiting for his newspaper Thisday and you could take up a job with
him temporarily. It doesn’t have to be a full time job. At least with your
accounting background, you can join the Business Desk’
. And that is how she
introduced me to Nduka and I started and I never looked back. It wasn’t planned.
It was a chance thing.

Ijeoma Nwogwugwu…..Her dexterity at Business Reporting earned her a huge volume of responsibility at THISDAY

What made you now get used to the
stressful nature of journalism?
It is
definitely stressful because no 2 days are the same. May be I am not the kind
of person that is cut out for the regular 9am to 5pm job. I am sure if I liked
a regular 9am to 5pm I would have left it a long time ago. I will say I
am a non-conformist, by the time I realized it, I was into it and it remains
very exciting. When you have a solid story you are excited and you want to see
how the reading public will react to a good story. The next day you are getting
calls. Good or bad reaction. It doesn’t matter. It is either it has forced the
government to do a rethink or react.
Tell us how your banking career
helped your media career?
I just did
straight 5 years in banking once I left school. Because of my background, my
chairman, Nduka Obaigbena wanted me to be on business desk. There were
others with degrees in Accounting, Banking, Business Administration, Economic,
Social Sciences generally. I once covered Money markets, Capital Markets, then
I was moved to Energy. I kept rising on the Energy desk, then they moved me to Abuja when all the MD/CEOs of banks and
companies moved. When Abacha said all the big parastatals
should move because of closeness to CBN and other financial institutions
moved. Then I rose through the Business Desk until I became Business Editor. I was also Deputy Editor, Business. Then I left for
the BPE on Leave of Absence. I handled a few transactions there. Then I came
back when there was an opening in Thisday. First was in the Abuja
bureau. Then, I became Editor, Nation’s Capital. Then, I went on to
edit Saturday and then, Sunday. So, I have edited all the titles.
When you look at your career in the
media, how does it make you feel?

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Its been
fulfilling like I said. It has given one the excitement I was looking for.
Very, very fulfilling. I have traveled to so many countries because of it. I
have also been able to go on a lot of training programmes. It has exposed me to
a lot of people. My column has also helped.

A Copy of THISDAY Newspaper….Nigeria’s Number 1 elite Newspaper brand

How were you able to balance out
Thisday and writing your column?
That has
been very difficult to do. If you have noticed of recent, I have not been
writing, that is in the last one year. Last years, in 2016, I probably managed
to write about 5 times. I promised myself that this year, 2017, I need to write
more, regularly.  My problem is that
usually by the time weekend comes I am so exhausted and I write on Monday and all I want to do on weekend
is to sleep. I have to write more. I need to intervene more. A lot of people
often ask me why I don’t have an opinion. I do. What they don’t realize is that
I can’t write anyhow. My strength is in Business, Finance and Economics. The
problem in writing business is that you need to read. You need to get current
figures, statistics. You need to also read constantly. You are writing to a
particular target audience. And if you are writing rubbish, they will recognize
it and point it out. It is not like writing on politics or relationship issues
where you can write from the top of your head. If I want to write on ABC Bank
for example, I have to get figures and statistics to back up my claim because
they will reply me. I have to be sure of my facts, I have to be sure of my
figures. So, nobody can challenge me and say ‘no, you have written a curvy
. It is that extra time to do all these that I don’t have. It is very
difficult keeping up. But I have to make up that time.