Journalism thrives on facts. Once readers do not trust a news medium, it loses its credibility fast. And if it is the type that sells its stories, it is only a matter of time before the Management of such a news medium call it quits with the business of news reporting. Those behindSaharaReporters represent some of the best citizen journalists that Nigeria has ever produced.

 

Unfortunately, SaharaReporters have been taken for a ride with the lurid story posted on its website today about the Ogun State Commissioner for Youth & Sports, Hon. Bukola Olopade. Vendetta and a misplaced sense of journalistic power show was definitely responsible for the ill-conceived story about a pugilistic official of state, especially as it relates to the event of last Saturday at the M.K.O. Abiola Stadium, Abeokuta.

 

I was in Shagamu, when a text message from the Hon. Commissioner for Information & Orientation, Mr. Kayode Samuel, hit my phone. He wanted my take on an alleged beating of journalists by Olopade after a match involving Gateway Football Club. I called Ozogula, as the Commissioner for Youth & Sports is popular known, immediately. His line was busy, so I called that of his Personal Assistant, Seyi. Once Seyi recognised my voice, he insisted Ozogula answer my call despite being on another line. This, perhaps, was his saving grace. Ozogula, as he held Seyi’s phone in one hand, was using the other to hold his own through which he was talking to an elderly journalist, Mr. Adebimpe Afunku, who had sent the earlier text to Mr. Samuel.

 

Olopade pleaded that I should follow the conversation, although I could not hear a word of Afunku’s. But the summary of their conversation was that a certain Sports Journalist had slapped Olopade, who he accused of disturbing him and others in a room they were passing through. Of course, Olopade was celebrating with fans of Gateway Football Club and were ostensibly passing through the room to the outside. It was one of the fans with Olopade who slapped the Abuja-based journalist in turn. The Alaroye journalist then took on the fan who slapped his colleague, a development that infuriated Ozogula. He confirmed slapping the Alaroye journalist to me. He was angry that instead of dousing the tension, the Alaroye journalist acted as if what his colleague did was right by slapping Olopade.

 

Today, the Congress of the Ogun State Council of the NUJ resolved to send a protest letter to the Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel. In the letter, the Council accused Ozogula of slapping the Alaroye journalist and threatening others present. But I later spoke with Mr. Tunde Shodeke, the Chairman, and one of the elders in the Council, Mr. Moshood Adebayo of SUNnewspaper separately. I wondered why the Council did not deem it fit to find out why a journalist should slap a member of the Ogun State Executive Council or any other citizen for that matter. My further question as to whether Ozogula responded to the assault on his person did not yield any response from the journalists. As to whether it was right for the Alaroye journalist to hit the fan who sought to take on the Abuja journalist who slapped Ozogula, since nobody among them stopped him, neither of the two journalists I spoke with could respond.

 

In the conversation between Ozogula and Afunku, which I listened to partly, the Commissioner for Youth & Sports reminded the old man pointedly that he was there when the Abuja journalist slapped him. In fact, Ozogula confirmed Afunku was one of those pleading with him to forgive the journalist. He was messed up by a pen pusher because of certain arrogance that nobody could report the story. Yet, it is the same person that was humiliated, who is being vilified by the media now.

 

Now, my questions to SaharaReporters: Even if Ozogula and the fans disrupted whatever interview session was going on, was it right for a journalist to slap another person … let’s even forget that the person slapped was an official of state? Why should journalists turn the story of what happened upside down when the person in question freely admitted his own side of the story, and stated clearly why he did that? Where is honour, where is credibility in all of these? Why should the same journalists who do not have the honour and credibility to own up to the disgraceful conduct of one of their own cook up false statements to discredit another person? And all these because the person probably has no way of putting his own story across! Friends, facts are sacred in the journalism profession!! Do not allow vengeance seeking, but less than honourable persons mess up your media organisation’s credibility!!!

 

Wale Adedayo,

Chief Press Sceretary to the Governor.

Tel: 08035550127

Email: [email protected]

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