10 Popular NTA Ladies Of The 80s and 90’s: Where Are They Now

From Ruth Benamaisa-Opia to Ronke Ayuba, this post highlights the popular NTA ladies of the 80’s and 90’s.

In the ’70s, ’80s, and early ’90s, the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) held the forte as the nation’s leading television network, with stations in several parts of the country. It was widely viewed as the “authentic voice” of the Nigerian government.

Back in the day, the NTA also had the best female news presenters, anchors, and broadcasters who, with their unique styles and presentations, amassed millions of viewers, making the TV station the most watched in the country.

On Monday, December 11, 2023, the media world and Nigeria were hit with the sad news of the demise of Aisha Bello Mustapha, a veteran broadcast journalist and one of NTA’s most popular female newscasters. According to reports, Aisha had passed away in Abuja after a brief illness. She was a popular “Network News at 9” presenter. She retired in May 2022 after working with NTA for 35 years.

In celebrating Aisha’s life, Fabwoman.ng takes a look at some other notable NTA ladies and what they are up to.

1. Eugenia Abu

NTA Ladies

If you were an avid watcher of the NTA 9 p.m. news in the 90’s, the name ‘Eugenia Abu’ rings a bell. One of Nigeria’s veteran journalists, Abu anchored the 9 p.m. news at the NTA for 17 years, where she rose to the top of her career at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), becoming Executive Director of Programs. She resigned after thirty-four years of service.

She founded the Eugenia Abu Media Center, located in Abuja, in 2018. The center hosts annual creative and literary boot camps for children between the ages of 7 and 15.

A graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, she has authored two books, including In the Blink of an Eye, which won the ANA/NDDC Flora Nwapa Prize for best female writing in 2008.

Eugenia is a recipient of several awards, including the prestigious Nigeria Media Merit Award for ‘Best Newscaster of the Year’ in 1995. She is an alumna of the Chevening Scholarship and a USIS fellow.

Abu is married with six children, including twins, Oiza and Meyi who are fast rising singers.

2. Sienne Allwell-Brown

Sienne Allwell Brown is a veteran Nigerian broadcaster and lawyer who is known for her work with the Nigerian Television Authority in the 80s and 90s.

Born in 1953, she bagged a degree in law from Middlesex University, London, in 1984 before proceeding to the Nigerian Law School in 1985.

Allwell Brown started her career as a continuity announcer at the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation in the 1970s before becoming a newscaster and reporter with the NTA. She is known for announcing the deaths of Obafemi Awolowo and Nnamdi Azikiwe.

After her time with the NTA, Siene worked as the General Manager/Chief Executive for Rivers State Television and then went on to become a principal partner at Allwell-Brown and Co. (solicitors). She later became the General Manager of External Communications for the Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas Company (NLNG).

Allwell Brown was also voted the Best Nigerian Newscaster for three consecutive years by Lagos Life, a Guardian Newspapers publication.

She was married to Ibadan-born businessman Razaq Lawal and later to Nim Tariah but the marriage also crashed.

3. Modele Sarafa-Yusuf

NTA Ladies

Modele Sarafa-Yusuf is popularly known as Africa’s first female sportscaster. She got wide recognition when she began anchoring the NTA’s flagship sports program.

Her journey in the NTA started during her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) when she was posted to the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) in Ibadan. She was retained by NTA Ibadan after her service year and was later posted to the NTA headquarters in Lagos. Even though she was primarily a sportscaster, Modele Sarafa-Yusuf took on assignments in other areas, including business, politics, and crime. She was also a columnist in newspapers and magazines and a scriptwriter for television programs in fields as diverse as current affairs and education.

In 2003, Modele joined telecommunications giant Globacom in January 2004 as Senior Manager Sponsorships, where she rose to become Head of Sponsorships (West Africa). She went on to become Director of Marketing at the American University of Nigeria in 2013.

She is also the producer and presenter of the personality interview program ‘View from the Top’ on Channels Television which featured top decision-makers and elites in business, public service, politics, philanthropy, religion, and royalty.

Sarafa-Yusuf’s foray into politics began in 2018 when she joined the campaign team of then Ogun State Governorship candidate, Prince Dapo Abiodun. She was subsequently appointed as Special Adviser to Governor Dapo Abiodun in July 2019.

In May 2022, she joined the Ogun State governorship race under the All Progressive Congress (APC). She is married with three children.

4. Ruth Benamaisia-Opia

NTA Ladies

Ruth Benamaisia-Opia was a household name in the early 90s and 2000’s.  As the anchor of NewsLine on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), she endeared herself to millions of viewers with her signature dreadlocks style and captivating voice.

Born in Lagos to a diplomat father from Bayelsa and a mother from Delta State, she lived her early life in Nairobi, Kenya, where her love for broadcasting started. She started her career in broadcasting in 1977 in Enugu, when her father introduced her to some people in broadcasting. She then moved to the NTA, where she cast the 9 o’clock news and Newsline for years.

Ruth left broadcasting to become the Commissioner for Information in Bayelsa State. She later became the community relations manager at Brass LNG. before returning to broadcasting at Lagos Television in 2016.

She is married to Professor Eric Opia, a former chairman of OMPADEC and they have four children.

5. Fatima Abbas Hassan

Fatima Abbas Hassan is known for anchoring the 9 p.m. news at the NTA. She has served at the newshouse in different capacities for over two decades.

Born in 1966 in Kano, she is a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. She did the mandatory one-year National Youth Service (NYSC) at the Bauchi State Publishing and Printing Company, publishers of the Trumpeter and Kakaki newspapers. She served there as a sub-editor and columnist. At the end of her service year in 1989, she secured employment with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Bauchi.

After her NYSC at the Bauchi State Publishing and Printing Company in 1989, Abbas Hassan secured employment with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) in BauchiShe began her broadcasting career as a continuity announcer, progressing through the ranks to Presentation Officer, Principal Presentation Officer, Assistant Manager, and finally News and Current Affairs Manager. She was later assigned to the NTA’s headquarters.

She served as a Special Assistant to the President on Media from 2011 to 2015 and was posted to the Office of the Vice President’s Wife before her secondment to the Presidency.

She is currently the head of the corporate affairs department. She is married to Alhaji Abbas Hassan, Managing Director, Abuja Broadcasting Corporation.

6. Abike Dabiri-Erewa

NTA Ladies

Before going into politics, Abike Dabiri was a broadcaster and one of NTA’s sweethearts, where she anchored the weekly ‘Newsline’ program.

Born on October 10, 1962, she bagged her first degree in English language from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU) in Ile-Ife before obtaining a postgraduate diploma (PGD) in mass communication and a master’s degree in mass communication from the University of Lagos, Akoka.

Dabiri began her journalism career with Bendel State Television before moving to NTA 7 and, later, the NTA network. She is known for investigating the popular ‘Miracle Baby’ story on Newsline, which made headlines for years.

After fifteen years at the NTA, she retired to contest for a seat at the Federal House of Representatives, where she was the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Publicity.

She was also the former Chairperson of the House Committee on Diaspora Affairs, and she was elected for the first time in 2003 and re-elected in 2007 and 2011.

She was appointed as the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora in 2015. In November 2018, she was appointed Chairman/CEO of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission.

She is married to Segun Erewa and is blessed with two boys from her previous marriage.

7. Tokunbo Ajayi

The late Tokunbo Ajayi is unarguably one of Nigeria’s finest broadcasters. Blessed with a captivating voice that won the hearts of viewers in the 1990s, she was known for her unique news presentation on the network news at the NTA.

Born in 1963, She attended Queens College in Yaba, Lagos, before proceeding to the Department of Mass Communication at the University of Lagos, where she obtained a Diploma in Mass Communication.

Tokunbo Ajayi died in London, England, on August 18, 2000, at 37 years old. The news of her death caught many by surprise and sent shockwaves in the media space and Nigeria at large.

According to reports, she had gone through a traumatic experience when robbers invaded her home in Abuja.

8. Sola Momoh

NTA Ladies

Before co-founding Channels Television, Olusola Momoh was a reporter, newscaster, and producer with the Nigerian Television Authority between 1979 and 1987.

A graduate of mass communication from the University of Lagos, she also holds a diploma in broadcast journalism from the same institution.

Interestingly, it was at the NTA that she met her husband, John Momoh, another ex-NTA broadcaster, with whom she later founded Channels TV.

Momoh also has seven years of experience in the banking sector. She was the Pioneer Head of Corporate Affairs Department at the International Merchant Bank (IMB). Subsequently, she worked in other departments at IMB including Treasury and Credit.

She is the Vice Chairman of the Channels Media Group, which includes Channels Global, Channels 24, Channels Digital, Channels Academy, and Channels Television, the company’s internationally acclaimed flagship network.

9. Hauwa Baba Ahmed

Popularly known for her hijab and conservative style of dressing, Hauwa Baba-Ahmed was another name that stood out at the NTA, where she read the 7 p.m. news.

Now known as Hauwa Shuaibu, information has it that she later joined Larfage as an employee relations manager; however, unlike her colleagues, not much has been heard about her since her NTA days.

10. Ronke Ayuba

Ronke Ayuba nee Darley was the perfect definition of beauty and brains. Known for her clear delivery, she started her broadcasting career in 1972 at NBC, Ibadan, Oyo State, as a freelance presenter of a radio programme before moving to WNTV/WNBS as a continuity announcer and presenter in 1973. Fast forward to 1981, when she moved to NTA Lagos as a newscaster, which brought her into the limelight.

However, her stint with the NTA was very brief, as she left her job in October 1985 which caught many by surprise, to start a business as a fabric seller.

She would later become the First Lady of Kaduna State when she got married to the late Major-General Abubakar Tanko Ayuba, a former communications minister and the military governor of Kaduna State (August 1990–January 1992).  They were blessed with three children.

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