Super User

Super User

INFORMED COMMENTARY, February 28-March 4

To Louis Odion, power without responsibility is the phrase that captures President Muhammadu Buhari’s pussyfooting on taking responsibility for the 2016 Budget padding fiasco, and the Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi’s role in the abduction of a teenage girl from Bayelsa State.  In his Friday, March 4 column, “Power without responsibility”, Odion reminds “In case the Buhari handlers don’t know, they should be enlightened that the signature the president appended to the document before its presentation to the National Assembly on December 22, 2015 is tantamount to a proof of ownership”.  As for Sanusi, he describes as “pathethic” his “plumbing deep into the cesspool of illogic in an attempt to evade responsibility for the seven-months-long atrocity that transpired at least to his knowledge, if not under his watch”.  READ MORE AT....

KAYODE Komolafe March 2 in Thisday barely restrains himself from calling President Buhari names over his statement in Saudi Arabia that he was no longer predisposed to implementing the N5000 monthly dole to one million jobless Nigerians. The president had said he was more inclined to funding infrastructure and developing agriculture and mining. Komolafe argues that the issue “should not be about which constitutes a priority—funding infrastructure and agriculture or social intervention”, submitting: whilst “the government should assiduously implement its programmes in infrastructure, agriculture, mining and other important areas, the poverty situation demands that the government should implement programmes of social protection for the poorest segment of the society as envisaged in the budget”. He suspects that accurate targeting of the beneficiaries and corruption appears to be the worry of opponents. His solution: “The challenge is how the administration can competently design a programme of cash transfer that could be targeted at the poorest segment of the society without corruption and other leakages”. READ MORE AT...


OLATUNJI DARE in The Nation March 1 treats the fairy story of Olajumoke, the bread hawker whose fortuitous stray into a photo shoot of a hip hop artiste turned her into an instant star and a new life of modelling. Dare celebrates Olajumoke; Dare worries about her, the new found fame and the danger poor handling could have for her future with her family, with herself. “Lost is the environment she has always known, now replaced by a world of minders and agents, and teeming supplicants and opportunists and persons of dubious character and even more dubious motives. This setting opens the door to vicious exploitation—the type that has, even in better regulated societies, brought down many a celebrity precipitously down from affluence to indigence”. READ MORE AT....


Friday, 19 February 2016 16:01

Informed Commentary


February 14-20, 2016

buhariBuhari and his vanishing miracles

President Muhammadu Buhari’s handling of the economy does not impress columnist Levi Obijiofor, who in midweek “Insights” February 17 says there has been too much song about the opposition  PDP’s 16 years of misrule with no insight on what the ruling APC wants to do different. In a cheeky headline, “Buhari and his vanishing miracles”, Obijiofor says: “We cannot continue to hiss, whinge, and moan forever about the wastefulness and prodigal spending havits of the past administrations. We cannot continue to live in regret. The world will not wait for us till we rise from our stupor”. He reminds that the PMB administration is just a few months short of its first anniversary: “As Buhari approaches the first anniversary of the election that brought him into the Presidential Villa in Abuja, it is important to remind him that the nation showered him with immense goodwill and support...That national support was based on the presumption that he symbolised change, transparent and accountable government, swift economic revival, and a new beginning. So, Buhari must start to make a difference in the lives of ordinary Nigerians”. READ MORE AT...

simon-kolawole Devaluation and its Discontents

The economy is also the focus of Simon Kolawole’s column the Cable and Thisday. He paints the picture of a confused Nigerian, who is unsure what course to prescribe for the government to follow. “If we officially devalue the naira today, the first thing it will hit is petrol price. If you add just N5 to fuel price, the effects n transportation costs and food prices could lead to riots. More so, devaluation does not come with any guarantees, just expectations”, he writes. He also reasons “if we devalue, forex demand will automatically fall. Also, we are to expect an inflow of forex through investments, remittances and repatriations. A foreign investor knows that his $1 billion is worth N300 billion in the black market but his account will be credited with only N197 billion at the official rate. He would think twice”. His conclusion: “My challenge to the antagonists and protagonists is that they should provide more insight....short-term, medium-term and long-term projections backed with facts and figures”. READ MORE AT....


 mohammed-harunaA lesson from Murtala Mohammed’s legacy

For Mohammed Haruna February 17 in his “People and Politics” column in the Nation and Daily Trust was an occasion to remind his readers it was 40 years since General Murtala Muhammed was assassinated in office. He acknowledged the accolades that have attended the anniversary, commended Muhammed’s abhorrence of ostentation as endearing quality in the nation’s psyche. He also reminded his readers of the costly mistakes he made in office, namely the unwise purge of the civil service “which created the insecurity that has become the bane of our bureaucracy” and the takeover of the Daily Times and New Nigerian newspapers. Haruna sees in the blunder that has attended the country’s 2016 budget a timely reminder that civil servants are not the saints President, Muhammadu Buhari makes them out to be. “The lesson here is obvious; he will rely on our civil service with its current content, shape and form to deliver his promised “change” at his own peril”. READ MORE AT.... 


Andy Akhigbe, writing in the Nation, February 19, makes a fascinating case for the teaching of History as an academic subject. In “If History, why not Storytelling?” he recommends the craft of storytelling as a way of making History more appealing. Such stories can be told using multimedia platforms. “To teach today is to use multimedia platforms. A story can be a poem, it can be dramatised and even shot as a three minute YouTube video”. He illustrates: “Take the case of the Nigerian Civl War. Students can be encouraged to visit the public library and dig up information about the role the founding fathers played during the Civil War and based on what their research turns up, they can dramatise it or render them as poem or digitally tell the story with new media like YouTube”. READ MORE AT...


Wednesday, 10 February 2016 14:05

INFORMED COMMENTARY January 1-15, 2016

January 1-15, 2016

The President’s December 30 media chat, the visit of the IMF boss, Christine Lagarde, and the landmark birthday of a marketing communications guru form the focus of this week’s commentaries.

Where is President Buhari’s think tank?—Ayo Olukotun, The Punch

We begin with Ayo Olukotun of the Punch, who January 8 is quite unimpressed with President Muhammadu Buhari’s faux pas on two issues. The first is his confession of ignorance on the Central Bank of Nigeria’s foreign exchange management policy; the second, his “pre-emptive remark on the judicial processes regarding former public officials accused of corruption”. In “Where is President Buhari’s think tank?, Olukotun wants the President’s passion and candour to be matched by surefooted knowledge of public policy. He recommends the establishment of a think on sundry issues to help him out....READ MORE AT

Interrogating the Budget of Buharinomics

Femi Aribisala January 5, expectedly shreds President Buhari’s first budget. He accuses him of squandering time in putting the budget together, describing the budget as pretentious in its assumptions. “The oil, on which the lion share of the nation’s income depends, has suffered a drastic decline in price in the international market. But the government has decided to pretend as if nothing has happened. No austerity whatsoever is entertained. As a matter of fact, in the name of stimulating the economy, the president has decided to present a budget that assumes Nigeria has suddenly become richer overnight, when in fact we have become poorer”. He cites various figures in the budget to illustrate his point that rather than cut spending, the administration plans to spend more. He is not impressed that a good deal of the budget will be funded with loans. “Suddenly, the same government that complained it inherited a huge burden of debt from the PDP now argues that Nigeria is under-borrowed. That is the new truth now being dished out by government spin-doctors. Kemi Adeosun, the new Finance Minister, now says Nigeria’s debt to GDP ratio is low at 12%. She compares this conveniently to Angola (57%) and South Africa (48%)”. READ MORE AT....

When undertaker knocks at the door—Louis Odion, The Nation

Louis Odion of the Nation January 8 cautions Nigeria on the 4-day New Year visit of Christine Largade. In an ominous headline, “When undertaker knocks at the door”, Odion acknowledges President Buhari’s nationalistic refusal to devalue the Naira, even as he cautions that “in the largely globalised economic order of today there is a limit to how far nationalist zeal can take you,” noting the real challenge “is what further creativity the economic nationalist can muster to navigate the obviously shark-infested waters of global capital”. Odion charges that “the tightening of our monetary policies by Buhari has helped to stem further run on the Naira through unbridled capital flight”, citing the aviation sector as an example. “It is no secret that the foreign airlines are now ganging up again CBN for not granting them forex to repatriate hundred of millions of dollars from ticket sales in Nigeria. As of October last year, the figure was put at a whopping $550 million. Considering the last Yuletide boom, the figure must have doubled by now. Of course, among them is Air France, the national carrier of Lagarde’s native France. While no one should begrudge the foreign airlines for such bountiful harvest, the sad truth is that most of them engage only few Nigerians on casual jobs. So, imagine if CBN had yielded by now, the little that remains of our foreign reserve would have been further depleted.” While Odion seems to justify these measures in the short term, he cautions that “if sustained for too long, the already anaemic real sector may as well succumb to asphyxia.” READ THE FULL ARTICLE’.........


What We’re Going To Miss This Year—Azu Ishiekwene, Leadership

Ishiekwene humourously takes the reader back to some of the stories that made the headlines in 2015, not the least some of the gaffes of former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan; an example being telling a television crew not known to be friendly to her husband’s administration: “So you people are here, eh?, thank God oh! You came to cover us alive?” He adds: “We will be missing the letters as well. It doesn’t look 2016 will be the year of letters; except of course, letters to the EFCC, a few of which are already embarrassingly being jointly written by some Papa & co, who raided the treasury.  But that’s not the type of letter I’m talking about. I’m talking about the famous letters between Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and Jonathan over the missing $49.8 billion? $20 billion? Or $12 billion?....... READ MORE AT

Steve Omojafor: A good man turns 70

This is a celebratory piece on a leading light of marketing communications, Steve Omojafor. In a land well known for celebrating men of office rather than substance, the piece shows Omojafor’s qualities that need being emulated in a land requiring a redefinition of values....... READ MORE AT

INFORMED COMMENTARY January 9-15, 2016

Reactions to the 2016 budget, the January 6 destruction of the Oshodi market in Lagos, and unending disclosures of wanton sharing of public funds by politicians dominated the press in the second week of the year.

The Buhari Social Agenda

Kayode Komolafe in his midweek column, “The Horizon” in Thisday passes a vote of confidence in President Muhammadu Buhari’s budget. In a significant respect, it is a fitting reply to Femi Aribisala’s charge January  5 in Vanguard that the budget is a pretence budget. Komolafe, in “The Buhari Social Agenda”, calls for “urgent need for these social policies and programmes to be better articulated”. He finds it intriguing “that the social welfare provisions in the budget have been greeted with enormous scepticism if not cynicism in some quarters”, citing the N500 billion programme to address school feeding, conditional cash transfer to the poor, and post NYSC grant to the unemployed. Komolafe justifies these programmes, chiding members of the upper and middle classes who cannot “imagine that in many parts of this country feeding could be a factor in educating the child”. Says he “In a country in which over 10 million children are reportedly out of school, a government with a social conscience should adopt a radical intervention to solve the problem”. Invest in such programmes, he submits “will on the long run lead to economic development”. He draws inspiration from Prof. Joseph Stiglitz , a Nobel Prize winner in Economics, who chides advocates of austerity measures in the face of high unemployment: “An expansion of spending can actually expand production by creating jobs that will be filled by people who would otherwise be more than its revenues, cannot change the macro-economy. A national government can. And the increase in GDP can be a multiple of the amount spent by the government”.  READ MORE AT...

Oshodi Market and Other Related Tales

Frank Nwosu, in his reaction to the dislodgement of traders from Oshodi market, dismisses the ethnic colouration given to the action. The Lagos Government had premised its action on the need to redevelop the market for its action, but many had read other motives to it. Nwosu, in “Oshodi market and related tales” in Daily Sun January 13, says “Today, when I drive past Oshodi, I’m more convinced that the demolition was the right way to go, convinced that shanties must give way for the Mega City of our dream to emerge. My only plea is that it must be given as much human face as possible”. Whilst questioning the viability of the alternative, government has provided, he discountenances ethnicity as a factor in the policy. “You can’t just displace 10, 000 traders and provide for the resettlement of only 1, 500....What has failed to impress me is this idle talk about ethnicity and political witch-hunt. Religion and ethnicity are of no importance to politicians. They only use these to distract us while they focus on the only thing that is really important to them—looting our collective treasury”. READ MORE AT......

Wednesday, 10 February 2016 13:31

Youtube Video

This is my first video

November 2012
Health Reporting
Medical Miracle and a New Life for Matthew

At seven years old, one cannot say life has been kind to Matthew Ndik. He is a sickle cell carrier, but what made his case pathetic, is the fact that he was struck by a life-threatening stroke at that young age. His parents had given up hope believing he would not live long. Yet, a miracle came their way. Today, the young boy has been given a new life. Thanks to a group of medical personnel at UBTH. He no longer has sickle cell and he is on the way to full recovery.

Mathew was born a sickle cell anaemia child. The disease, which is chronic and life-long, had caused two of his elder siblings' deaths. Individuals who suffer this are most often well, but their lives are punctuated by periodic painful attacks and their life expectancy is often shortened unless adequately managed. He suffered the same fate like many others that suffer from the sickle cell problem. But, in his case, it was a more serious attack. Five days after his seventh birthday, he was struck by stroke; an unbefitting birthday gift, which is unusual in children in his age group, sickle cell notwithstanding.

He was rushed to the sickle cell centre in Benin City for remedy. Unfortunately, the centre had no clue on how to solve Mathew's problem. The mother cried and the stoic father wondered why fate had been so unfair to him.

But, that was not all for young Mathew. His parents, overwhelmed by his condition, practically gave up on him. This 'precious' son was abandoned for lack of money and he literarily became the 'property' of the sickle cell centre. No one made enquiries about him as they thought, though ignorantly, that Matthew would not survive the scourge. Somehow he found himself among the 10 patients referred to UBTH, whose human antigen was sent for 'typing' abroad and he was lucky as he had a matched donor, who, incidentally, is his elder brother, a 14-year old

"When we came back from Switzerland, our first task was to do what is called patient recruitment. And I had a seminar at the Sickle Cell Centre here in Benin and across the country, especially with the society of haematology. The Sickle Cell Centre had numerous number of sickle cell patients from where about 10 patients were referred to us. Though there were criteria for selecting those to be transplanted with the stem cell, not every one of them was qualified for that. Matthew had a severe case because he had suffered stroke earlier. He was also lucky to have had a matched donor, who happens to be his brother. So we became interested in him and the rest is now history," said Dr. Nsakhare Bazuaye, a consultant haematologist and specialist in stem cell transplantation at UBTH.

Dr. Bazuaye and his team of experts, who were trained for stem cell transplantation at the Bassel Teaching Hospital, Switzerland, decided to experiment with Mathew. Stem cell transplant was an alien therapy in the country before now. Fear was palpable but not enough to deter the determination of the young experts. The specialists were the only one sure of what to expect. The team was prepared and had taken what appeared to be a risk in executing the transplant.

But, like Mathew, they too had a date with history. By Wednesday, September 28, Mathew had his cells replaced with those free from the sickle cell disease. Nigerians yelled in astonishment and the world acknowledged. Everybody was happy. It was a novel occurrence in this part of the world. "At the beginning, it was a daunting challenge because most people felt it was unassailable but the minister was convinced that we could do something when he visited the last time. Here, we are looking at the beneficiary, we cannot count the cost because there is no way the patient can pay," Prof. Michael Ibadin, the chief Medical Director (CMD) of UBTH, recalled.

He said the breakthrough was achieved through collaboration with the University of Bassel, Switzerland, where selected workers of UBTH led by Dr Bazuaye were trained for a year and two months, respectively. Ibadin said though transplant treatment would cost between N2.5 and N5 million for a patient, the hospital, according to him, would have to be very selective in its choice of patients to reduce expected pressure and work toward acquiring more equipment for the transplant.

"The day we started, the drugs that were given to this child cost N2.1 million. It is not something you do on emergency; it's something you have to plan for. The hospital will be willing within the limits of its resources to subsidize the cost of the transplant," the CMD said.

The practice of stem cell transplantation, no doubt, is capital intensive and rests on hi-tech equipment. Investment in this regard would go into thousands of millions of naira. Just for a take-off, UBTH decided to start on a small scale and had acquired only basic equipment to commence the programme. Nigeria, Dr. Bazuaye said, is the third in Africa, after Egypt and South Africa, to perform such transplant.

Stem cell, he said, refers to primitive cells that have the ability to reproduce themselves and produce other cells. Patients suffering from cancer, leukaemia (cancer of the blood), thalassemia (a hereditary form of anaemia that is caused by a dysfunction of the synthesis of the red blood pigment, haemoglobin) and multiple myeloma, according to the experts, could also benefit from the transplant.

"You discover that you have what is called the embryonic stem cell; that is the beginning of cells. But the one we are talking about here is the homeopathic stem cells, which are those cells that are blood forming organs; the very primitive part of it has the ability to reproduce itself and produce other blood cells. When we move those cells from a person that is normal to a person that has a problem, we first of all destroy the bone marrow of the patient and then move those cells that are primitive from the donor into the patient to take over the production of cells. That process is what we call transplantation. We do this because the primitive cells have the ability to produce new blood cells," Dr Bazuaye added.

Matthew's confinement, Dr Bazuaye said, was the normal requirement to protect him from picking disease easily. "Where he is, there is a machine that sucks in air, cleans it up and recycles same because that type of air is pure. The light has to be on 24hours and nobody is allowed to go in there. He will be there until the cells are high enough that can enable him regain his immunity, which will help him fight off diseases. He is eating, but his meals are selected. He can't eat all sorts of food for now. We wear masks and are highly sterile before going in to attend to him to avoid giving him infections. His stroke would be managed. He will be requiring the services of a neurological physiotherapist, who would take through in that aspect," the expert said.

Dr Bazuaye had hinted in a seminar organized by Sickle Cell Centre and Sickle Cell Club in Benin City that UBTH was set to bring relief to sickle cell patients through bone marrow transplant. He had equally noted that the cost of the treatment could be subsidized to the tune of N2 million if philanthropists, internal donor agencies and government contribute towards it. Not many gave him any chance then, but he believed in himself even as he used the occasion to harp on the need to train more staff for stem cell transplantation. He had urged donors to donate to save lives as it is done in developed countries. "Such practice has no side effect," he added as he listed the criteria for selection to include age, stage of disease and velocity of blood flow from the brain.

Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Gregory Akenzua, and the Chairman of the Sickle Cell Club, Dr Dominic Osaghae, had applauded Dr Bazuaye, in their separate remarks. They both noted that the disorder is associated with the black race, but a lot can be done to alleviate the suffering of patients even as they called on donors and the government to the fight against the pandemic. The Sickle Cell Board Chairman, Dr (Mrs) Oshette Ohenhen, had also expressed her displeasure at parents and guardians, who, she said, prevent their children from going through blood transfusions over religious beliefs. Matthew: The Miracle Boy Set to Begin Life

It all started like a huge joke on September 28. Before then, he had been at a special ward at the Stem Cell Centre at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) without understanding his new environment and what fate had in store for him. Because of his afflictions, he became, as it were, the human 'guinea pig' needed to test a newly acquired expertise in stem cell transplant in Nigeria. It was indeed, a novel medical practice in Nigeria as nobody believed it was possible in this clime.

Matthew Ndik, the 'medical miracle boy' as he is now known, became the first to have gone through a successful stem cell transplant in Nigeria. The medical team at UBTH, who had earlier trained at the Bassel Teaching Hospital in Switzerland, performed the wonder. His recovery rate appears to have confounded even the experts that played host to him in the special airtight, lonely ward at the specialized centre.

Although he has been discharged officially, he is yet to leave the hospital formally. Matthew would have been able to go home at about day 60, according to the coordinator of the transplant, Dr Nosa Bazuaye, but because of the effects of the stroke he had, he had to be kept in 'protective custody' as he needs further observation. "We are keeping him because we feel that the patient still needs physiotherapy. Remember I told you that before the transplant, he had severe disease and a full stroke that affected his upper right arm and lower ribs. We had to give him a physiotherapist, who engages him daily. But clinically, he is fully recovered. He is okay," Dr Bazuaye explained.

Matthew's genotype has since changed from SS to AA as further medical proof of his stable condition. According to Dr Bazuaye, it changed since the 12th day after the transplant. His blood parameters are also said to be okay. The experts say that usually, sickle cell patients have stable haemoglobin levels with which they perform, and Matthew had a 20 per cent stable PCV before the transplant was done.

But since the transplant, the last PCV done to ascertain the level of his haemoglobin was amazing. "We did it on day 70 and it was 38 per cent; that is the pass level for most patients that are AA. His white blood cell count and other blood parameters are within normal. So genetically, with respect to the PCV we have done, he has already been cured and is also recuperating fine. He can now walk around with the help of the physiotherapist, which he does every day, in spite of the stroke," Bazuaye confirmed.

Matthew is currently eating well, without any intravenous line. He is only on some tablets for immunosuppression. The drugs are given to him to control his immunity so that the new cells in his body can have the power to overtake his former cells. Camorrism, which determines the percentage of immunity in the patient, was also done on day 70, and was discovered to have grown to about 70 per cent. The implication is that the donor cells have succeeded in taking over 70 per cent of Matthew's old cells, but the doctors say they will continue with the drugs until the new cells become 100 per cent. At that point, the drugs would be pulled out finally.

"So we expect that having discharged him officially, physiotherapy will continue till day 100, which is a special day to us. This is because any patient that will die due to transplant related issues usually dies within the first 100 days. The World Health Organization (WHO) usually waits for 100 days after a patient's survival. After that day, we can now send an official letter to WHO that we had a transplant and thereafter Nigeria will included officially in the list of countries that have successfully carried out a stem cell transplant. And we will have a press conference after which we will allow Matthew to go home. So, generally, I would say that he has done very well; his condition is very stable and everything is going on normally," Dr Bazuaye revealed.

The doctor termed the phenomenal rebirth of Matthew the expected pattern of recovery of patients after transplants and attributed it to the fact that he had no adverse reaction after the transplant. This was, in the words of the medical team coordinator, "because his brother, Emmanuel, who is 17 years of age, is genetically related, we didn't have any reaction and so he has followed the usual pattern that we expect after transplants. It was a normal response, although there are some that may deviate from this pattern, which may arise because of one or two problems. But usually, 40 to 60 days after transplant, the patient would go home once the cells are enough to boost the immunity."

However, in spite of the success recorded in Matthew's case, Dr Bazuaye appears not to be happy with the way the Federal Government is treating the whole issue. He said that the hospital would have done more transplants by now, especially as there were already three patients typed, but for the cold acceptance and non-assumption of responsibility by the Federal Government. "We have had some other patients but we are a little bit worried. Presently, we have three patients already typed. But as I mentioned the last time, the challenges before us are enormous. We just barely survived using the very minimal resource available to us. I also told you that we expected the Federal Government to assume responsibility by making this place an international centre. But up till now, I don't think the response we are getting from the government is encouraging. "I am shocked that since after this feat, I have not heard any statement from either the Minister or the Presidency. Even the host government of Edo and also Cross Rivers State where Matthew hails from are yet to identify with the centre and Matthew. If things continue in this way, we may not be able to embark on another transplant soon, except we improve on the facilities on ground. Remember I told you we only have facilities to do one transplant at a time, but it shouldn't be so in a country of about 150 million people. India, for example, has up to 15 transplant centres. We are talking of only one and nobody is interested in it. So as I said, response from both the federal and states is not encouraging," Dr Bazuaye fumed.

But, how has Matthew been able to cope with in this strange neighbourhood with his new neighbours? The Chief Nursing Officer and Ward Manager, Haematoma/Oncology Stem Cell Centre, Mrs Felicia Akaba, says Matthew has really been wonderful and is doing very well, and "we are all happy about it." She says that Matthew's case has been very interesting; interesting because, according to her, the boy has not been problematic as many people would have expected a boy of his age to behave. "He is a very good boy in spite of his condition and I am sure God has a purpose for saving his life. He came paralysed on one hand and leg but because of the treatment and physiotherapy intervention, he can now act like a normal human being, trying to walk around now.

"And because of the rapport we share with the child, you can see that the child is trying to talk now because the stroke also affected his speech. He was not talking by the time they brought him here. And by the time he gets better, we will invite speech therapist to work on him and help him out. We are trying to work on him all round not only to change his genotype from SS to AA. And I see him going back to school in a very short while. His recovery has been amazing, I must confess. Because Matthew is a very good child and cooperative too, we are happy with him. Initially, we were scared because he is a child; you know children with their usual wahala. They would refuse drugs and all that. But surprisingly, he has proved to be different and that makes our work easy," Akaba quipped.

Akaba is not alone in her assessment of Matthew. His father, Hyacinth Ndik, who spoke to this reporter in tears when he could not hold back his joy said, "let me start by attributing the 'miracle' that happened to God first and to keep praying that the Almighty God will continue to remember the stem cell experts in UBTH. There is no way I will be able to thank them enough because they came at the time we were confused and all hope was lost.

"Ordinarily I never expected that the feat from the medical team would turn out to be a success story; nobody actually was sure of what was going on and what would eventually happen but I had and still have faith in God. The success story today is also partly because I built my confidence in God. I would say that I am a bit lucky because before the operation was done I had a kind of lecture and the risk factor was calculated even as we prayed fervently, believing that God would perfect everything, and He did prove Himself to us. When we remember that we lost one of our children before now because of a similar problem, we became scared. Though, that one died as a result of ignorance," Ndik said, adding that from the point of medicine, the experts were confident but they had their fears simply because it had never happened before and there was no reference at least, not in this part of the world.

Dr Alfred Ogbemudia, Deputy Chief Medical Director (DCMD) and chairman, Medical Advisory Committee, as well as an orthopaedic surgeon at UBTH says, "We are happy at the turn of events because it will become the new motivating factor and it is a welcome development.

"The hospital must use this opportunity to commend the stem cell team for several reasons. They went the extra mile in the case of Matthew with the available resource that we were able to provide. So, we must give credit to the experts who made extra effort to make sure everything was okay; though this particular case has also exposed a myriad of challenges which we have to tackle if we are to remain focused," the DCMD remarked.

The transplant of stem cells, which are usually derived from the bone marrow, is a medical procedure in the fields of haematology and oncology, most often performed for people with diseases of the blood, bone marrow or certain cancers. It is not restricted to children alone. For sickle cell, for example, Dr Bazuaye said, "We are doing 15 years and below when we know that the risk is less. But currently, there is therapy for sickle cell patients who are 30 to 40 years and above. But we have decided to kick start in phases. Apart from sickle cell, the stem cell transplant is meant for so many other diseases like blood cancer (leukaemia and others). It is also meant for those who have bone marrow failure, whose bone marrows are no longer able to produce cells either as a result of viral infections or known malignant disorders."

The specialists, like Matthew's father observed, were the only ones sure of what to expect during Matthew's ordeal. At the beginning, it was a daunting challenge because most people felt that it was impossible. But by Wednesday, September 28, Matthew had his cells replaced with those free from the sickle cell disease.


March/April 2015

Lead Story

Jonathan vs Buhari - between Change and Continuity


First Word

Finally, the elections are here....

By Lanre Idowu (Editot-in-Chief)


After much drama, which has seen candidates crisscrossing all over Nigeria, promising all manner of goodies at carnival-like campaign rallies, the Aelections are here. After all manner of accusations, scaremongering, hate speeches and barefaced lying, the elections are here. After a forced six week shift, attributed to the need to provide more security in the troubled northeast zone, the elections are finally here.

Officially, the presidential election parades more than a dozen candidates but in truth the race is between two men, the incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party, and the persistent, General Muhammadu Buhari, of the All Progressives Congress, a former military ruler, who is making his fourth challenge for the presidency.

Unlike the previous four general elections, which the PDP won, this year's contest offers a more formidable opposition in the APC. Product of a merger of three parties that participated in the 2011 elections---the Congress for Progressive Change, All Peoples Party and the Action Congressthe APC has given the PDP a good run. Whilst the APC anchors its campaign on the need for change, the PDP has been harping on need for continuity to bring to fruition dividends of its transformational agenda

It has been a rancorous campaign, aided by a desperate political elite and an expensive one, welcomed by a gobbling media that has feasted on a rich harvest of political adverts. Claims have been repeated without sufficient effort to sift them. Lives have been lost and limbs broken in a tension atmosphere that has led to the political gladiators needing to sign peace treaty on two occasions.

The regulatory bodies on election coverage have been so remiss that there is compelling need to re-examine their basis of existence. That can wait till the elections are over. A good number of stories are served in this edition to give the reader a good feel of what the political climate has been.

Enjoy it.



Timely Reminder To The Media

By Femi Babatunde



Two weeks before the Presidential elections, the media was reminded of its crucial role in mediating conflict by showing needed sensitivity to potentially divisive issues. At a conflict sensitive communication and reporting workshop held in Port Harcourt themed, Towards A More Secure Nigeria, held at Aldgate Congress Resort, five of the 19-point communiqué issued March 12 spoke to these concerns.

The workshop, organized by Diamond Awards for Media Excellence (DAME) in partnership with the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programmer (NSRP), attracted 21 journalists across print and broadcast organizations and 18 spokespersons of security institutions. It was the fourth in the series of such workshops designed to deepen the capacity of both parties on the importance of conflict sensitivity in addressing the root causes of conflict communication and reporting.

The recommendations spoke of the importance of ethical journalism and need for journalists to respect its principles, advised them to always look at the big picture, deny prominence to hate speeches and inflammatory comments and called for the promotion of the national identity above ethnic affiliations. The organizing partners were duly represented by Mr. Lanre Idowu, Project Administrator, DAME; Dr. Ukoha Ukiwo, Programme Manager, NSRP; and Mr. Zakari Miijinyawa of the Counter-terrorism Desk who represented Dr. Fatima Akilu, Director Behavioural Analysis and Strategic Communication, ONSA addressed the opening ceremony.

At the eight sessions of the training led by resource persons from the academia and the media, the following recommendations were made as germane to facilitating better cooperation between the two groups in the overall national interest.

In particular, the workshop:

1. Commended ONSA, NSRP and DAME for organising a timely and well structured training.

2. Implored journalists to embrace the cherished principles of ethical journalism by striving for accuracy, fairness and balance in their reportage.

3. Urged journalists to respect professional ethics, embrace the principles of peace journalism, frame issues adequately, and encourage consensus building during negotiation processes.

4. Advised journalists to avoid reporting conflicts from narrow perspectives and be more sensitive to the needs of the most vulnerable segment of society such as women, children and the physically-challenged.

5. Decried hate speeches and dangerous comments in the media and called on journalists and spokespersons to be sensitive to the incalculable harm they could cause in the country.

6. Encouraged journalists to promote National Identity to enable people see themselves as Nigerians before their ethnic identities.

7. Charged the media to promote peace and stability of the country, boost the efforts of the security forces in their reportage, and avoid anything that can demoralize them.

8. Called on Government to organise debriefing programmes for victims of terrorism in the country.

9. Canvassed for more trauma centres to be established nationwide especially in conflict zones

10. Urged media organisations to take out life insurance policies for their personnel.

11. Implored journalists to invest more in research so as to enrich the content of their reports and programmes to the public.

12. Called for more collaboration with other training institutes in the country on conflict sensitive communication as exemplified by Ahmadu Bello University and Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP).

13. Urged spokespersons and journalists to rise above institutional challenges and live up to professional expectations.

14. Advised organizations to involve their spokespersons more in management decision making processes.

15. Recommended dialogue sessions and joint trainings for journalists and spokespersons.

16. Urged security spokespersons to be accessible, cooperative, polite, proactive and professional in their relationships with journalists.

17. Agreed that Workshop Participants should establish a network/knowledge group to promote better understanding and facilitate consensus building on conflict-sensitive communication and reporting.

18. Recommended that spokespersons should be integrated into security/military operations so that they can communicate the fight against insecurity better

19. Called on the organizers to arrange similar trainings for media executives and heads of security organisations.


......kindly place order to continue reading




Nigeria's 2015 Elections: Journalistic Options For Responding To Ethical Issues

By Lanre Idowu



This paper examines in practical terms some of the ethical issues that Journalists faced in the build up to the 2015 elections. The paper adopts document analysis to examine the provisions of the Code of Ethics for Nigerian Journalists and also purposively selected two newspapers which contain publications that showed scant regard for ethics in covering the 2015 election.

The paper recommends some options the media should embrace in addressing ethical issues in these elections and beyond, and also stresses the watchdog/gate-keeping function of the media.

Keywords: Journalistic Options, Code of ethics for Nigerian Journalists, 2015 Elections



Three key terms, “Journalistic options”, “Response to ethical issues” and “2015 elections” are germane to our discourse. In the main, we will consider the import of the 2015 elections, examine how the electoral process was covered and discuss the options available to dealing with the ethical issues journalists faced in the process. In doing all of these, we will touch on the place of ethics in human conduct and professional service, and how to strengthen Journalism as a profession and occupation.

Elections represent an important component of participatory governance in that they afford the electorate the opportunity to pick their representatives into executive and legislative offices at regular intervals through the ballot box. (Idowu: 2010).

The 2015 elections represent the fifth attempt since the Fourth Republic began in 1999 to elect the people's representatives into public office. That we have been able to hold elections in 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2011 and are poised to have the fifth in 2015 is itself an achievement.

Elections represent the culmination of the electoral process for the people to freely elect their leaders based on the acceptance or rejection of the choices placed before the electorate (Eya: 2003).

Elections serve as regular referendum on performance in public office where incumbents are either returned or voted out for new faces and fresh ideas. Elections emphasise the sanctity of the ballot as the means of empowering elected officials to carry out their promises to the electorate. They are credible when they are free, fair, and represent the true feelings of the electorate. (Garuba, 2007, Idowu: 2010)).

“2015 Elections”: What elections are we holding?

The elections were planned for two dates: February 14: Central elections into Executive and Legislative Houses: The Presidential, Senatorial, House of Reps and February 28: State elections into Executive and Legislative Houses: Governorship and State House of Assembly. They have since been changed to March 28 and April 11.


What are the issues?

The most urgent concern appeared to be Access to voting: are there sufficient Permanent Voting Cards for all those registered to vote? Regarding the issues that will define the elections, insecurity ranks high. Since 2011, the country has been locked down in violent insurgency in the North-East, losing in the process a large chunk of its landmass.

The uprising in the North-East periodically creeps into the North-West. The result is that normalcy has eluded a major part of the country. Children have been killed in dormitories; some 200 girls have been abducted from school since last year. Traders, farmers, and many innocent people have lost their lives to suicide bombings as the state grapples with the abnormality. At the last count, 13, 000 lives have been lost in the last six years to the insurgency in the North-East (Africa Check: 2014). In the North-Central, communal clashes are commonplace. Economic disagreements between farmers and cattle rustlers wear ethnic and religious toga.

In the South-South, oil pipelines are vandalised periodically even as erstwhile militants corner juicy contracts to perform chores previously done by uniformed state personnel. Kidnapping, the scourge of the South-East, has also crept into the South-West as people deemed of hostage value are held for ransom.

The economy, encapsulated in high unemployment, poor public electricity and high cost of business, stretches the entrepreneur, benumbs the average citizen, and remains a worry for all.

Official corruption, the conscienceless appropriation of the commonwealth for private gain (Idowu: 2009, p 183) that wears a nauseating perfume in public remains troubling, and made worse by the seeming lack of political will to prosecute offenders.

Ethnicity or the It's-the-turn-of-our-zone mentality hampers any serious effort at nation building. Religion, which should be a private affair, has crept into state administration, pitting Muslims against Christians, animists against free thinkers, north versus south.

Education - access to it and quality of what's offered - remains troubling. The poor results from the West African School Certificate Examination do not appear as ending soon. (Premium Times: 2014) Concern for educational competence of our presidential candidates has also featured as an issue of public interest. Regrettably, its treatment has not been addressed in the public interest as the media have shown more interest in generating rather than beaming light on the issue of General Muhammadu Buhari's credentials.

TConcern for performance or record in office is also an issue. There is legitimate concern on how a past military ruler (Buhari) would perform in a democratic setting, as there is worry over what is perceived as squandered opportunity in service in the first term in office of President Goodluck Jonathan.


The principal players in this election are the:

* Electoral management body, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

* The political parties and candidates

* The government and its law enforcement agents

* The civil society organisations

* The electorate and

* The media


Guidelines for Media coverage

The INEC released in December 2014 the Nigeria Media Code of Electoral Coverage, which had earlier been adopted on 31st October 2014 by various media interest groups, namely: Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), Radio, Television, Theatre and Arts Workers Union of Nigeria (RATTAWU), Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Media Rights Agenda (MRA), and the International Press Centre (IPC).

The underlying principles guiding the Code for electoral coverage include:

* The promotion of the right of citizens to freely express themselves and have unfettered access to information on the electoral processes;

* The protection of the right of the media to freely access and truthfully disseminate information on the electoral processes;

* The promotion of the right of media access by parties, candidates and under-represented groups;

* The promotion of democratic norms and values.


Some salient provisions

Under Article 1.1. of the code dealing with Parties and Candidates, the Responsibility of Media Organisations was couched in 1.1.1 and 1.1.2 to read:

1.1.1. A broadcast medium shall ensure equitable allocation of time at specific but similar periods for all parties contesting elections to state their programmes;

1.1.2. A media organisation shall regularly apply the principle of equity in the coverage and reportage of campaigns and other activities of parties and candidates contesting elections;

Under 3.5.2, which deals with political advertising, “A media organisation shall not publish or air political adverts, advertorials and sponsored political news that seek to create hatred or incite violence”.

Under 4. 3, which deals with Hate Speech, “A media organisation shall reject any material intended for publication or airing by parties, candidates and other interests that contains hateful or inciting words and messages”;

And 4.4 “A media organisation shall refrain from publishing or airing abusive editorial comments or opinions that denigrate individuals or groups on account of disability, race, ethnicity, tribe, gender or belief”;

Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage and the Code of Ethics for Nigerian Journalists:

The Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage is an elaboration on the NPO Code of Ethics for Nigerian journalists, which was adopted in Ilorin on 20th March 1998. That code has 15 parts, ranging from such concerns as Accuracy to Fairness, Editorial Independence, Decency, Discrimination, Privacy etc.


Significance of the two codes

Central to the codes are such concerns as Public Trust, Media Credibility, and the Notion of Responsibility. They are all mutually reinforcing. In reposing trust in the media, the public expects a fair and professional deal in media offering. Media Credibility means the public can act on what the media present as having been professionally processed and passed for patronage or consumption. The sum total is that the media must show responsibility in all its actions (Idowu: 1996).

This responsibility can be assessed on four levels: The personal, professional, organisational and constitutional. It is people who create media products and services so individual or personal responsibility is the foundation on which other tiers build. The individual journalist must have an idea of what responsibility is, before it can be practised (Merril: 1978). The true professional measures individual output against agreed professional standards. The organisational notion of responsibility is pronounced in the mottos media houses attach to their titles. For example, “Conscience, nurtured by truth” proclaims The Guardian; “Truth in defence of freedom”, asserts The Nation; whilst Vanguard says its editorial fare will take readers “Towards a better life for the people”. The constitutional provisions in Sections 22 and 39 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) enjoin the media to act, on behalf of the people, as watchdogs over government in a free setting.

......kindly place order to continue reading





The Media’s Missed Opportunities

By Ayodeji Olonode


It is common knowledge that the media play a critical role in every human society. This is most evident in the information dissemination and discussion moderation function that the media perform in societies. In modern democratic societies, which entail representative governments, the media play the very essential role of ensuring that information vital to the existence, survival and development of constituents of such societies is availed to them in a timely, equitable, fair and balanced manner. Thus at election time, when constituents must elect their representatives, it becomes doubly imperative that the media afford them all information necessary for them to make informed choices about whom to elect and whom not to elect into positions of authority.

Basically, the media are expected during election seasons to perform such functions as - information on political parties and candidates participating in the process, questions of debate, the voting process and any other elements which encourage a friendly process for voters. Consequently, the media should be impartial and balanced in their election news coverage and should not present programs or articles that favor one particular candidate or political party. Also, the media should educate voters on the general and particular issues of the electoral process.

Taking into account the above, one can almost say that the media in any true democracy should fulfill similar functions as that of the Electoral Commission. This is just to stress the importance of the media as having greater responsibility with respect to impartial information and objectivity, and is set apart from electoral intervention provided by other agencies of the government.

One may of course wonder if this description of the media's function in electoral process is overly practicable, especially when we take a critical look at how the Nigerian media has fared hitherto in the build up to the 2015 general elections.

Has the media done enough to educate Nigerians through stories that adequately explain the national situation (political, social and economic)? Has the media done enough to constructively manage controversies and other issues that have emerged in the build up to the 2015 election? Practically, in the build up to the 2015 general elections, the media has done so well in parroting the perspectives of the leading political parties and recording the points scored in like manner.

For instance, the media involvement in the certificate saga involving General Muhammadu Buhari (the presidential candidate for the All Progressive Congress) leaves the public with glistering wonders as to whether or not the Nigerian media have done enough to constructively manage controversial highlights in the build up to the election.

For some practitioners and analysts, the Buhari certificate saga was an opportunity to reactivate their argumentative ability, probably last expressed in their school days. Publications were littered with presentation of points that were capable of achieving so many logical results but the education and guidance of the electorate.

Rather than parroting the opinions of different party representatives on the certificate hoax of General Muhammadu Buhari, the media would have done well to go back in time, to inquire or query whether or not General Muhammadu Buhari actually presented a certificate on the previous three occasions when he contested presidential election and lost. If it were discovered that Buhari did not present any certificate on his past three presidential aspirations according to Section 131(d) of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999, then there is need for a political conscientization about our assumed rule of law in this country; but if he actually presented a certificate, the media should not even had dwelt as long as it did on the issue.

Also, it suffices to say that the media missed the chance of addressing the mess created and rubbed on the Nigerian Army around the Buhari's certificate issue. The certificate hoax of the APC Presidential candidate, made the Nigerian Army look so cheap and unserious. Although it is quite unfair to tag our Nigerian Army unserious and cheap given the respect they have commanded over the decades especially in peace-keeping missions, the portrayal that a man could rise to the rank of a Major General in the Army and even become a military Head of State without any qualification or satisfaction of institutional requirement leaves room for questions about the integrity of the military. Unfortunately, we did not get to see these questions asked.

The unfolding picture in this scenario is that of a missed opportunity. The media actually missed a golden opportunity to win the respect and trust of the publics, and an opportunity to re-affirm and justify her appellation as the fourth estate of the realm.

If the media in reality stand to the core of her creed or ideals, allegations of the media attempting to tarnish an individual's image or discrediting a political party would be unfounded.

As part of the glistering wonders, one cannot help but ask whatever has befallen our investigative reporters in the build up to the general elections. The dodgy undertaking of refereeing between allegations and responses of the leading parties would only drop jaws and raise questions about the adherence of the Nigerian media to fundamental tenets of what the media should represent in any human society.

There is need for a media that is more than being routine, that has the intelligent quotient to understand the forces and struggles that shape agenda setting and how the media can function effectively with this understanding to aid social development.There is need for the media to be ethically committed and spectacularly transparent, for the sake of the society to which they are accountable.

......kindly place order to continue reading



The Nigerian Media And Agenda Setting

By John Momoh, OON


Agenda setting describes a very powerful influence of the media the ability to tell us what issues are important by creating public awareness and concern on salient issues through the news media. Here, John Momoh attempts an application of this theory to the pre-election media influence on the Nigerian audience. The deduction from this theoretical application mirrors a need to press from setting agenda through regular news to using investigative journalism to set agenda for development in the nation.

Theoretically, the Agenda Setting Theory (AST) of the media as put forward by Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw (1972) during their very influential research on the role of the media in the 1968 U.S. Presidential elections observes that:

In choosing and displaying news, editors, newsroom staff, and broadcasters play an important part in shaping political reality. Readers learn not only about a given issue, but also how much importance to attach to that issue from the amount of information in a news story and its position […] the mass media may well determine the important issues that is, the media may set the “agenda” of the campaign.

Overtime, the Agenda Setting Theory research has demonstrated that the more stories the news media publish on a particular subject, the more importance audiences attach to that subject. In relation to AST, Stanley Baran holds that the “media may not tell us what to think, but media certainly tell us what to think about” (2002). He further argues that the agenda setting power of the media resides in more than the amount of space or time devoted to a story and its placement in the broadcast or on the page. Since about 43 years since the publication of the original agenda-setting article by Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw, the domain or focus of agenda-setting research has moved beyond politics and public affairs to the world of business, sports, the economy, education, health and entertainment; and the methods used in such studies have gone far beyond the simple rank-order correlations, between media and public agenda.

The theory's central claim as stated earlier is that the media focus the public's attention and influence the public's perceptions of what are the important issues of the day. Whether you agree or disagree with this claim depends on what school of thought you belong to. After all, the original McCombs and Shaw agenda setting study focused on four local sources The New York Times, Time Magazine Newsreel, NBC and CBS. So you can understand why critics of the theory are quick to emphasize that in a digital world such as we now find ourselves, the fundamentals have changed and the theory may not remain viable. Such critics argue that people now get their news from a finite number of news outlets, run by professional gatekeepers, with shared news values. As the numbers of news outlets increase the advance for them shrink. Therefore, the assumption of a unified media agenda has become problematic. In other words, as audiences gain more control over what news services they will use, such audiences will likely seek services that support their points of view.

How does the media set agenda?

But let's put aside the academics and focus on the Nigerian Media and how they set or do not set the agenda for the public. Nigeria's media landscape is perhaps, the most vibrant in Africa. The nation has about 320 broadcast stations made up of 170 television stations and 150 Radio stations, each of them with about 80% population coverage. There are also cable and direct-to-home satellite offerings, the print media which has 150 national and local press titles, and the internet, a growing list. So far, the internet and the World Wide Web cannot set an agenda, primarily because the audience remains small, and many online publications depend on major brand names as the primary sources of information.

Therefore, the broadcast outlets and newspapers that operate the Web sites still maintain control of the setting of the journalistic agendas and the public debate. Even at that, online journalism stands to dramatically alter the traditional role of the reporter and editor.

Be that as it may, “unlike the twentieth-century media environment, in which media largely was limited to traditional media entities, 21st Century Media options are endless, captured by the economic metaphor of the long tail. The Long Tail is a phrase coined by Chris Anderson, in 2004 in which he argued that products that are in low demand or have low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters, but only if the store or distribution channel is large enough. Citizens can now opt to be creators and or distributors. They now curate the web in large numbers for interesting content sharing links and other newsworthy information out in the confines of newsroom home pages and within the digital world such as blogs, twitter and social networking sites (Meraz, 2012). Consequently, traditional media is no longer capable of leveraging complete media agenda setting influence which in effect means that Agenda setting power is also influenced by external forces who constantly seek to put their own agenda in the front burner, now shared between citizen media and traditional media.

The Elections and Agenda Setting

For Nigerians who painstakingly watched the setting and the general atmosphere at INEC'S press conference in Abuja, on February the 7th, the methods, intricacies and critical tools of news reporting could not have gone unnoticed. Individuals with certain skills and an array of equipment crowded up the whole space all day-long for a singular purpose: to receive or extract the final word from the leadership of the electoral body and to disseminate the information to the wider public.

When the press conference finally got underway, observers must have had further insights into processes leading to the final product, that is, the news (whether in print or broadcast, social media or Internet). In the question and answer session when the INEC Chairman had to explain some knotty issues, it was evident that journalists carry out pre-event investigations and research and are able to elicit information or commitments that could bring some issues to closure.

November/December 2014

Lead Story


Everyone loves recognition 

By Lanre Idowu

I begin on a note of gratitude to you all for honouring our invitation to spend your evening with us on this beautiful and holy day. Thank you.

We wanted to start this program earlier than now but....Again, I say Thank you.

Before we go further, let me invite us to be upstanding as we observe a moment of silence in memory of those gladiators in our industry who made a difference. I speak of Dame Remi Oyo, 61 former MD, News Agency of Nigeria, Mr. Dimgba Igwe, 58 director Sun Newspapers Mr. Mike Akpan, 64 Editor-in-Chief, Real News, Mr. Remi Adeneye of Campaign Services, Mr. Willy Nnorom of Marks and Read, Mr. Charles Chukwuma of Rhythm FM, Mr. Toba Suleiman, 55 of Thisday, Mr. Godwin Spiff-Sagbama of Sports Business on AIT, Mr. Sesan Ogunro of Eminent Communications. May their souls continue to rest in peace!

Still on death and life thereafter, it will be ten years on November 29 that Mr. Tunji Oseni has been with his creator. May his soul continue to rest in peace.

A lot has happened in the life of DAME from the maiden edition on March 20, 1992 to this 23rd edition, but one thing remains constant: the vision. And that vision is to pay deserved tribute to the mass communication industry as worthy partners in nation building. It is a day when our accomplished ambassadors are celebrated on a platform that is theirs. In pioneering that private sector-led initiative in our country, DAME was never under any illusion she was going to be the only player. Our position has always been, the more, the merrier but please judge us by our conduct for it is by our conduct that you shall know us.

And what are we known for?
Industry, integrity, decorum, honour, tenacity. These are values that build nations; these are values we celebrate. As the winners and their works are unfolded this evening, you will see various examples of enterprise, of tenacity, of commitment, of integrity and honour in Nigerians who, through their craft, are committed to building a better society. Indeed, the two gentlemen who are being conferred with the DAME Lifetime Achievement award epitomise this industry, this integrity and this tenacity to excel that we talk about.

By being here, you are lending your support for these values. Sometimes, the challenges of today suggest these values can be cumbersome but nowhere in history has any developed, stable, safe, and just society been built on the altar of impunity or happenstance.

After 22 years of uninterrupted service to the country through the platform of DAME, we have come to the conclusion that a lot still needs to be done to mentor our younger ones and enhance their professional capacity. Besides giving awards annually, we have held four workshops this year in four locations---Lagos, Akure, Ibadan and Abuja----to help our media professionals come to better grasp with the challenges of their craft, knowing that when media content is enriched, we are indeed enriching the public mind.

We urge you all whether as Award sponsors, judges and assessors of the various entries, winners and aspiring winners or as friends of DAME and a Greater Nigeria to continue to support this project with funds and ideas.

Many are called....
Mr. Chairman, distinguished guests, of the 31 categories advertised for this edition, only 19 prizes are being given today because many are called but few are chosen. Since we are diamond, we want awards that we can defend not only today but forever. In concrete terms, six prizes in Print Journalism and Broadcasting are not being given because they are not good enough for a DAME. These are Telecoms Reporting, Insurance Reporting, and Editorial Integrity, TV Drama, TV Documentary, and Radio Presenting. The judges recommend Miss Nike Popoola of the Punch for honourable mention for her Insurance

Reporting entries but urge her to work harder. No award is also being given in the six Advertising categories advertised: Radio Commercial, TV Commercial and Press Advertising in the consumer goods and services categories. We will engage the Advertising agencies on the way forward. We will continue with the idea of a retraining workshop after every DAME presentation by inviting our colleagues on the affected beats or desks to review their shortcomings at a workshop in the first quarter of 2015.

Mr. Chairman, when you look at the cover of the event's programme, you'll see a quote inspired by a copywriter ten years ago whose name I cannot recall now: “Men like dames, women like diamonds, everyone likes recognition”.

I know of one DAME, you treasure. That's Aunty Vicky, who is unavoidably absent today. Same way Sister Joyce is Mr. Biodun Shobanjo's heartthrob. And I don't think any of them is averse to diamonds. But show me anyone who hates recognition and I'll show you a liar, an underachiever or a cousin of Lawrence Anini/Sina Rambo.

Without further ado, Mr. Chairman, eminent guests, on behalf of DAME I welcome you all: our trustees, sponsors, judges, friends and family to the 23rd DAME. Please enjoy the evening.

Address of welcome at the 23rd presentation of the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence (D.A.M.E.) on November 23, 2014 at the Lagos Ooriental Hotel, Victoria Island

The 23rd D.A.M.E Honouring Achievement Celebrating Enterprise

DAME Profiles


Ayodeji Adeyemi Agriculture Reporting

Adeyemi Ayodeji is making his third appearance on the DAME podium having won the Sports Reporting prize and the Development Reporting prize in 2011.

Ayodeji worked at Victory Echo, a Christian publication, before joining TELL Communications Limited as a Staff Writer in 2006. A 2004 graduate of Economics from University of Ibadan, Ayodeji has been opportune to attend fellowships and training courses in “Economic and Financial Reporting (in Germany), Stock Market Reporting (in Nigeria), and a training on Covering Development and Poverty Reduction (in the United States).

His winning work “Food For All Through Genetics” takes a stand against Genetically Modified Crops, drawing on experts' opinions and revealing in detail some facts about GM foods that biotechnologists have downplayed over time.

Olatunji Ololade, A Healthy Concern Reporter

Winner of DAME prize for Political Reporting in 2013, winner of DAME prize for Judicial Reporting in 2011; but in 2014, Olatunji Ololade is standing on the DAME podium as the winner of the Health Reporting prize.

Ololade, a 2002 graduate of Mass Communication from Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, got his break into Journalism practice as an intern with Sunday Concord, This Day Newspaper and TELL Magazine, all between 1998 and 2001. Since then, he has kept his hands on the journalism plough, winning multiple awards in the process.

The DAME judges found his winning entry “Blind Medicine how wrong diagnoses worsen Nigeria's health woes” captivating enough not just to win an award, but also to address an anathema in the health sector.

Sensitive Politicial Reporter

Some readers would have judged the story “Census: Can Nigeria get it right?” as a non-current report compared to other front-burner issues in Nigeria as at the time of its publication; but the decision to favour relevance and human/national interest over and above currency has given Emmanuel Oladesu a place on the DAME roll of honours at her 23rd edition for the Political Reporting prize.

At 44 years, Emmanuel has garnered 16 years of journalistic experience, having worked as a Reporter/Feature Writer with TNT Newspaper in Lagos, Education and Political Correspondent with The Comet Newspaper, and with The Nation Newspaper, where he is currently Group Political Editor.

He holds a degree in Guidance and Counseling from University of Ado Ekiti, Masters in Personnel Psychology and Educational Psychology from University of Ibadan and University of Lagos respectively.

Sunday Eno-abasi, Winner Of The Simeon Idowu Award For Sports Reporting

Eno-Abasi Sunday is the winner of this year's DAME prize for Sports Reporting having scooped the same prize in 2012. Eno-Abasi, a 2002 graduate of Theatre Arts from University of Calabar, has spent ten years of his postgraduate work life as a Reporter with Guardian Newspaper. During this period, he has covered big sporting events like the 5th African Women Championship in Delta State, Nigeria (2006), the CAF African Cup of Nations in Ghana (2008), and the African Women Championship in South Africa in 2010.

His winning work, “Doping: Changing face of a festering sore”, was not only outstanding for highlighting how doping rubbishes the integrity of sports, but also for outlining the health risks associated with it.


The Radio Drama

Nwabundo Ifeoma Alayande is a Senior Producer and Presenter with Voice of Nigeria. She is a 2003 graduate of English Language from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State. Nwando, a winner of the Radio Drama prize at the 18th edition of DAME (2009), stands again as the winner of the Radio Drama prize in 2014.

Her winning work - The Joys of Motherhood, an episode of a 15 minute docu-drama (Ripples) aired on Voice of Nigeria reflected and projected the challenges of infertility in our society and the pressure women face from family and society when they are married but without children. Interestingly, this episode dramatises the experience of a woman who had lived through this ordeal.

Child Friendly Reporter

Although Folashade Adebayo has previously been honoured on several platforms and in different reportorial fields, she is being honoured today for excellence in Child Friendly Reporting, as a first time winner at DAME.

With over a decade of journalistic experience with TELL Magazine and (lately) the Punch Newspaper, Folashade has risen to become a Senior Correspondent with Punch Newspaper, a journey that began with a degree in Journalism from Lagos State University.

Her winning work, “The Scourge called Children Cancer” was outstanding for its exposition and provision of evidences that made the work more than a routine report, but a chronicle of reality. Distinguished guests, I present Folasade Adebayo, the child friendly reporter of the year.

An Eye on Justice

If your effort could not earn you a desired prize at some point in life, you must encourage yourself and intensify your effort. That is one lesson to take from Joseph Jibueze, the first runner-up in the 2012 edition of DAME for Judicial Reporting prize, but stands as the winner of the same prize in 2014. We wouldn't be talking about this lesson today, but for his appealing and astute report titled “Why Most Rape Suspects Escape Justice”.

At age 35, Joseph has eight years of experience as a journalist, with reportorial duties spread over African Travel Quarterly (2006-2007), National Mirror Newspaper (2007-2008), and The Nation Newspaper where he has risen to become a senior correspondent, having joined since 2008. Joseph is a 2004 graduate of Mass Communication from The Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State. He has also undergone several trainings, some of which include: British Council/Thompson Foundation course in writing skills for Journalists, Pan-African University CSR Workshop for Journalists, CNN/Multichoice African Journalist Media Workshop, Lagos State Ministry of Justice Judicial Reporting Workshop, amongst others.


A Development Reporter

“Even the rich envy us the way we live Dustbin Estate Lagos Residents”, the winning work for the 23rd DAME prize for Development Reporting, is an insightful record of an ethnographic effort. Seun Dare Akioye, who spent 24 hours in the ghetto called Dustbin Estate, sited in Ifelodun Ajeromi Area of Lagos State, examined in detail the history of Dustbin Estate, the lifestyle of its residents, existing solution-based efforts and plans for future development. These were enough to convince the judges. Although Seun has won multiple awards including the Wole Soyinka Investigative Reporting Award for Print Journalist of the Year in 2012, he makes his debut on the DAME platform in this 23rd edition as the Development Reporter of the Year.

At age 37, and on the premise of his degree in History and International Studies from Lagos State University in 2005, Seun Akioye is currently a Senior Correspondent with The Nation Newspaper, having previously worked as an Assistant Editor with The Trumpet Newspaper, London (2005-2007) and as a Reporter Researcher with The Source Magazine, Lagos (2002 2004). Seun, Akioye, the Development Reporter of the Year.


The Action Photographer

It depicted action, it told a story, it was timely, and interestingly, it was not sourced from an agency. Olatunji Obasa was duly available to record a rescue operation at the site of a collapsed building in Ojodu Berger, Lagos with his camera lens. Thus, he makes his debut on the DAME podium as the winner of the 23rd edition's Action Photography prize.

Olatunji, 41, has a Diploma in Mass Communication from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism. He is currently a Senior Photojournalist with Punch Newspaper, having previously worked with PM News in the same capacity from 2005 2010.


A Life-long Devotion to Media Development

It was Malvalio who said in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

Professor Idowu Akanbi Sobowale achieved greatness. Born 4th January 1941, in Ashipa near Abeokuta to a peasant farmer and a petty trader mother, he was a farmer and apprentice mechanic in his first twelve years. It was not until January 1954 that he first saw the four walls of a classroom.

Throughout his primary school, he showed great thirst for education that saw him frequently leading his class. He attended the Lagos Baptist Academy for his secondary education, graduating in 1964. After his secondary education, he secured a job with Lagos City Council as a health inspector. He was to last on the job for only six days as a chance meeting with Mr. Bisi Onabanjo, an old student of the Baptist Academy, facilitated an introduction to Mr. Babatunde Jose, who employed him at the Daily Times. He was one of the pioneer students at the Daily Times Training School who were expected to complete 12 months' training before being deployed to the newsroom. He was so outstanding in class that after spending only two months, Mr. Leslie W. Riley, the Australian director of the school, recommended that he be deployed immediately.

He later attended the University of Lagos where he received a Diploma and BA (HONS) degree in mass communication. In 1975, he left the Daily Times to join his University of Lagos as an assistant lecturer in the Institute of Mass Communication. A year later, he left for Syracuse University, USA, for his masters' degree but returned in 1978 with a PhD degree, specializing in Precision or Scientific Journalism. Whilst in the employ of the University of Lagos, he also introduced opinion polling to Nigerian journalism by establishing a Public Opinion Polling Desk at the Punch newspaper under the leadership of Mr. Sam Amuka. The findings of the first wave of surveys were published in The Punch of 11th April, 1979.

A firm believer in the collaboration of the Town and Gown, he served as a special assistant to the Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, and as commissioner for Education to the government of Governor Bola Tinubu in Lagos.

He was appointed a Professor of Journalism by the Lagos State University which he helped to establish in 2004? On Thursday, September 29, 2005, Prof. Sobowale delivered his inaugural lecture on the topic, “Opinion Polling in Nigeria: The Neglected Route to National Development”. He was Dean, Adebola Adegunwa School of Communication, Lagos State University from where he went on to develop the postgraduate programme in mass communication at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State.

Prof. Sobowale's pioneering activities amongst others made the government of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo give him the national honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger, (OON) in 2012

For his lifelong devotion to media development, for his commitment to producing hundreds of scholars who are today holding responsible positions in various in the communications industry, Professor Idowu Sobowale is being honoured with the DAME Lifetime Achievement Award at the 23rd DAME.

Life-long commitment to Marketing Communications

2014 is a landmark year in the life of Mr. Abiodun Olusina Shobanjo, Chairman of the Troyka Holdings. It is the 50th anniversary of his career as a communication professional. This year, on Christmas Eve, he will join the club of septuagenarians as he clocks 70.

Born in Jabba, Kwara State, Mr. Biodun Shobanjo attended St. George's Primary School and Odogbolu Grammar School for his primary and secondary education respectively. He was also at the College of the Institute of Marketing, Cookham, Maidenhead, England where he obtained the College's Certificate in Marketing,

Mr. Shobanjo started his communication career in 1964 with the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) as a Studio Manager. By the time he left seven years after, he had risen to become a Producer. Forty three Novembers ago in 1971, he joined Grant Advertising, an American/Nigerian-owned Advertising agency, as an Account Executive Trainee. Five years later, he was appointed as the Deputy Managing Director. He stayed on as the DMD and member of the Board until December 1979 before bowing out to co-found Insight Communications in January 1980.

Under his watch for 25 years, Insight grew from humble beginning to become one of the biggest players in the Nigerian advertising industry. He is today chairman of Troyka Holdings, Nigeria's largest integrated marketing communications group. Today, aside from Insight Communications, other companies which make up the Troyka Holdings include The Quadrant Company, a Public Relations Consultancy, Halogen Security, an asset protection and security Services Company, two Media Independents----All Seasons Mediacom and Media Perspectives---and Optimum Exposure, Nigeria's leading out-of-home advertising company, and Black Onyx Properties, a real estate company.

Mr. Shobanjo is a fellow of the Advertising Practitioners' Council of Nigeria (APCON), fellow of the Commonwealth Journalists Association, a past president of Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria. He is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, London and a chartered member of the British Institute of Marketing, member, International Advertising Association. Mr. Biodun Shobanjo was adjudged Nigeria's advertising man of the 20th century by Weekend Concord in 1999, and was honoured only on November 14, 2014 with the award of the Most Influential Personality in Advertising in 2014 by the African Development Magazine in Ghana.

A quiet philanthropist, Mr. Shobanjo was inaugurated in 2010 as the first Ambassador-General of mass medical mission of National Cancer Prevention Programme. When the Diamonds Awards was established in 1992, Mr. Shobanjo served as a pioneer judge. He has also been a longstanding sponsor of the Radio Commercial of the Year (Consumer Goods). Today, Mr. Shobanjo is the recipient of the DAME Lifetime Achievement Award as worthy testament to a life of enterprise, commitment and achievement in the marketing communications sector.

.......continue reading



Business Reporting


Dustbin Economy: Trickles of Income from Mountains of Waste

By Gbenga Salau, The Guardian, December 29, 2013

THOUGH people whose houses are located beside dumpsites and landfills feel bitter that activities in those places are injurious to their health, what many of them do not know is that dustbin economy is one of the most thriving in Nigeria today.

According to experts, wastes generated at homes and in the office, when recycled, have the potential of yielding large income and revenue. Currently, a lot of people are earning a living from the dumpsites, not as managers of those sites, but scavengers of the huge waste brought into the landfills. Daily, they spend hours dining and wining in refuse, as they sort out from garbage, metals, plastics, bottles and other items that could be re-sold. But the painful thing is that these dumpsites are not properly managed in line with best practices.

According to some of the people, who spoke to The Guardian, this is the reason for the pungent smell that ooze out of the dumpsites, apart from the underground water contaminated as a result of the dumpsite close to them

These scavengers are careless about the negative consequences of working in landfills on their health. On a good day, the dumpsites are like factories and warehouses where trucks go to offload raw materials and get loaded with finished products bags, ladies' attachment, plastic chairs, gallons, bottles, shoes and many more.

During a recent visit, it was discovered how wastes are treated at the dumpsites and the landfills. How trucks load plastics, metals, bottles and items that could be re-cycled by nylon, plastic and steel manufacturing companies. The minutes spent at those sites revealed how scavengers work like factory workers, who help in processing the raw materials and sort out the good from the bad among the unwanted materials brought into the landfills.

So, some Nigerians are actually smiling to the bank as they get their take home pay directly and indirectly from other people's waste. To these people, they probably operate within the dustbin economy as it has provided a chain of employment for scavengers, loaders, agents, who serve as middlemen that sell the plastics, metals and others to corporate organisations and then the owners and drivers of the trucks, which convey the items to the factory.

At the Soulos sites in Igando, a man was seen spreading clothes on the different section of the dumpsite. The clothes were not neat. They looked like clothes that were just removed from refuse brought into the dumpsite, as there were dirty stains on them besides being wet.

For the plastic chairs, according to one of the sellers, a kiloramme goes for N50 and there are customers who buy in bulk.

According to one of the buyers, Mr. John Ikemefuna, who deals in bottles, he has been in the business for upward of 15 years, and he has no regret taking up the business.

Ikemefuna said the stench does not affect him anymore because he has adapted to the environment. “Initially, the environment was not friendly, but with time, I became used to it,” he said. During the early stages, he will force himself to endure the stinking smell around the place, but now, he has no issues with the smell from the dumpsite.

He said some traders, who deal in fairly used clothes and bags, buy from them. According to Ikemefuna, what many of the traders do is to wash the clothes and bags thoroughly in a way that it wouldn't show that they were picked from dustbin.

At the Isolo Dumpsite, the operational mode differs from that of the Soulos in Igando. In Igando, fresh refuse are always the commodity exchange, deliberately giving opportunity for scavengers to look for plastics, bottles, metals and wire; for Isolo, the collectors purposefully scavenge for waste bottles, plastics, metals and wire.

One of the operators at the Isolo site, Mr. Maude Umar, who has been in the business for over the last 35 years, said he started out by going round the streets of Lagos picking and buying disused plastic and glass bottles aside from other items such as wire. Now he is a wholesaler.

Umar, a father of six, disclosed that there are boys who work under him, using his carts to go out to pick and buy plastic and glass bottles among other items. He said he has been performing his role dutifully as a father of six children and two wives, who are all based in Rimi Town, Katsina State, with the proceeds from the waste business. According to him, what some wholesalers do, is to get carts that will be used, besides giving them some cash to buy disused bottles when need arises.

He revealed that a kilogramme of plastic is bought for between N20 and N22 from scavengers and sold for N27 to agents, who work for the manufacturing companies, mostly Chinese companies, while one kilogramme of Iron is bought for N30 and sold for N40 to agents.

According to him, once they heap up the disused bottles and plastics up to a good level, the agent is invited to take them to the companies in need of them.

He revealed that the truck and the ware are measured and when the truck has offloaded the goods, the truck's weight is re-measured. The difference in the measurement before the truck offloaded and after is the scale of the goods, which determines the amount that the agent would pay to them...............continue reading


Health Reporting


Blind Medicine: How wrong diagnoses worsen Nigeria's health woes

By Olatunji Ololade, The Nation, April 6, 2013

Two shadows shift by the sand bed, each now and then striking a frantic pose. Their movement is soundless and the silence is such that their breathing is audible. Closer, you discover a sight that's essentially unfit for sore eyes. The two silhouettes are cast by two young girls of ages seven and five respectively. They are keeping vigil over a woman lying sprawled on the concrete floor of a hospital.

Both girls are fanning the woman on the floor with such remarkable zeal that you could almost hear the grind of their sockets as they work the air. Soon, a sassy figure attired in white sashays to the kids but no sooner she does than she scampers back up the corridor from which she emerges. She is a nurse.

Few minutes later, she returns with a man marching briskly alongside her with loathing visibly etched on his face. The latter draws out a shiny silver stethoscope from his vest pocket; you could hear the swish as he draws it. His gaze pans from the sprawled woman's face, and then very quickly, to her girls. Then he stares knowingly at the nurse as he rises soundlessly from his squat. About 10 paces away, a very tall man ambling towards them falls soundlessly as if an axe is suddenly set to his temple. other girl and the nurse rush swiftly to his side. They stoop to pull his rigid hands but he knocks off the nurse's hand and accords her a lethal glare howling that she and her colleagues had killed his wife. He blames them for rendering his children motherless and invokes God's wrath on the hospital staff. His name is Razaq Osuntoki and he just lost Zinat, his wife of 23 years to a curable ailment.

Osuntoki's grief is immense. He does not know the actual cause of his wife's death; neither does he have the means to request an autopsy. Even if he did, he does not have the heart to seek a truth that would only aggravate the grief he suffers as a result of lies the doctors told him, he said.

According to him, when his wife took ill few weeks ago, he made sure she consulted a qualified physician at the public hospital to diagnose her health problem. The physician diagnosed Zinat with influenza and recommended a cocktail of antibiotic and paracetamol tablets for the deceased.

Osuntoki said he monitored his wife to make sure she stuck religiously to the prescribed doses of the drugs, however, contrary to their expectations; Zinat's condition worsened and she subsequently saw four other doctors for alternative opinion. One of the doctors diagnosed her with typhoid fever and the other three agreed with the first doctor she consulted that she indeed suffered influenza.

Thus she settled for the flu treatment until she started heating up like a hot stove. Soon, she started to cough out blood tainted by very thick phlegm. Her health deteriorated and her husband frantically rushed her to a private clinic in their Aguda, Surulere neighborhood, where she started to cough out a greater volume of blood and bile while clutching painfully at her chest, in the wee hours of dawn of her 47th birthday anniversary.

Zinat died in the evening of her birthday. And even though her husband and daughters are at a loss over the true nature of her ailment, Kemisola Ogunyinka, a physician, suggested that “the deceased probably suffered from 'Septicaemia' (blood poisoning) which could have been cured by a dose of appropriate antibiotics.” Ogunyinka claimed that the late Zinat was wrongly diagnosed with influenza.

If Zinat's case is regrettable, the following case is terrifying. It's the case of a patient (name withheld) who reported with fever, labored breath, cough and extreme palpitation on any mild activity, like a light stroll or hearty laughter. She visited a teaching hospital as an out-patient. “There, I was diagnosed and treated for acute typhoid and malaria,” she said. After three days, her condition worsened and she had to be rushed to the hospital's emergency ward. During examination, it was discovered that her heartbeat at 118bpm, meaning her heart beat at 118 beat per minute instead of the normal 60bpm or 70bpm.

“Medical students practically used me as a guinea-pig, and their resident doctor, after inspecting me said that I suffered from Bronchial Pneumonia. Consequently, I was subjected to multiple injections. I was placed on Augmentin intravenous injection four times a day for two weeks, yet there was no improvement in my health.

I was later transferred to the respiratory unit after I refused to receive any more Augmentin injections. Eventually, a young doctor from the respiratory unit rescued me. After examining me, he recommended two tests in order to conduct a fresh diagnosis of my ailment. He sent me for sputum test and spirometry (lung test). As he guessed, the lung examination revealed a narrowed or swollen respiratory tract which limited the air intake and obstructs my breathing, and the sputum test showed that my body is resistant to Augmentin but susceptible to ofloxacin antibiotics tablet and predinisolone (anti-inflammatory steroidal drug. Within four days I was discharged as the antibiotics gave me instant relief. The young doctor said I had respiratory tract infection,” she said.

But she is even disheartened by the crop of medical students in the teaching hospital that she visited for treatment. “What I witnessed there was very demoralizing. They (medical students) were busy “pinging” on their BlackBerry mobile devices and Iphones during ward rounds. They were not interested on what their resident doctors and supervisors had to say.

True. The Nation's findings at major teaching hospitals across the country revealed a demoralizing streak amongst medical interns.

In teaching hospital in Lagos, many of the medical interns arrived late for the ward round and while the resident doctor complained bitterly about their lackadaisical attitude to study, they grinned derisively to his complaints. During ward rounds, they couldn't answer most of the questions they were asked correctly. And where they are asked to present a case or diagnose a patient's aliment, they commit unpardonable blunders. One of the resident doctors sent two medical interns off angrily for their off-putting demeanour in the presence of patients. “Many of them are only interested in answering to the title of 'doctor', they lack the passion to exert themselves excellently on the job,” said Margaret Oni-Ekeh, a former public health official now Chief Nurse in a private medical facility.

Every hour, more Nigerians walk into the inhospitable and unfamiliar world of a hospital and put their lives in the hands of doctors, nurses, medical technicians, administrators and other health workers. And every hour, many of these medical professionals kill more patients than could be saved due to avoidable mistakes, like medical misdiagnosis, according to Prof. Sam Ohaegbulaem, Chief Neurosurgeon and director of Memphys Hospital, Enugu.

Most of the deaths, according to Prof. Ohaegbulaem, are clearly preventable. Corroborating him, a Matron with a Lagos-based teaching hospital, pleading anonymity, lamented how she is persistently forced to keep an eagle eye on certain resident physicians who have attained notoriety over the years for their inability to make the right diagnoses of patients' ailments more often than not.............continue reading


Child Friendly Reporting


The Scourge called children cancer

By Folashade Adebayo, Tell, December 2, 2013

Tutu, close the door so your hair will not fly in. “Lying on the reception floor of the paediatric cancer ward, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Lagos, Mercy James, a photographer, addressed Adetutu, a child living with Leukemia, cancer of the blood. Adetutu was seated on a low stool, cutting her long hair in preparation for her next course of chemotherapy. Silently, she stared down at the pile of hair at her feet. For the few parents also seated in the reception area, the sight of Adetutu shaving off her hair was normal because they had all done it to their children. Usually, the exercise is a better alternative to the harsh side effect of chemotherapy, when the children would gasp in shock as their hair falls off their heads like sawdust.

Cancer is also the reason James locked her studio. Her four-year-old niece has also just been diagnosed with cancer of the Condition in a rural clinic: Dismal blood. As the family came to terms with the reality, James offered to shut down her business so that her sister could continue her bank job. “To get a job is difficult. So my sister has to work while I stay with her child. I was not living with them before now. But I have to help her now because nobody knows tomorrow. I am yet to believe that a little girl like my niece truly has cancer. The treatment is very expensive, so my sister and her husband have to work to pay for the treatment," she said.

The loss of a regular job is just one of the many crushing consequences of childhood cancer. Nneka Nwobbi, a paediatric oncologist with LUTH, says childhood cancer usually makes mincemeat of families. “We have seen many mothers lose their jobs. They stay here week in, week out, taking care of their children. No employer would take that. When a child has cancer, his or her siblings at home are affected; the husbands can no longer sleep with his wife in the night. Every penny they make has to go into the treatment of the child. Most families sell their belongings.”

Some families are worse hit than others. Apart from the prohibitive cost of treatment, most families are never the same again. Adewunmi Adewale, a former staff of Mr. Biggs, a quick service food company, is wearing that shoe at the moment. When Feyisayo Ayomide, her only child, was diagnosed with cancer of the jaw in 2009, she resigned voluntarily to care for him. But Ayomide's father absconded soon after. She claimed he has not been seen ever since.

Fondly called Ayo, the lad is a darling of the medical and non-medical staff at LUTH's paediatric department. At just five years old, Ayo has literally gone through the glass. Since his treatment started two years ago, Ayo has been infused with 28 pints of blood, dropped out of school and stoically received 11 courses of chemotherapy. Like many children living with cancer, Ayo is bald. That is a lot many adults will not experience in a lifetime. But Ayo has not lost his smile. He is one of the patients under the watch of Children Living with Cancer Foundation, CLWCF, the only non-governmental organisation in Nigeria providing financial, moral and psychological support for children living with cancer. According to Nwobbi, who runs CLWCF, Ayo needs N3 million for treatment in Apollo Hospital, India, to return to school.

Ayo and Tutu represent the face of cancer in Nigerian children. From diabetes, stroke, HIV/AIDS and other infections, cancer now sits atop the list of chronic diseases that have obliterated the age divide, stealing children from the cradle. And whether it is sunny or windy outside, the weather inside LUTH's paediatric cancer ward, a 20-bed facility and the first of its kind in Nigeria, is always sobering. Scores of children - some as little as three years old - lay down on the bed, punished by the pangs of cancer. For every visitor to that ward, the cluster of these children brought together by cancer brings a painful realisation that cancer has crashed the age divide.

Inside the country's first dedicated paediatric cancer ward, medical staff wear a cheerful countenance, a therapeutic measure to reassure their tiny patients, downcast parents and occasional visitors. The ward serves a specific purpose of ensuring that the patients get the privacy they need and also a tailored professional care, which was not the case when they were lumped with other children in the general paediatric ward.

In the records of the World Health Organisation, WHO, cancer is the second leading cause of death after accidents in children less than 15 years. Statistics also show that one in 300 children will have cancer before the age of 16. In Nigeria, the Nigerian National System of Cancer Registries, NSCR, does not have a database on children living with cancer. Indeed, only statistics from Calabar Cancer Registry and Abuja Cancer Registry are listed on the newsletter of the NCSR. No incidence of childhood cancer is recorded. Like many other diseases, lack of official information on the number of children affected by cancer is hardly unusual. A study of cancer registry literature update by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) shows that only one per cent of the literature emanated from Africa against 34 per cent and 42 per cent from Europe and Asia respectively. However, permutations from experts reveal that as high as 22 in 100,000 male children in Nigeria develop cancer before the age of 14.

Statistics from independent sources also indicate a spike in the incidence of childhood cancer. Information from the Ibadan Cancer Registry, ICR, recorded 300 children diagnosed with cancer between 1960 and 1969. However, a report published in, an arm of the United States National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health, showed 244 cases of children with cancer. The report is a result of a 19-year study that emanated from the radiotherapy department of the University College Hospital, UCH, Ibadan. ICR is the only non-hospital based cancer registry in Nigeria. About half of the cases were retinoblastoma (cancer of the eye). The children were aged between four months and 12 years.

A 10-year collaboration among six paediatric oncologists from the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, AKTH, Kano, Kano State, and Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, OAUTH, lIe-Ife, Osun State, detailed a comparison of the patterns of childhood cancer in North-western and South-western Nigeria. Findings between 2001 and 2010 were equally depressing. Some 410 children from AKTH were diagnosed with cancer. While 236 were boys, 174 were girls. The youngest of the patients was seven months while the eldest was 15 years. But OAUTH had a higher number of patients during the period. Over 500 young children from two months to 15 years were diagnosed with cancer. With more than 400 cases, boys had an overwhelming number while there were 167 girls.

The increasing incidence of childhood cancer in Nigeria is not in doubt. A recent study at LUTH's paediatric department over a period of 18 months revealed that 163 out of 540 admissions were due to cancer. The study also noted that boys are twice as likely to have cancer as girls. In the study, 55 cancer patients were girls while 108 cases were boys. At the UCH, a six-year study on childhood cancer uncovered 88 cases with 52 deaths. At the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH, Benin, Edo State, a 10-year study of malignant tumours also turned up 84 cases. Forty-nine of the patients were boys while the girls accounted for 35 cases. The patients were all under 15 years.

Edamisan Temiye, professor of paediatrics, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, UNlLAG, says cancer is a genetic disease that does not spare anyone regardless of the age. According to him, "Cancer can occur from the womb to the tomb. There are some children that are born with cancer." He also explained why cancer is more prevalent in boys. "I think it has to do with genetics. I believe that male children fall ill more often and visit the hospital more often than female children because genetically males are weaker than females. And of course statistics show that females live longer than males. This is not as a result of war alone but because illnesses in boys are more pronounced than in girls. Female premature babies also have a higher survival rate than the male premature babies," he said.

Just like adults contend with breast, ovarian, lung and prostate cancers, among others, many children around the world are robbed of a stress-free childhood by the scourge of cancer. These innocents are hacked by Burkitt lymphoma (cancer of the immune system), retinoblastoma (cancer of the eye), leukaemia (blood cancer), nephroblastoma (cancer of the kidney), neuroblastoma (cancer of the brain), lymphoma and other types of cancer. But only a handful of these children survive the challenge of cancer. "Only 20 per cent of Nigerian children survive cancer unlike in the developed countries where the survival rate is 80 per cent. As sad as it is, childhood cancer is a reality. It cannot be wished away or rejected. The youngest case I have seen is that of a nine-month-old child at the National Orthopaedic Hospital in Lagos with cancer of the muscle," says Nwobbi.

Biobele Brown, a consultant paediatrician, UCH, and his team have seen a four-month-old child with cancer of the eye. The child was one of 26 patients diagnosed with cancer of the eye some years back. The oldest of the patients was aged five. Like every chronic disease, diagnosis is usually not the end of the story. In a report published in the Journal of Paediatric Hematology and Oncology, Brown and his team were sad to note that over more than half of the children could not complete their treatment. "Eleven of 26 patients defaulted to avoid removal of the eye, and treatment was only completed in five patients. Problems included financial constraint regarding investigations and procurement of drugs, as well as availability of the chemotherapy," he reported. But experts agree that the tragedy of childhood cancer is not in the incidence but the ignorance and denial that dangerously delay diagnosis and early treatment. Nwobbi said that this is why most Nigerian children do not survive a cancer diagnosis: “There is a lot of noise being made about breast cancer and prostate cancer but a lot of people are not aware that cancer affects children too.”............continue reading


Agricultural Reporting


Food for All through Genetics

By Ayodeji Adeyemi, Tell, May 13, 2013

The midday savannah sun was almost at its peak, casting long flickering shadows over the dusty brick walls of a laboratory block inside the Institute of Agriculture Research, Zaria, Kaduna State, when Professor Mohammed Ishiyaku, flanked by two associates, made a quick dash into one of the blocks. After meandering through a labyrinth of passageways, the molecular geneticist pulled his full frame to a halt at the doorstep of a designated room.

On entering the room, his brown eyes glistened with the excitement of a miner, who after a long arduous search had stumbled on a gold mine. Yet inside this room, whose walls were made of glass to allow the filtering of the sun, were only rows of pots of cowpeas, otherwise known as beans. To the ordinary eye, they seemed like the normal cowpea plant at the stage of flowering. But to Ishiyaku, the pots of cowpea represent the golden goose that will one day lay its treasured eggs, which will not just increase farmers' yield by about 50 per cent, but also rid the nation of the endemic malnutrition plaguing its children.

Pointing at the cowpeas with the pride of a peacock, he explained that they had been genetically modified, GM, through modern biotechnology to resist the malignant pest, Maruca Vitrata. Also known as the pod borer, these tropical pests have been a thorn in the flesh of many cowpea farmers as they engender 80 per cent reduction in crop yield. Ishiyaku explained that with these GM cowpeas, farmers will no longer need to use expensive pesticides to control the pest as the re-engineering cowpea has been fortified with a natural toxin that kills the pest. “Through biotechnology, a gene which is toxin to Maruca but tolerant to mammals was removed from bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis, BT, and was incorporated into the DNA structure of the cowpea,” Ishiyaku explained, adding that “the process was expensive and carried out in Australia by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.”

But beyond the recognition that genetic modification of crops is very expensive, it is also a laborious process, as it typically takes eight years before a crop can move from the laboratory to the end users, which are the commercial farmers. This is rather due to the standard procedure of subjecting GM crops through several layers of vigorous evaluation to tests for safety and environment impact of the crop. “The GM cowpea project, which was started in 2009, has gone through several layers of testing and evaluation,” says Prince Addae, project manager, African Agricultural Technology Foundation, AATF, a non-profit organization facilitating Nigeria's access to proprietary biotechnology.

Some of the stages of evaluation of the cowpea project include containment trials, in which the plants were grown inside the laboratory to assess if they possessed the desired trait. This was followed by confined field trials, which took about three years, in which the plants were grown at a secluded farm which was barricaded to prevent both cross pollination with other crops and the escape of any part of the GM plant to the public. “When we carried out the confined field trial, we had to ensure that not even rats could eat the crops and every remaining part of the plant was burnt up after the trial to prevent their escape to the public,” Ishiyaku clarified.

But that's just one aspect of the multifaceted stages of getting GM crops from the laboratory to the end users. Ishiyaku elaborates that the cowpea project will later this year move to the next stage of multi-location confined field trial, in which the GM cowpeas will be planted in the six zones of the country to test their performances under different soil types and climate. “Even after that, we will still carry out compositional analysis of the crop to ascertain if all the nutrient components of the GM crops are the same with the conventional ones. This will be followed by animal feed trials,” he said.

So when will the GM crop be available to Nigerian farmers for commercialization with the various stages of testing? AATF projects that by 2017 the crops should be available to farmers. “We started the confined field trials in 2009; by 2017, we hope that the materials will get to the farmers, which translates to an eight-year period for the project. But again it depends on the President's assent of the national Biosafety Bill,” said Addae.

But it is not only GM cowpea that the country's agency in charge of biotechnology plans to introduce in some years to come. Other crops that are at various stages of laboratory development include GM cassava and GM sorghum, which are both being modified to contain nutrients such as protein, iron, zinc and vitamin A. There is also GM maize, which is being modified to become drought tolerant and GM Cotton, which is being modified to resist pests.

This is perhaps why Rose Gidado, head, biotechnology awareness unit, National Biotechnology Development Agency, is excited about the immense potential biotechnology has for the nation both in terms of making it self-sufficient in food production and in eliminating malnutrition, a dreaded child killer in Nigeria. “The benefits of GM crops to Nigeria will be numerous. It will help curb malnutrition, increase farmers' income since they will no longer need to spend on pesticides,” she said, adding that, “The technology has endless possibilities.”

Indeed since biotechnology, otherwise known as genetic modification, grabbed the limelight in the early 1990s, it has opened a vista of endless possibilities. The technology has armed researchers with the technique of identifying and transferring any gene from one plant to another. But, not only can genes be transferred from one plant to another, they can also be transferred to from non-plant organisms such as bacteria to plants. “GM technology has made it possible for geneticists to transfer a gene from an organism to completely unrelated organism. For instance, if you want to create a man with horns, you can isolate the genes that trigger horn growth in cows and transfer them to a male child and he will grow horn,” says Ishiyaku.

While this may sound quite disturbing, thankfully, GM technology has been restricted to animals and plants. Humans for now are a no-go area. But besides the fact that through the instrumentality of this technology man can now create crops that are diseased, pest and herbicide-resistant; drought-floodand cold-tolerant, it has also made it possible to fortify crops with nutrients that are not related to their species. The nutrient composition of maize, for instance, could be tweaked so that it will have more protein, less fat and sugar. Already such crops are no longer in the realms of science fiction, as researches have come up with a handful, one of which is the golden rice, which contains an unusually high content of Vitamin A.

But that's not even the catch of the technology. Geneticists are now working to develop edible vaccines in tomatoes and potatoes, especially for developing counties where vaccines are often expensive to produce and store. With this development, it is now clear that the day will soon come that all it takes to get vaccinated against say dengue fever and hepatitis is to simply eat a GM tomato.

But it's not only plants that are being modified; animals have also not been left behind by the genetic modification train. It might be disconcerting to some to know that bacteria were among the first organism to be modified in the laboratory. They are routinely used along with other modified microorganisms in the production of pure human protein for use in medicine such as in the treatment of diabetes. Insects and other higher animals have also been modified. In 2010, for instance, scientists created malaria-resistant mosquitoes, while cows have been re-engineered to exhibit resistance to the dreaded mad cow disease.

Indeed the prospect of using GM technology in the search for cure for many human ailments such as cancer, Parkinson's disease, and sickle cell anaemia is shimmering brighter every day. But in spite of the glimmer of hope that the technology carries in the search for cure for many ailment, the idea of tweaking genes in both plants and animals continues to be a polarizing issue. Depending on the side of the debate one sits, there are those who denounce that it makes it possible for man to play God with nature. Many, without scientific proof, have branded the technology “unsafe for both man and its environment,” while some have questioned the rationality of using genes from bacteria to modify human food crops............continue reading

DAME Photos










July/August 2014

Lead Story

2015 GENERAL ELECTIONS - Towards Impactful Reporting
First Word

Towards Impactful Elections


There is always something delightful in seeing professionals engage in frank dissection of issues of professional concern. There are the knowledgeable ones eager to spar with the trainers; there are those who come with preconceived ideas and are strongly insistent on their positions; there are others who are quite innocent of the larger issues; there are many who genuinely want to learn new approaches to the craft and yet there is a group that sees the whole exercise as an adventure to leave the predictable turmoil of the newsroom. Shades of these groups were present at the two workshops held for journalists in Akure, Ondo state and Ibadan, Oyo state in June and August respectively.

Held just days before the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections, the trainings can well be described as necessary editorial diet political reporters needed to consume ahead of next year's general elections. They were organised to remind journalists of those things they need to bear in mind in their coverage before and after elections. “Towards impactful election reporting”, they were called; the discussions were robust; the settings, friendly, the recommendations, forthright.

Held with a grant from the Nigerian Press Council, Media Review was active as its parent bodies' rich human resources were well deployed there. Four of the judges of the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence---Bisi Olawunmi, Muda Ganiyu, Tam Fiofori and Jimi Disu served as facilitators. And yours sincerely moderated the discussions. Issues discussed hovered on ethics, news judgment and treatment, with healthy interest on knowing how to strike a balance between professional demands and ownership constraints.

One startling discovery was the poor awareness of the codes of ethics of Nigerian journalists. In a class of 30 at Ibadan, only a handful, five specifically, had seen a copy of the code before the training. And there were many in the audience who had plied their trade as journalists for upward of seven years. What that conveys is the casual treatment Nigerian media organisations pay to educating their staff on the ethical requirements of their job. If there is a poorly developed notion of ethical conduct, surely those journalists are being deployed like sheep without shepherd with potentially disastrous consequences for the sheep and the terrain.

Whilst that will be a subject for closer examination in the near future, it is sufficient to say that more is required to deepen the understanding of our journalists on the forces that shape their news judgment and what is required of them to serve their audiences much more competently.

This is an edition with a lot of food for thought. Enjoy it.


Lanre Idowu, fnge



By Femi Babatunde

From the serenity offered by the quiet and inviting ambience of Akure, capital of the Ondo state, to the alluring sight of rusty roofs scattered across Ibadan, the Nigerian Press Council recently made good its statutory responsibility of nudging the Nigeria media to the path of professionalism as it organized timely workshops on election reporting with the theme 'Towards Impactful Election Reporting'.

The workshop, which came in two parts, was hosted by the council in conjunction with the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence (DAME) to expose political correspondents to how the media, by employing best professional approaches to election reporting, can add value to electioneering in Nigeria, with focus on the gubernatorial elections in the states of Ekiti and Osun States, and the coming 2015 general election.

The Akure Summit

The first of the two workshops, which held June 18-19 at the Sunview hotels, Akure, brought together 28 participants and three seasoned veterans who served as resource persons. These were Messrs. Muda Ganiyu, Bisi Olawunmi and Uzor Maxim Uzoatu. Their papers dwelt on the expectations of the media in deepening democracy and people's buy-in into the political process.

Ganiyu, erstwhile editor of the Nigerian Tribune and former head of department, Lagos State Polytechnic, examined the onerous role the media plays in ensuring that the voice of the electorate inspires the electoral process. In his paper entitled “Defining the Issues: How the Media can make the Electorate Better Heard”, he began by challenging the participants to be proud of their rich professional heritage exemplified by the variegated contributions the media has made to nation-building since 1859 when Rev. Henry Townsend introduce Iwe Irohin till the present era. He then encouraged the press to take its responsibilities seriously if the nation's effort at finding meaning will be realised.

He emphasized that the media must ask relevant questions if indeed the voice of the electorate must matter in electoral discourse. He noted eight critical questions as espoused by Esipia and Khaguli (2009) that must be raised. These include probing questions such as: 'What laws or regulations govern media coverage of the campaign? Who is responsible for implementing these laws and regulation? How is direct access to broadcasting regulated? What regulations govern paid political advertising? What policies are there on bigoted speech (i.e. speech intended to degrade, intimidate or incite violence or prejudicial action)? What policies are there on defamation? What policies or miscellaneous provisions are there on issues such as news blackouts or opinion polls? What mechanisms are in place for aggrieved individuals or organizations to lodge complaints?

Ganiyu submitted that during the electoral process, the media must not fall for the temptation of abdicating their agenda setting function to the loquacious politicians who are too willing to feed the electorate with propaganda. He noted that journalists must ensure that election reporting is issue-driven and not based on sentiments as the politicians are wont to prefer.

Ganiyu identified the issues that will define the 2015 elections as ethnicity, religious extremism, statism/citizenship, corruption, economy, and development.

Although several reactions trailed the paper, none appeared to have driven the reality obtainable in the media terrain today like the reactions of the participants on the seeming tight rope reporters walk in discharging their duties professionally amidst balancing pecuniary interests of many newspaper proprietors.

While responding to the comments and questions, Ganiyu noted that journalists must first realize that they have a professional obligation to fulfill before any other duty is performed.

In his intervention, the moderator, Mr. Lanre Idowu, agreed that whilst media owners and managers have interests to protect, reporters should, however, not allow themselves to be used in a way that their conscience will be troubled. He charged the participants to primarily see themselves as custodians of public records; hence they should be guided by professional considerations. He noted reporters have enormous power and they must be encouraged to wield it responsibly.

In “Reporting Politics and Elections in Nigeria: A Prognosis”, Dr. Olawunmi of the Department of Mass Communication, Bowen University, Iwo, dealt extensively on the sanctity of elections in a democracy and why the media should discharge their responsibilities professionally. He laced his paper with several instances from the democratic experiences of the United States of America vis-à-vis the role the American media plays.

Tracing the election history in Nigeria from 1922 during the Clifford Constitution, he identified six principal actors in any typical elections in Nigeria as the electoral body, political parties, politicians, media, Non-Governmental Organisations and security operatives. He noted that all these play prominent roles and the media should beam sufficient searchlight on their activities.

Olawunmi bemoaned media's concentration on conflicts and conflicting reports, which only help to confuse the electorate. He said the media should always verify politicians' claims before conveying them to the public, urging them also to shun unbridled sensationalism and inflammatory reports.

Reacting to the paper, a participant requested to know how political reporters can avoid being victims of electoral violence as is common place during the coverage of elections in Nigeria. He narrated his own ordeal and how he narrowly escaped death during the re-run election in Ekiti before Governor Kayode Fayemi was declared the winner by the Court.

Responding, Olawunmi noted that lack of professionalism in reporting in itself can be is a major reason reporters endanger their lives during reporting. He said supporters of the various political parties monitor reports in the newspapers, so if they discover that a particular reporter is unprofessional in his approach to duty, such reporter might end up becoming a target of attack during the election proper. He also encouraged the participants to stop acting as pugilists of politicians by using foul and antagonistic language in their reports.

Uzoatu, chairman editorial board, The Union, hit the point home that democracy is a people-centered enterprise and the media must appreciate the educational thrust election coverage necessarily places on them. Hence, he counselled, the media to shun naked partisanship, and make “balance” their operative word in election reporting.

He also harped on the need for the media to be committed to rigorous analysis of the election process and its various key players, particularly the various contestants and their parties, while giving all parties concerned good access to the media. INEC, according to him, should be given round the clock scrutiny and any bias exposed.

In doing this, he encouraged the participants to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the electoral law and the 1999 constitution and endeavour to be guided by the provisions.

The workshop ended with a roundtable where participants reviewed the positions earlier examined in the first day of the workshop and how better informed they have become as a result of the workshop.

The roundtable agreed on the following:

The media should continually monitor government if the government is to be made to serve the people as democracy is people-centred. The media's penchant to publish unverified claims by vested interests should stop. To uphold their integrity and professionalism, the media should avoid publishing outrageous claims by vested interests without substantive evidence.

In particular, they warned the media to de-escalate tension in the polity by ensuring that they do not parrot libelous and spurious allegations against the opposition, but sift and verify every political comment to ensure its factuality before publication.

They also urged the media to take seriously its agenda-setting function for the political class by scientifically identifying issues of public interest to the electorate and seek to establish the different positions of those seeking public office on these issues so as to serve as true advocates of social development.

In this regard, journalists are expected to gauge the mood of the electorate to ensure that the voices of the people are actually heard during elections through exercises such as opinion polls and observation.

Journalists were urged to ask relevant and probing questions from politicians and compare their electoral promises with their performances in office to justify if those seeking another term should be returned to office or not.

The summit decried the shocking display of ignorance in some reports and directed that in fulfilment of their role as educators, journalists should study and understand the electoral law, and explain them for the generality of the people.

The Nigerian Press Organization (NPO) comprising of the Newspaper Proprietors' Association of Nigeria, the Nigerian Guild of Editors and the Nigeria Union of Journalists was urged to come up with common guidelines that could serve as parameters for election reporting in the country in order to avoid the current situation in which media owners and managers use their platforms for pecuniary interests at the expense of national and professional good.

Participants agreed that media owners and managers should exercise utmost restraint in their conducts and avoid using the media to pursue certain preconceived pecuniary political gains without recourse to the health of the nation.

In awareness of the conflict-stressed nature of elections in Nigeria, reporters were reminded of the great power at their disposal and the need for them to wield it in an ethical and professional manner, conscious that inaccurate election reportage can trigger off avoidable violence that is injurious to the health of the nation. Political reporters and columnists, in particular, were directed to be careful with their use of language and pursue decorum, decency and professionalism. Violent use of language in reporting political activities is not in the interest of political public order which is a prerequisite to peaceful conduct of elections.

Convinced that the most pious statements or intentions will ring hollow if predisposing conditions for unethical conduct are not removed, the summit called on media proprietors to pay their regularly and promptly so that they are not subjected to undignified treatments that could encourage corruption.

The Ibadan Parley

The second in the series of election reporting held August 7-8 at Kakanfo Inn, Ibadan, attracted 30 journalists from various broadcast and print media houses .

The workshop began with an introspective look at how the media covered the Ekiti election. That session was well captured in Dr. Olawunmi's presentation entitled “Anatomy of an Election: Did the press goof on Ekiti governorship elections?”

With copious references to newspaper reports and comments before the election, he submitted the media goofed. He decried the media failure of not adequately profiling the contestants in that election but instead narrowing the gubernatorial contest to two contestants, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and Mr. Ayodele Fayose, candidates of All Progressive Congress and the People's Democratic Party respectively, leaving the Labour Party's candidate, Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele, only struggling to gain visibility.

Olawunmi asserted that media profiling is indeed an important part of election and the media must understand it as such if the electorate is to be properly educated about the various candidates and issues that would define the election. He said how the media project or ignore the respective candidates and their political parties might have indeed determined the perception of them the people run with.

Wednesday, 03 February 2016 20:53

May/June 2014 the media and Bokoharam

May/June 2014

Lead Story

The MEDIA and Boko Haram
First Word

What does Boko Haram want?


The Boko Haram terror machine has redefined life in Nigeria. True, most of its physical and psychological atrocities have been confined to northern Nigeria but the larger impact on efforts to promote national understanding, cohesion, and development has been nationwide.

The National Youth Service Corps scheme, the yearlong programme designed to promote national understanding by exposing Nigerian graduates to realities of a plural Nigeria, for one, is increasingly threatened. Rare are the parents that readily agree to have their children posted to the terror-stricken states to serve, thus weakening the objectives of the scheme. Indeed, failure to contain and defeat the terror machine opens up larger territories to more assault, leaving fear, chaos, insecurity, and underdevelopment as defining features of life.

Beyond the regular reporting of their bestiality, some questions remain constant: What is the propelling force behind this terror machine? What does Boko Haram want? Those questions become more urgent in the wake of the greater infamy conferred on them by their April 14 abduction of hundreds of school girls from their dormitory.

This edition examines the origins and activities of Boko Haram, documents its atrocities, and analyses the media response to the danger it represents to the polity. In doing all these, we were interested in determining how well this terror machine is understood by the Nigerian media.

The Chibok abductions, as the April 14 event has come to be known, have revealed the reportorial shortcomings of the media with little independent reporting of ongoing developments and overdependence on the foreign media for basic guidance on the unfolding events. The media plead helplessness on account of lack of cooperation in accessing conflict zones, blaming the military as being unsympathetic. The military says the reality has little room for media adventurism.

Our take from the experience so far is the need for closer engagement between the media and the military if the war against terror stands any chance of succeeding. The military-media communication needs to improve to secure the needed public-buy in into the war. Journalism of conflict-sensitivity and peace-building that will discuss the issues in a more nuanced and deeper way is much needed.



Lanre Idowu, fnge


The underreporting of the Chibok abductions

By Femi Babatunde

Before April 14 the name Chibok hardly rang a bell in the world's consciousness. Today, in various quarters of the world, Chibok, a town in the Chibok Local Government Area of Borno State, has lost its anonymity. No thanks to the Boko Haram sect that abducted over 200 secondary school girls in one night from their dormitories at the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok.

The people of Chibok, estimated to be 66,105 according to the 2006 census, are majorly Christians and farmers. Theirs is a forlorn, rustic setting linked by one dusty road to the Borno State capital, Maiduguri, which lies 134 kilometres away. Unlike the previous attacks by the terrorist group, the audacious abduction of these girls has galvanized the attention of the world in a crusade to find and free the girls. It started innocuously enough. News of the abduction was first greeted with skepticism even in official quarters as conflicting figures kept appearing on how many people were abducted. How could so many girls disappear unchallenged in a setting that was under emergency rule? What are their names? Where are their photographs? With both the federal and state governments displaying shocking dereliction of duty, many began to wonder if there was really any abduction or a contrived plot to embarrass the federal government by a state administration in opposition. That appeared to be the official thinking until a social media campaign ignited, sustained and popularized by the hash tag #BringBackOurGirls aroused the world's consciousness.

Justifiably, with the on-going campaign, the media, both local and international, are having a field day feasting on the incident. Day in day out throngs of reports and exposes are being churned out. If the quantum of stories that daily floods the Nigerian media on the abduction is the sole factor that determines excellent reportage, the local media in Nigeria are bound to receive a thumbs-up with the work done so far. However, Media Review's checks paint a different picture. Aside the initial widespread indecision and confusion about the actual number of the abducted girls that all the national dailies helped to fuel, the media knowingly or unknowingly, have not shown sufficient enterprise and creativity in their reporting.

One clear way to illustrate this insufficient enterprise is the underreporting of Chibok itself. Beyond christening the girls 'Chibok girls', there has been little elevated coverage to give the public any rich insight into the rhythm of the town's life. Going through five national dailies—The Nation, Guardian, Punch, Sun and Daily Trust from April 16 to May 14, 2014—the papers generously published reports, editorials and opinion articles that examined the various dimensions to the abduction. These were done from a distance; Maiduguri and Abuja being the closest without providing their readers with rich perspectives which only on-the-ground reporting can bring. The reporting of the abductions then centred on the condemnation of the abductions by various local and international groups, protest rallies being held worldwide, and accounts of some of the girls that escaped.

Even when the Christian Association of Nigeria scooped the dawdling governments to publish the names of the missing girls, the media did not show sufficient enterprise to throw more light on their identities. Daily Trust managed to publish a report May 4 that gave voice to some Chibok residents. “We run into the bush, mountains for safety- Chibok residents” by Fidelis Mac-Leva and Yahaya Ibrahim, spoke of the pains and agonies being experienced by the residents of Chibok in the wake of the abduction. However, the story did not end without the writers revealing that the idea of the story came about while the reporters had followed the convoy of the Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima when he visited the town. The question one is then tempted to ask is; does it mean that they would not have visited Chibok if Shettima had not gone there?

Earlier on April 29, Daily Trust front-paged a useful info graphic map of Chibok to Sambisa forest and the possible location in Chad where the girls were feared to have been sold. But much of the media's offering has been commonplace.

In Sunday Sun of May 11, Timothy Olatunji, the paper's Borno correspondent, provided readers with some basic facts on Chibok town. Biodun Kayode of The Nation on Sunday, April 24, in his report, “Sambisa: Forest of a thousand myth”, also educated readers on the significance of the forest to the campaign against the girls held hostage by the insurgent group and how the forest instead of serving the purpose of a game reserve the British colonial masters marked it for had suddenly become a hideout for the insurgents.

“Today, Sambisa has become one of the strongest bases of the Boko Haram insurgents who run back into its dark recesses anytime they have finished their slaughter of harmless citizens,” he wrote.

The inability of the media to exert sufficient investigative and interpretative reporting has denied the public the opportunity of being educated about Chibok and the larger implications of the abduction to the terror war Nigeria is grappling with. Why is it difficult for the Nigerian media to visit the town and report happenings there instead of merely engaging in arm-chair reporting and opinion writing as we have variously seen so far?

Why for instance, didn't the media obtain the list of students from the West African Examination Council (WAEC), being the body that conducted the examination the victims were said to be writing as at the period of the abduction?

The answers to these posers present an unflattering portrait of the state of the media. There is complacency on the part of reporters, news managers and proprietors. The reporters have become complacent redefining news as reporting the safe and the predictable usually the activities of the state governments where they are based. The media houses fund their news operations to do no more than the routine. Proprietors have limited media reach to the cities and corridors of influence, leaving the rural and underprivileged, exposed. It is complacency that makes the media ignore story leads such as tracking down WAEC officials to unearth the identities of the students. It is complacency that makes the media fail to tap into the leads that the meddlesomeness of the first lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan provided when she summoned WAEC and school officials.

Media Review's chat with Biodun Kayode, The Nation Borno correspondent, captures the sad state of the media. Visiting Chibok, for now for any correspondent, is a dangerous exercise. “Only a journalist who wouldn't mind losing his life would dare”, he said.

Martin Ayankola, editor of Punch corroborated Biodun's position. “The consideration for the safety of journalists in the region is a major challenge we face in reporting the insurgency. And this is why most correspondents only stay in Maiduguri, the state capital, which is relatively safer and file-in their reports from there”, Ayankola said.

He further noted that the inconsistency in media reports of the number of the girls abducted should be blamed on the three major stakeholders in the Chibok abduction, namely the state government, parents and the school authority, who have not been able to present a harmonised figure.

Martin Oloja, editor of the Guardian, also blamed the limited reporting on the inaccessibility of Chibok. “The challenge is that we cannot reach the beat. We cannot reach Chibok. In most flashpoints around in the world, the reporters are usually embedded in the peace keeping force to report happenings. But that is not so here. Many of us have applied to the military authorities to be embedded in the peace keeping operation, but it appears that the military authorities do not want journalists to be embedded with their task force. You know it is not just enough to be insured, you cannot just decide to go to a flashpoint where the insurgents are busy killing people mercilessly without any security provided. The Guardian and Channels have lost reporters in the course of covering the insurgency. This has gone beyond the mere insurgency we are thinking; it is now a war situation. And we need to be kitted just like in a war situation. It is so easy for people to condemn us, but it is the circumstances that have brought shame upon us”, he said.

Oloja noted that his paper applied to the military for assistance but the application was not granted. “As matter of fact, it was not long after we applied that the military authority issued a warning that people should stop going to the affected areas was issued. “It is obvious that they don't want our collaboration”, he quipped.

What obviously appears to be the loss of the local media in this regard has become the gain of the foreign media. For weeks now, several foreign news media have devoted attention to reporting the story of the abduction to the international audience. The Cable News Network, CNN, British Broadcasting Corporations (BBC), The Mail of London and Aljazeera, the Arab news giants, temporarily relocated their international news correspondents here for an on-the-spot reporting of the abduction story. Not satisfied with just surface reporting, the foreign news channels actually went to Chibok and relayed the realities there to the world.

Curiously, it appeared as if these foreign media proved more adept at reporting the abduction in Chibok than our local media, as even some Nigerian papers never bothered but copiously quoted them as sources while telling the story that ordinarily should have been their forte since it occurred on their soil.

Obviously indicting the Nigerian media for the initial indecisive approach given to reporting the abduction story, Ishe Sesay, CNN correspondent in an interview with ThisDay, noted the reason why the abduction story did not initially dominate foreign news cycles was simply because of information blackout. “Unlike the ferry sinking in South Korea and the missing Malaysian plane, there wasn't wholesale access to the families affected. There was shortage of images and individual stories for international audiences to really connect to,” she said.

Speaking on the foreign journalists that have visited Chibok and other locations for coverage, Oloja said they were able to do so because they had resources to collaborate with some security institutions to take them there. “But here, you know, it is still a huge challenge getting money to cover conflict. We are still not conflict-sensitive. We the editors are still not conscious about spending huge money to get to a beat. The lesson is that we need money to cover sensitive institutions, conflicts. We cannot just go there; we need money for logistics apart from insurance”.

On the inability of the media to ferret the details of the abducted girls independently, he said, “We accept that most of us are not document-minded. We are not interested in using data to illustrate our stories immediately. But you know this requires some diligence in getting to WAEC especially after this thing has broken out. That is where you need money tactically speaking. Modern reporters are not curious enough to go behind and find the figures. All of us were carried away by the official figures”. Major General Chris Olukolade, spokesperson of the Nigerian military, acknowledged the terrain and nature of the insurgency make reporting challenging. He is, however, happy with the general reporting of the crisis by the media, even as he calls for moderation to some excesses. He noted that unlike the foreign media which has consistently remained biased in reporting the situation in Nigeria as a terrible situation despite every effort to educate them, the local media has demonstrated high level of patriotism by reporting events objectively. He is however worried that “in recent times certain section of the media has began to toe the line of the foreign media in being mostly untruthful and unprofessional in reporting the events related to the insurgency by being biased even to the level of favouring the terrorists”.

Olukolade denied that the military has been escorting any of the foreign media to Chibok town. “The Nigerian military did not escort any foreign media to Chibok. It is the Borno State government that has been arranging and taking journalists there for whatever reason until they were warned of the consequences”.

The military spokesperson disagreed with the call for media embedment in the joint task force of the armed forces, saying it has no place in this type of conflict. “Our situation is very peculiar; we must not liken it to a normal war situation where you can define territories. This is very asymmetric. We will not take responsibility for endangering anybody's life. Those people who have been clamouring for embedment are possibly seeing it as an entertainment or an adventure. We have designed a means of carrying the media along and that is by organizing trips occasionally. We have taken a number of media practitioners (professionals) on this tour and those are the ones we can vouch to protect and take responsibility for their safety. They were chosen based on earlier application made and the limited spaces available”, he said.

The major general called for an increased understanding of the media, which is bereft of bias, hearsay and sensational journalism.

With the developments arising from the Chibok abduction reportage, it is now clear that the Nigerian media necessarily needs to reinvent itself. There is urgent need for better sensitivity con conflicts. There is need for better engagement between the media and military/security personnel for a better understanding of the issues and better response from the citizenry for the health of the country.



    Understading The Boko Haram Menace                                                                                            



It is no exaggeration to say today's Nigeria is a country where terror and terrorism are fast defining daily living. The twin Ts take turns as in a baton exchange in a relay race, or regime change in a political contest, this time not by election but by superimposition.

If Nigerians had thought the militancy operation that defined daily life in the Niger-Delta region until six years ago was the height of threat to lives and properties, they have been unpleasantly greeted with recurring explosives by the sect that almost need no description.

“Boko Haram's insurgency has pitted neighbour against neighbour, cost more than 4,000 lives, displaced close to half a million people, destroyed hundreds of schools and government buildings and devastated an already ravaged economy in the North East, one of Nigeria's poorest regions. It overstretches federal security services, with no end in sight, threatens other parts of the north and looms over the Republics of Niger and Cameroon, weak countries poorly equipped to combat a radical Islamist armed group. Book Haram is fast tapping into real governance, corruption, impunity and underdevelopment grievances shared by most people in the region. Boko Haram is both a serious challenge and manifestation of more profound threats to Nigeria's security” (

In the early 2000, Boko Haram's professed goal was to create a strict Islamic state from medieval times in the north that it believed would address the ills of the society, including corruption and bad governance. The sect's core beliefs were strict adherence to the Quran and the Hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammed). The sect was most concerned about what it means to be a good Muslim, defined by observance of the prescriptions of the faith, notably the categorical distinction between what is licit (halal) and what is forbidden (haram). The foremost leader of the sect, Mohammed Yusuf, was always political, wanting an Islamic government, but not violent. His message and the welfare package of free meals obviously resonated well with the people for his huge following soon attracted state attention. As the story goes, Modu Sheriff, a Borno State governorship candidate, courted him in 2002 for electoral support, promising to introduce Sharia and appoint Yusuf's followers into state offices. Yusuf became increasingly critical when Sheriff did not introduce the promised Sharia. His popularity continued to soar and he received funding from various sources—local and external. Whilst Sheriff denies this, the story persists in the North East. Yusuf was a regular visitor to the State Security Services but he was never tried, drawing on his wide network of influential supporters.

However, that changed over time as more radical lieutenants pushed the movement in more confrontational directions. State harassment and perceptions that agreements had gone unfulfilled escalated into vicious conflict, and after Yusuf was killed in 2009 in police custody, all restraints were lifted, and Boko Haram morphed into the brutal organization it is today (

In those days, Boko Haram's foot soldiers out for revenge over the killing of Yusuf targeted only security formations in their bombing campaign. The militants would ride a motorbike to a police station, throw a bomb (an improvised explosive device, IED) into the compound and speed off. That was how it started. But that is now distant memory. Today, they make bombs, have suicide bombers and carry sophisticated weapons. This is no joke. Indeed, the day they acquired the knowledge to make IEDs was the day we entered a gruesome era in our nationhood, but we knew not (

Tactics have become more sophisticated, both in response to increased security and in an effort to stir sectarian conflict. The attacks in 2010 for instance were predominantly shootings, but improvised explosive devices (IEDs) began to be used in December, especially in the run-up to the 2011 elections. After those elections, the movement turned to vehicle-borne IEDs (VBIEDs), cars typically packed with several propane cylinders or explosives-filled drums. The August 2011 attack on the United Nations headquarters in Abuja was with a suicide VBIED.

Boko Haram also spread its campaign in 2011 to churches. That year's deadliest bombing was on Christmas Eve against St Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, outside Abuja, in which over 40 worshippers were killed and dozens injured. The group claimed responsibility, and security agencies believe Kabiru Sokoto, a Boko Haram/Ansaru leader was the mastermind.

Since 2009 the sect has grown from being a localised problem to a national and regional threat. “It has opportunistically tapped into Islamic revivalism globally, and, while it has local roots and origins, it is part of a broader, global ideological current”. In some cases, this includes ties to organisations outside Africa. Boko Haram members reportedly have links with a number of radical groups, including al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban. In the aftermath of their June 2009 insurrection, 30 members were arrested in Adamawa state and returned to Maiduguri, where they reportedly admitted having received training in Afghanistan (

The official name of the group as published by Dr. Ahmad Murtada (of the Islamic Studies Department, Bayero University, Kano) is “Jamāʻat Ahl as-Sunnah lid-daʻwa wal-Jihād”, which is translated as “The Congregation of people of the tradition for proselytism and Jihad”. The big discrepancy between the official name of the group and what they are fondly called creates a query of how we arrived at the name “Boko Haram” which has become a theme even in the lips of children, although there have been insinuations that the Hausa-Arabic match is a mere media frame.

It is said that terrorism in any of its dimension or manifestation is a mode of communication with identifiable elements that are required to make communication complete. Using David Berlo's SMCR model to examine this statement, and with particular reference to Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria, the Boko Haram sect poses as the Sender; the Message being conveyed is grievance on one hand, and fear on another; the Channel of conveying the message has been through attacks and explosions in different (Northern) cities; and the Receivers are the (innocent) citizens of Nigeria

Communication scholars have opined that communication is monotonous and incomplete without the element known as feedback. So, you also might be wondering how Boko Haram get feedbacks from the receivers on whether or not the messages conveyed are received and understood. This is where the Nigerian mass media come to play, whether consciously or unconsciously.

Apart from being a feedback mechanism to the Boko Haram sect, the media have also been at the receiving end in the past. The April 2012 bomb blast of ThisDay Newspaper's Office in Abuja comes to mind in this regard.

In an academic publication titled – The Mass Media Reportage of Crimes and Terrorists Activities: The Nigerian Experience; Asogwu, Iyere and Attah (2012) submitted that most terrorists often play on the psychology of media practitioners (professionals) by carefully planning attacks that would compel them (the media) to cover and disseminate globally. Quoting Nacos (2000), Asogwu, Iyere and Attah said that “since most gruesome and deadly incidents receive the greatest volume of reporting, media critics have charged that terrorists resort to progressively bloodier violence to satisfy the media's appetite for shocking news.”

Ideally, the surveillance and correlation roles of the mass media should be at the core of mobilization against acts of insecurity. In this light, the surveillance function should provide information to the public through different degrees of news, in a bid to shape opinion and attitude formation. The correlation function on the other hand requires the media to interpret and explain the dimension and implications of occurrences within the society, including implications of acts that breed insecurity in society.

The mass media was played a prominent role in the struggle for independence in 1960. It was in Nigeria's pre-independence era that the media cut its teeth in purposeful, zealous, vocal, dogged and professional journalism. Since then, the Nigerian media has carved a niche in performing the traditional role of education, information, entertainment, shaping of opinions and swinging of the views of the society on knotty national issues. What is the place of the Nigerian media in the reportage of Boko Haram insurgency? The imposing challenges of this group and the precarious security situation the nation finds itself leaves one to wonder whether the media have indeed fulfilled these responsibilities (

The response of the Nigerian media to acts of terrorism sponsored by Boko Haram has necessitated the query of the generalization of some scholarly postulations about the media's role in the society. For instance, how can the media strike a balance between social responsibility (in reporting acts of terrorism that are perceived to be highly sensitive to national stability) and objectivity cum accuracy as news values?

For consideration of the negative psychological effects that the violent acts of the Boko Haram insurrectionists would have on the public, social responsibility of the media becomes justifiable but for inaccurate presentation of death tolls and extent of damage caused, objectivity is questioned (though in the midst of the ethical dilemma, Boko Haram gets free publicity).

In a study titled “Analysis of Newspaper Coverage of Boko Haram Crisis in Nigeria: April to June 2012”, in which three national newspapers (The Punch, Guardian and The Nation) were analyzed, Dr. Olunifesi Adekunle Suraj noted that the minimal prominence which the selected newspapers gave to the publication of Boko Haram activities does not seem to underscore the dangerous dimension the Boko Haram has come to take in Nigeria. While it could not be inferred that this is a deliberate attempt by the sampled newspapers to underplay the effect of Boko Haram crisis, it is clear that the sampled newspapers did not sensationalize the crisis.

Although, the persistence of the Boko Haram insurrection in Nigeria does not render the efforts of the Nigerian media useless; it is germane to say that the contribution of the media to addressing the insurgency of Boko Haram in Nigeria should go beyond the regular “for your information” kind of news or buck passing reports, and begin to use more of solutions journalism with all its attendant merits of giving in-depth explanation about the causes of the insurrection or insurgency, describing the degree of response to this menace, and analyzing whether or not the responses are working, amongst other merits.

Recent reports like “Governor Nyako accuses Jonathan administration of genocide against Northern Nigeria” have been of no advantage in proffering solution to this hydra-headed problem. Headlines such as “Boko Haram cannot disintegrate Nigeria – Jonathan” only portray our media as reporters of riddles and jokes.

It would be in the best interest of the public if the media informs us about the various measures taken by the government in the past to address the issue of terrorism and threat to lives, and why those measures seem to have failed and succeeded. For instance, what measure of solution has the Terrorism (Prevention) Act signed in 2011 by President Goodluck Jonathan (and amended in 2012 to designate the Office of the National Security Adviser as the national coordinator for anti-terrorism) been able to achieve since its enactment? How has the amnesty committee (later renamed dialogue and reconciliation committee) set up on April 17th, 2013 reduced violence in the North-Eastern region of Nigeria?

How well has the government committed itself to the improvement of the capacities of military and security services in the country to respond to the threats posed by the notorious insurrectionist group?

Reports from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) reveal that within the first three months in 2014 more than 1,000 people have been killed and 249,446 displaced in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. NEMA also reported that 3.2 million people, a third of the three states' population, have been affected by violence and 1.5 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

In the face of all these occurrences, it is expected that the media should publish intelligent and in-depth information from time to time in a bid to attract bi-lateral and multi-lateral security networks that will complement the remedial measures that the government has put in place. The media should not be a mechanical device that goes by the way of GIGO – Garbage In, Garbage Out. The responsibility of the media should be to the people and not the ruling party or its opponents, after all without those people, there wouldn't be any basis for those parties.


April 2014

APRIL FULL: DAME Widens the Pools of Journalistic Excellence

It was conceived as a labour of love to boost productivity, enhance responsibility and reward enterprise in the media. Year in, year out, the annual Diamond Awards for Media Excellence, now in its 23rd year of operation, has honoured outstanding works from deserving individuals and organizations.

This move was borne out of the conviction that such recognition of talent and enterprise would spur winners to greater productivity. This aim has been achieved in the main in the 22 previous editions of DAME, which have produced 450 winners to date as a good number of them have witnessed steady progress in their careers. Some have moved into other areas of public service.........Read More

Page 1 of 3

Social Media Links Slider