From Tony Osauzo, Benin
The Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has slammed state governor Mr Godwin Obaseki for renaming state-owned newspaper ‘The Nigerian Observer’ to the ‘ECHO’.
The party in a statement signed by its Assistant State Publicity Secretary, Victor Ofure Osehobo, said it believed that Governor Godwin Obaseki was being economical with the truth, when in June 2022, he closed down the Nigerian Observer and promised to reopen it in a month after restructuring it, adding that Edo people thought the clandestine move was part of a reform process.
‘The party can recall that in a statement, the Secretary to his government (SSG), Osarodion Ogie Esq, said, “The Edo State Government, in line with the reforms of the state-owned media organisations, has directed the closure of the Nigerian Observer newspaper for a period of one month, for re-organisation and re-launch of the media outfit.
“All existing staff of the Nigerian Observer are hereby redeployed to the Ministry of Communication and Orientation, with immediate effect, where they will receive further directives on their new responsibilities”.
“Members of the reading public and lovers of the Nigerian Observer brand are assured that their darling newspaper titles will return to the stands shortly better and improved.”
But the APC in its statement observed that “contrary to these promises, the factional PDP Government led by Mr Godwin Obaseki has since demolished vital sections of the premises of the newspaper at 24 Airport Road, Benin City, installed a ‘N5-billion’ printing press, redeployed all the workers to MDAs and created a newspaper called ECHO to replace the Nigerian Observer.
“The Nigerian Observer was set up in 1968 by Late Dr Samuel Ogbemudia, as Administrator of the then Midwest region. It was one of the assets, Edo inherited in 1991. The medium’s desecration by Governor Godwin Obaseki is not a surprise as it confirms Fyodor Dostoevsky’s statement in his book, ‘The Brothers Karamazov’, when he said, ‘Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point where he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others…’
“This is the situation the Edo State government has found itself with Governor Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki demolishing the legacy Edo newspaper, the pride of Edo State and turning it into an online newspaper, with an editor who is also a staff of the Ministry of Youth and Gender.
“The old Nigeria Observer printing press was auctioned while a fairly press proposed to print ECHO, the new mane Obaseki has given the Nigerian Observer with some of his cronies as staffers have failed to print one sheet of paper since it was imported from Germany in 2020. Twice the manufacturers have been guests of the government for millions of Naira, to repair it to no avail.
“Yet Edo State government has employed a 14-man staff for the Echo and signed an MOU with some unknown media firm for the purpose of daily printing and circulation of the medium on a PPP basis”.
The APC said it sees the action of the governor in saying one thing and doing the opposite as one which is in tandem with his 2020 manifesto called, Make Edo Grounded Again (MEGA).
“The goal is ensuring a defined template for underdevelopment in Edo State. It is with all the modalities for an unending underdevelopment plan, designed to paralyse government tools, guidelines and milestones so that his successors find future development planning an ordeal. We condemn the plot as it is bound to fail,” the party stated.