Isoko Mirror At 9
Barely two years ago when I left Fone Media Integrated Company, Publishers of the Isoko Mirror as a columnist and freelance writer to start my own called Mindset Media limited, the publishers of online Mandate newspaper for good. Though I joined Fone Media Integrated Company, Publishers of the Isoko mirror on June 8, 2007 through one amiable young Isoko -based gospel musician Evang Moses Odanibe of Ada- Uzere community who linked me with the publisher Comrade Mrs. Felida Ogheneosede Akiri(Nee Essi) at about 10am that beautiful Monday in Ajegunle that was after two years of formation of Isoko mirror.
Today, the seemingly local tabloid has grown beyond local publication, there is a popular saying 'despise not the little beginning 'which Isoko mirror publisher has fully demonstrated. As a freelance contributor for 6years with the Isoko mirror where I wrote couple of interested articles, letters and opinions, I discovered that the newspaper has a veritable style of information dissemination and reportage to the public. It covers sports, entertainment, politics, social diary, business, religion, interviews, vox-pop and others. Isoko mirror came into existence in March 2005 after the demise of some notable Isoko newspapers. Comrade Felida Akiri, the firebrand publisher of Isoko Mirror is a woman of gold heart, especially for venturing into a literally dreaded Isoko political terrain and community journalism.
Journalism is not meant for mediocre but for those that are called with the pen- push profession. It is not a profitable business you easily get your income but you need to focus and ready to face the journalistic uncertainty which Felida Akiri has since exhibited in Isoko and Nigeria. The newspaper is widely ready by Isoko people and other tribes in Nigeria. Some of the Isoko mirror publications have been used in higher institution projects and as reference points for intellectual researchers across the globe.
It appears to be a community newspaper but it has in-depth and broad research items for students' in the higher institutions. It comprises egghead writers, editors, reporters, columnists, competent editorial team which included a former Itsekeri- born journalist cum educationist who also owns a fast- growing private school in Lagos, Mr.John Ejegibe, a graduate of Times Journalism, Lagos, served as a sole editor who needed to be commended for his professional editing. He still remains one of the sought after editors in Nigeria that Delta State has ever produced on this planet earth. He is an editor with integrity.
The publisher (Felida) was a trained and gifted singer and actress, who acted in many local and international home videos in Nigeria before venturing into full-time community journalism of her passion. I could vividly remember one of the popular Isoko films she acted as 'Kinoja', the film bought the minds of Isoko people, as she acted as a veteran actress which also brought her into limelight of Isoko films. She also featured in major soap operas on AIT, MBI, home videos, jingles, including TV commercials.
The Uzere-born publisher, Felida Akiri started her journalism from the defunct Isoko news owned by one Oleh- born business man, Chief Vincent Omovusu as an advert agent and reporter where her popular column on Isoko news drew the attention of Isoko people to the paper. Her mindset to go into other favourable professions but as fate would have it, she pursued her passion.
Most Isoko learned technocrats never believed that Isoko mirror will grow beyond this level while then many described the paper as a local tabloid that only covers Isoko people, Felida Akiri was never moved by what people said about the paper rather push forward. Some labelled her as chronic witch but never deterred her passion for community journalism in Delta State.
Like every venture, the newspaper seems to be facing some journalistic challenges which seem to be threatening its existence. Some enemies who never wished Isoko well are out to see the death and eventual burial of Isoko mirror which started publication twice in a month in 2008 but could not continue in that stead due to financial constraints that greeted the organization.
Some community based Isoko newspapers that were on board that later went into extinction were Isoko Hope by great Moses Akpososo of Okpe kingdom, Isoko news by Chief Vincent Omovusu of Oleh kingdom, Isoko Details and the recent Isoko newspapers at the newsstand in the moment are Isoko Today by Engr. Solomon Okpithe of Ozoro kingdom, Isoko Extra Times, Isoko Eye and couple of others in the market.
Felida Akiri started her journalistic profession with Chief Vincent Omovusu and later with the late Ivrogbo-born TV broadcaster, Patricia Akpavie where she learnt the nitty-gritty of the profession of the Isoko Times. Felida Akiri (Essi) decided to start her own newspaper for the burning passion of the profession of making Isoko nation to be recognised internationally. Though journalism is one of the professions Isoko people do not admire than concentrating in other competitive professions but Felida Akiri knew what she wanted and fought for it.
She is a trained actress cum journalist to the core. She has also attended journalistic conferences and seminars across the globe on publishing and others. Isoko mirror has been on the newsstand for 9 consecutive years which covers over 6 states of the federation like Lagos, Delta, Abuja, Jos, Kwara, Edo, Rivers , Kano and USA. Isoko mirror has come to stay, as Isokos in Delta State, Abuja, Lagos, Kwara, Jos, Portharcourt, Kano, among other states in Nigeria gets regular copies of Isoko mirror monthly publication.
Sadly, despite that the media publicity of Isoko nation is relegated to the background, some Isoko educated illiterates seem to be unready to invest in community newspapers, instead, they prefer to patronise national newspapers. Isoko mirror has long graduated into publication of Isoko Heros and Heroine Development Award magazine (a periodical magazine).It has given awards to highly intelligent sons and daughters, who have creditably done well in their chosen careers. Its kind of award is not meant for money spinning but for productive development. She is not just a publisher but an author with integrity.
She recently authored a book on historical facts on Isoko people and their communities which is distributed across Nigeria. Isoko mirror has also improved in terms of publication and editing. Isoko mirror is one of the highest selling grassroots community newspapers in Nigeria which received Mindset Media Achievers Excellence Awards in 2011 as the best publisher of the year and 2012 also received Mindset Media certificate as the best Isoko newspaper publisher of the year to her credit. Comrade Felida Akiri might have her own weaknesses but she remains the best determined Isoko publisher and nothing more.
I was with Isoko mirror newspaper as a freelance contributor and columnist for 6years where I titled my column page as " Aguriase as Alata and Alato'. The likes of Chief Dele Iboma, Chief John Araka, Justice Emiaso and others must be commended for keying into the vision of Felida Akiri of Isoko mirror.
A good publisher needs endurance and firmness to work if he or she must satisfy the public unless such a publisher wants to end up on the bad side of history. Felida Akiri is presently working on her second book on Isoko outstanding sons and daughters either live or dead who are in one way contributed to the developmental progress of Isoko nation.
Though I am not freelancing with Isoko mirror again but she gave me the platform to showcase my writing skills and she must be commended for that. I love her determination of succeeding in the media where most Isoko men dominate and they cannot succeed in continuous publication. She is the third Isoko woman that started grassroots journalism in Nigeria and Delta State.
She is the present chairman of Association of Community Newspapers Publishers of Nigeria (ACNPN) where the leadership has experienced great improvement though some members still fighting her leadership that her tenure has expired and vote of no confidence has been passed on her since last year. She still remains the visible leader of the organization at the present. Newspaper publication needs total sacrifice to get to the next level, especially with high research columns written by experienced columnists and writers. I need to commend some intellectual writers that made Isoko mirror alive, yesterday, today and tomorrow.
They include Fred Oseme, Simeon Okoworide, Sunday Ogbayibo, Charles Okpei, Gab Ejuwa, Pastor Friday Eduzoube, Evang Joshua Othe, pastor Peter Etugbo, Pastor Emma Odafe Andrew, Dr. Lewis Akpogena, Hertz, Gifts Ekporo, Philip Eniwoareke and others too numerous to mention. Isoko mirror is now on website, facebook, twitter, blog and others where you can read Isoko news free and gets information on Isoko nation. Isoko mirror is highly circulated across Nigeria with constant production.
Its publication comes out before two weeks to the month and equally draws the attention of the avid readers in Nigeria. Isoko mirror is registered with CAC. Many a time, Isoko mirror has involved in various legal battles by some acclaimed persons that want to terminate the existence of the paper but God pass them.
She has played prominent roles in her community development in Lagos before relocating to Delta State after her marriage last year and South South Women Organization (SSWO) by super comrade Joseph Evah and others. She is a woman with extra-ordinary legacies in Isoko. Isoko mirror is recognized by the Delta State government and NUJ Delta State chapter too.
Finally only few Isoko people especially the exposed and open-minded ones know the magnitude of grassroots journalism. In spite of the pockets of challenges, Isoko mirror is a newspaper that promotes culture and raises the unthinkable marginalization and others, thereby living a positive legacy on the minds of Isoko people and faithful readers.
She is the leader of leaders, writer of writers, publisher of publishers, editor of editors, actress of actresses, mentor of mentors, singer of singers and others. Once again, happy birthday to Isoko mirror newspaper, the voice of Isoko grassroots.
Public Affairs Analyst.