James Atah Agaji is a media expert, a public commentator, a biography writer who is currently working on his filmmaking debut. Yes, James is about to wear a new hat as a film producer and writer. He chats with Ediale Kingsley on matters around his recent and past projects on this exclusive package of InstaLetters’ The Interviewee.
What three words define James Atah?
Friendly, Loyal and fearless.
What industry do you operate in and what exactly is your contribution to it?
Media. Biographies and public commentaries on the nagging issues of the day. Was able to capture the priceless perspectives of some of Nigeria’s founding fathers in well-received biographical accounts before they passed on.
There are few biographers in the land. It’s a trade many under-rates and also under-pays. Why is this so?
It’s a function of the larger social and political process. History, for instance, has been removed from High school curriculum so the environment that drives curiosity in young minds is now entirely in the realm of social media gossip on the antics and vain obsessions of celebrities. So financial rewards may not be a motivation for this genre. A certain desire for understanding the actions and decisions of history makers at strategic moments in the making of a nation offer a critical window for solving today’s problems through the lessons of yesterday. So the motivation is nationalistic.
What advice would you give writing students who would love to have a career in making biographies?
It’s easier now than when we started. New media has made online publishing very easy. So if you have a passion for biographies, then you could carefully pick a subject of genuine public interest and Publish a chronicle of their lives from the vantage point of fresh perspectives the public never knew. A good work will bring recognition and with consistency, other rewards will follow.
“We are on the verge of full-blown civil war unless President Buhari starts to Listen”
Would you be kind enough to share some of your works with us? And which one of them are you more proud of?
Oh! My first work, published in 2007 happens to be my favourite. It was published by Triatlantic Books NY USA. The title is TOS ON TOP, Biographical reflections of Chief TOS Benson, Nigeria’s premier minister of Information and communication. The second one was a peep into the magic of business Empire building and how Chisco motors triumphed over the limitations of his roots and elements to the commanding heights of material success. The title of the work is a telltale “You Too Can Do it“. It was Co-authored. There were other subjects like the late Mathew Mbu, another founding father and pioneer diplomat.
You are also a social media commentator and played a huge role in the social debates on the last general elections. Now that election is won and lost. We have ministers nominees released and going through NAS screening at the moment. What’s your take on the least and the work ahead?
We are going to have more of the same. This administration has been disappointing in every area. The current list of ministers is just a clear demonstration of the hopelessness of the Nigerian project. We are on the verge of full-blown civil war unless President Buhari starts to Listen.
You and your special team supported and pushed for SanwOlu. Your push paid off but what do you expect from the Lagos government?
Yes, we gave him support through the Team 30 project. He has started out well with a clear focus on critical issues. He can build on the foundation he has laid in a cleaner and traffic friendly Lagos.
What are you working on at hand? What’s the latest project?
I’m working on a movie project. My debut. And a team project on improving health care delivery in Nigeria.