March 29, 2007
3 mins read

A few weeks ago, a kind of debate commenced within or organization, Media Trust. It was related to the coming  shape of things in Nigeria if the elections hold, and as it looks likely to be , a president of Northern extraction is sworn-in on May 29th, 2007.There seems to be  affair amount of trepidation about what the direction of our newspapers would be thenceforth.

A background is useful here; our titles came into being, found their raison d’etre in the wake of the political developments in Nigeria at the tail end of the Abacha dictatorship and the new reality that power was going to shift to the southern part of Nigeria in the new democratic dispensation. Of course, the southern media largely played a role in the battle against military dictatorship, but in also demonizing the political and power elite of the northern Nigeria. The impotence of our region was laid bare for everyone to see in those crucial hegemonic struggles of the different sections of the nation’s political elite and the response of their media subalterns.

Northern Nigeria was literally routed largely because media power was so skewed in favour of its southern, especially south- western counterparts  that became a major point of frustration in the region. The emergence of the WEEKLY TRUST was therefore lapped up by people in a most sympathetic manner all over northern Nigeria, as the voice which the region had been longing for. When the Obasanjo administration came into power, our titles became  a platform to challenge some of the decisions which people felt were not in the best interest of the country in general, and the north in particular. I think we provided the most authoritative platform of the critique of the reform programme of the regime; foreign policy choices that smack of subservience to imperial powers; an opportunity for debate in respect to Sharia; controversial vaccinations; the war of aggression against Iraq; a more balanced view of the Darfur crisis and we provided platform for the opposition in 2003, at a time when the southern media seemed to have adopted Obasanjo in the run-up to the elections,and in the rationalization of the massively rigged elections. We covered Buhari’s court case thoroughly and in general we have in my view, worked very professionally over the years.

The background for our mini debate was that some newspapers and news magazines found great relevance in media in the fight against military dictatorship but could not sustain relevance in the era of democracy. Secondly, we have grown as a media establishment largely because we have more or less provided the alternative platform in the context of Nigeria’s current political dispensation. The issue now is what will become of us, if a president of northern extraction came to power? To be honest, I felt that perhaps we didn’t have to launch the debate, because our work has developed because we have endeavoured to maintain the best professional standards of journalism. We have been critical of the policies of the government of the day,because  we have felt they were policies which hurt the overall interest of the Nigerian people, but we have reported fairly and objectively following the basic canons of journalism. Our resolve is that we must maintain the best professional standards, even when power shifts to the northern president in May 20007.After all, we have not become juournalists first to serve a narrow regional agenda. We would speak up for the deepening of the democratic process, for a transparent process of governance, we will be a scourge of corruption, will defend the rule of law, the multiplicity of platforms in politics and the public space in the best traditions of democratic culture. If we work this way, the prestige of our organization can only be enhanced in the years ahead.


Of course, we did not have any illusions about what the political future holds. The political elite from the north will not be happy about criticisms of their foibles and missteps in governance; they will like to put subtle and not-to-subtle pressures on our journalism; but we would be as understanding of their teething problems of governance, as reasonably as possible, but my belief is that we would remain as committed as we have always been to the best professional standards so that we can serve the very best interests of the Nigerian people.This is the journalism that we shall champion in the future, because it is the journalism that has taken us this far.

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