In the near future, Tajuddeen Adepetu’s Group 8 could become Africa’s top media powerhouse. In its previous incarnation as Consolidated Media Associates (CMA)Adepetu’s media conglomerate pioneered hugely remarkable endeavours across radio, TV and experiential events, and the man himself has come a long, story worthy way.
From a young undergraduate struggling to earn a living by making radio jingles in Jos, Northern Nigeria, he has come to build what is regarded now as the largest media house in west Africa. But How?
The story started in 1990, a few years before the dot-com bubble that would change everything for every entrepreneur. Adepetu is fresh out of the University of Jos and the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) College. As he recalls now, although he had gone to the TV college and had also studied theatre arts in the university, he just couldn’t shake his “love” for radio.
“My first business opportunity was to develop radio adverts for a Veterinary Research Institute,” he says, noting the initial challenge of having to produce that said commercial in the Fulfulde dialect. “But I just loved it, that content, even if I didn’t speak the language.”
However, the media landscape at the time continued to gravitate heavily towards TV, especially as the federal government moved to allow private ownership of TV networks.
Also, Nollywood was hatching to growing appeal among local audiences and the African diaspora. So, drawn by the glowing light of TV and spurred by real business opportunities, Adepetu soon found himself delving deep into TV production and scripted TV programming.
“I had to leave radio for television because it afforded me a little more opportunity to work with both the audio and the visual. And I thought it was much better at that time.” What Adepetu might have not have known then was, he was an early adopter in an industry that was about to explode with massive local creativity and intense international interest.
Jos in northern Nigeria, where Adepetu was based at the time, in some regards was seen as a storytelling capital, what with some of the most highly regarded NTA shows such as Cock Crow at Dawn as well as leading broadcasters like the late Sadiq Daba coming out of the city.
But, as it is in all areas of Nigerian business, Lagos was the capital of media, and that was where the money was. Adepetu realised that, to build a respectable business, he must relocate to Lagos, and so he did, in a rather dramatic fashion, the kind you might find in some of the TV dramas he would later go on to create.
“I remember waking up one day in 1993 and decided that I was moving to Lagos. Just like that, I left all I knew and had behind and ventured into the unknown in Lagos,” he says.
Almost immediately, this daring move that has now become synonymous with Adepetu’s impetus, paid off. In 1995, he would go on to produce what is now regarded as one of the biggest situational dramas of the 90s: Family Circle. Around the same time, he also made Hard Tackle, a pioneer sports game show on local TV.