X-Raying Ajimobi’s Attempted Media Clampdown In Oyo | Independent Newspapers Limited
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X-Raying Ajimobi’s Attempted Media Clampdown In Oyo

Posted: Jul 31, 2015 at 1:03 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Oladele Ogunsola  –   IBADAN


A reminiscent of the cold war that broke out between the members of the Correspondents of the various Media Houses across the country working in Oyo State during the administration of the late Alhaji Lam Adesina following which the journalists boycotted the activities of the state government for a whole month is about brewing in the pace-setter state. This is as a result of the activities of some overzealous political appointees, in connivance with some civil servants, who might have capitalized on the non-composition of cabinet and non-appointment of strategic Special Advisers by the governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi to stoke a war between the governor and media practitioners, especially the Correspondents of the various media organizations in the state.

Gov. Abiola Ajimobi

Gov. Abiola Ajimobi

Exactly two months after the inauguration of the re-elected governor, he has not made a single appointment. Yet, he announced the dissolution of his cabinet, board of parastatals and the sack of all his Special Advisers/Assistants at the twilight of the last administration. But, curiously, there was a notice pasted on the door of the Governor’s Office Press Centre, the officially designated office for journalists covering the activities of the governor on Tuesday signed by one Segun Abolarinwa claiming to be the Special Adviser on Security to the governor and dated 27th July, 2015 barring state correspondents from gaining access to the Press Centre.

The notice marked SEC 513/T/151, which emanated from the Cabinet and Special Services Department of the Governor’s Office, entitled ‘accredited and unaccredited’ journalists had only newsmen from the Oyo State Broadcasting Corporation (BCOS), the state Ministry of Information, NTA, Galaxy, Channels, TVC, FRCN, Amuludun, Splash, Nigerian Tribune and Odua News cameraman and the name of a driver attached to one of the vehicles in the governor’s office as those in the accredited column.

The rumour about the recent development was peddled a fortnight ago and just about a week ago, some of those attached to the Ministry of Information and the State Broadcasting Corporation had threatened that only the newsmen from the state-owned/based media would have access to the centre. On the list of the unaccredited media houses were OGTV, AIT, Parrot, Daily Times and many others, while the names of media organizations like the Punch, NAN, Vanguard, Daily Sun, Daily Independent, Nation and several others were conspicuously absent. It would be recalled that governor Ajimobi had in Abuja some weeks back refused to grant journalists interview on his inability to pay workers’ salaries in the state after attending a meeting at the party’s National Secretariat, but, he rather insulted them following which the journalists had to ignore him and walk away.

Olawale Sadare, the State Director of Publicity and Strategy of All Progressives Congress (APC) and the ruling party in the state, who in his initial reaction to the development said the action would only affect those who “hibernate’ and those who do not have specific media houses” described the media report as “a clear misinformation and misinterpretation of a routine process”. But the effect of the directive started manifesting barely 24 hours later with security agents at the main entrance to the Office of The Governor refusing some of the journalists entry on the ground that their names were not on the accredited list. The security agents, who prevented some of the journalists from Voice of Nigeria (VON), News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), UNION Newspapers among others who were there yesterday said their action was based on the list of ‘accredited’ and ‘non-accredited’ journalists purportedly passed to them by an acclaimed ‘Special Adviser to the Governor on Security’, Segun Abolarinwa.

When one of the journalists, Rotimi Agboluaje of The UNION  Newspapers insisted on gaining entrance to pick some of his things at the Press Centre, he was asked by security agents to call one Abiodun Akinkunle, the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS) reporter covering the governor to come and identify him. In his encounter with Akinkunle before the security agents, Agboluaje said his BCOS colleague asked him what was his mission in the Governor’s Office and that he should clear himself with the SA Security before the arrival of Governor Ajimobi. In a release signed by Sadare on the development which he made available to journalists, he claimed that the media report that the governor had restricted journalists from covering activities in his office was a clear misinformation and misinterpretation of a routine process.

According to him, “the reports as circulated by a section of the media was a misinterpretation of a normal routine accreditation exercise blaming it on poor handling by some concerned media personalities”. He said immediate inquiries revealed that no order barring journalists from the Governor’s Office emanated either directly or indirectly from Sen. Abiola Ajimobi, who was not even in town as at the time the event unfolded.”However, we would like to put it on record that what happened was a normal security procedure being coordinated by the appropriate authorities. The Memo in question was calling the attention of the concerned media partners to undertake a routine accreditation exercise which is a normal practice in all same climes”, the APC spokesperson maintained.

However, Ola Ajayi, the Chairman of the Correspondents’ Chapel of Oyo State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) described the development as awkward, wondering when did Abolarinwa become the Media Adviser to the governor? Even at that, he recalled that with the non-composition of the cabinet by the governor as well as appointment of Special Advisers/Assistants, one could not but be curious about the claim by the acclaimed SA on Security.

While blaming the situation on the non-appointment of Special Adviser on Media by the governor since his inauguration two months ago, he said the accreditation of journalists conducted by the state government at the inception of the last administration subsists until another exercise is carried out.

He added, “except the acclaimed SA on Security comes out clean and clear on security threat posed to the governor and government by any of my members, I’m not aware of anything untoward on the part of my colleagues. There is nothing wrong with accreditation if that is what the government wants to do, but, that’s not the procedure and that’s why nobody, except a media person can handle it”.