Ayo Arowolo, the publisher of the defunct Moneywise magazine, revealed in an interview why he left the comforts of paid employment as a journalist to set up his business magazine. According to him, while in the ThisDay newspapers, he and his boss who was also the publisher, Nduka Obaigbena, paid a then Military Head of State a visit. They were treated to a sumptuous dinner, VIP reception by the security guards and had a first-hand feeling of surreptitious blue-blood induction. When he got back to the office, he visited his bank and his account was in the red. He thought of the visit to the seat of power and the whole thing didn’t seem to make any sense as his bank account had absolutely nothing to show for it. At this point, he could not take the charade any longer and immediately threw in the towel.
Dele Momodu, publisher of the celebrity magazine, Ovation, in one of his articles in the ThisDaynewspaper exposed the ignorance of some of his kinsmen and family members who inundated him with a plethora of financial requests because of the opinion that he had an extremely deep pocket due to his close association with the high and mighty.
This is the fate of journalists all over the world and Nigeria is no exception. The profession gives them access to the decision makers in the country and sometimes in the world. Many ignoramuses misconstrue this for power and influence on the part of the pen pushers who are just doing their jobs.
Kidnapping, which was once targeted at oil company workers as one of the weapons of the militants in their ‘fight’ for justice, has now tragically spread to the purveyors of the brick and mortar business called journalism. The economically-motivated criminals in their warped opinion think that these poor poets are also princes of fortune because of the razzmatazz they see in the media.
In 2010, the former Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists in Lagos State and the current Chief Press Secretary to the Kwara State Governor, Wahab Oba, was abducted alongside his colleagues while returning from a meeting of the national executive committee in Uyo. They demanded the ransom of 250 million naira before they could be released. How ludicrous!
In June this year, the News Agency of Nigeria correspondent in Imo state, Miss Chidi Opara, was abducted in her Imo residence and a five million ransom was slammed on her.
Donu Kogbara, the popular Vanguard columnist who writes the sweet and sour column on Fridays, must have been thought to be a huge catch. She was the London correspondent of the Vanguard in the 1980s and 1990s and had worked with the British Broadcasting Corporation, Channel Four, amongst many reputable foreign media organisations. They had forgotten that she had once written of her state of homelessness when her father, Ignatius Kogbara, passed on. Her late dad was an INEC Commissioner and was housed in an official quarters where the columnist also lived with him. After his death, she was practically on the streets until the late Chinyere Asika took her in. Where then was the gold?
The kidnappers have now expanded their coast to abducting the spouses of these impoverished gentlemen of the press. The latest victim being Toyin Nwosu, the wife of Steve Nwosu, the Deputy Managing Director of The Sun newspapers, who has now been released.
I recall reading a humorous article of his where he complained that he was too ashamed to openly declare his assets as there was really nothing to declare. What was the logic then behind the kidnapping of his wife and the 100 million ransom being demanded? Is he worth half that much?
These abductors have proven that they are rebels without causes as they are misdirecting their energies towards the wrong targets. The farce is that they may even be economically better off than their targets. Where then is the economic sense?