ODUKOMAIYA @ 80: Maku, Utomi, Ohuabunwa preach non-partisan journalism

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By KINGSLEY ADEGBOYE & IKENNA ASOMBA

Media practitioners in Nigeria have been urged to shun partisan journalism to achieve the good that Nigeria, and indeed every Nigerian, desires.

*Prince Odukomaiya

*Prince Odukomaiya

The advice was handed down by different speakers as eminent Nigerians and renowned journalists gathered in Lagos, yesterday, to celebrate Prince Henry Odukomaiya, a renowned journalist and former Managing Director and Editor in Chief of Champion Newspapers, at 80.

In their separate submissions, Minister of Information, Labaran Maku; Professor Pat Utomi and Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, Chairman, Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG, noted that it is only when today’s journalism is devoid of partisanship that the nation can move forward as a great country.

Roll call

Other eminent Nigerians and veteran journalists who graced the event were Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, represented by Mr. Olatunji Bello, Commissioner for Environment; Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, represented by Yusuf Olaniyan, Commissioner for Information and Strategy; Mr. Sam Amuka, Chairman/Publisher, Vanguard Newspapers; Gbenga Adefaye, General Manager Publications/Editor in Chief, Vanguard Newspapers; Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi, former Managing Director, Daily Times group and Chief Olu Falomo, Chairman, Reckitt Benckiser Nigeria Limited.

Others were Dr. Doyin Abiola, former Managing Director of the defunct Concord Newspapers; Chief Duro Onabule, former Chief Press Secretary to General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd.), Steve Omojafor, former President of Association of Advertising Practitioners of Nigeria, AAPN, among others.

On partisan journalism

Speaking on Existential Imperatives in Culture Collapse: The Media and the Nigerian Condition, Professor Pat Utomi, who was the guest lecturer, said: “Good journalism is inherently skeptical, and probing.

“Not enough of that is happening today and that has deepened cynicism about what is going on. The case of abduction of a generation of the daughters of the people of Chibok is a case in point.

“More sophisticated disposition should have meant that most journalists would have read Robert Kaplan’s Coming Anarchy and so would have been more discerning of where the brewing society crisis could be taking us. Journalism should be in serious self-examination today as we honour the true pioneers of journalism.”

Maku, who called on media practitioners to put professionalism ahead of partisan journalism, recalled how Odukomaiya, some years ago, displayed high level of professionalism and not partisanship by publishing an analysis he (Maku) did predicting in the wake of the June 12, 1993 election, that MKO Abiola of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, will win the polls instead of the National Republican Convention, NRC candidate.

He said: “He allowed this story to be published without removing anything, even though our Chairman, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, was a big wig in the NRC.

“Unfortunately, today you can pick up a newspaper and you will know whether the owner is a member of PDP, APC or other parties.”

Meanwhile, Ohuabunwa, who chaired the occasion, described Odukomaiya as a humble man to the core, said: “We are all here today because this 80 years old man has impacted our lives in different positive ways.

“As we reflect on his life at 80, let us ask ourselves how we can be agents of the change we so desire. At 80, Odukomaiya is not yet tired, so let us like him, leave legacies that people will emulate.”

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