3:08 pm - Friday October 20, 9020

EXCLUSIVE: ‘SECRETS behind My Relocation to United States of AMERICA’-Victor AYARA, Nigeria’s ace Broadcaster, former News Anchor, Silverbird Television …Says: ‘I’m not going to return to mainstream Journalism anytime soon, studying for my Masters of Science degree’ *Confess: ‘Music is my FIRST LOVE. I formed an American band called ‘Ima Kulture’, a 13 piece-collection as an outlet for me and the other members share the rich musical culture of Africa to a non-African audience’ * Successfully function as compere in high-profile events and social functions for companies such as Total, Chevron, Techno Oil, British Airways *Winner: Newscaster of The Year at the Nigerian Media Merit Award in 2010 *Feel free to reach him at: victorayarameetingpoint@gmail.com BY GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU, FOREIGN BUREAU CHIEF, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

EXCLUSIVE:
‘SECRETS behind My Relocation to United States of AMERICA’-Victor AYARA, Nigeria’s ace Broadcaster, former News Anchor, Silverbird Television
…Says: ‘I’m not going to return to mainstream Journalism anytime soon, studying for my Masters of Science degree’
*Confess: ‘Music is my FIRST LOVE. I formed an American band called ‘Ima Kulture’, a 13 piece-collection as an outlet for me and the other members share the rich musical culture of Africa to a non-African audience’
* Successfully function as compere in high-profile events and social functions for companies such as Total, Chevron, Techno Oil, British Airways 
*Winner: Newscaster of The Year at the Nigerian Media Merit Award in 2010
*Feel free to reach him at: victorayarameetingpoint@gmail.com

HE’S A MAN OF DETAILS, PERFECTION AND PROFESSIONALISM. In Nigeria, he is a familiar face on the tube, as he earlier initiated and anchored prime news broadcast program called “The News Around the World,” a fast-paced reportage of international stories which featured hot global issues. And later anchored “Head 2 Head.” For Victor Ayara, his exceptional brilliance and ingenuity in quality news presentation, won him ‘Newscaster of The Year at the Nigerian Media Merit Award in 2010’. For 10 years, he was a household name in Nigeria’s broadcast industry. In this Exclusive Interview with GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU, AMERICAN FOREIGN BUREAU CHIEF, this Executive Director of ‘www.TheMeeting-Point.com’ and Contracting Specialist at Sammons Financial Group Member Companies in Des Moines, Iowa Area reveals the secrets behind his relocation to ‘God’s-own-country’, his evergreen moments in Nigerian Press, why he cherishes music as a passion over journalism.

Q: Can you take us through the Highpoint of your broadcast journalism
career in Silverbird Television (STV)?
My career at STV was filled with many memorable moments. But I would like to say that the high point of my career with Silverbird Television was my emergence as the Newscaster of The Year at the Nigerian Media Merit Award in 2010. In a keenly contested nomination, I had a very little expectation to clinch the award. But in retrospect, I would attribute my nomination and subsequent award to the hard work of the STV news team. We worked so hard to stay on top of news and events being the first to report some and diligently monitoring others as they unfold. At some point, we would literarily sleep in the office. I miss those days with the crew- we were close-knit and like a family working for the best television station in Nigeria.

Q: What are some of the initiatives or concepts you introduced during your
news stint anchorage with STV?
I started the “The News Around the World” program which featured hot global issues. It was a fast-paced reportage of international stories. It did not live long as I had to leave the program to anchor “Head 2 Head” after my former boss and head of news at the time, Ugochukwu Emezue, took an appointment with the Abia State government as a Special Adviser on Media. In my role as the presenter of “Head 2 Head,” I introduced more of outside location recording of the program which at the time, had gained tremendous viewership and received national acclaim. I felt that it was important for the crew to go to the guests, who sometimes, could not make it to the studio due to traffic and other logistical constraints.

Q: What are your moments of regrets in STV?
I cannot recall a moment of regret at STV. my employers were very involved in the business and were open to suggestions from us. If anything, I was given a solid platform to be the best at whatever I chose to do.

Q: What informs your Relocation to the United States?
I can tell you that moving to the U.S was a tough decision for me to make in 2013. It was difficult in the sense that I was at the peak of my profession and had built a very solid followership and fanbase. I decided to move to the U.S because of my family. I wanted to give my kids an opportunity to have most of the things I never had growing up. Secondly, with over 200 years of civilization, America is a place to be. The abundance of knowledge, great schools, intriguing political system and well-established democratic institutions, the United States is a classic example of a state that things work.

Q: How did you acclimatize easily in America into the system?
As I said earlier, things work in this country. If you play by the rules, you are going to find America a great place to live. I came here knowing that a new vista has opened in my life. I also had an understanding that things may not be easy from the beginning. Having lived in almost all part of Nigeria, I know what it is like to settle in a new environment. So, in my 4 years of living in America, I have learned about the system and I am still learning every day.

Q: If you had not gone into broadcast journalism, what other professions
Would you have embraced? I would have been a professional musician or a teacher. I love to share, be it music, knowledge or ideas. I found out at a young age that I love to be in front of people and interacting with them. Thanks to my mom, we grew up singing in the choir. So, at an early age, I started singing and writing my own songs. At some point in my life, music was my main source of income. I have performed in various hotels in Abuja, Lagos, and Asaba. So if had not delved into broadcasting, I probably would have done music full-time.

Q: Can you explain why and how music is your ‘First Love’?
Music comes to me naturally. There has never been a time that I really left music. I can recall in my earlier years as a news reporter, then working for Galaxy Television in Lagos, I was assigned to cover an event at the Lagos Sheraton Hotel. After taking my cut-aways and conducting some interviews for my story, I stumbled on an old musician friend whose band was performing at the event I was sent to cover. I was invited to sing a song or two with them and I gladly obliged. I was into my third song when I spotted my news editor, Ayodele Ozugbakun (currently with TVC) and another senior colleague, Oluwole Ojo in the audience. I almost froze and forgot the lyrics to the song I was singing. Luckily for me, they were enjoying the song! I was mildly scolded and we drove back to the station to file the report.

Q: Briefly, take us into how you formed your American music band.
My band, Ima Kulture was formed as an outlet for me and the other members share the rich musical culture of Africa to a non-African audience as well as Africans in Iowa. After a year of being in the United States, I started reaching out to musicians in Des Moines to start a band. The first musician who joined me in this quest was a multi-talented Iowa native, Aaron Ehrlich. He was so excited to learn African music and to perform with me. Soon, other musician and drummers came on board and we started weekly rehearsal and performances at events. As of 2015, Ima Kulture was a 13 -piece band. That number has so far reduced due to busy schedules and general demands on the time of the members.

Q: Do you see yourself returning to active journalism?
Yes and No. The reason I answered yes and no is because I am not going to return to mainstream journalism anytime soon. Currently, I founded a media production, events and community engagement company called The Meeting Point. I am looking to use this platform to tell stories and propagate diversity and inclusion and enriching collaborations among the various communities tin the state of Iowa and beyond. Through reports, feature stories and events, we wish to encourage dialogue and understanding in our communities. This is my way of using my experience as a journalist to impact society.

Q: Any regret for being a journalist?
None whatsoever.

Q: Since your arrival in America, what jobs have you been doing till date?
My first job in the United States was more of a volunteer position. I worked with Community Living Services, Iowa as a programs coordinator. What I did then was to assist the director in getting mentally challenged individuals a home and recruiting staff for catering to their needs. It was a fulfilling experience to see these people learn life and coping skills and successfully transition from government institutions into their own homes. Thereafter, I worked briefly in retail sales and customer service for Hewlett Packard in Des Moines. In 2015, I joined Wells Fargo Bank’s consumer lending in the mortgage division. I worked there as a home preservation specialist, helping homeowners who are facing hard times modify their loans and keep their homes from going into foreclosure. Currently, I work for Sammons Financial Group, a holding company with several subsidiaries in diverse. My job there as a contracting specialist is assisting our independent insurance agent in getting contracted with our insurance companies and providing onboarding support for our valued agents. I am studying for my Masters of Science degree at the same time and hope to transition someday into corporate and public relations.

Q: We heard you are also into professional compere as ‘Master-of-Ceremony’ and other businesses in America. So, tell us about them all.
I have been a professional MC right from Nigeria and successfully handled high-profile events and social functions for companies such as Total, Chevron, Techno Oil, British Airways to mention in Nigeria. I am expecting to make an inroad into corporate MCing but I’ve done many weddings and other social events.

Q: Do you see yourself going into active journalism again?
No, at least not as a career reporter.

Q: What contacts can you be reached through from clients interested in
reaching you?

I can be reached primarily through my email: victorayarameetingpoint@gmail. com

Q: Say five years down the lane from now, are you aspiring to contest for
any political position here in America or in Nigeria?
No. I am very apolitical. I like to support anyone who is doing a good job at any level from a non-partisan platform.

Q: What is your assessment of the Investigative journalism being done by
our reporters in Naija Standard Newspaper?
Given the terrain, you guys are doing a great job. The Nigerian people deserve the very best and with your great efforts, people are very informed. Thank you!

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