THE Managing Director of News Agency of Nigeria, NAN , Bayo Onanuga has been bashed on social media by cross section of Nigerians including the 95% that elected President Buhari into office in 2015.
Mr. Onanuga is rebuked after his defense of President Muhammadu Buhari and his APC administration’s handling of economy leading to recession and unprecedented suffering of the masses in Nigeria.
Bayo as we often called him at the Concord family where we worked together in the 80s and 90s, went on Facebook and wrote: “My daughter was on Virgin Atlantic flight that took off from Lagos to London today. I asked her to find out whether the plane was filled up or going to London near empty judging by the noise campaign from the section of the country about the hardship in our country.”
According to Bayo, his daughter sent back this one-line text message after boarding: ” Daddy, the flight was filled up…oh.” He remarked :” this makes me to wonder whether all the seemingly orchestrated campaign on the media was a propaganda to make Buhari’s regime look really bad.”
Bayo went further to draw another inference about his alleged media blackmail of Buhari’s regime and his enonomic woes by comparing prices of food stuffs and fruits along roadsides in Bauchi and Jos.
He claimed that roadside prices of these food products and fruits were not afterall as expensive not to be affordable by ordinary people as the media seemed to be disseminating.
He wondered whether the media and the social bloggers were really painting a correct image of the economic situation in the country.
He remarked that it is time for the media to objectively conduct a reality check about “our reports” whether “we are over sensationalising so-called hardship that we talked about.”
Regrettably, Bayo known for his fiery journalism, and with reputation so strong in objectivity, balanced reporting, social responsibility and advocate of citizens journalism became a subject of national ridicule because he was adherent in promoting the president than the masses the president serves.
This is the irony of the role of media ownership and role of managers – especially those with superbly successful professional excellence that i find troubling in developing countries.
This debacle also reveals what happens when respected and responsible journalist is hired to become government’s apologist.
The conflict in interests between journalistic principles and boot-leaking – the reason why good credible men and women of the fourth estate of the realms shy away from political office or appointment.
As an example, Bayo was a colleague at the Concord press. He is a man of few words, but mighty with his pen. A fighter for the common man exemplified by his role in removing the tyrant Abacha from office and ushering in democracy in our country. Succinctly expressed, we witnessed his commitment to the suffering of the masses under Sani Abacha. Now as head of media organization promoting Nigeria and its leader, he ought to have separated the two roles and understand that the president was elected by the people who are deeply hurt by the administration’s poor leadership in managing the economy.
His first priority as the head of News Agency owned by the people is the masses and not the president that ought to be serving the people.
Nigerians are suffering from one of the worst economic times in its history, and to deny this is delusional.
I reside 8, 000 miles from homeland, but technology has closed the distance. I heard stories everyday of family members and friends robbed at gun point or their homes burglarized at daylight because people are desperate and desperate situation brings out the worse in people with low moral values or tendencies to steal.
Pick-pockets are everywhere across the country menacing and threatening people and lives. I receive more than 10 daily calls every week of people asking for financial assistance; these are proud and middle class Nigerians that hardly asked for help before until now in my 20 years of living abroad and visiting homeland every year or twice annually.
To cut the story short, Bayo is a nice, compassionate fighter for the common man. That was when I worked with him, and I am sure that those genes in him are still present.
However, one can never be sure because anybody in his role as image maker to the government ( instead of Nigeria and Nigerians) is like the proverbial baby monkey carried at the back of her mother, but unknowingly to the mother plugged the forbidden fruit in the forest.
I hope Bayo is still the same Bayo we knew then at Concord family. On a personal note, let us give him a second chance. Let us forgive Bayo…he erred, and to err is human and to forgive is divine.