Broadcasters Int.: Kindly tell us your background: education and professional career to retirement.
I was born on Friday June 17, 1960 to the family of Mr Josiah ItiUkwela and Mrs Sarah ObanyiUkwela (Nee Osakwe), both of blessed memory, peasant farmers in a polygamous home of thirteen children, in the native town of Unale, Ibaji Local Government Area, Kogi State. I am the sixth and the last child of my mother.
I started my primary school education in January 1971 in LGEA Primary School, Unale. I maintained a position between 1stand 4th in my class from primary one to primary four while in primary five and primary six I maintained 1st position throughout, graduating in1976 with the best result. In primary six, which was my final class in primary school, I served as the school’s Time Keeper.
In September 1976, I proceeded to the famous Ochaja Secondary School where I maintained first position from Form One to Form Three in a set with two hundred students. While in Ochaja, I served as the President of the Fellowship of Christian Students as well as the Choir Master. I graduated from Ochaja Secondary School in 1981.
In 1981 I proceeded to the School of Basic Studies, Makurdi, where I successfully completed a course of study in 1983 in Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics.
At the School of Basic Studies, I served as the Choir Master for the Fellowship of Christian Students.
In 1983, I gained admission into the premier and famous university, The University of Ibadan, Ibadan where I obtained a B.Sc. Honours Degree in Electrical/Electronics Engineering, Second Class Upper Division in 1987. While at the University of Ibadan, I fellowshipped with Ibadan Varsity Christian Union (IVCU). I was a member of the IVCU Prayer Band as well as the Zik Hall Rep for the IVCU.
I was among the 1987/1988 batch of NYSC and served the nation in Minna, Niger State. While on National Service, I served as the Bible Study Secretary for the Niger State Christian Coppers’ Fellowship.
I started my working career in January 04, 1989 with NTA Makurdi. While in NTA Makurdi I was sent on a two and a half week course at the NTA Television College, Jos where I came out as the best participant with a distinction. I got a commendation letter for this excellent performance. Still in NTA Makurdi, I worked in a team that carried out a television studio installation for the NTA, Makurdi. I also got a commendation letter for a job well done. On July 09, 1992 I was deployed to Lokoja to work with a team to install broadcast facilities and establish a new NTA station in Lokoja, Kogi State.
While in NTA Lokoja, the NTA headquarters in Lagos sent me to the famous Television Training College, SENDER FREIES Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany for three months Advanced Professional Training in Video Signal Processing in Television. On November 01, 1994 I left the services of NTA and transferred my services to National Broadcasting Commission, Lagos.
While working in National Broadcasting Commission, Lagos, my major duties were: Frequency Planning, Frequency Allocation, Frequency Management, Supervision of Television and Radio Station Projects, Acceptance Testing of Television/Radio/MMDS Redistribution Installations, FM Radio/Television/MMDS Transmission Measurements, Monitoring of Broadcast Frequencies for Illegal Transmission, Investigation of Unauthorized Transmission of Sound and Vision, Field Strength surveys of FM Radio/Television/MMDS Transmitting Stations, Inspection of Imported Broadcast Equipment at the Port of Entry to regulate broadcast equipment used in Nigeria, Maintenance of Intercom Telephone lines and Direct lines within NBC’s office complex, Installation of MMDS and Television receivers, Redistribution of MMDS and Television signals for monitoring purpose within the NBC’s office complex.
In 2004, I relocated to Abuja when the second batch of National Broadcasting Commission’s headquarters staff in Lagos relocated to Abuja.
In Lagos and in Abuja, I worshipped and still worship with Foursquare Gospel Church. I served in various capacities within the church; Sunday School Teacher, Music Director, Director of Employment Bureau, Director of Welfare, and Zonal Care Pastor.
While in National Broadcasting Commission I served on several Committees too numerous to mention; such as Modalities for Transition from Analogue to Digital Transmissions for MMDS Services Committee, Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC) on Digitization, Broadcast Network Bid Evaluation Committee, Broadcast Signal Distributors Bid Evaluation Committee, DSO Budget Committee, 2.5GHz Frequency Band Committee, TVWS Implementation Committee, 700MHz Frequency Band Committee, DSO Common Set Top Box Manufacturers Bid Evaluation Committee, DSO License Fees and Carriage Fees Committee, Communications Policy Review Committee, Broadcast Policy Committee, Common Broadcast Facilities Committee, Power Line Telecommunications Committee, Digi-Team Nigeria, Digi-group Nigeria, Jos DTT Pilot Rollout Project Committee.
While in government service I attended the following short term courses amongst others: Introduction to Digital Techniques & Microprocessors, Workshop on Television Technology, Advanced Professional Training on “Video Signal Processing in Television”, Professional Broadcast Video Camera Maintenance, Radio Frequency Planning/Utilization/Monitoring, International Micro Informatics Maintenance, FM Broadcast Monitoring, Diploma Course in Microsoft Office, Decision Making, Spectrum Auction Masterclass, Understanding Modern Spectrum Management, Digital Media Regulation Masterclass, Leadership and Strategic Management, Strategic Management and Leadership Competency.
I am a member of several professional bodies such as, the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Institute of Electrical Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Institute of Corporate Administrators (FICA), National Frequency Management Council (NFMC).
While serving my country at the National Broadcasting Commission, my major duties were; Frequency Planning, Frequency Assignment, Frequency Management, Representing National Broadcasting Commission at International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Meetings/Conferences, African Telecommunication Union (ATU) Meetings/Conferences, ITU ECOWAS Meetings/Conferences, and other international Meetings/Conferences, Assessment of Engineering Design/Feasibility studies of companies applying for Broadcast Licenses, Pre-commissioning inspection of new Broadcast Stations, Maintaining and updating Frequency Assignment Register, Supervision of Television/Radio Station Projects, FM Radio, TV and MMDS Transmission Measurements, Investigation of Unauthorized Transmission of Sound and Vision, Investigation and resolution of Broadcast signals Interferences. I served twice as ITU Study Group 6 Vice Chairman.
I joined the services of the National Broadcasting Commission on November 01,1994 as a Principal Engineer and retired as Director, Engineering & Technology, on June 17, 2020.
Broadcasters Int.: As a former Director of Engineering at NBC who witnessed the growth of broadcast stations from less than 100 to the current number of hundreds of stations, what is your assessment of the growth of broadcast engineering, particularly as currently practiced in these stations.
The Broadcast industry has witnessed steady development as regards broadcast facilities. The rate of development and innovation in the broadcast industry is amazing; new broadcast facilities are being developed almost on a daily basis, making the business of broadcasting easier, efficient, convenient, and friendlier. These broadcast facilities are readily available, but the willingness of our numerous broadcast stations to embrace these new technologies to support their way of doing broadcasting business leaves much to be desired. It is, therefore, not completely true to say that Nigeria has arrived, knowing that many of our broadcast stations are still bereft of these new innovations.
Broadcasters Int.: By extension, kindly relate our standard with the outside world with reference to your wide exposure to international conferences
Broadcasting in Nigeria has come of age. Nigeria can boast of many broadcasting stations that can be favourably compared to leading broadcasting stations in the world. This is how far broadcasting has evolved in Nigeria; the standard of broadcasting in Nigeria as compared with what is obtained in the outside world is not too bad; Nigeria is not doing badly, but there is still room for improvement.
Broadcasters Int.: Do you really believe the NBC has been able to curtail frequency interferences effectively with your experience as someone who managed such problems for years? And are operators of licenses keeping to the rules?
Nigeria is a very difficult terrain, a country where citizens/operators hardly obey or adhere to codes of practice or professional ethics. The Broadcast Regulator, the National Broadcasting Commission, has well-defined professional ethics for the broadcast industry; the challenge has been that of compliance and enforcement.
The National Broadcasting Commission with all the efforts made so far has not been able to effectively curtail frequency interferences. Every broadcast License has its own defined coverage area but operators hardly keep to their assigned coverage area, thereby causing interferences to other legal users of the broadcast spectrum.
Broadcasters Int.: For the benefit of the Nigerian public, what is NBC’s engineering standard for operators
National Broadcasting Commission’s engineering standards are derived from the international broadcasting standards set out by the International Telecommunication Union. These engineering standards are clearly spelt out in the Nigerian Broadcasting Code.
Any broadcast operator or the general public can access these broadcast engineering standards in the Nigerian Broadcasting Code.
Broadcasters Int.: As a retired professional, what is your new world?
I have retired but I am not tired. I believe that I still have much to offer to the broadcast industry. In line with this belief I have set up an office basically for broadcasting consultancy services, including training services.