You probably read the interview. For a few seconds imagine it was Prof. Itse Sagay who actually said those words. It will have been weighty and punchy. But then, Sagay says ‘it wasn’t me’, just like Shaggy! Tribune offers an apology. Nigerians bash the newspaper given its recent inglorious past. Taiwo Olakunle, the reporter who allegedly cooked up the interview loses his job. Nigeria goes on like a ship on a long sail.
Let me start with Taiwo whose narrative seems to have a number of holes. I’m forced to assume he is the cannon fodder for this costly mistake. In his shoes however, I will simply have released the audio recording he had with the man who had hitherto disguised as Prof. Sagay and was also due to be at his wedding. That will have cleared the air for him. The problem however goes beyond Taiwo. It is also about his platform – the Tribune – Nigeria’s oldest newspaper. Nigerians apparently did not forget the side the newspaper took during the 2015 presidential election. More recently, the allegation that the newspaper also shared part of the #DasukiGate loot did not put the newspaper on good footing with the public. Sagay’s thought are heavy and it will have done a heavy damage to Mr. President’s anti-corruption war had the details of that purported interview stood.
It is for the discerning public to know that not everything published in the public space is correct. As a freelance writer, my lesson from this is in two fold – always crosscheck your source and never fail to keep a proof handy in case things go awry. If Taiwo’s claim is true, then he will do well to pick up his career and trudge on even as I hope he or any of his relatives won’t be superstitious to say the new wife brought in her left leg. It’s one of life’s uneventful happenings! The number of citizen journalists out there makes the profession even tougher.
For the sake of the late patersfamilia of the Tribune, the newspaper ought to rebrand itself. It owes papa and mama this memory. I read a copy of Unfinished Greatness last month. It will be a disservice to papa’s colourful memory if the newspaper goes down this way. It can jerk itself back to life and serve as the informative newspaper it was designed to be when it was first published in 1949. It is an interesting time to be alive to see this unthinkable unfold.