ACNPN: A LIMUS TEST FOR DELTA PUBLISHERS
Over five months ago when the Delta chapter of the Association of Community Newspaper Publishers of Nigeria (ACNPN) received 5 million Greek gift from the Delta State Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan under the then chairman of the association, Mr.Femi Odonmeta who allegedly declared #3.4 million to the association which infuriated some members to investigate the monetary transaction of the so- called executives. Association of Community Newspaper Publishers of Nigeria is a body that reports objectively on community matters that helps to promote community development in the State.
It is sad that this so-called alleged executives of the association whose administration just began five months ago could involve in such a mess that have turned the association of Delta publishers into two bodies without resolving the issues at stake due to flex muscles or inferiority complex among top executive members of the association. The fact remains that ACNPN has a veritable and reliable constitution that helps to expose fraudulent activities of the people who claimed to be publishers of the association without iota of integrity and trust. These so-called executives were also alleged of # 2 million being given to them by the Delta State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Mike Ogeah which the then chairman also declared #1.8 million to the association while #200,000 cannot be accountable for till date. Rumors that made the round that these groups of accused publishers have decided to form their own association which is yet to be recognized by the state government with no due process. The major problem of Delta publishers is the ability to work as one body and project community development in all ramifications. Some of the Delta publishers are only interested on the state government monthly largesse without improving on their newspapers publication.
Few years ago, community newspapers in Nigeria were totally marginalized by the national newspapers that felt their reportage scope was narrowed to community level which prompted more spread of community newspapers to source for local news which the national newspapers cannot report objectively or creatively. Even some national newspapers extract news from community newspapers to complete their news stories and others. Community newspapers are the voice of the common people in Nigeria. Each state of Nigeria has over 50 registered community newspapers that project the minds of the people at the local level. It is vice-versa that both national and community newspapers extract news from each other when the need arises. Most of these self-styled community publishers are just publishers without journalistic orientation or calling which negatively painted the profession at the bad light. Fake publishers without any formal training have taken community publication as way to tarnish their enemies without following ethics of the profession.
Though, business of publishing is one of the challenging professions that need time and concentration in order to overcome competition and ability to publish issues that are relevant to the people. The cost of newsprint has increased as a result of harsh economic and others. The lost of integrity among some Delta publishers could be traced to high level of poverty, greed and corruption that beclouded the country which publishers cannot attest to the facts of sincerity. The pride of community journalism is gradually taken over by those who ventured into the profession without passion of promoting community news and inter-ethic unity. Delta State is one of the Nigerian states that have the highest community newspaper publishers due to various ethnic groups in the state. Some publishers in the state want to dominate their region without allowing young publishers to come on board rather painting their reporters and editors as bad eggs. A market without competition cannot thrive well in all levels. If only one national newspaper like the tribune, which is the oldest surviving newspaper, exists, then journalism would have been seen as a monotonous and monopolistic profession and the truth would have been covered by powers that be. Some publishers do not want to read other fellow community newspapers rather than their own only. Some even turned themselves to community enemies without projecting their core values of community journalism in Nigeria. The likes of Femi Odonmeta, Ochie Patrick, and Dike Awana have failed abysmally to protect the image of Delta publishers and the constitution of the association. Community publication is a business that needed political and economic appreciation from avid readers and government. But those claimed to be vanguard of trust are being involved in fraudulent activities in all ramifications. Even the acting executive members at present must be careful in administration because all eyes are set on them to know their integrity in leadership of community publication in the state.
Again, some of these community newspapers are mere newspapers that are not marketable to the public due to regular errors in publication with no iota of improvement in language collocation and others. Some community publishers are not ready to admit their unavoidable errors in publication on weekly or monthly basis. There are two types of community newspapers avid readers, those that read to learn and those that read to detect errors. In a view of time, community newspapers have help to promote state programmes at all levels than the national newspapers. The cost of adverts and other packages on community publication is less than the national newspapers while the scope of the latter is wide than the former. Delta publishers comprises of notable newspapers which include. Isoko Today, Delta Independent, Isoko Extra Times, Warri Voice, anioma Trust, Isoko Mirror, Frontline news. Delta Periscope, Delta Digest, Ndokwa Vanguard, Urhobo Times, Urohobo voice, Itsekeri Voice Zion Nationale, Rural Front, Trumpet. The Extra Grassroots and others. While some notable defunct Isoko newspapers that started with tall dreams are Isoko Hope, Isoko News and Isoko Times By late Patricia Akpavie.Delta still have community magazine publishers that are projecting the state in a good light and nothing else. The bane of disunity has gradually eaten deep into the fabric of the association over the years. In modernized society, Association of Community Publishers must help to promote themselves but some Delta publishers are only interested in casting aspersion on one and another for fear of intimidation and insecurity. The national publishers all started from one newspaper to other while community newspapers would also do the same.
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ). Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPANP) have formidable structure and unity than the so-called Association of Community Newspaper Publishers of Nigeria (ACNPN) which is chaired by the national president, Sotonye Toby Fulton of the Gist Magazine. Some of these community publishers are not in one accord due to self and monopolistic interests in publication. Some half-baked publishers have entered into the market to tarnish innocent people vision and aspiration. The recent trend of community newspapers organizing awards are welcome development to build a formative structure of the community media. The question many are asking Delta State governor is that the #5million gift for community newspapers for what? Is it to promote good governance without seeing government performance? Only God knows better of such watering gift. Delta state is meant to promote excellent news not corruption of bad publishers in the state who only interested in publishing government projects that are not visible to the people. Some publishers have been bought over by the so-called politicians who give them stipend to tarnish people integrity in the state.
Lastly. Delta publishers must learn to live as one body and not to allow money to turn the association upside down. Publishers must undergo regular trainings while leaders of the association must sanction their fellow publishers on the need to improve in their publication now.
BY GODDAY ODIDI. PUBLIC AFFAIRS ANALYST. 08058124798,07086603306,20 oro street Ajegunle Apapa Lagos