Eugenia Abu is 60!
On December 19, 2022, Eugenia Abu, one of Nigeria’s ace broadcast journalists, chose a special event – “60 for 60 – The Wisdom Conversation” to celebrate her 60th birthday. The idea was to gather 60 persons to discuss the subject matter “wisdom”.
That event held at the very beautiful Fraser Suites – a 5 star luxury Family-friendly aparthotel nestled in the heart of the modern Federal Capital of Nigeria. Friends, colleagues, acquaintances of all ages, tribe, religion, background and profession (not forgetting high ranking government officials) graced the event which was relatively quiet, but simply memorable. And ofcourse, family was well represented.
Encomiums poured! Glowing speeches rained in honour of a woman who, right from a very young age, has helped define and reshape Nigeria’s broadcast journalism and whatever it represents.
Eugenia is not just a journalist. She is also a motivational speaker, a teacher, role model, high class event compere/moderator. She is the CEO of Eugenia Abu Media Centre – a project she is always excited to call her own way of giving back to the society – and of course a happily married mother of six.
Mariam Yalwaji Katagum, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment who spoke as a Special Guest described her as Nigeria’s finest Broadcaster and Compere, having personally known her for a long time.
“Eugenia, as we all know her, is a woman of substance who wears so many hats,” Katagum told the audience. “She is a wife, a mother, a sister, and a good friend to many. She is also a Broadcast Journalist, creative writer, Poet, and Media Consultant. She is best known as a Former News Anchor and Correspondent for the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), a role she played for close to two decades and perhaps more.”
The minister had narrated to the audience how she met Eugenia many years ago during her time at the NTA in Lagos and struck a personal and professional friendship that has endured through the years.
“I must say with great pride and admiration, that I am one of the few that have watched Eugenia’s rise in her chosen career and profession and I have seen her grow and blossom into the media giant that she is today,” she added.
A Multimedia Strategist, Eugenia is also a Columnist, Media Trainer and Consultant. She is currently the Creative Director of the Essential Communications and Managing partner of her eponymous brand, The Eugenia Abu Media (TEAM), an idea that emanated from her realisation that, there is probably a lot of young minds out there craving support to excel.
Born on October 19, 1962, Eugenia has won several awards, including the prestigious Nigeria media merit award for best newscaster of the year in 1995. One of Nigeria’s most recognizable faces, she anchored the National Television News for 17 years.
She rose to the top of her career at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), becoming Executive Director, programs from where she disengaged after thirty-four years of meritorious service.
In 2007, Eugenia founded one of Abuja’s leading annual summer creative writing boot camps for children between the ages of 7-14 years, The Treasured Writers in which she gives a week of her time along with other facilitators honing the children’s writing skills.
In 2008, she was invited by Nigerians in Western Australia to deliver that year’s independence anniversary lecture and was voted Nigeria’s most inspiring woman in 2013 in an online survey conducted by the fabric manufacturer’s Vlisco.
A 1981 graduate from the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Eugenia obtained a Masters in Communication Policy studies from the City University London in 1991, graduating with a distinction. She also holds a Masters in Creative Writing from Keele University Staffordshire, United Kingdom. She has certificates in Educational psychology, Guidance and Counselling and TV presentation.
A faculty member of the Africa center for leadership, Centre LSD and a visiting consultant to Bingham University, teaching International broadcasting and specialized reporting, Eugenia is also a consultant to the National Democratic Institute on women and the media.
A judge on the National Maltina Teacher’s award, she runs an informal mentorship program where she has trained about 500 youths in the last five years. Her life as a writer has seen her author two books, the award-winning: “In the Blink of an Eye” which is a collection of essays, as well as, “Don’t Look at me Like That”, a collection of poems.
Her ‘soft’ weekly column in BusinessDay (Tales from the main road) simply glides the reader into the weekend mode and impresses on a first reader, the excitement of a creative writer who is committed to a better society. She also maintained a similar column in the Sunday Trust for several years.
“I think it’s important that people continue to strive. I am fairly accomplished but I continue to strive and learn,” she tells BusinessDay of what prepared her for this level of success. “But overall I think success is determined by those you have impacted. I do my best. To be somewhat accomplished you need hardwork, humility, knowledge of your field, kindness, faith, charity and a mentoring spirit.”
Eugenia is generally a very happy person and loves to laugh a lot. And according to her, this helps to ease tension. “I am lucky to have some humour, some wit and members of my family have this as well.” She loves to travel, and on a day to day, tries to balance work and family.
Three other things on how she deals with life pressure – a good massage every six weeks, serious commitment to her faith and the ability to expunge toxic people from her space.
Eugenia is ageless. Having her children is one of her highs. Being able to write her two books is part of it, as well as interviewing top level people including Presidents. The passing of Eugenia’s parents is one of her lows. Toxicity in the workplace and seeing poverty and injustice in the world is another low point. She also hates to be misunderstood, which according to her happens often.
One of Eugenia’s toughest challenge is being discriminated against, sometimes, by her colleagues on the job because she is a woman. But she deals with those situations by “pretending not to understand” but if it’s direct, confronts it and expresses reservation.
“Be as efficient as possible. Be knowledgeable in your field. Be a sponge. Learn as much as you can,” she advises. It wasn’t all roses during her civil service career at the NTA. Delayed promotion for years even with the best qualification was frustrating.
“My family encouraged me to stay and weather the storm, I worked hard at my job while writing a book, I held strong to my faith. But one day, God vindicated me and promoted me to Executive Director in NTA.”
Eugenia loves to travel and read – no wonder her birthday event centred on books and wisdom. She also loves to cook- and currently writing a cookery book. Her love for fabrics is often, visibly expressed in her dressing. She is a collector of both fabrics and painting from across the world. She equally loves perfumes and jewelry, and wish she has her own line.
She also loves to mentor young people – an unexplored tool to fast track Africa’s development, she notes. Apart from the captivating speech by Minister Katagum, three major events highlighted Eugenia’s birthday celebration, including a panel discussion themed ‘The Wisdom Conversation’ which she moderated herself; an epilogue- The wisdom of books and books on wisdom delivered by Ferdinand Agu, Chairman, Abuja Literary Society; and a powerful rendition of “Amazing Grace” by Grace Jerry, who is the Executive Director, Inclusive Friends Association.
In his presentation, Agu said he was jolted by Eugenia’s plans to gather 60 persons to discuss wisdom in celebration of her 60th birthday, rather than throw the usual loud parties.
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“Though I have never really associated her with any age, Eugenia is never halfhearted. She is and will always be Eugenia Abu: the lady with a verve for life, an inner sheen, an air of the transcendental, an eternal youthfulness and a perennial beauty that defines the years,” Agu noted.
Although wisdom is very often associated with age, Agu observed that one is never too young to be wise, citing people like Eugenia, who are clearly wise beyond their years.
“We need to raise men and women with acumen, common sense and experience; men and women with foresight, intelligence and judgment; people imbued with values, prudence, mental and emotional balance; we need a nation that dignifies ethical behaviour, tolerance, empathy and reason. We need a nation with more wise men and women at the stations of decision and arena of action.”
For him, this is a battle that must be fought and won on many fronts, and that may be the essence of the wisdom conversation. And books, one of Eugenia’s favourite modes of communication, will play a special role in that conversation, he adds.
And just before the vote of thanks was delivered by one of her daughters, Ojochide Abu, Eugenia expressed gratitude to God, her family, friends, and ofcourse her guests, who she was careful to remind to “be kind to the next person, as that is the best wisdom.”