Top media executives last Monday squeezed out time from their usually tight schedule to honour an invitation of a senior colleague delving into the rough publishing terrain. CHIKA OTUCHIKERE writes that they also resisted the threat of attacks on media practitioners to grace the occasion.
Fear of the terrorist lurking around is palpable in the FCT. After the suicide bomb attack on ThisDay Abuja office, it becomes obvious that the media is a major target of insurgents’ attack.
This, regrettably, is not helped by the threat which the Boko Haram sect issued on some other media houses after that attack. Since then the media and media events have not been the same.
At most media houses and venues of media events the presence of security operatives has doubled, if not tripled. Scrutiny of persons and properties coming to both places have also intensified. This was the case last Monday when security operatives apprehended a man who attempted to gain entry into the Radio House venue of ministerial press briefings with grenades and live ammunitions.
So when a member of the editorial board of ThisDay, Waziri Adio decided to branch out and do his own thing; publishing a magazine, Metropole, aimed at reporting the FCT, the atmosphere was charged as top media executives in their numbers, continued to make their entry into the Yar Adua Centre venue of the presentation.
There is no gain-saying that any gathering of media men in the nation’s capital or its adjoining northern region could become a prospective target of attack by the terrorists who have not only made life unbearable for millions of Nigerians but have turned the journalists into an endangered species.
The magazine presentation, indeed, attracted what can be termed the cream of the media industry who could be said to have defied the threat of the bombers to honour a worthy colleague. Both former and serving spokesmen to the country’s number one citizens were there. Mr Segun Adeniyi, currently the editorial board chairman of ThisDay was spokesman to late President Umaru Musa Yar Adua while Dr. Reuben Abati, former chairman of the editorial of the Guardian, is the current spokesman of President Goodluck Jonathan. Both renowned journalists were present at the event.
Other top media dignitaries too numerous to mention include the Group Managing Director of LEADERSHIP Group, Mr. Azubuike Ishekwene, Special Service director of the SUN, Mr. Eric Osagie, popular presenter of FOCUS on African Independent Television, AIT, Mr. Gbenga Arulegba, popular NTA broadcaster, Blossom Ubani, Mr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji formerly of Radio Nigeria, and a host of other top media executives graced the occasion.
The book presenter was another member of ThisDay, Mr. Okey Ikechukwu. Replete in the hall that evening was a large retinue of spokesmen of top politicians
The event, coming at a time that the media could be said to be besieged by threat also did not have a short supply of top Nigerian politicians who showered encomiums on Adio for what they termed a daring act of venturing into an endangered profession.
The Secretary of the Government of the federation SGF, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, was the chairman of the event, FCT minister, Senator Bala Mohammed gave the keynote address, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambulwa unavoidably absent, was represented by his Deputy, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha. Former Senate President, Senator Adolphus Wabara was also present as well as the minster of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku. Chairman of Etisalat, Mr. Hakeem Belo-Osagie was the chief presenter.
This huge turnout can be explained by the fact that the publisher of the ‘baby’ magazine is himself a tested and trusted stakeholder in the industry. Waziri Adio, a former member of the editorial board of ThisDay Newspaper and a versatile columnist whose write-up has attracted readership from the high and mighty. This also, perhaps, informed the presence of these influential VIPs at the event.
According to Anyim, “this magazine is different from most news magazines. It focuses on the essential. It is designed to celebrate lifestyle in the FCT. Knowing Waziri Adio, a hardnosed journalist, it is delightful to see him delving to a soft magazine. Let me take advantage of the presence of media executives here present to congratulate the media for the job they are doing. They have always been at the vanguard of our democracy.
“I wonder what the Nigerian nation would have been like without the media. The work of the media is not done yet. They should stoutly rise up to the challenge we are facing as a nation. It will no longer be right to take news from the traditional definition. We have to redefine news especially for a developing nation like ours. I appeal to the newsmen, let us see how journalism can find solution to the current problem of our society.”
Bala Mohmammed, in his reaction said, “with the array of media practitioners here and the pedigree and caliber of the person launching this magazine, the Metropole it is confirming the status of the FCT as a fast developing metropolitan city. It also reinforces the robust nature of the Nigerian media. Coming at a time the FCT is trying to reinvent itself to meet the growing needs of the residents the magazine would not have come at a better time.
“No one would have thought that because of what happened to ThisDay that they will attack the media but we are assuring media houses of adequate security. Local authority in most parts of the country has collapsed so the only place most Nigerians find relief is the FCT. The Metropole should educate and sensitise Nigerians about Abuja.”
Speaking for the speaker, Emeka Iheioha said, “we are buoyed by the fact that weeks after ThisDay was bombed Waziri Adio is coming out with this magazine. It shows the resilience of the Nigerian journalist to carry out their duties without fear. Today’s launch proves that Abuja is the place to be. The magazine will sooner expose the qualities Abuja hold. Journalists working in the country have a greater obligation to tell the truth more than any other time. As terrorists bomb the city you can see the fervor in the mind of journalists to keep us informed.”
Labaran Maku said, “I thank all my colleagues for the sacrifices they are making for this country. Whether under military or democracy, journalism has continued to stand. The recent challenge, especially the attacks on media houses has drawn condemnation. I’m worried because while some organizations are set to destroy the media, the media will still perform its duties without taking sides.
“What should be the attitude of the media to terror? They are exploiting the freedom that democracy offers to want to destroy. We must take a stand against evil otherwise we’ll be giving our platform to promote groups which seek to destroy.”