Bayo Onanuga on state of the nation
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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