By Godfrey Pondei, Ph.D
Today, Saturday 13th March 2021 is the sixty-sixth posthumous birthday of Selegbegha Eradiri. Described by many as amiable, efficient and a very competent broadcaster, Sele, as she was popularly called by friends and associates, was known amongst her colleagues as “the roving reporter” who made a story out of nothing, was one of the top broadcasters of Newsline, a flagship programme of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) that pulled a school of ever-increasing addicts 9pm every Sunday. Within the rather short-lived lifespan of her journalism career, she virtually squeezed water out of stone, thus recreating unworthy news events, and making them attractive for Nigerians across all walks of life. More remarkably, her rather contagious smile, laughter and the peculiarity with which she reported events made her a household name within and beyond Nigerian shores. Indeed, Sele related with each and everyone on equal terms. As such, with each report on Newsline, she was able to show that ordinary Nigerians were as news worthy as the mighty and powerful in the society, devoid of discrimination against anybody with her reportage, as evidenced by the unflattering remarks from ordinary Nigerians who paid heartfelt glowing tributes for her indelible contributions to humanity when the news of her passing broke on Tuesday 29th May 2012 following a protracted cancerous illness that very poignantly defied even a successful surgery in India few months earlier.
By dint of this irreversible ‘act of God’, Nigeria’s fourth most populous tribe – the Ijaws – had lost a golden opportunity of priding themselves when newscasters of their own extraction, as identifiable by names whose meanings they gloried in, surfaced on television screens of homes. Sele’s demise left behind Ruth Benamaisia Opia, Benaebi Eselemo, Mie Ogidi and a handful of others that included, by virtue of the language’s many dialects, Abike Dabiri, both of whose names many had erroneously included in same bouquet.
Sele was born in Lagos as a princess into the family of His Royal Highness late Turner Eradiri (II) also of blessed memory, Amananaowei of Agudama (Ekpetiama) community in the Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State in southern Nigeria. Expectedly, she acquired early education in the then capital city of the Federal Republic of Nigeria beginning at the Eleja Primary School Apapa Road, Ebute Metta, Abeokuta Girls Grammar School, Girls Secondary School, Bariga, Lagos where she acquired her West African School Certificate and ultimately the St. Gregory’s College, Obalende, Lagos where she attempted the Higher School Certificate in 1961, 1968, and 1977 respectively. Proceeding to the tertiary education, Sele attended the Miami-Dade Community College, Miami, Florida, USA and the Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton Florida, USA where she bagged the Associate in Arts 1982 and Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1983 respectively.
Having been gainfully employed as Duty Continuity Announcer with the NTA Port Harcourt Channel 10 shortly after her mandatory National Youth Service with the NTA Kano in 1984, Sele sought to furnish self with trainings requisite for the broadcast industry. In doing this, she undertook a General Management Course at the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria Badagry, Sub-Editing course at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism Lagos, Political Reporting and Journalistic Presentation, the latter duo being courses undertaken at the Television College Jos; as well as others in Kenya and in other parts of the globe at various stages of her career.
Despite the huge difference made in the worlds of entertainment, sports, politics, military, and public service, society does not always have ample opportunities of saying farewell or even pay a last respect to public figures sometimes. Gladly, however, this was not the experience with Sele Eradiri who passed at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital while she held sway as Director News, NTA. In accordance with her last statements, this ace broadcaster was buried at the Ikoyi-Lagos cemetery, with her NTA colleagues hosting the service of songs in their NTA 2, Victoria Island premises where she last worked with her close friends as Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Moji Makanjuola, Eugenia Abu, Tokunbo Ajayi and Victoria Kennedy, amongst others who played strategic roles.
She was member of several Boards amongst which were Board of Trustees, AIDS Alliance in Nigeria, Board of NGOs, Editorial Board of The Family Magazine and much later, as Vice Chairman, Board of Trustees, Creative Interventions for Development. Sele’s academic background and the several trainings she exposed herself to were the breeding ground upon which several very well deserved awards of recognition festered. These included a Certificate of Commendation for Hardwork and Dedication to Duty, 2004; Distinguished Nigerian Journalists Award, 2004; NTA News Directorate Commendation for Dedication and Commitment to News Gathering, 2004; NTA Staff of the Year 2001; and NTA Port Harcourt Merit Award 1993.
Yet evergreen in the hearts of many are memories of how the NTA Network News of Tuesday 29th May 2012 was stopped for commercials, following the newscaster’s repeated wiping of her face with the handkerchief, sobbing, and the subsequent outburst in tears as she came on air to read the news that night, an emotion that threw viewers into an implausible mood that was better imagined.
Motherhood, particularly in the context of the African society is beyond begetting biological offsprings. This was Sele’s philosophy as she provided profound motherly care to many. Little wonder, eight years after her passing, friends and family who were abreast with her ideals have registered the Sele Eradiri Foundation intended to both immortalize her, as well as sustainably uphold the outstretched arm of the departed in positively impacting society. Despite being at its nascent stage, the Foundation has initiated the #SchoolNoBeScam Campaign that aims to encourage youths to embrace education amongst other novel initiatives for cancer awareness.
We wish the sexagenarian Sele Eradiri a posthumous birthday, while her gentle soul rests on in perfect peace, even as we console ourselves with her very special news reportage as in the attached video clip.