Deji Balogun, the General Manager of Lagos Television, was 55 on Tuesday, November 3, 2015. He did not allow that day to go uncelebrated. He has many reasons to celebrate his birthday that day. Aside adding another year to his age and being in good health and happiness, he was just three months ago appointed the General Manager of Lagos Television.
He told ENCOMIUM Weekly in this interview, how he waited for 15 months before he was appointed General Manager of LTV. He also told us other challenges he faced in his 55 years of existence.
Let us start by congratulating you on your 55th birthday.
Thank you very much.
How do you feel turning 55?
Every day of our lives we should just look back and give thanks to God. When I was born 55 years ago, I was a nobody. Five years ago, when I celebrated my 50th birthday, I was just growing in the industry. At 55, God has brought me this far. I am very grateful to God.
Do you feel your new age?
Age is a thing of the heart. Yes, I feel 55 because I have 55 years of life experiences to look back at. I have 55 years of ups and downs. But God has blessed me with a good stature. I may not look 55, but I feel it.
Really, you are not looking 55. You look 10 years younger. Are there things you are doing to look younger than your real age?
Maybe because I was not exposed to wiles of life early. Also, I do things in moderation. My staying power is, though, I think deep but I do not allow any situation to weigh me down for too long. I am not laid back but I really adapt to situations as they come.
My name is a driving force behind my aspirations. I am a Balogun, I never give up.
Are there things you can no longer do because of your new age?
Yes, there are many things. I can’t play football as I used to play. I stopped playing football at 41. I was an athlete in my school days. But I can’t run as fast as that anymore. I was a good dancer before but I cannot dance energetically like that anymore. Things that used to excite me when I was young no longer excite me anymore. I don’t see myself night crawling and jumping from club to club anymore.
What matters then was catching your fun. But what matters now is what tomorrow portends. I will rather spend that time of the night to commune with God, if I cannot find sleep.
Now, I am more spiritually inclined than when I was younger.
What would you say has been the most challenging period of your 55 years?
(Heaves a heavy sigh) I have had quite a few challenging periods. But I think the most challenging period for me, was after my tour of duty at Lagos State House of Assembly and I was to return to LTV. For no discernable reason, I was denied a place to return. I left here (LTV) as a Corporate Affairs Officer and when I came back, the office was still vacant for 18 months. A beer parlour situated where the canteen is situated now, was my office. I was earning salary but I was not doing anything.
It was a period that revealed the spiritual part of me, because at that point in time, I became a pariah. I kept myself busy writing a column for a soft sell magazine. I begged the editor, the late Kayode Fayemi, to allow me freelance which he did. I was also doing sub editing for him.
That was when I met Christ and my life began to change. I began to look at life from a different perspective. The most difficult decision I have ever made, was to forgive those that I perceived as my antagonists. One of such was a friend, who I confided in and told about my travails and yet he was one of the three people that wrote petition against me and forwarded to the Head of Service. But of course, allegations that were not substantiated with facts could not be given any serious consideration. On this strength, the petition was thrown out. But I was privileged to see it.
When I saw the signatories to the petition and I saw the name of my so-called friend and confidant there, I said this guy of all people?
That is why I said for me, the greatest challenge was forgiving. Because when I met Christ, I was told the first thing I must do was to read the Lord’s prayer and understand it to the letter. When I got to the part where it says, ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,’ tears began to well down my eyes. I said, this person that had stabbed me, I would forgive him. He would just go like that? You know the most interesting thing?
When I was reinstated, this guy now served directly under me! Another challenge led to my appointment as General Manager, LTV. There was an advertisement, which I applied and we were interviewed. Two days after the interview, I got information that I did well and that I was shortlisted. Some people who also got the information told me I came first in the interview. Some were already calling me GM. But I told them they should wait until it was officially announced.
But this dragged on for 13 months. When the approval finally came it was during the transition period. So, it never really held water during that administration. So, it was His Excellency, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, who reviewed everything and went ahead to approve it. Those two months were the longest in my life.
Which two months?
The two months when Governor Fashola first confirmed my appointment and the time Governor Akinwunmi Ambode reviewed it and approved it too.
Why didn’t Governor Fashola announce it before he left?
It would have been unfair on the present administration for that kind of appointment to be made at the twilight of the former administration. So, when Governor Ambode’s administration came, he had to take another look at the interview report. But while that was going on, words started coming that petitions have been written against me, that I was this, I was that and it should not be given to me. I held on to God.
I said my God, for 13 months I waited. Prior to those 13 months, I used to be state MC, but for 27 months, I was banned from being state MC. You can imagine the relief when the announcement came.
Will you then say that it was the happiest moment of your life?
Yes oh. It was the day God finally gave me victory. It was the day God confirmed He is a covenant keeping God. August 3, 2015, when His Excellency, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode told my colleagues and I in his office that we have been appointed General Managers.
Between the Governor’s office and LTV, I was floating in the air. In fact, I did not remember to call my wife that day.
Again, I would say, Monday, August 3, 2015, was the happiest day of my life. I owe it to God and Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, the Governor of Lagos State. Because, if he (the governor) did not stand firm to say I would give him a chance…even what I heard in the rumour mill were daunting enough for anybody to give up.
How would you describe the last three months that you’ve been the General Manager of Lagos Television?
God has prepared the way. He used these two months to prepare me for the ultimate. Administra-tively, I was exposed to a little bit of administration when I was in Lagos House of Assembly. Professionally, it’s been my forte and of course, the mainstay of programming content are news, entertainment and sports. To God be the glory, I passed through all these stages growing up.
Production, I have learnt very well. Presentation, I was employed as a presenter. So, I know what should be and what should not be. I thank God that I am also in tandem with the trend. It’s been a combination of all of those things tarrying us.
The major challenge has been finance. Finance in the area of welfare of staff. Apart from salaries, there are other hazard allowances, personal issues relating to staff, etc. looking at the other overhead costs, the expenditure placed against the income in a saturated market is very daunting.
But we thank God. I have enjoyed the cooperation of my colleagues. If they had apprehension before that we couldn’t run it together, I think in the last three months, they must have been convinced that it is better we held our destiny in our hands.
I have seen that demonstrated by them in their output, attitude to work and disposition towards me. We are making silent revolution in terms of content.
Where do you hope to see LTV in four or five years?
I boast in the Lord Almighty that by His grace and with the support from the governor, count Lagos Television, as one of the top three choices in Nigeria in one year, in aesthetic, content, outlook, everything. The governor has told us he is going to give us cutting edge support that would take us up there.
Let us go a bit personal now? Where and when did you and madam meet?
When I had the first professional crisis, I told you I ran to God. That was when I met Christ. I went to a spiritual church. I started attending that church regularly. Of course, I was single then. I just walked out of one marriage, about four years before then. So, I was a divorcee.
Were there any issues in your first marriage?
We had a son. We parted ways due to irreconcilable differences. We are still friends today. We still relate specially on matters concerning our son. After my first marriage crashed, I made up my mind I was going to marry a single lady. I met a lady right there in that church. We were baptized the same day.
What year was this?
I joined the church in November 2004 and we got married in December 2005. By December this year, we will be celebrating our 10th anniversary.
How many children has the marriage produced?
Two, a girl and a boy.
What would you say was your attraction to her?
Her simplicity, her industry and her beauty. I like them dark.
Is she into broadcasting too?
She was into buying and selling then.