Today's Anecdote: HOW I BECAME GM KTTV WITHOUT LOBBYING. -Ahamed Abdulkadir

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Today's Anecdote:

HOW I BECAME GM KTTV WITHOUT LOBBYING

The knowledge of the events that culminated into my becoming the General Manager (GM), Katsina State Television (KTTV), to me, began with two phone calls from two of my friends and colleagues, just days apart. At that time, I had transferred my service from KTTV to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Abuja.

The first one was from Kabir Abasaya, through the office, NBC, Headquarters, Abuja, landline phone, sometime in 2003. GSM was new then. And although it had, not long ago, reached Katsina, my friend hadn't acquired one then. The gist of his call was to tell me the rumours going round Katsina that I was being considered for appointment as GM, KTTV.

The second call came from another friend, Sada Rumah, who was fond of calling me at 1:00 a.m. in the morning. He, too, voiced the same rumour. He later became my Director Programs. But I didn't believe them.

It was much later I came to know the basis for the rumour. I was told that the state governor was advised to seperate the Radio from the Television Station which had hitherto been merged under one management supervised by a Managing Director, to make them more effective. He agreed and set up a small, three man committee to shop for General Managers for the two stations. The committee comprised the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Dr. Abba Sayyadi Rumah, (who later became a Minister), the Head of Service, Alhaji Yakubu Haruna and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Alhaji Nasiru Abdul. The committee received, among others, my recommendation from two powerful sources; one from the State House of Assembly and the other from the Nigeria Union of Journalists, KTTV Chapel.

It was this same NUJ Chapel that had paid a courtesy call to the then Speaker, Katsina State House Assembly and urged him to forward my name to the committee. I had served as the Chairman of the Chapel before I left KTTV. While all this was going on, I never knew. I only came to find out after the appointment. No one told me, not even my two friends who first drew my attention to the rumour.

As for the committee, I knew two of the members personally: I had worked with the Special Adviser, Media, at KTTV before he left the station. We had become very good friends to the extent that we had become family friends, working and eating together. He, too, had suggested my name to the committee before they received my recommendation. I had also worked with the Head of Service while I was a secondary school teacher and he was the Zonal Director of Education in my zone. But he came to know me personally when he was a Sole Administrator of Ɗanja Local Government Council in 1991. At that time, I had just left teaching and was working with KTTV. It was during census and I was posted to supervise his local government area during the census. The local government was supposed to provide additional logistics to support the census. The Sole Administrator relied heavily on me. I worked out a comprehensive budget of our requirements. And because he trusted me, he handed over the whole amount of money to me and we successfully conducted the exercise. 

But even with this personal knowledge of the two members of the committee, none of them told me what was cooking at the time.

The committee made its recommendation to the governor, Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, which he promptly approved. But he said no announcement should be made until I was contacted and I accepted the appointment. So the Special Adviser was asked to contact me and get my acceptance.

He kept on calling my office in Abuja but he was told that I was on an assignment in Lagos and from there I was proceeding on my annual leave. He didn't have my GSM number then. And I was no longer living in Katsina since I left KTTV. I had moved my family to Bakori. He was considering his next move a few days later when he recalled that we used to go to my sister's house to have lunch together because it was close to our office then. So he went there. And she told him I was actually in Katsina a few hours ago, but I had returned to Bakori.

He decided that he would go to Bakori on Saturday as he was assigned to supervise the conduct of a bi-election in Malumfashi, which is just 35 kilometers to Bakori, my hometown. That Saturday, around 7:00am, I had sat down to have my breakfast when I heard him knocking on my door and calling out my name. I immediately knew it was him, because it was only him in Bakori who called me by that nickname. As a matter of fact, he was the one who gave me that nickname the day I assumed duty in KTTV. When I was introduced to members of KTTV staff in my full name as Ahmed Tijjani Abdulkadir, my friend said, "How are you, TJ"? So the nickname stuck and was popularized in media circles in Katsina.

So when I saw him, for a split second, I wondered what brought him to my house in Bakori this early morning. Then I thought may be he was just passing through and decided to pop in. But when I told him to come in and eat, he declined and told me to go out, he wanted to talk to me. That was when it hit me. I said to myself could the rumours I had been hearing be true?

He immediately told me all about it and literally begged me to accept the appointment because he and other members of the committee were under the impression that I might not accept the appointment owing to the myriad of the problems in the station which was almost collapsing and the very poor pay - my salary then as a GL. 14 officer at NBC was higher by ₦10,000.00 than that of the GM, KTTV! He gave me the SSG's GSM number and told me to call him and convey my acceptance so that an announcement could be made.

I couldn't call the SSG immediately as there was no GSM service in Bakori, not even in Funtua. So I drove to Zaria and bought a recharge card from a GSM vendor at a shop immediately after the fence of the Aviation College. I called the SSG and told him who I was. He, too, began to persuade me to come back home and assist in moving the state forward bla bla bla...so I accepted. When I finished the call, I saw the vendor staring and smiling at me. He had overheard my conversation with the SSG. He congratulated me and we exchanged numbers and became friends for a long time. Several days later an announcement was made and the rest is history.

Now as for the state governor, he didn't know it was me he appointed, either, even though we had known each other before he became governor. We used to exchange novels and discuss the contents of each novel we read. At a time, he even got appointment for me in his brother's Magazine, but something else happened before I accepted the offer and the Magazine eventually folded up - that was how well we knew each other. But we lost touch after I had moved to Abuja.

He came to know it was me when my brother-in-inlaw, Dikko Radda, who was a local government chairman, then, visited him. While they were talking, the governor said, "Where's your sister? Haven't seen her for a long time. I hear she had followed her husband, Ahmad, to Abuja"? My brother-in-law smiled and said it was her husband you appointed GM, KTTV! The governor opened his eyes wide and said, "Really"? 

My relationship with the governor was that he was my wife's ex-brother-in-law before he became governor. But I didn't exploit that relationship. Secondly, he was my father's political associate as was the deputy governor, to the extent that he never passed our house without stopping to greet my father. But he never even knew the old man was my father. He only knew me as his ex-wife's brother-in-law and a journalist with whom he enjoyed exchanging novels. I never told him who my father was. I kept the two relationships seperate. It wasn't deliberate, but it just didn't occur to me to tell him who my father was.

That was how I was appointed without any sort of lobby - from me, anyway...

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