Opinion: Obaigbena’s travails in the light of truths, by Kola Amzat

Even though, it’s been widely reported that eminent Nigerians have pleaded for a truce in the media war of words between the duo of Messrs Dele and Bayo Onanuga and ThisDay/Arise Publishers/Owner, nonetheless, it’s germane to put the issues in proper perspective for the purpose of history.    

The responses of the media mogul to mindboggling revelations/expositions by his media contemporaries was puerile, watery, shallow and obviously, lacking in depth, as none of the responses addressed the key issues raised by the APC media team.

To the allegation that he has a long time culture & tradition of reneging in paying staff salary and that he’s widely known in the media industry for always declaring to his staff that ‘Thisday/Arise TV ID Card alone is their meal ticket’, Obaigbena could only respond that his media outfits have trained many journalists who had moved on, to become Ministers, Special Advisers, Commissioners, Head of Federal government Agencies and Parastatals. This is diversionary, to say the least. He deliberately silent on serious danger and ethical challenge of what his business philosophy of not remunerating the staff, constitutes to a decent, fair, truthful and credible reportage.

The #670 million he benefited from Dasukigate scandal which he later returned to EFCC cover after his interrogation and remand in custody, by the Agency, the fund that was subsequently captured in the nation Appropriation Bill (for record purpose) is another sore point and messy affair that seriously casts doubt and aspersion to the ethical and professional standing of the media chief.

 Even though, he attempted to explain it away, that the fund was granted to him on account of the damage that Abuja Thisday Newspapers House suffered through the bomb blast attack by the terrorists, Nigerians couldn’t made any reasonable sense out of this, more so when other media houses he claimed also benefited from the sleaze promptly and vehemently denied.

The most regrettable of all Obaigbena misadventure was his despicable action at making himself available as a tool and instrument of truncating the nation democracy during the Abacha/Shonekan widely condemned regimes. He was reported to have been hired by Ernest Shonekan/military regime as a consultant with mouthwatering offer to declare through CNN to the global audience that Chief MKO Abiola never won any election. He hasn’t denied this assertion.

He has only rationalized that, he was a Senatorial candidate of the opposing party, NRC in that election cycle and that, he was only defending his political aspirations. Defending his political ambition by putting the entire nation in darkness, turmoil and tribulation? The venture they almost achieve anyway!

It was the same Obaigbena who was recruited by the incumbent CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele in a multi-million consultancy role executed through patronage reportage in Thisday Newspapers/AriseTV to openly edge CBN governor into political space and on his behalf, bid for APC presidential ticket when the media chief was aware that it’s against the electoral provisions and even extant laws of the land for a top public officer occupying such sensitive office to aspire for that role while he’s still in office.

The media Chieftain was also alleged sometimes to have raided Niger Delta Region through Thisday Entertainment Package christened Niger Delta Peace Concert, swindling several millions of Naira off the governors of the region and promising to bring American A-list Pop Stars. To their dismay, none of the Artistes ever showed up after media chief had collected several million of Naira. But, the governors kept mum, ostensibly wary of blackmail that may come from the camp of the media chief, preferably waiting for the time they would take their own pound of flesh, if that time would ever come.

And, what of misadventure of Thisday Newspapers Publication in far- away South Africa owing largely to the flamboyant lifestyle of the media chief and his culture of funding the Newspapers through proceeds of blackmail, the practices that South Africa authority detest and abhor in unequivocal terms? On account of this unethical practices and lack of integrity and decorum, he alongside his publications outfit had to exit the country hurriedly and ingloriously. 

These are the damning allegations that generality of Nigerians are expecting Obaigbena to provide responses to. But, instead the only message on his lip to the APC media team is that they must make Asiwaju Tinubu available for interview even, when the team have made it abundantly clear that Tinubu has no plan whatsoever in registering appearance in any of AriseTV program and that, he is directly engaging Nigerian voters and electorates through other communication channels.

And the question Nigerians are putting across to founder of AriseTV is that, when has it become compelling that a presidential or governorship or any candidate whosoever is gunning for elective office must of necessity make himself available in a particular TV station for interview or for the electorates’ interrogation?

Who gave AriseTV the latitude that it’s only their station that is good enough for the interview and interrogation of candidates aspiring for elective offices? 

When has it become the exclusive power of AriseTV to arrogate such power of interviewing candidates?   

Has Obaigbena and team of journalists arranged for the purpose of casting doubts & aspersions comprehensively digested Nigeria 1999 Constitution as amended? If they have, have they comprehended the portion that deals with the provisions of fundamental human rights of each citizen? Are they aware that any Nigerian or any candidate for elective offices has the right of choice of association or TV station or Newspapers publication he prefers to subject him to interview or interrogation during the election?

If they’re have been indulging in bullying or hounding political candidates to submission in previous election cycles, they ought to have been conscious of the fact that, there comes a time this would come to an end. This is the auspicious time that curtains would be drawn at this professional recklessness and indiscretion.    

Asiwaju Tinubu doesn’t need their platform to engage Nigerians. No other presidential candidate has covered 50% of the locations he has covered since INEC signaled the commencement of campaign exercise.     

He engaged Corporate Nigerian and the entire business community at Eko Hotels & Suites, rolling out and marketing his manifestoes. He interacted with business leaders and business community of South/East extraction in Abakaliki. He followed this up in Owerri. He was in Gbaramotu kingdom where he marketed APC manifestoes to the entire Ijaw nation, an occasion that was practically turned into carnival climaxing with conferment of Chieftaincy Title on him.

He was in Kano where he interacted with top business Icons and Mogul, and the entire business community of North West geo-political zone. He followed this up with business interaction and consultation with Arewa in Kaduna. He’s been in Lafia where he interacted with Mining and Solid Mineral community in an epoch making event practically turned into carnival.

With respect to campaign ground coverage, APC presidential candidate and his formidable team have flagged off in Jos, followed this up in Owerri, Maiduguri, Kaduna, Minna, Ilorin, Jigawa, Kogi, Warri, Ibadan, Osogbo and that unrivalled and unprecedented campaign outing in Lagos that would remain the talk of the town in years to come.   

While this are on-going, APC women wing as well as Youth wings are also on the roads, making tremendous in-roads to other frontiers across the nation.   

According to APC presidential campaign programs, plans are afoot to hit other major states’ capital in due course. With the momentum already attained, there is no doubt that the party would cover all the nooks & crannies of the country before the election date.

So, where lies the sense and reasonableness in the submission of AriseTV and Thisday Newspapers submission that Tinubu must interact to Nigerians through their channels, whose anchor men are only arm-chair journalists sitting in Lagos with prepared questions ostensibly orchestrated to frustrate and truncate the aspirations of their supposed interviewee? The journalistic profession has gone beyond what they are accustomed. The fact remains that they need to embrace the contemporary methods.  Period!           




Kola AMZAT (FCA, FCIB,  CTP, MBA)                                                                                                                

Lagos Based Financial Consultant


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