“If Nigeria were to die and an autopsy was to be performed the media would be the cause of death” – Anonymous
A little while ago, I wrote about the impending danger that the new brand of journalism now perpetrated by This Day Newspapers posed to Nigerian fledging democracy. In that piece I submit respectfully:
“There is a new way of doing business, especially if you are a newspaper proprietor in Nigeria and it will make you rich, I mean “stinking rich,” and you don’t have to employ a journalist to run your newspaper anymore. The new deals can be called Award Ceremonies, Pop music concerts and Fashion Show Extravaganza. All you need do is announce through the front page of your national newspapers that you are organizing an award ceremonies for companies and government “parastatals” and agencies. The crassness of the deals lies in its buffooneries. There is no semblance of merits in such an award. All it does is get these private companies and government agencies tripping over themselves to advertise in such newspapers. It is interesting to note that the winners of such awards end up locking down an advertising contract with such newspapers.”
I had stated then that the problem I have with this brand of journalism is the inherent “damage it does to the already “battered” integrity of journalism in Nigeria.” Sadly, I could not have been more prescient. I hate to gloat but for once I am proud to say “I told you so.”
Today we learnt that indeed the chicken is coming home to roost for this brand of journalism. In a news story that is clearly a cut between an “hit piece” and an otherwise intelligent investigative report, we learnt of the shenanigans and hypocrisy of the former governor of Lagos State and his connections with the disgraced Abacha’s family friend-the Chagoury’s; as well as the multi billion naira awarded to the latter’s company-Hi-tech Construction company by the Lagos State government.
The problem I have with This Day report is the timing. When did they start working on this story? Since most of the reports referenced deeds and incidents that happened during Tinubu’s years at Alausa why did they sat on the story until now? What motive is behind publishing it now rather than on the eve of election? The reason I say this is that publishing such a story would have enabled the electorates in Lagos State exercised a better judgment in returning someone that is not a lackey or stooge of Bola Tinubu.
The more troublesome problem and the question This Day editor and publishers need to ask is why give the Governor of the Year Award for distinction in infrastructure development to Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola when the same construction company made all the infrastructure development available? It is interesting that the paper now claims it made the award to Fashola based on the wishes of its reader, but then is that not an indictment of the newspaper itself? Could they not be found culpable of misinforming their readership by highlighting musical jamboree and awards to the detriment of actual work of journalism?
Another question I would love to have the publisher answer for us is this: What nexus if any, is there between the Lagos State government refusal to grant a permit for This Day permanent center for jamboree and fashion show and the publication of this news story at this time?
The problem with the ongoing saga is that none of the parties come out of this clean. The Lagos State government had already sent out its “tax goon’s” to This Day corporate office to find out if they had been paying tax regularly. The problem with that is it stinks! Everyone knows this is the same tactic that General Abacha would have used when a newspaper published something unsavory of his regime. So what the Lagos state government is doing is merely confirmed the hypocrisy of its so called democratic ideals. They played into ThisDay story lines when they take a vengeful stand instead of taking every effort to respond to the story accurately and introspectively.
ThisDay newspapers on the other hand will go down in history as contributing to the “demise” of Nigeria democracy more than any other media if it refuses to desist from promoting crass journalism over and above its new found “constitutional duty of the press to hold governments accountable.”
It is not too late for the parties to sheath their sword, roll up their sleeves and helps Nigerian democracy expose pervasive corruption, rebuild crumbling infrastructures and laid a good foundation for black Africa’s largest democracy.