By Adetokunbo Akanbi
When the founding fathers of the Nigerian Herald conceived the idea of establishing the medium some forty years ago, it was principally to bridge the gap of information dissemination to large heterogeneous readers in Nigeria.
Agreed, prior to the existence of Nigerian Herald several media organizations cutting across all spheres of the electronic and print media sprang up, and to a large extent, met the information needs and satisfied the curiosity of the populace, particularly those who became disenchanted with the system of governance in the country at that time.
But for those looking towards the establishment of a new medium that will go whole hog, dig deeper and unearth what seemed untouchable and mysterious, there came Nigerian Herald. For many pundits the entrance of the paper, which would later be chronicled in the book of history as a veritable platform for grooming cub reporters into reputable journalists, was a huge paradigm shift.
With determination and conviction to make it a force to reckon with in the information dissemination industry, seasoned, experienced and key players in the art of reportorial, editorship, administration and management were pulled together to kick start the paper. At that period, the location of the paper in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital could be seen as advantageous, for the state is a gateway between the South and the North. Thus, the coming together of egg heads in the media industry to Nigerian Herald was like a confluence of bright ideas.
This perhaps played a significant role in the life of the paper as it did not just break the jinx of decades of ignorance but brought innovations into the system of information gathering, exclusive, news within news and all that is needed to make a newspaper “primus interpares”.
Nigerian Herald soon became a toast of every curious newspaper reader, analyst, opinion moulder and members of the intellectual community as a whole. To show their preference for the newspaper at that time, readers would be waiting at available newsstands across the nation to obtain a copy of their darling paper every day.
The popular belief that time was that only Nigerian Herald could be relied upon for accurate, objective and detailed account of events as they unfold, be it in the economy, business, labour, governance and politics among others. For the curious readers, who always salivated to get firsthand information on happenings within their immediate environment and faraway abroad, Nigerian Herald came to the rescue.
It was not surprising that the paper could pull such feat in the media industry that was becoming highly competitive as no major player wanted to be shoved aside at the time technological development was about taking flight.
The assemblage of people like Segun Osoba, Azeez Herald, Peter Ajayi, Etudaye and Doyin Mahmud among many other veterans made Nigerian Herald a daily dose for its large readership base. The good thing about the confluence of the likes of Osoba and Azeez Herald in Nigerian Herald was that they had garnered the wealth of experience required to be at the top of the game, as it is said, “experience cannot be bought with money”.
These seasoned and experienced founding editors and reporters were from different ethnic and religious background yet these different human classifications never inhibit their professional conduct not interaction with one another. They were more focused on what united them; the media profession. It mattered not, to them, the language, creed and religious belief of others. Of import was the ability to deliver on the responsibilities assigned to each of them.
That conviction alone made the newspaper to develop with swings and seized the media industry left, right and centre, to the extent that the paper was used to sell other newspapers of its time. At that time, if you must buy Nigerian Herald, then you must part with another sum of money to pick a copy of another national daily. A hot cake it was for ardent and curious newspaper readers.
The feat recorded at that time was brought about due to tenacity, professionalism and unity of purpose, which invariably were basic considerations before any other thing. That the Nigerian Herald, which was later renamed as “The Herald” survived the years of challenges like its contemporaries (though most had gone into oblivion), is worthy of appreciation.
For the period the veterans served and others who died while in service, it was the jolly good old days. After them, others took over the mantle of leadership, served diligently and etched their names in the sands of time. They left behind them good legacies, which the succeeding team was expected to build and consolidate on.
Expectedly, the editorial department is the life wire of any media house be it electronic or print. It serves as the brain box as well as the blood vessel of the media outfit. In fact, it is the first port of call in any media outlet as far as news story is concerned.
It is however surprising today that the legacies of yesteryears collectively built and bequeathed to succeeding generations are being eroded and gradually heading for destruction.
This is not because of anything but the quality and capability of the man in charge of the editorial department of The Herald Newspaper, Ilorin. For any serious minded newspaper, the appointment of a seasoned, experienced and veteran journalist as an Editor is of the utmost importance. This is because the position is highly strategic and not meant for questionable characters.
Because of the strategic nature of the position, the process of appointing anyone must follow due process and lawful procedures. However, experience and impeccable character must not be ignored. This is because reporters need someone to look up to and respect.
Anybody to be appointed into such covetous position must possess years of experience in the News Room and must be sharp and skillful. His writings must be lucid, thought provoking and edifying. Because of the reverence attached to that seat, anybody to be so appointed must avoid clannishness, religious bigotry, sentiment and any other vice that could lower his esteem before members of staff.
It is therefore very sad, galling and appalling that those features that distinguished ‘The Herald’ several years ago, which made it so revered, had been severely eroded and compromised.
The appointment of Yomi Adeboye as acting Editor of The Herald on September 1, 2016 was fraught with illegality. His assumption of office was characterized by illegality and this might have been the reason why all he has exhibited so far in the editorship of The Herald has been sheer acts of highhandedness, irresponsibility and indiscipline.
His coming into The Herald was purely on the level of “E Spirit De Corps” and this has turned the newspaper into a wreck waiting to happen. One wonders why appointment into such exalted office could be so personalized by some selfish individuals since the newspaper is incontrovertibly owned by the Kwara State Government.
From available records, Yomi Adeboye lacks leadership acumen, which stems from the fact that he is not qualified to be an editor since he has less than six years experience in the News Room. This is the main reason why he has refused to submit his curriculum vitae to the management of the corporation one year after resuming as an acting editor.
Upon assumption of office, Adeboye tried tried harassing and threatening staff of the Corporation by arrogating executive powers to himself. He told anyone who cared to listen that the executive governor of the state, Dr. Abdulfatah Ahmed had mandated him to take over both the daily and weekend productions.
Unfortunately, investigations revealed that the governor was never aware of his appointment as it was put together by a cabal aided by the General Manager of the corporation.
When his lies failed woefully he took up a campaign of calumny by labeling anyone whose face he did not like as lazy bones. He is power drunk and lacks any form of civility. He uses abusive words without any remorse on members of staff who are older than him. It is disheartening and truly demeaning that an Editor of a paper with a pedigree as rich as The Herald would stoop so low as to be engaged in falsehood and gossip.
Presently he has lost the respect of every single staff of The Herald. Anyone who doubts this should just drop in and ask ANY member of staff both at the headquarters and outstations. He does not have any control on members of his staff because of his unadulterated lies and so he now relies on blackmail and sly scheming to get a semblance of peace in The Herald.
For someone who relishes bootlicking and subservient followers, Adeboye does not deserve the post of Editor of The Herald if truly the state government is committed to its campaign of repositioning the home media, especially The Herald.
His conduct in the last one year has shown clearly without any iota of doubt that, apart from lacking requisite experience, he is an unapologetic religious bigot and unprofessional in handling ethnic and religious issues. For avoidance of doubt, it has never happened in the history of The Herald where a page dedicated to religion (especially Islam) will be treated with scorn or utmost contempt.
Those skeptical about this can go back to The Herald publications between late May and June 2017 (during the holy month of Ramadan), where the page usually dedicated to Ramadan News was arbitrarily removed and throughout the 29 days of Ramadan fast, the page did not appear in The Herald whereas other pages that had nothing to do with Islam or Ramadan were featured.
Given the space and importance of Islam in Ilorin metropolises, this act of Adeboye is enough to have caused another religious upheaval if not for the restraint and maturity of religious leaders in the state who noticed this. However, their restraint might not be guarantee if Adeboye continues to hold his position when the next Ramadan comes.
One is forced to believe that those who put forth Adeboye’s name, because of their own selfish reasons, were intentionally blind to his antecedents in the same Herald. Multiple sources within the corporation state that he does not have a good record with the corporation when he first worked in The Herald. This was why he had to leave with the Consultants that managed the paper.
According to these sources he is a sadist and cool blooded schemer who does not have any pint of human kindness flowing in his veins. Investigations revealed that although specialized pages, which form a bulk of the paper are usually ready before 2pm every production day, Adeboye still holds staff ransom till 2am or 3am after which he decides to sign the front page.
While it is believed that Adeboye is doing this to curry the faviour of his employers, the danger it portends for the staffers is limitless as the vicinity the paper is located is not safe for night crawlers. Not long ago a female photojournalist of The Herald who had to close late was waylaid and her handbag containing many valuables was snatched at gun point.
This deliberate late production is already generating a throbbing displeasure among staffers of the corporation as there have been many complaints on its dangers from members of staff. However, Adeboye’s usual lame defense is always that he has to rewrite all the stories as none of the reporters are good enough for him.
But the true state of things is that Adeboye’s viewpoint is that media practitioners are not supposed to go home early. He resumes work not earlier than 2pm, he stays for about three to four hours and when it is time to okay the final copies of the papers he leaves the office and goes on a drinking spree till late in the evening.
The truth is that no matter how early he resumes he has set mechanism in place to ensure that staff don’t go home early. Some have reasoned that it is because he does not have a healthy marital life and this might be true given his nocturnal way of life.
There is no denying the fact that those who brought Adeboye in as acting editor of The Herald threw their pearls before pigs and no wonder, despite the spirited efforts of the state government the paper has refused to move forward because reporters are not motivated. Anyone who doubts this should endeavor to ask around, Adeboye’s notoriety is an open secret as even non staff members of the corporation are fed up with him.
Yomi Adeboye is a big burden to the Kwara State Printing and Publishing Corporation (The Herald) as weekly claims meant for reporters and members of the Editorial Team had been stopped, and diverted to pay his salary since he is not on the payroll of the state government. And he has thus become a sore in the neck of The Herald.
In order for the legacies of the founding fathers of The Herald to be preserved it is important for the state government to urgently wade in and appoint a substantive editor for The Herald. The deadly ticking time bomb in the person of Yomi Adeboye must be stopped before he runs down the media house a ground. A stitch in time saves nine!
Akanbi is an Ilorin based journalist and sends this in from firstname.lastname@example.orgShare this on WhatsApp