‘If you don’t bring adverts, we won’t publish your stories’ – Online publishers threaten politicians

by Godwin Akanfe

Journalists who have taken to online publishing in Nigeria have resolved to boycott the activities of the presidential campaign organisations of the two main political parties in Nigeria with immediate effect.

The online publishers who met in Lagos State on Saturday, March 14, to review the activities of political parties in relation to advert patronage rose to a conclusion that campaign organisations of the political parties have deliberately diverted advertising funds meant for online news websites in the country.

This was a situation they roundly condemned and called on all news publishing online platforms in the country to shun all political party-related activities until the anomaly is addressed.

The publishers expressed disgust at the gimmicks of officials of the campaign organisations to use the advertisement streaming platforms of Google and other third party advertisement streaming organisations, which pay little or nothing for it, instead of dealing directly with the Nigerian publishers who are creating jobs for millions of Nigerians in the media.

In that regard, the publishers ordered the immediate stoppage of online political advertisements with foreign inputs with immediate effect.

The publishers gathered that one of the two major political parties had budgeted over N150 million ($666K) for online advertisement campaign.

However, till date, no credible online news website has indicated it had benefited from the advertisement fund.

The Deputy Director General of one of the campaign organisations, who asked not be named, told a publisher at the Presidential Villa, Nigeria’s seat of power, in Abuja that approval had been given and funds released for the party’s advertisement campaign on credible news websites but expressed surprise that the money had been diverted. This, the official said is apart from the huge funds budgeted for media relations.

Aside from streaming political advertisements through third parties on the news websites, thus creating the impression that advertisements had been given, what some of those involved in the campaigns themselves had done was to quickly launch phoney news websites and diverted the funds for the advertisement campaign into private pockets.

It was in the light of these revelations that the publishers decided to, with immediate effect, boycott the activities of the presidential campaign organisations of the two main political parties.

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