Plot To Kill Nat. Light Newspaper - Peter Obi Withholds Subvention/salary Over Insufficient Publicity

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Staff of the Anambra Publishing and Minting Corporations Limited, publisher of the state owned newspaper, National Light Newspapers are presently in a crossroad. Reason being that their employment is currently shaky as they may all go into the job market very soon in search of new jobs. gathered that the reason for this is the allegation heaped on the management of the corporation by the Commissioner for Information and Culture, Chief Maja Umeh accusing them of not giving the governor, Mr. Peter Obi enough publicity in the newspaper.

According to a source who volunteered information to these medium but begged to remain anonymous, the commissioner relayed the message to the Managing Director of the corporation days back, saying that henceforth, government is not willing to provide to the company the subvention which has helped it to continue to keep the weekly publication on the newsstand.

The source said that the government plans to also stop the monthly salaries of the staff of the company, and that the plot of the government is to seal off the company.

Speaking with the staff of the company, this medium learnt that the government which he said finds it difficult to fund the publication has long been contemplating phasing out the company, with the complaint that it is not yielding any income to the government.

Speaking further, he said that the government has through the Information Commissioner continually been on the neck of the staff of the company, pressuring them not to use any material that does not have government approval. It could be suffixed that every material used in the paper was thoroughly scrutinized by the government before they would be vetted for use by the company.

The staff who also accepted that the company has not been generating enough fund to sustain itself blamed the inability of the paper to pick up on government who he said made sure that only their materials are used in the newspaper, and have accordingly been branded “Peter Obi paper” causing other opposition members of the party to distance themselves from it.

He however denied that it is true that the company has not been publishing the governor prominently in their paper. “Just go and pick up any edition of National Light Newspaper, and you will see that it is either the governor did this or did that. Even when some of the events are not newsworthy, we try to highlight it, some times on the front page, yet the people are not happy.

“How many copies of the paper is sold in every edition? The commissioner and their men do not take time to contemplate about these, all they will do is to tell us that we are redundant, that we do not know what we are doing, yet they don't know that they are the people killing the paper. The people who are running the paper are capable hands who know how to generate income for this paper, but they will never be allowed free hands to do it.”

The visibly enraged man in his analysis said that very few copies of the paper sell in every publication, but yet it continues because the management is hopping that government would see the work they are doing and show concern for the dying company.

“Which reader who really wants value for money would buy a copy of National Light? Not when everything the paper publishes is Obi this and Obi that. Even the government who the paper does well to publish disregard it. Even when you publish stories of the happenings in some ministry and you take it to them, they simply collect it and without paying for it, only to remind you that it is our paper.

“Yet they prefer to spent money to buy Sun and other newspapers, and would be satisfied with seeing one or two stories from Anambra, even negative ones written by reporters that have never set foot here. We who strive to give our best here, because the paper if funded by them, they tend to see it as trash.

“We were very surprised when our managing director called an emergency meeting to tell us what the commissioner said because we have always reported them prominently, sometimes even more than we would have actually wanted to do. Today if you go to assignments that are not government assignments as a reporter from National Light, you tend to hide your face because if the man who organized the function sees you, you stand the risk of being labeled a government spy, yet the people still said we have not been reporting them. Personally, I am surprised.”

The recent withholding of their subvention gathered may be a deliberate attempt by the government to act out a script it had already written on how to close down the company.

It would be recalled that the company, including the state owned radio station, ABS have long been battling the state government on the payment of the pension of some of their retired colleagues, and now the seizure of their subvention and salaries which may eventually lead to the closure of the company.

A staff of the ABS also recalls that the government has been interfering hugely in the professional running of the outfit, saying that once, staff of the station have had to forfeit a months salary for airing materials (paid adverts) that belonged to rival politicians.

Some of these were attributed to the interference of the information commissioner who is said not to have any background in journalism, and as such uses his commando style to run the government owned outfits as he wishes.

Meanwhile, newspapers distributors and vendors are also said to be planning a showdown with the information commissioner on what they see as attempt by him to use them to market the state owned newspaper without letting them have the required commission.

A newspaper vendor said that, “we are planning to distance ourselves from the paper. Other papers that are even quick sales and come from faraway Lagos and Abuja give to us at N110 each for a paper with cover price as N150, but National Light which is not even patronized sells for N100 and is given to us for N90, both the distributors and the vendors now share N10 among themselves. It is not even as if the papers are fast moving.

“We will soon stop carrying the papers about. We have complained to the management of the company, but it doesn't seem as if they can help us, this is because the order was given by the information commissioner. We are still taking it easy because of some of their staff who are members of our association.” The vendor said.

Staff of the company it was gathered have all the same resolved among themselves that they will do all they can to keep the paper on the stand even if it means reducing pagination and coming out once every month.

“WE have resolved that we will continue to publish to show them how hardworking we can be even though they are not funding. Meanwhile, we are still trying to know if the commissioner's message was actually the order of the governor or just his. Though the commissioner said that it is EXCO resolution.

“WE have also told the state council of NUJ about it, and we are hoping that they can also come to our aid. When we start publication again, we will try our best to please them the more because we still acknowledge that the company is government's own. Even if it entails putting the governor, his wife, his children and everyone related to him to make him happy, that is what the management agreed it would do. All these were discussed in secret oo.”

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