Abolade Ogundimu, Media Assistant to the National Coordinator and Chief Executive Officer, African Union Development Agency- New Partnership for Africa’s Development/African Peer Review Mechanism, AUDA-NEPAD/APRM Nigeria, calls on publishers of Premium Times online, to strictly adhere to ethics of the profession and not acting in a manner that may tarnish the image of the noble profession.
The Aide with over two decades experience in journalism, made the call in reaction to what he described as a poorly investigated report published online by Premium Times on Sunday, February 9, 2020 with the headline ‘ Contractors groan as agency fails to pay, three yrs after work completion’ .
According to him, a report written by a reporter with the byline Abdulaziz Abdulaziz is more of Character assassination than news writing in every sense of it, given the manner it projects a public figure without recourse to its consequence.
“The founding fathers of this nation built solid platform for journalism to thrive, given the way late Herbert Macaulay, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo used media to enlighten the public not baseless reportage.
“For the record, Abdulaziz is more interested in adjudicating than balancing his story, being so emotional after getting a side of the story can never become hallmark of a good reporter.
“Quest for scoops should not be pursued without reasoning by any journalist or medium that truly seeks subscription of responsible segment of the public.
“In all my contacts with Abdulaziz, he was more interested in meeting my boss than establishing veracity of contractors’ allegations of job delivery and completion.
“He claimed to have an insider obviously, he never put in efforts to ask if most of the contracts said to have been completed truly exist or commensurate with the cost.
“The age long norm in journalism is for a reporter to present available facts with details to the respondent in order to get reaction but this reporter in question was reluctant to give details,rather he was calling repeatedly without regards for other things the receiver might be doing.
“Even if it is a soft sell publication, the fact that it is for any internet user calls for more refrain than crass description of a personality you have no personal experience of her conducts.
“When he finally sent a text to my boss, Princess Gloria Akobundu,in the middle of critical Management meeting, she directed me to hear him out immediately and I did.
“Initially, the so call reporter made allegation of refusal to pay contractors and I asked for evidence,he promised to provide them when we meet but when we eventually met, he only flashed a paper he claimed to be a committee’s report on unpaid projects.
“I told him to avail me a copy with names of contractors involved for adequate response, he declined but insisted he wanted to meet my boss,I then told him such action suggests blackmail and he said he wasn’t doing such.
“He called later and I gave him my email address where he sent a message without details of the contractors involved, again, I told him we could only react to specific issues,”the media Aide said.
Even as he said the agency would still react at the appropriate time, Ogundimu demanded apology from Premium Times for publishing the story he described as a form of distraction by mischief makers, using a desperate reporter to mislead the public.
“The report is just a distraction as my Boss is on official assignment for Nigeria outside the country, the first time details of the allegation was made available to us was in the defamatory online publication on Sunday.
“I will advise the journalist to apologise and retract the story immediately to save himself and his medium from wrath of the law.
“But the report has further justified need for stringent measures against media incompetence as neither the publisher nor the reporter displayed regards for verification of such petition according to the report.
“The medium, (Premium Times) and t items journalist, Abdulaziz have given more credence to the fact that journalism deserves better practitioners than hasty individuals and corporate bodies with no regard for etiquette,” he said.
Abolade said achievements of the AUDA-NEPAD/APRM Nigeria under Akobundu, as widely reported by the media were already getting public attention,but he reacted to the Premium Times report which he described as ‘mischievous’ for reference purpose.
It will be recalled that AUDA-NEPAD/APRM Nigeria has recorded some milestones since Akobundu assumed office including Presidential approval of its transformation from NEPAD; inauguration of National Governing Council of APRM Nigeria.
Other achievements are sensitisation of various stakeholders on Violence free elections; Collaboration with anti corruption agencies against corruption, including special side event at UN General Assemblies on the need for Global Collaboration against Illicit Financial Flows from Africa; collaborating with state and local governments on economic growth and good governance, among others.
“It is also on record that the Agency is currently in the process of conducting Second Peer Review of the country, to get grassroots view on how to further achieve Corporate Governance, Socio-economic growth.
The current management of AUDA-NEPAD/APRM Nigeria welcomes constructive exchange of developmental ideas that can help the nation and humanity at large,not ready for cheap blackmails and baseless allegations.