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Bayo Onanuga on state of the nation

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By Primus Igboaka
THE Managing Director of News Agency of Nigeria, NAN , Bayo Onanuga has

been bashed on social media by cross section of Nigerians including the

95% that elected President Buhari into office in 2015. Mr. Onanuga is

rebuked after his defense of President Muhammadu Buhari and his APC

administration's handling of economy leading to recession and unprecented

suffering of the masses in Nigeria.
Bayo as we often called him at the Concord family where we worked together

in the 80s and 90s, went on Facebook and wrote, “My daughter was on Virgin

Atlantic flight that took off from Lagos to London today. I asked her to

find out whether the plane was filled up or going to London near empty

judging by the noise campaign from the section of the country about the

hardship in our country.”
According to Bayo, his daughter sent back this one-line text message after

boarding. ” Daddy, the flight was filled up…oh.” He remarked :” this makes

me to wonder whether all the seemingly orchestrated campaign on the media

was a propaganda to make Buhari's regime look really bad.” Bayo went

further to draw another inference about his alleged media blackmail of

Buhari's regime and his economic woes by comparing prices of food stuffs

and fruits along roadsides in Bauchi and Jos. He claimed that roadside

prices of these food products and fruits were not after all as expensive

not to be affordable by ordinary people as the media seemed to be

disseminating. He wondered whether the media and the social bloggers were

really painting a correct image of the economic situation in the country.

He remarked that it is time for the media to objectively conduct a reality

check about “our reports” whether “we are over sensationalizing so-called

hardship that we talked about.”
Regrettably, Bayo known for his fiery journalism, and with reputation so

strong in objectivity, balanced reporting, social responsibility and

advocate of citizens journalism became a subject of national ridicule

because he was adherent in promoting the president than the masses the

president serves. This is the irony of the role of media ownership and

role of managers – especially those with superbly successful professional

excellence that I find troubling in developing countries. This debacle

also reveals what happens when respected and responsible journalist is

hired to become government's apologist. The conflict in interests between

journalistic principles and booth leaking – the reason why good credible

men and women of the fourth estate of the realms shy away from political

office or appointment.
As an example, Bayo was a colleague at the Concord press. He is a man of

few words, but mighty with his pen. A fighter for the common man

exemplified by his role in removing the tyrant Abacha from office and

ushering in democracy in our country.
Succinctly expressed, we witnessed his commitment to the suffering of the

masses under Sani Abacha. Now as head of media organization promoting

Nigeria and its leader, he ought to have separated the two roles and

understand that the president was elected by the people who are deeply

hurt by the administration's poor leadership in managing the economy. His

first priority as the head of News Agency owned by the people is the

masses and not the president that ought to be serving the people.

Nigerians are suffering from one of the worse economic times in its

history, and to deny this is delusional.
I reside 8, 000 miles from homeland, but technology has closed the

distance. I heard stories everyday of family members and friends robbed at

gun point or their homes burglarized at daylight because people are

desperate and desperate situation brings out the worse in people with low

moral values or tendencies to steal. Pick-pocketers are every where across

the country menacing and threatening people and lives.

I receive more than 10 daily calls every week of people asking for

financial assistance; these are proud and middle class Nigerians that

hardly asked for help before until now in my 20 years of living abroad and

visiting homeland every year or twice annually.
To cut the story short, Bayo is a nice, compassionate fighter for the

common man. That was when I worked with him, and I am sure that those

genes in him are still present. However, one can never be sure because

anybody in his role as image maker to the government ( instead of Nigeria

and Nigerians) is like the proverbial baby monkey carried at the back of

her mother, but unknowingly to the mother plugged the forbidden fruit in

the forest. I hope Bayo is still the same Bayo we knew then at Concord

family. On a personal note, let us give him a second chance. Let us

forgive Bayo…he erred, and to err is human and to forgive is divine.

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