October 31, 1959

On this day, television transmission service began in Western Nigeria by the administration of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the Premier of Western Region. That time, the regional Information Minster was the late Chief Anthony Enahoro. This service which was initiated by a Regional Government was not only the first in Nigeria, but was the oldest in the whole of the African continent. The birth could be termed purely accidental, because it was borne out of political dissension. Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his partymen had walked out of Parliament in protest against a constitutional debate at the eve of Nigeria’s independence. This action was condemned by the ruling government over the Federal all-Nigeria Radio Broadcasting Service, but access was denied the opposition leader to reply to the accusations. Instead of establishing a Radio Station alone, to offer an unrepressed “Voice” in national affairs, the Western Region commenced television transmission.

During the ceremony, on behalf of the government of Western region, the Information Minster, Chief Anthony Enahoro, in his opening speech, welcomed all present to the opening ceremony of the Western Nigerian Television. According to him, “Today is a great day in the history of this region and in the history of broadcasting in Nigeria.” He then thanked them for joining on this official opening ceremony and the called on the Governor General, Sir James Robertson, to make his opening remarks.

WNTV House

The transmission studio

Sir James Robertson remarked that it was a great pleasure to him to be at the inaugural ceremony of Western Nigeria Television Service.  He said, “I very much appreciate the invitation that the board and directors of Western Nigeria Radio Vision Corporation sent to me. I wish to congratulate the Western Region’s government and Overseas Rediffusion Corporation on their enterprise and determination which they have shown in preparing for this ceremony and the opening of the television station in such record time.”

In his own speech during the commission, Chief Awolowo, the Premier of  Western Region and the initiator of the television service, said that the venture was initiated because the Regional Government was convinced that it could play a major role in increasing both the pace and standard of education which was regarded as the key to progress in other fields. He said that it was the aim of his government to bring information about development in Nigeria and in the outside world into the people’s homes so that they might benefit from that knowledge. He declared that ‘television will serve as teacher and entertainer, and as a stimulus to us all to transform Nigeria into a modern and prosperous nation’. This educational task might be performed through formal educational programmes for schools and less formal programmes for adults. Political motivation notwithstanding, the Western Nigeria Television venture took off successfully and became the pride of the entire Region and the nation. He ended his speech by saying,  “I have great pleasure in formerly launching Western Nigerian Television, First in Africa. I ask you to rejoice with my colleagues and me on this occasion and to grasp with both hands the full advantages which this modern miracle offers.”

Awolowo                                                    Enahoro

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