NWAGU LINDA had an intriguing session with Victor Irele, a sports analyst and media personality with Rhythm FM. He presents ‘Situation Report,’ a morning show that dwells on politics and diverse national issues. Irele opens up on his life and passion for his job with FBTV.
Who is Victor Irele?
Victor Irele is a journalist, editor, presenter, anchor and analyst with my bias in politics, business and sports. A lot of people definitely know me more from sports as I have managed to carve a niche for myself in that aspect. I anchor the morning show on politics known as ‘Situation Report’ and the ‘Business Flash’. I am from Abia state and I was born on October 4. 1966.
Are you married or single?
I am married with three lovely kids.
Where did you acquire your education?
I had my first degree from the University of Calabar, where I studied English and Literature studies and got my Masters degree from the Univeggrsity of Nigeria, Nsukka in Management.
How was growing up like?
I was born in Lagos, unfortunately the demise of my father early in life made it difficult to survive in Lagos; hence we relocated to the village where I had to continue my education. It was a very difficult period as my mother had to cater to the needs of six children as a widow at the time. She tirelessly worked hard to put us through school and God was faithful. I come from a family of six, five girls and I am the only boy, sadly I just have three surviving siblings as the younger ones are deceased.
How did your mum influence you, since you lost your dad at an early stage?
It wasn’t easy at all, you know for a widow to take up the reins of the family ship, she was a very industrious mother, despite my being the only son; she did not spare the rod when it came right down to it, or reduce her measure of discipline.
My mum imbibed a lot into me, this is depicted in my way of life, hence my colleague Emeka Akerejoula always says Victor comes with his books of proverbs, this were some of the lessons she taught me while I was growing up. She did her best to train me in school, to become what I am today.
How did you venture into journalism cum broadcasting?
I had a dual background from the print to the electronic, while I was in school I was a sports aficionado, I have always attuned to sports. In secondary school I was called a soccer graduate and subsequently elevated to soccer minister, and then bouncing. On entrance into the university, I still showed my love for sport, I would use what little money I had to purchase sport magazines, I was an analyst within the campus. As an avid lover of sports, I also play football and table tennis, I represented my state in table tennis at the national level, I also represented my school in the NUGA games of 1986 in table tennis, I didn’t make it to a very serious level in football, but I have a passion up till date, but I had more passion for table tennis. In school, I was known as the analyst, and this stuck and became a reality. I worked with Outlook newspaper in Enugu and I left to Abia Newspaper and was transferred to Lagos where I was appointed as the press secretary to the sports minister, Late Ishaya Mark Aku, who died in a plane crash in 2002 and I continued with his successor Stephen Akiga up till 2004, when I joined the Silverbird family in Lagos, as a sports editor. This marked my movement to the electronic media.
What was your experience on your first time on radio?
It was nothing spectacular, I was proficient in the use and usage of the English language, I am a voracious reader and my background in the literary world gave me an upper hand. The flair for writing and reading was there and the love for sports, present. So it was not difficult since talking about sports was something I could do in my sleep, it was something I had so much passion for hence, never felt like a herculean task on my first day. It was just on television that I had to buckle my bootstraps, but it was just a piece of cake since I was talking sports.
Who inspired you?
I took my cues from those who were playing and deviated towards sports analysis as the likes of Segun Odegbami, Danladi Bako, Michelle Obi, Paul Bassey, most especially those who had fluidity in the language, I loved listening to those who were prosaic in their construction and use of the language.
How has the journey been so far?
Journalism in Nigeria is very difficult; in civilized climes they command a lot of respect. Journalists are not being paid as at when due, they are reduced to the level of servitude in this harsh conditions. Journalists are not appreciated. What keeps us going is the passion, we pass up other opportunities due to the passion we have for the job. It is only with hardwork and diligence with a little bit of luck that journalist that makes a journalist renowned.
What has been your most memorable moment on the job?
I have had the privilege to talk to some interesting and prominent personalities such as ministers, leading voices, in the sector I cover. To me these are fulfilling moments, most especially when I anchor a programme, and at the end, people see my input and analysis as intelligent and in tandem with their views and appreciate the show.
What gives you fulfilment?
It comes from God and doing what I love doing, which is talking about sports.
What does it take to be a good on air personality?
Most times people give preference to the voice and face, but the most important qualities are sound analytical minds, you must have a good command of the language. It is not just about beauty and glamour; it more about being knowledgeable and intelligent, a journalist must know measurably something about everything.
How do you connect with your fans?
I connect with them on Facebook, sport meetings, social gatherings and some of my fans walk up to me and tell me how much they love my opinions, and how I present them. However, I have not done anything memorable for my fans, since I tend to lean to the reserved side; I am a quiet person by nature amidst the media bravado we all seem to carry on.
What is the weirdest thing you have ever done?
Apart from the occasional craziness during football matches, when we are shouting at the coaches via television to do something right during plays, there is nothing crazy about me.
What is your bucket list, what do you aim for in future?
I would wish to own my personal business; it could be a media outfit or something else. I don’t have a flair for travelling, so travelling outside the country does not appeal to me, but it appeals to my wife, but trust me even if I have the opportunity today, then I will have to be dragged by a crane, I would prefer to stay in my country. I am not a political – inclined person, but if any appointment comes by, I hope to effect change with such position.
If you could change one thing what would that be?
I would love to change the quality of leadership in Nigeria and re-orientate the minds of Nigerians so we will begin to see things from the right perspective, by this I mean when a crime is committed, its judgement proceeds on the crime committed not where the offender comes from or the religious affiliation of the offender. It is disheartening to see Nigerians sectionalising themselves based on ethnicity.
What do you do in your leisure time?
I love reading, watching sports and I love listening to Christian songs. So these are basically what I engage in during my free time.
What are your likes and dislikes?
I don’t like people who are fake and unreliable and are overtly sanctimonious. I love real, excited, mature people who have a sense of responsibility and I like people who are humble.
What is the happiest moment in your life?
I will give that credit to getting married and at the birth of my first child.
Tell us a secret no one knows about you?
That will be the fact that I never expected for my wife to become the woman I would end up with, along the line it dawned on me that she fit my standards to a tee and I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.
Anthony Ada Abraham,
Entertainment And Tourism Editor
LEADERSHIP NEWSPAPERS Group