Home Opinion It’s Arise News, not the Supreme Court

It’s Arise News, not the Supreme Court

10 min read

The media is not helping matters. Listen to radio stations across the land all you get is doom about the nation and calumny against candidates for office. The more doom they announce or allow on their airwaves the more audience they get and the more money they make.

For them, it is all about cash. It’s not a surprise after all, media houses are first of all business ventures set up to make profit. Any pretense to the contrary is mere hot air.

The constitutional role of holding government accountable to the people is the standard, but lucre has now superceded such creed in a cavalier manner.

Instances abound. It has been alleged that part of the funds used in setting up or expanding the Arise News network was sourced from the administration before President Muhammadu Buhari’s.

Within the industry, it is no longer news that many television stations especially the popular ones are on retainership with state governments, government agencies and parastatals. Pray! How will such television stations hold such state governments accountable if the need arose? Of course they would turn a blind eye. Yet, the public is often deceived by the the expectation of objectivity on all issues.

But this is not particularly novel in this clime. What is also not new is the eagerness of media establishments to dance towards political candidates or political parties.

In America, it is masked as ideological preference. The more popular American news network in Nigeria, CNN, is pro the Democratic Party. While Fox News is unabashedly Republican. And this trend run through the powerful American media establishment.

As a result, candidates, pundits, party officials, etc either avoid or reduce to the barest minimum their appearance on those news platforms. It is the same for radio stations and newspapers. The New York Times for example cannot say they know anything good about the Republican Party, yet these media spaces are supposed to be “objective” and “neutral”.

Recently, there has been a back and forth between the Bola Tinubu campaign and Arise News. Arise is a baby of THISDAY newspapers owned by Prince Nduka Obaigbena.

This arose as a result of constant heckling by anchors of Arise’ programmes. And the network’s serial invitations to Tinubu either to appear on their morning show or feature on their Town Halls. Tinubu has since said he won’t feature in their events. At Chatham House, UK, he said they can’t use him to make money.

In a viral voice note currently circulating online, an anchor person on Arise News was heard saying “…if I want to take your brother out, I’ll do so in three minutes”. He was referring to a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) political operator. This is the character that is in our faces everyday tutoring listeners on how Nigerian politcians are supposed to become angels. Here he is encouraging violence against another citizen purely based on partisanship.

He, it was who broke a traffic law; rather than be contrite, he threatened police officers promising to report them to the state governor. Yet grandstands about constitutional role of the media when he has not been a noble citizen as enshrined in the constitution.

He may have taken a note or two from the proprietor of the television network where he works. Obaigbena who is also the president of Newspaper Proprietors Assocation of Nigeria was seen on a footage during his mom’s burial recently casting aspersions on Governor Nyesom Wike while stomping for Atiku Abubakar. Wike is opposed to Atiku’s manner of emergence as Peoples Democratic Party candidate and subsequent actions taken or not taken within the party as a result.

That’s the station determined to the level of obsession to put Tinubu in their tube. Having shown unbridled bias towards the candidate and his party, it is not surprising how low they can go in their blackmail.

I recall that this same proprietor using some worn out blackmail tools tried to impose the Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Godwin Emefiele, as the presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress.

Through an amorphous private sector group, he stretched to hoodwink President Muhammadu Buhari into endorsing his townsman in a scheme that left the financial world bewildered.

He did not see the incongruity in that daring plot. A sitting CBN boss getting railroaded into partisan politics! Of course only a Buhari could tolerate such faux pax.

Obaigbena and by extension Arise News have apparently not forgiven Tinubu and other APC topshots for stopping the malady in its tracks. This probably explains why he pitched his tent with Atiku and commissioned his agents on TV to embarrass the APC and it’s presidential candidate at every turn.

The network’s claim that presidential candidates’ appearance on their Town Hall is a constitutional matter is anti-intellectualism. This is stretching the role of the media thin. Yes, the media is supposed to hold government accountable, the provision did not say specific candidates must appear on programmes associated with named media organisations.

Tinubu reserves the right as enshrined in the constitution to tell his story however he wishes through various media channels. And he has been doing just that. Not appearing on one, does not offend the constitution or even make him skip scrutiny.

Arise should rest. There are many candidates at various levels of electioneering. I’m not sure, they have invited up to three percent of them.

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