Tofarati Ige is a writer, singer, actor, journalist, and editor based in Lagos, Nigeria. He excitedly shares with Ayiba’s Precious Obiabunmo about how he got into journalism, the Nigerian journalism scene, and his memorable experiences working as the Lifestyle Editor of Punch Newspaper.

What motivated you to get into journalism?

I was motivated to go into journalism because of my love for writing. Having published two books, I needed an avenue to constantly write and I felt journalism was the profession that could offer me that platform.

 I also knew that I wouldn’t last in a regular 9am-5pm job. I needed something more exciting and challenging. With a background in entertainment, I decided to specialise in showbiz reporting. I love to report on celebrities, attend parties and other events, and basically hang around those who shape the present and make history.

Do you ever feel the pressure to alter the tone of your stories?

Not in the real sense of it. As long as one’s story is factual and not done in bad taste, Punch Newspapers does not censor its journalists.

However, it is also important to strike a balance. A journalist’s major currency is the contacts he has, so one has to build relationships. It is those relationships that would turn to sources which one needs to write stories and get scoops. If an interviewee says something to me and asks me to keep it ‘off record’, I am duty bound to do that as the ethics of the noble profession dictate.

What’s your most memorable experience as the Lifestyle Editor of Punch Newspaper?

In journalism, it is commonly said that ‘you are as good as your last copy/story’. That means there is no time for one to rest on one’s laurels. In light of that, every edition of the papers (Saturday and Sunday PUNCH) is memorable to me.

Punch Newspapers has very high standards and there is zero tolerance for laziness, sloppiness, and cutting corners. Every week, we work hard to make sure that we have good and exclusive stories and interview top personalities who are newsmakers.

Tell us about Grand Tycoon Entertainment?

Grand Tycoon Entertainment is a general purpose entertainment company. It is legally registered and was founded in 2006. Some of the services rendered by the firm include Master of Ceremonies, disc jockey, live band, professional writing, editing/proof reading, party planning and event management.

Our first major concert was a Valentine’s Day party tagged, ‘Xplode’. It held in Lagos on February 14, 2007, and was well attended by students of Olabisi Onabanjo University, University of Lagos and Lagos State University.

In 2018, we hosted another event tagged ‘Battle of the Fans’. It was also held in Lagos and attendees were required to wear the jerseys of their favourite teams. It was a colourful and novel event that combined entertainment and sports.

Also in 2018, together with another company, we held a concert called ‘Bootylicious with DJ Freshwaves’ at Ijebu Ode (Ogun State). Some of the reigning music artistes at the time, including Bigiano and Olu Apala, performed at the event.

I published my first book, ‘Town Crier’ in 2008 and this was followed by ‘Oriki (Praise Poetry)’ (print and audio book) in 2011.

However, my music career started earlier. I recorded my first song, ‘Bounce with Me’ in 2004. I have gone on to record several songs including ‘Morenike’, ‘Bidemi’, ‘Anything’, ‘Flash your Wallet’, ‘Mixtape’ and ‘Oya’

I have always been involved in entertainment since I left secondary school and I believe there are still more areas to explore in the diverse and lucrative industry.

What do you think needs to change about journalism in Nigeria?

One of the lessons that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught perceptive people is that work can (and should) no longer be viewed as being situate within the four walls of an office building. With tremendous advancements in technology; practically all aspects of many jobs can be done virtually. Meetings can be held online, transactions can be made on the Internet and one can work on documents and files from the comfort of one’s home. The most important thing is the output.

Journalism practitioners in Nigeria need to take cognisance of the changing times and adapt accordingly. Journalism is not a desk job and for one to do the job well, one has to often be on the ‘field’ and interact with the people that one reports on.

With the horrendous traffic situation in the commercial nerve centre of the country, Lagos (where most media headquarters in the country are located), working from home certainly saves a lot of stress as one would cut off the precious man-hours wasted in traffic snarls.

The issue of welfare is also very important. As the watchdog of society, it is sad and ironic that many media companies are in the habit of owing staff salaries and even when the money is paid, it is often measly and incapable of affording the journalist a good life. If journalists are paid well, they would be insulated from certain ethical violations and discomforts.

In addition, I would like to see a media landscape where journalists keep very high professional standards. This includes being factual and thorough on the stories one writes, dressing well and shunning bribes.

Tofarati Ige is a writer, singer, actor, journalist and editor based in Lagos, Nigeria. He writes poetry, prose, articles, scripts and short plays all centered on intellectual entertainment and stimulation, with African tradition and culture as a template. He has garnered wide experience writing and creating solutions for various media organisations, both print and online.

He successfully edited magazines such as Inside OOU, E24-7 and TULK in the past, and he was also the online editor of Film Afrique which is published by the African Film Academy, the parent body of Africa Movies Academy Awards.

He has interviewed celebrities and eminent personalities such as 2face Idibia, P-Square, Pete Edochie, Patience Ozokwor, Jide Kosoko, Olamide, Odunlade Adekola, Okey Bakassi, Charly Boy, Fidelis Duker, Angela Okorie, Maheeda, Freeze, Mercy Johnson, K1 de Ultimate, Obesere, Kemi Afolabi, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, Alhaja Salawa Abeni, Ali Nuhu, Mike Abdul, Kenny Saint Best, Daddy Showkey, among many others.