ABDULRAHMAN A. ABDULRAUF chronicles tributes by the management team of Blueprint newspapers on the occasion of the publisher’s birthday and the tenth year anniversary of the tabloid.
Barely had the team settled in Monday evening when the heavenly shower announced the members’ presence to possibly show the hand of God in the day’s business. And waiting to receive his beloved management staff was a fair-complexioned media owner donning a caftan made from quality blue guinea brocade with a black footwear to match, comfortably occupying a settee and longing to hear from his guests. And standing tall before all were two giant cards whose mission and purpose were only known to the guests and not the host.
On the team led by Chief Operating Officer Blueprint Newspapers Salisu Umar were General Manager Finance Bola Oyetubo, Chairman Editorial Board Zainab Suleiman Okino, Managing Editor Clem Oluwole, Deputy General Manager (Business and Strategy) Durojaiye Hassan, another management member, Jibrin Baba-Ndace, head photography , Ayuba Raji and this reporter.
And without much ado, COO Umar kick-started the business of the day when he opened up on his team’s mission-to congratulate the publisher, Alhaji Mohammed Idris Malagi on the “double milestones” of attaining 55 years of age and celebrating 10 years of the newspaper’s uninterrupted presence on the street.
While commending him for his support at ensuring a smooth sail for the paper since inception, Salisu recalled that “people never gave us a chance. But here we are today, barely four months after we started as a weekly, we went daily and today we have two additional titles-Blueprint Weekend and Manhaja. This followed the encouragement from our readers who asked us to hit the ground running. We thank God for a day like this.”
Presenting the cards to the ‘birthday boy’ the COO said: “This is just our own little way of expressing our gratitude for the support you have consistently given us. But for the mood of the state(Niger, currently battling insecurity) where you come from, and indeed the nation, we would have brought the Sindodo (Nupe dance group) to entertain us because it is really worth celebrating.”
And next to take her turn was Hajia Suleiman Okino who recalled how she was advised against taking a big risk of leaving the SUN newspapers to pioneer Blueprint.
She expressed delight that while other papers which hit newsstand same time with Blueprint “had collapsed in two years or less, we are still very much there. It is my prayers I we strive in the years ahead and get some dividends to be paying the chairman.”
Also speaking, Mr Oyetubo described Malagi as “a unique person, tolerant, smart and very sensitive to issues. You don’t just judge, you don’t talk even when hurt. I have witnessed it severally. That’s why God must have been sustaining you. You have been a supporting brother and friend.”
In a similar tribute, the managing editor, Mr Oluwole, said: “The dictionary has failed me in getting the right word to qualify our chairman. Having written more than 2,000 words in the last 48 hours on this, I don’t have much to say than to thank God that we were able to survive the direction of media cemetery that buried” some other newspapers shortly after inception.
“Today, we have three titles. This is due to the doggedness of the chairman who I want to congratulate for putting the horse before the cart. How do I mean? If he had set up the newspaper with politics in mind, probably we may not be here today,”Oluwole added.
Also taking the floor, Mr Hassan said, the award committee assignment which the newspaper is planning brought him into contact with “the humility-personified chairman,” and urged him to continue in that stead.
In yet another remarks, Mr Abdulrauf said the newspaper survived the turbulence that came its way showed “there is the hand of God in the Blueprint project. Prayers have really and still doing a lot in the sustainability of the Blueprint project and we must continue in that direction as we strive get our business expanded.”
And from Mr Baba Ndace, a close aide to the publisher , came a long history of how the chairman mentored and exposed him to the media world, beginning with public relations. The former media aide to the incumbent Niger state governor, recalled how the chairman “changed my course and path. All my dream was to join the military but he appropriated me. I combined journalism with PR and closely work with him.”
Describing himself as the lucky one among his contemporaries following his long-standing relationship with the publisher, he said: “I make bold to say I am the greatest beneficiary of Blueprint because it has really afforded me he opportunities of going places.”
And for Mr Ayuba, the medium has really shored up his professional competence as a photo journalist, which according to him, he displays even among his colleagues.
‘Birthday boy’ responds
And in a response laced with humour, the publisher said the success story of the newspapers’ ten-year existence was a function of the collective commitment of the entire workforce.
And in a clear reference to Ndace’s comments, a visibly elated media owner said more than anybody thinks, he remains the greatest beneficiary of the project even when his investments in it were yet to return.
Receiving the big and colourful cards from the team, Malagi said: “Yes, I have invested money that has not returned from this business, but what I have got in return is far more than money. So, I can say that I have benefitted more than anybody and more than the money invested in Blueprint. The recognition I got today, 90 percent of it, comes from Blueprint. The president congratulated me on my birthday, not because I am Mohammed Idris, but because of Blueprint.
“In all things I do, I am very careful with the name of Blueprint. I can’t afford to let the name go down. As a collective, we have seen Blueprint as our own, and that explains why the newspaper could survive the challenges that came our way time past. Even when we appear to have differences among ourselves, we still rally round this name. This name is important to me, I cherish it. Even when I appear to be detached and unconcerned, I have my eyes on it. So, let me say here that the way we came together in Blueprint is deeper than we think.”
All said, there is a challenge lying ahead every stakeholder in Blueprint. Since the reward for good work is more work, it is believed that all partakers in this project should play their expected roles without any prompting. While the management has a duty to do more in the area of staff welfare, there should also be a reciprocal effort from the staff to ensure the business space is further expanded such that when the company blossoms , it will significantly impact all at both the individual and collective levels.