Media reports on the visit of the king of Ìwó, Abdulrasheed Àkànbí, to one of the Yorùbá paramount rulers, Aláàfin of Ọyọ́, is a classic example of how unethical reportage influences actions that may lead unwholesome outcomes.
Olúwǒ had visited the Ọ̀yọ́ monarch on Monday to canvass for ‘One Nigeria’ and called for unity among Yorùbá kings.
Punch and Daily Trusts reported the event. The quotations attributed to the two kings in the two reports were largely the same, yet the headlines were significantly different.
Punch’s report had the headline, “Alaafin laments the release of arrested Fulani kidnappers by police”, while that of Daily Trust was “Alaafin, Oluwo Warn Against Inflammatory Comments”.
There was a big quote attributed to the Aláàfin, thus, “Nigeria is under weak system. The system is no more working. Nigeria’s system of government is failing, most especially on security. Security should not be under exclusive legislative list. I’ve attended several fora where security issues are discussed, but I used to challenge our state governors. Security wise, they are toothless.”
“If the Inspector General of Police orders for the release of a suspect, no state governor can reverse such order. We have put machineries in place and arrested many kidnappers. We handed them to the police, but many of them were later released. This calls for sober reflection.”
Apparently, Punch’s headline originated from this quote.
The number of words in this quote, 99, was 30 percent of Daily Trust’s report and 24.6 percent of Punch’s report.
Yet, Daily Trust ignored the conspicuous real estate of the quote in the report and picked its headline from a terse statement attributed to the Olúwǒ.
“Earlier, Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrosheed Adewale Akanbi appealed to the Yoruba people to apply wisdom in their agitation for a divided country, saying there is strength in our diversity,” Daily Trust stated in its report.
In fact, looking at the entire report, one could actually question where Daily Trust’s headline originated from. The headline reflects the newspaper’s political inclination rather than journalism’s ethos.
As Punch’s report was gaining followers’ engagement on Facebook, someone inserted a link to the Daily Trust’s report. That person is Yera Moses Ọláfare, the spokesperson of another paramount ruler in Yorubaland, the Ọọ̀ni of Ifẹ̀.
Mr. Ọláfare went further to post the link to the Daily Trust’s report on his Facebook profile, which has got eight comments as of the time of this report. None of the eight comments elicited the response that he was probably seeking.
In making the post, he also ignored the conspicuous quote and used a smaller quote of 59 words that was also attributed to the Aláàfin.
“The agitation for a one Nigeria is noted in the activities of Oluwo. His assignment to lead a united Council of Yoruba Obas is equally noted. The call for ensuring Yoruba produce the next president is a collective assignment. We will defend our land (Yorubaland) while we lend a voice to ‘one Nigeria.’ I hereby declare for ‘one Nigeria’.”
The Punch’s report also featured this quote and Ọláfare, who has a journalism background, could have used it. The only plausible reason, therefore, for preferring Daily Trust’s report was because the misleading headline suits Ọláfare’s interest.
It would have been more ethical and respectful if the Daily Trust had titled its report as “Alaafin declared for ‘one Nigeria’,” even though it still would not have justified what went down during the courtesy visit.
Of noteworthy among the eight comments on Ọláfare’s post was that of another Yorùbá king, Ọlatunde Olọ́ṣọlá, the Oníkùn of Ikùn-Àmùrè Èkìtì.
Ọba Olọ́ṣọlá said in his comment that “Obas [kings] should correctly feel [the pulse of] their subjects before public outpouring.”
Apart from being a king, it is instructive to note that both Olọ́ṣọlá and Ọláfare have illustrious pro-democracy records and have shared long years of comradeship together. Besides being comrades, they are close friends who lived in the same flat in Òsogbo before their current palace adventures.
One can marvel at Ọláfare’s interest in spreading the Daily Trust’s report and even question whether it is part of his palace duties. But whatever is his interest, Daily Trust’s report fueled it–a misleading headline has produced a potentially mischievous outcome. We however hope that these two worthy sons of Oduduwa will consider their friendship ties stronger than political inclinations.
There possibly are many shades of arguments on this event, but the primary point to underscore here is that journalists, especially editors, should weigh their reports against the core mission of journalism, which is to defend democracy and strengthen human rights.
Subscribe to our mailing list to receive engaging content and updates in your email inbox.
Thank you for subscribing.
Something went wrong.