Media Expert Calls For Transparency, Honesty Among Political Leaders


…Says Social Media  Cannot Kill Print or Electronics Media But…



By Ambrose Okehi 


A seasoned  journalist, well known editor and a prolific writer has called on governments at all levels as well as political leaders to abhor corruptive tendencies, avoid eye services and hypocrisy in the discharge of their public and official duties but rather embrace honesty and transparent attitude while doing their official works.

This was the view of Mr. Isaac Umunna, the publisher and editor-in-chief of the  News Express Magazine, an online magazine while speaking exclusively to the Maririmenewsroom, also an online media, after the  Sixth anniversary Lecture and Economic Stakeholders Forum at Sheraton Hotels and Tower, Ikeja Lagos on Tuesday where the media outfit unveiled their hard copy of magazine.

According to the veteran journalist and turned a publisher and business man, while speaking  about the success of the event put together by his organisation, and he said:  ”well, it was a huge success. Because when you organises an event, you look out for two things, one, those who are to speak. You will agree with me that all those who were programmed to speak, they actually came and people saw them. You also look for the crowd because you will not speak to an empty hall. We thank God that we had both. We had a quality crowd and we had those that supposed to come and speak and they came. So,.I thank God the way the event went.”

On why he chose such a wonderful theme: ”Transparency: Bedrock of Sustainable Development” for the sixth  anniversary lecture/executive stakeholders forum, this time around,  looking at the country and what she is facing at the moment, the publisher interrupted and said: ”It is a reminder to Nigerians. It is a wake-up call to Nigerians also. If you see the way our country is going, you will see that it is going down the hell. And one thing that amazes me is,  how come even the facilities put up by the past leaders cannot be maintained by  the present leaders. You see roads that used to be good they are no longer good. They hardly maintain them.  You can hardly find a good stretch of road for quite a stretch  of a distance. That shows that something is wrong with the country. Where has all the money gone to?  What happen to the money? The money is still there. But it has not been used for the right purpose. It has been going to private pockets in terms of direct stealing, in terms of over involving, in terms of collusion between those who are giving the contracts and those who are getting the contracts.  And because these people have compromised and if the job is done and it is not done well, you cannot hold them to accountable because all were guilty.”

Through this medium, the one time editor of The Weekly Magazine (Umunna) posited that Nigerians should wake and embrace the challenge by doing the right thing, if they want the country to come out of the woods.
”This is a wake-up call for Nigerians that we have to do thing properly. Let us ensure openness, let’s use the money that was budgeted for something for that thing actually.”

While still throwing this challenge of lack of transparency   in public places in the door steps of our political, social and spiritual leaders, the publisher noted that: ”In every place one finds himself or herself, the leadership makes the difference. One, the leadership is the one people look up to in terms of the vision. And also in terms of actualizing the vision, If you have a leadership preaches but does not practice transperency, it is not going to work. People will resort to hypocrisy. When you are there they pretend to be transparent but if you are not there, they go back to what they have been doing. So when leadership is committed and  truthfully transparent in words and indeed, you will now see the effects on the follower ship. But when you have the one that is full of hypocrisy, preaching and pretending to be transparent, doing otherwise, using  double standards, in that you cannot say we have leadership or transparency. What you have is all motion and no movement, paper syndrome.

As a media manager and a versatile editor of many years, who cut his teeth through the rough and tough edges of various kinds of journalism,  , Umunna believes that there is no way the incoming of social media into journalism practice would hinder the traditional media or having  negative effects on it rather it will only enhance and complement information dissemination.
”My belief is that, at first we had print, later radio came. The two co-exist, they did not kill each other. instead they have their places in information chain. With time we had Television, it did not kill print and did not kill radio, the three co-existed. Now we fortunate to have the internet (social media) or call it online. Online will not kill print it will not kill TV and will not also kill radio. The four will co-exist. But I see online getting stronger and stronger. Online will keep going, TV will survive, radio will survive and print will equally survive. All of them will survive. So it is a case of you go to any company that is doing well some worth, you that do a lot and carter for some interests. They maybe selling pure water, they may be selling cars, they are vast in taking care of, that is exactly what we are trying to do at News Express magazine.”

On whether there is any negative impart of the social media in terms of quality and editorial content, the News Express Magazine publisher has this to say: ”Nothing like that from the social media, people should not single it out. Whether it is social media, whether it is mainstream media, you have  the good and you have the bad. We have good journalists and bad journalists. We have good editors and bad editors. It is not restricted to a particular type of journalism or only social media.  So the thing is that social media has liberated information dissemination.
”That is the in thing now. More people can now express their views. So when you have more people who are playing a game, you are bound to have more confusion, more people who are doing the wrong thing. So  social media like the electronics, like the print, social media has good and social practitioners.”

Speaking about himself, his contribution in the journalism profession and where he had worked, the veteran and highly regarded business tycoon said:
”My name is Isaac Umunna, a seasoned journalist. By the grace of God. I am one of those they Sabean Alain. What do I mean? I was born before the sabean revolution came.”

To him: ”Internet came to meet me, and I was born and started practicing journalism when we were cutting and pasting in planning pages in the newsroom. In those days, we were using long hand. We were looking for typists who will type for us. But I believe in moving with time. So when I saw the opportunity the internet offered, I have to embrace it. And it related to the industry.  The way I see it.”

He said: ”So, I am a journalist who has now embraced the online (social media) as a means to practice my trade.”

As an expert in journalism profession Mr. Umunna who has worked in different media organisations said: ”For instance, I edited The Week Magazine published by the former vice president of the Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, a popular magazine. I edited African Today Magazine published in London. That circulated in the whole of West Africa and beyond for several years. I have worked for several newspapers, some still living some dead. I have worked for news papers and I have worked for magazines. I worked for daily, I worked for monthly papers too. I have also worked for local and international papers,”the News Express publisher finally added.

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