Opinion: A word for Gov. Obiano’s Media handlers

10157269_439714072831914_3869858781197028142_nBY IKECHUKWU OKOYE

The rejoinder written on page 65 of Sunday Sun April 20, 2014 by one Ejike Anyaduba (a pen name/pseudonym) supposedly writing from Abatete, Anambra State in response to the story written by Comrade Aloysius Attah in page 12 of Sunday Sun, April 13 2014 was intended to achieve the aim of correcting the ‘misrepresentation of facts’ in the investigative story written by Attah.

Unfortunately, the rejoinder did more harm than good to the media assistants of the Obiano administration rather than correcting any misrepresentation. Not only that, the rejoinder though pouring invectives on the person of Comrade Attah also ended up promoting Attah in his self appointed crusade of doing purpose driven journalism and using his natural calling as an activist and writer to advance humanity.

The rejoinder also exposed the inexperience of the Obiano media teams in handling issues arising from stories that seems not favorable to the government and also portrayed them as people who are intolerant of divergent views and afraid of serious minded journalists.

Anybody conversant with Onitsha and environs having read the story written by Attah on the activities of touts and extortionists groups in Anambra cannot fault even a single line from what he wrote.

Unfortunately, instead of the media team of Gov. Obiano to see the story as a detailed report which has given them insight on how to address the menace of touts and criminal entities which they should relate to the Governor for appropriate action, they took it personal with Comrade Attah.

I have followed the antecedents of Comrade Attah as a member of the Civil Liberties Organisation, Anambra State Branch before he launched out as a reporter with The Sun Newspapers.
Since 2009, Attah has done several stories for The Sun that not only boosted the image of the newspaper but has redefined journalism in the South East through investigation, thoroughness, digging out hidden issues to the public glare with a view to changing the system for the better.

While the bulk of his journalist colleagues in the state rely on writing who said what and publishing press releases and reporting happening events, Attah goes the extra mile to bring out the real journalism story through research and investigation.

In my archives are several stories written by Attah on the Sunday Sun titles on different issues happening unreported in Anambra which the relevant authorities later took action after his story and made things better.

From his Onitsha Sex Market story which led to the sack of the prostitutes domiciled at mammy market in Onitsha army barracks to the Pregnant Prostitutes Empire which was another expose on the big prostitution and baby factory racket going on at Oba junction, Anambra state. The state government under Mr. Peter Obi had to move fast and demolished all the ramshackle structures at the Oba junction after the publication of Attah’s story.

Comrade Attah also wrote another ground breaking story on a private hospital in Onitsha where patients are detained and treated like common criminals. The story after causing ripples drew the attention of the state ministry of health and the Nigerian Medical Association who visited the hospital with a task force team and not only confirmed the authenticity of Attah’ s report but also discovered that the medical doctor has been operating without license.

The story Attah also did on the activities of the dreaded men of the Anambra State Traffic Agency (ASTA) was another undisputed brave report that led the state government under Obi to take drastic measures to curb the activities of the members of the agency whose activities left much to be desired in the state.

It therefore baffled me when I saw the rejoinder to the Anambra extortion story as the writer instead of explaining government efforts on the issues exposed by Attah rather chose to attack the personality of Attah than addressing the points exposed in the story.

Agreed that the writer of the rejoinder is making frantic efforts to please his master but the manner he approached the subject matter at stake is totally wrong. To begin to defend the indefensible at this early stage of the Obiano’s administration will not only be counter productive but will rather expose the government as anti people oriented.

In the Anambra extortion story, Attah mentioned names of victims and also mentioned spots where those activities are done. He also supplied photographs taken at the thick of action while also mentioning the spots those pictures was taken. The writer of the rejoinder would have told us that those pictures were fake or that the receipts used by those extortion squads mentioned by Attah were non existent. While it is acknowledged that Obiano has made bold attempts to sanitize Onitsha which Attah also highlighted in the story when he wrote that Obiano has declared war on the hoodlums, it might interest Obiano’s media handlers that Onitsha is yet to regain full sanity. The boys terrorizing and extorting motorists in the name of emblem and illegal tolls are still very much around.

The State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano also confirmed Attah’s story a week later when he admitted in his Easter message broadcast to Ndi Anambra that his administration is poised to rid the state of all criminal activities. He pointedly appealed to the extortionists and other touts operating in the state to drop their ignoble activities and rejoin the civil society or leave the state for good.
He said :“So I say this to KIDNAPPERS, ARMED ROBBERS, AND VIGILANTE GANGSTERS – BE WARNED: IN THE NAME OF GOD, GIVE UP YOUR CRIMES & EXTORTIONIST ACTIVITIES; REJOIN CIVIL SOCIETY OR LEAVE ANAMBRA STATE FOR GOOD; IF YOU DO NOT, THE MIGHT OF THIS GOVERNEMNT WILL FIND YOU! YOU ARE NOT BIGGER THAN THIS GOVERNMENT – MY GOVERNMENT IS DETERMINED TO RID THIS STATE OF YOUR CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES FOR GOOD WHATEVER RESOURCES IT TAKES”
What the writer of the rejoinder on Attah’s story failed to realize was that Attah is more passionate to make Anambra better in all ramifications through his activism and pen pushing away from the maddening crowd of other bundle of press people in the state basically interested in cash crumbs from the government and politicians. The use of pseudonyms like Ejike Anyaduba in Abatete, Okechukwu Anarado from Adazi Nnukwu and the likes to promote government activities or attack writers is old fashioned and unproductive. The penchant for writing rejoinders, being intolerant and blacklisting those they feel writes unfavorable stories for them will also do them more harm than good.
Ikechukwu Okoye
Coordinator, Redeem Anambra Project
projectredeemanambra@gmail.com

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