Opinion: The Nation Newspaper should rise above gutter journalism

by Teniola Fadina

 Finally, as mentioned in the earlier parts of this article, it is important that Nigerian newspapers like The Nation (regardless of its ownership) move forward from vigilante-like/ambush journalism, to factual, verified, objective, accountable, and relevant journalism.

Following the highly-engaging political twists, turns, and eventual outcome of the 8thNational Assembly leadership elections, which saw the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki as Senate President, and Rt Hon. Yakubu Dogara as the Speaker, a lot of highly entertaining accounts have been published about the behind-the-scenes activities that led to the emergence of the two candidates that powerful forces in the APC attempted to stop.

One of the more interesting accounts that reads more like a James Hadley Chase novel, and less like a true journalistic account of the National Assembly elections’ backstory, is an article published in Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s The Nation, entitled: “How oil barons, others hijacked Senate, House election.” This article, as previously mentioned, is devoid of any form of objectivity, full of impartiality, and tries to retell a sensitive national issue with a lot of inaccuracies and without any credible sources.

Although the writer of the article, Yusuf Alli, mentions the key players that have been involved in the APC’s leadership tussle by name, his article does not ‘namedrop’ on any of the individuals that provided the sensitive information that he is attempting to sell to the public.

Additionally, one is led to believe that in an effort to avoid any litigation from peddling what comes off as “an entertaining falsehood packaged as the truth”, Mr. Alli continues referring to many of the actors in his half-fiction account in the following manner: “An influential Emir”, “Three highly placed sources”, “top businessmen”, “high profile investors”, “some ex-Ministers” and so on.

For one, if Mr. Alli truly believed his account of the events that his newspaper published to the public, in the wake of the damning allegations that he puts forward and for the sake of national interest, Mr. Alli and his employers, The Nation, could at the very least have been able to provide the public with a some of the names of these “ex-Ministers” or “highly placed sources.”

Undeniably, political analysts partial to all sides of our political divides agree that Saraki and Dogara’s emergence could not have been possible without the assistance of some powerful actors both within and outside the party. However, unbiased readers should worry about why the article attempts to vindicate and paint APC National Leader, Tinubu, as the only victim in the legislative leadership result, while insinuating that Saraki and Dogara got into bed with unknown hawks who are out to sabotage the country for personal gain.

It is important that Nigerians understand that all sides in this political “Game of Thrones” have much blame to apportion, however some have more blame to claim than others. For example, instead of leaving the APC’s Senatorial and House of Representatives contest to the choice of the elected legislators, Tinubu began making pawns of Senators, in his chess-like bid to checkmate President Buhari on crucial national decisions by surrounding the new President with his men in the number 3 and 4 position, after providing the presidential ticket with the number 2 position.

Additionally, Alli’s article conveys the impression that the new National Assembly leaders are beholden to some of the ‘unnamed’ businessmen that were “indicted in the subsidy scandal.” Dogara aside, many will remember that it was Senator Saraki, in his first term that blew the lid on the fuel subsidy scandal on the floor of the Senate. It is this same Senator Saraki that has publicly endorsed the #OpenNASS campaign. In this regard, how can one reconcile the claim that on one end, Saraki has been exposing the loopholes in government and raising objections on public interest issues like the subsidy fraud, while on the other end, he is allegedly making deals to potentially lobby for ‘soft landings’ for the unnamed businessmen in Mr. Alli’s article. Mr. Alli’s mathematics does not add up.

Finally, as mentioned in the earlier parts of this article, it is important that Nigerian newspapers like The Nation (regardless of its ownership) move forward from vigilante-like/ambush journalism, to factual, verified, objective, accountable, and relevant journalism. Hearsay should have no place in a newspaper of national repute. Instead, stories like Mr. Alli’s, if in fact true should be full of sources that can be corroborated and validated by any Tomisin, Dike, and Haruna who wish to know the truth.

In the absence of any ethical principles employed in Mr. Alli’s article, for now, we must read pieces like his as mere works of engaging political prose, as opposed to real-life accounts of what really led to the emergence of the two stones that the APC cast away, as the two new cornerstones of Nigeria’s legislative branch.


Teniola Fadina is a student of journalism at the State University of New York (SUNY)

 Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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