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Catholic priest, Fr. Mathew Oguleru abducted

ITRealms : A Catholic priest, Reverend Father Mathew Oguleru has been kidnapped in Ijebu Ode, reports ITRealms . Information availa...

PC Summit 2017

Sunday, January 31, 2016

2016 World Development Report harps on Internet as digital dividend



ITRealms:
The World Bank Group and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in joint World Development Report 2016 harped on the digital dividends via the Internet for developing nations, reports ITRealms.

The report due for launch on Monday, February 1, 2016, ITRealms exclusively gathered is co-hosted by World Bank and UNCTAD in Geneva

ITRealms also gathered that the report examined how the Internet could be a force for development, especially for the poor in developing countries. 

The report, ITRealms further learnt documented many profound and transformational effects of digital technology, but find out that the broader benefits have fallen short and are unevenly distributed. 

To ensure that everyone benefits, the report argued that technology adoption will not be enough. 

Countries, for instance, the report said, will need to address the "analogue components", for example by strengthening regulations enabling firms to connect and compete, adapting worker's skills to the demands of the new economy, and ensuring that institutions are accountable.

ITRealms equally gathered that the report partly draws on research undertaken by UNCTAD in the area of the development implications of ICT.
 

ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!

Rotary club to partner with Rosyland Schools



The Rotary Club has expressed interest in partnering with the Rosyland Schools to improve on pupils activities in the school, reports ITRealms.

Speaking at the third Inter-House Sports Competition of Rosyland held at Dominican Playground, Mafoluku-Oshodi, Lagos, Mr. Alex Geo Nlebedum who was the chairman of the occasion gave this insight.

He assured the school of the Rotary partnership in the development of pupils around the vicinity and promised specifically that his division would work with Rosyland Schools to encourage the establishment of clubs in the school.

The modalities of these clubs, he said, would be worked out with the proprietress, Mrs Rose Alisiobi, so that by next edition of the Inter-House, there will be something to show for the partnership.

He later lighted the Inter-House light to herald the commencement of 2016 Inter-House Sports Competition of the school, after inspection of match-pass alongside Mr. Innocent Emeh and Mazi Udo Chijioke.

Earlier in her address, the proprietress of Rosyland schools, Mrs. Alisiobi appreciated God for the enablement for the school to organize another annual inter-house sports contest with the support of the school’s governing board led by Mr. Uche Alisiobi and UBA Plc, First Bank Plc and Bobo Food and Beverages Ltd, Nestle Nigeria, Promasidor Nigeria, Cocacola and Etisalat.

The St. Catherine of Siena, she said, provided the medical assistance desk.


ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!
Pix: Mr Alex GeoNlebedum lighting the Inter-sport. He is flanked by L-r Mr Innocent Emeh and Mazi Udo Chijioke.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Naija AgroNet: Prof. Femi Osofisan wins Thalia prize 2016

Naija AgroNet: Prof. Femi Osofisan wins Thalia prize 2016: ITRealms: Professor BabaFemi Adeyemi Osofisan has been named winner of the coveted Thalia Prize 2016 by the International Association of The... ... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology

Friday, January 29, 2016

Okeremi advises FG to establish CIO office for the federation



The Managing Director and chief executive officer (CEO) of Precise Financial Systems (PFS), Mr. Yele Okeremi has advised the Federal Government to establish the Office of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) General for the Federation, reports ITRealms.

Speaking at the recent meeting of ICT stakeholders held in Ibadan, Oyo State, Mr. Okeremi said the federation’s CIO would oversee the spending of the federal government as well as the strategic planning of all federal Information Technology (IT) investments.

The CIO’s office, he said, should be charged with establishing a government-wide enterprise architecture that would ensure system interoperability, information-sharing and maintain effective information security and privacy controls across the federal government.

He also asked the Ministry of Communications (MoC) as presently consisted to focus on development, implementation and evaluation of the relevant IT policies for the country.

Okeremi, who is the immediate past Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of DEMO Africa, hosted in Nigeria in 2014 and 2015, advised the Ministry of Communications to strengthen the Office of ICT Innovations and Entrepreneurship (OIIE).

This, he said, would enable the OIIE to access the required resources and power to support incubation centre hubs while facilitating collaboration between the incubation centres and hubs with industry practitioners, particularly the software houses.

ITRealms recalled that the OIIE was established to nurture, cultivate and expand ICT innovation and entrepreneurship in Nigeria in line with NITDA Act 2007 and the National ICT Policy.
 
+ITRealms DSA  
ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!
Pix: Yele Okeremi

Airtel takes retail outlet to National Assembly



Airtel Nigeria on Thursday in Abuja, commissioned a new retail outlet at the Senate Building, National Assembly Complex, reports ITRealms.


Located at the first floor of the Senate Building, National Assembly Complex, Three Arms Zone, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, ITRealms gathered that the Airtel retail outlet was opened with prominent Nigerians and top executives of the telecoms company in attendance.


Chairman, Senate Committee on Communications, Senator Prince Gilbert Nnaji, who was special guest of honour at the occasion, performed the ceremonial cutting of the ribbon to declare the new showroom opened.


Speaking at the event, the Chief Sales Officer, Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Godfrey Efeurhobo, noted that the telco is committed to its key objectives of connecting Nigerians to their dreams and empowering more telecoms consumers with access to bespoke and innovative telecoms products and services.


For him, Airtel Nigeria is keenly interested in not just offering Nigerians the best connection but also expanding its service footprints to serve telecoms consumers better. “Without a doubt, today’s showroom commissioning bears eloquent testimony to our resolve and determination to exceptional customer service delivery and service excellence.


“With our aggressive retail expansion footprints and investment in customer service centres, it is therefore no gainsaying that our customer-centricity, which has consistently earned us the Best Customer Service Operator over the years is not a fluke but a reality we would never compromise on. 


“Today, as we increase our footprints in Abuja, we bring with it our rich history and culture of great service experience to the delight of our customers, especially those within this community and the environs,” he said.


After taking a tour of the new Airtel office, Senator Nnaji applauded the company for its unwavering commitment towards expanding retail footprints across the country, thereby bringing telecoms services closer to the doorsteps of consumers. 


Speaking further, he commended the telco for its support towards the underprivileged in the Nigerian society through its Airtel Touching Lives Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) platform.


Also in attendance at the occasion was the Chairman, Senate Committee on Science and Technology, Senator (Prof), Ajayi Boroffice, amongst other high profile guests.


ITRealms further gathered that the newly opened Airtel office affords members of the National Assembly access to its innovative products and services.



Doris Godwin/GEE

ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!
Pix: L-R: Chairman House Committee on Communications, Distinguished Sen. Gilbert Nnaji; Chief Sales Officer Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Godfrey Efeurhobo; Assistant Superintendent of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Abubakar; Chairman, Senate Committee on Science & Technology, Senator (Prof.) Ajayi Boroffice; Regional Operations Director, North Region, Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Wole Abu with Regional Head, Retail Showroom and Franchise, Airtel Nigeria, Mrs. Edero Daro-Idollo during the inauguration of Airtel service outlet at the National Assembly in Abuja on Thursday.

Commentary: The Online Warriors

My criticisms of the excesses of the online phenomenon in terms of its brazen abuse in an unregulated environment has often made me the target of attacks, with many insisting on quoting the opening paragraph of a piece I once wrote along these lines as if it is a memorial verse, but further developments have shown that indeed, liberal, accommodative, useful and open as the growth of the new media may seem in Nigeria, we may well, if care is not taken, be dealing with a dangerous tool in the hands of the unscrupulous which could drive society towards the lunatic fringe.
      The beauty of the new media is its democratic temper. With any electronic device, anyone at all, can set up a communications unit, using a phone, a tablet, a laptop, a desktop, and simply occupy the social space and broadcast information which in a matter of minutes may go viral and condition public opinion. It grants the person involved absolute freedom, even anonymity, dangerous anonymity of self, space and location, but the worst part of it is the freedom from decency, responsibility and conscience. And so while so much good can be done by persons exchanging information, and as has turned out, creative jokes and skits which entertain and amuse, a lot of evil can be committed through resort to blackmail, abuse, and mischief.
    This dangerous dimension is beginning to grow in different directions and the latest that I have seen is what seems to be the emergence of cartels, or perhaps cabals in the online industry, with various persons organizing themselves into groups, and if this were to be a sign of freedom of association exercised by like minds, it would be commendable. But rather what is emerging is bitter rivalry among the various groups, a fierce struggle for territory, unhealthy, cut-throat competition, and a desperation to out-do each other.  The group warriors are not necessarily fighting for any great ideal, but ego, power, privilege and access to the corridors of power.
      I happen to have suddenly become a victim in the midst of this turf-fighting, as my name this week was drawn into a cat fight between two groups: the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) and the Online Publishers Association of Nigeria (OPAN). These are two of the emerging groups but there are others: Association of Online Bloggers, Association of Nigerian Online Publishers (ANOP), the Online Magazines Publishers Association (OMPA). And who knows, there may well be the Association of What’s App Users, the Nigerian Association of Twitter Voltrons, Association of Nigerian BBM Users, National Association of Chat Group Administrators, all of them fighting over influence, space, and patronage. This politicization of the online business can only in the long run diminish its influence and promote opportunism.
      The case that I refer to was triggered by a meeting in Lagos, between the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and a group of online publishers under the umbrella of GOCOP. This prompted a rival group, the OPAN to issue a statement accusing Alhaji Mohammed of meeting with the wrong group and ignoring the main stakeholders. There has been serious “blood-sharing” since then. GOCOP issued a rejoinder in which it attacked OPAN.  And my name was brought in.  I was accused of being the spirit behind OPAN, and an attempt was made to set me up against Femi Adesina, my successor as Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President of Nigeria. Femi was given special praise, he being a Trustee of GOCOP, so the whole thing is projected as OPAN being pro-Jonathan and GOCOP being pro-Buhari.
      I was also accused of having influenced the Corporate Affairs Commission to block the registration of NOPA, the first name that the other group had chosen when it sought formal registration. I was alleged to have used the powers of the Presidency to victimize members of then NOPA, who eventually adopted a new name and got registered. But obviously, the aggrieved were looking for an opportunity to go after me. And they believe the time is now right and that their facts are right, hence they threatened to release “documents”.
      They are wrong. Here are the facts:  I was invited to be a Trustee of OPAN in 2010 when I was still Chairman of the Editorial Board of The Guardian. I was at the time involved either as a Trustee or contributor to many social causes - motherless children’s homes, special children, book reading clubs, girl child education projects, and hence, adding to that list a group that defined its objective as developing standards in the emerging online space was not a problem for me. I agreed to be a Trustee of OPAN and I made inputs into the drafting of the philosophy of the group. It had become clear by then that the online space was bound to grow and that there was a need for an articulation of ethical and professional standards, which may not be officially imposed but which could provide a basis for the insistence on a responsible use of the internet to promote serious issues. OPAN secured registration with the CAC, but it remained in a formative stage throughout the period I was in office, and was only formally launched late 2015. I did not even attend the launching ceremony. Having seen that the group had finally found its rhythm and its objectives properly defined, I offered to step down from the Board of Trustees.  I got to know of the bitter fight over CAC registration between GOCOP and OPAN in the press release issued by the former.
      Let me make this clear: I could not have been involved in that fight. The CAC is a statutory body and I believe it is in a position to defend its integrity. Anyone knows that the CAC conducts name-search before registering any organization and where any conflict in identity is subsequently reported, it has its own mechanism for resolving such. If NOPA and OPAN were fighting over nomenclature, it was the job of the CAC to resolve that, not the Presidency. In any case, my office could not have supported one group of online publishers against another, because that would have been counter-productive.  My assignment required me to relate regularly with website owners, bloggers, and all categories of journalists and they all published our materials. I have made it clear privately that I probably received more support from members of GOCOP, many of whom I had always known and with whom I had shared happier moments, particularly at the St Bottles’ Cathedral in Lagos: our hang-out in those days.
       But I see that twice in the past eight months, there have been curious attempts to pitch me against my successor, Femi Adesina. In the imagination of a dubious minority, I am supposed to be fighting him and make his work difficult. I can imagine the kind of stories that may have been going back and forth, invented by persons looking for what to eat. I have been there and I know how it is. But Femi and I have never fought over anything and we have absolutely no reason to fight. I am out. He is in. Life goes on. I have nothing against him or the PMB government. In 2015, the Nigerian people made a choice and spoke. It is a choice that we respect.
       But as if all that is not plain enough, the latest that I have seen is a 2012 private e-mail “document” purportedly leaked to Sahara Reporters giving the impression that I worked with an online group to undermine Sahara Reporters in defence of the Jonathan Government, and of course the sub-text is to link me with the current war of the online publishers. This has to do with an e-mail, which the Association of Nigerian Online Publishers (ANOP) sent to a third party which was forwarded to me. I was then hearing about ANOP for the first time.
        I forwarded the mail to the main promoter of OPAN, the only one of such groups that was known to me then and I only wanted to know if this was the same group, given the striking similarity. The leaked mail is one of many such unsolicited proposals and suggestions that came to my desk. Nothing came out of it thereafter, and I had no reason to worry about that innocuous incident until now. I took an oath of office to defend the interests of the people, President and Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and I did my bit, but it was not the style of that administration or my office to intimidate, gag, frustrate or undermine the free media. I had direct access to Omoyele Sowore, the publisher of Sahara Reporters.
      Throughout my four years on the job, he used every single press release that we issued and always listened to my many protestations. He always insisted however, that he had his facts, and that he knew more insiders than I could ever imagine. I was always shocked how State House documents and inside stories regularly found their way to his desk, and how on the day the President’s brother died, he had published the story even before anyone in Aso Rock knew. If the leaked e-mail proves anything, it is that he and his own colleagues are involved in a bitter rivalry, and that there is indeed a war of online operators and this can only get worse with everyone these days, becoming a blogger or online publisher.   This poses a serious challenge for media, reputation, and perception managers who must continuously swim in an ocean of sharks, alligators and piranhas. If you relate with A, you could offend B. And if you receive a mail from C, you could get into trouble, not knowing which cartel or cabal you are dealing with.
      The truth, if we must say so, is that the social media in Nigeria has become a battle-ground for survival. It is no longer about young people playing with a phone or a laptop, it is big business, and where the stomach or sheer rivalry, is involved, we can see that persons are ready to shed blood, shred reputations and break jaws. It is most unfortunate that this positive force that could be used for the good of society is finally going the way of all things. The other truth is that the big war of communications is no longer fought on the pages of newspapers, but online and all the bad habits of old have been transported, without any ethical restraint. This is where the real danger lies.
     The challenge is to insist that online journalists, publishers, bloggers and tweeters must be held down to certain prudential standards of practice. The in-fighting is unnecessary. The various associations can be useful as vehicles of self-regulation, and for promoting values and best options.  They should not become special purpose mechanisms for patronizing politicians and political office holders.
- See more at: http://www.reubenabati.com.ng/2016-01-29-The-Online-Warriors-By-Reuben-Abati.html#sthash.fR9kNQCV.lAlR5zJs.dpuf
My criticisms of the excesses of the online phenomenon in terms of its brazen abuse in an unregulated environment has often made me the target of attacks, with many insisting on quoting the opening paragraph of a piece I once wrote along these lines as if it is a memorial verse, but further developments have shown that indeed, liberal, accommodative, useful and open as the growth of the new media may seem in Nigeria, we may well, if care is not taken, be dealing with a dangerous tool in the hands of the unscrupulous which could drive society towards the lunatic fringe.
      The beauty of the new media is its democratic temper. With any electronic device, anyone at all, can set up a communications unit, using a phone, a tablet, a laptop, a desktop, and simply occupy the social space and broadcast information which in a matter of minutes may go viral and condition public opinion. It grants the person involved absolute freedom, even anonymity, dangerous anonymity of self, space and location, but the worst part of it is the freedom from decency, responsibility and conscience. And so while so much good can be done by persons exchanging information, and as has turned out, creative jokes and skits which entertain and amuse, a lot of evil can be committed through resort to blackmail, abuse, and mischief.
    This dangerous dimension is beginning to grow in different directions and the latest that I have seen is what seems to be the emergence of cartels, or perhaps cabals in the online industry, with various persons organizing themselves into groups, and if this were to be a sign of freedom of association exercised by like minds, it would be commendable. But rather what is emerging is bitter rivalry among the various groups, a fierce struggle for territory, unhealthy, cut-throat competition, and a desperation to out-do each other.  The group warriors are not necessarily fighting for any great ideal, but ego, power, privilege and access to the corridors of power.
      I happen to have suddenly become a victim in the midst of this turf-fighting, as my name this week was drawn into a cat fight between two groups: the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) and the Online Publishers Association of Nigeria (OPAN). These are two of the emerging groups but there are others: Association of Online Bloggers, Association of Nigerian Online Publishers (ANOP), the Online Magazines Publishers Association (OMPA). And who knows, there may well be the Association of What’s App Users, the Nigerian Association of Twitter Voltrons, Association of Nigerian BBM Users, National Association of Chat Group Administrators, all of them fighting over influence, space, and patronage. This politicization of the online business can only in the long run diminish its influence and promote opportunism.
      The case that I refer to was triggered by a meeting in Lagos, between the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and a group of online publishers under the umbrella of GOCOP. This prompted a rival group, the OPAN to issue a statement accusing Alhaji Mohammed of meeting with the wrong group and ignoring the main stakeholders. There has been serious “blood-sharing” since then. GOCOP issued a rejoinder in which it attacked OPAN.  And my name was brought in.  I was accused of being the spirit behind OPAN, and an attempt was made to set me up against Femi Adesina, my successor as Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President of Nigeria. Femi was given special praise, he being a Trustee of GOCOP, so the whole thing is projected as OPAN being pro-Jonathan and GOCOP being pro-Buhari.
      I was also accused of having influenced the Corporate Affairs Commission to block the registration of NOPA, the first name that the other group had chosen when it sought formal registration. I was alleged to have used the powers of the Presidency to victimize members of then NOPA, who eventually adopted a new name and got registered. But obviously, the aggrieved were looking for an opportunity to go after me. And they believe the time is now right and that their facts are right, hence they threatened to release “documents”.
      They are wrong. Here are the facts:  I was invited to be a Trustee of OPAN in 2010 when I was still Chairman of the Editorial Board of The Guardian. I was at the time involved either as a Trustee or contributor to many social causes - motherless children’s homes, special children, book reading clubs, girl child education projects, and hence, adding to that list a group that defined its objective as developing standards in the emerging online space was not a problem for me. I agreed to be a Trustee of OPAN and I made inputs into the drafting of the philosophy of the group. It had become clear by then that the online space was bound to grow and that there was a need for an articulation of ethical and professional standards, which may not be officially imposed but which could provide a basis for the insistence on a responsible use of the internet to promote serious issues. OPAN secured registration with the CAC, but it remained in a formative stage throughout the period I was in office, and was only formally launched late 2015. I did not even attend the launching ceremony. Having seen that the group had finally found its rhythm and its objectives properly defined, I offered to step down from the Board of Trustees.  I got to know of the bitter fight over CAC registration between GOCOP and OPAN in the press release issued by the former.
      Let me make this clear: I could not have been involved in that fight. The CAC is a statutory body and I believe it is in a position to defend its integrity. Anyone knows that the CAC conducts name-search before registering any organization and where any conflict in identity is subsequently reported, it has its own mechanism for resolving such. If NOPA and OPAN were fighting over nomenclature, it was the job of the CAC to resolve that, not the Presidency. In any case, my office could not have supported one group of online publishers against another, because that would have been counter-productive.  My assignment required me to relate regularly with website owners, bloggers, and all categories of journalists and they all published our materials. I have made it clear privately that I probably received more support from members of GOCOP, many of whom I had always known and with whom I had shared happier moments, particularly at the St Bottles’ Cathedral in Lagos: our hang-out in those days.
       But I see that twice in the past eight months, there have been curious attempts to pitch me against my successor, Femi Adesina. In the imagination of a dubious minority, I am supposed to be fighting him and make his work difficult. I can imagine the kind of stories that may have been going back and forth, invented by persons looking for what to eat. I have been there and I know how it is. But Femi and I have never fought over anything and we have absolutely no reason to fight. I am out. He is in. Life goes on. I have nothing against him or the PMB government. In 2015, the Nigerian people made a choice and spoke. It is a choice that we respect.
       But as if all that is not plain enough, the latest that I have seen is a 2012 private e-mail “document” purportedly leaked to Sahara Reporters giving the impression that I worked with an online group to undermine Sahara Reporters in defence of the Jonathan Government, and of course the sub-text is to link me with the current war of the online publishers. This has to do with an e-mail, which the Association of Nigerian Online Publishers (ANOP) sent to a third party which was forwarded to me. I was then hearing about ANOP for the first time.
        I forwarded the mail to the main promoter of OPAN, the only one of such groups that was known to me then and I only wanted to know if this was the same group, given the striking similarity. The leaked mail is one of many such unsolicited proposals and suggestions that came to my desk. Nothing came out of it thereafter, and I had no reason to worry about that innocuous incident until now. I took an oath of office to defend the interests of the people, President and Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and I did my bit, but it was not the style of that administration or my office to intimidate, gag, frustrate or undermine the free media. I had direct access to Omoyele Sowore, the publisher of Sahara Reporters.
      Throughout my four years on the job, he used every single press release that we issued and always listened to my many protestations. He always insisted however, that he had his facts, and that he knew more insiders than I could ever imagine. I was always shocked how State House documents and inside stories regularly found their way to his desk, and how on the day the President’s brother died, he had published the story even before anyone in Aso Rock knew. If the leaked e-mail proves anything, it is that he and his own colleagues are involved in a bitter rivalry, and that there is indeed a war of online operators and this can only get worse with everyone these days, becoming a blogger or online publisher.   This poses a serious challenge for media, reputation, and perception managers who must continuously swim in an ocean of sharks, alligators and piranhas. If you relate with A, you could offend B. And if you receive a mail from C, you could get into trouble, not knowing which cartel or cabal you are dealing with.
      The truth, if we must say so, is that the social media in Nigeria has become a battle-ground for survival. It is no longer about young people playing with a phone or a laptop, it is big business, and where the stomach or sheer rivalry, is involved, we can see that persons are ready to shed blood, shred reputations and break jaws. It is most unfortunate that this positive force that could be used for the good of society is finally going the way of all things. The other truth is that the big war of communications is no longer fought on the pages of newspapers, but online and all the bad habits of old have been transported, without any ethical restraint. This is where the real danger lies.
     The challenge is to insist that online journalists, publishers, bloggers and tweeters must be held down to certain prudential standards of practice. The in-fighting is unnecessary. The various associations can be useful as vehicles of self-regulation, and for promoting values and best options.  They should not become special purpose mechanisms for patronizing politicians and political office holders.
- See more at: http://www.reubenabati.com.ng/2016-01-29-The-Online-Warriors-By-Reuben-Abati.html#sthash.fR9kNQCV.lAlR5zJs.dpuf


My criticisms of the excesses of the online phenomenon in terms of its brazen abuse in an unregulated environment has often made me the target of attacks, with many insisting on quoting the opening paragraph of a piece I once wrote along these lines as if it is a memorial verse, but further developments have shown that indeed, liberal, accommodative, useful and open as the growth of the new media may seem in Nigeria, we may well, if care is not taken, be dealing with a dangerous tool in the hands of the unscrupulous which could drive society towards the lunatic fringe.

      The beauty of the new media is its democratic temper. With any electronic device, anyone at all, can set up a communications unit, using a phone, a tablet, a laptop, a desktop, and simply occupy the social space and broadcast information which in a matter of minutes may go viral and condition public opinion. It grants the person involved absolute freedom, even anonymity, dangerous anonymity of self, space and location, but the worst part of it is the freedom from decency, responsibility and conscience. And so while so much good can be done by persons exchanging information, and as has turned out, creative jokes and skits which entertain and amuse, a lot of evil can be committed through resort to blackmail, abuse, and mischief.

    This dangerous dimension is beginning to grow in different directions and the latest that I have seen is what seems to be the emergence of cartels, or perhaps cabals in the online industry, with various persons organizing themselves into groups, and if this were to be a sign of freedom of association exercised by like minds, it would be commendable. But rather what is emerging is bitter rivalry among the various groups, a fierce struggle for territory, unhealthy, cut-throat competition, and a desperation to out-do each other.  The group warriors are not necessarily fighting for any great ideal, but ego, power, privilege and access to the corridors of power.

      I happen to have suddenly become a victim in the midst of this turf-fighting, as my name this week was drawn into a cat fight between two groups: the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) and the Online Publishers Association of Nigeria (OPAN). These are two of the emerging groups but there are others: Association of Online Bloggers, Association of Nigerian Online Publishers (ANOP), the Online Magazines Publishers Association (OMPA). And who knows, there may well be the Association of What’s App Users, the Nigerian Association of Twitter Voltrons, Association of Nigerian BBM Users, National Association of Chat Group Administrators, all of them fighting over influence, space, and patronage. This politicization of the online business can only in the long run diminish its influence and promote opportunism.

      The case that I refer to was triggered by a meeting in Lagos, between the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and a group of online publishers under the umbrella of GOCOP. This prompted a rival group, the OPAN to issue a statement accusing Alhaji Mohammed of meeting with the wrong group and ignoring the main stakeholders. There has been serious “blood-sharing” since then. GOCOP issued a rejoinder in which it attacked OPAN.  And my name was brought in.  I was accused of being the spirit behind OPAN, and an attempt was made to set me up against Femi Adesina, my successor as Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President of Nigeria. Femi was given special praise, he being a Trustee of GOCOP, so the whole thing is projected as OPAN being pro-Jonathan and GOCOP being pro-Buhari.

      I was also accused of having influenced the Corporate Affairs Commission to block the registration of NOPA, the first name that the other group had chosen when it sought formal registration. I was alleged to have used the powers of the Presidency to victimize members of then NOPA, who eventually adopted a new name and got registered. But obviously, the aggrieved were looking for an opportunity to go after me. And they believe the time is now right and that their facts are right, hence they threatened to release “documents”.

      They are wrong. Here are the facts:  I was invited to be a Trustee of OPAN in 2010 when I was still Chairman of the Editorial Board of The Guardian. I was at the time involved either as a Trustee or contributor to many social causes - motherless children’s homes, special children, book reading clubs, girl child education projects, and hence, adding to that list a group that defined its objective as developing standards in the emerging online space was not a problem for me. I agreed to be a Trustee of OPAN and I made inputs into the drafting of the philosophy of the group. It had become clear by then that the online space was bound to grow and that there was a need for an articulation of ethical and professional standards, which may not be officially imposed but which could provide a basis for the insistence on a responsible use of the internet to promote serious issues. OPAN secured registration with the CAC, but it remained in a formative stage throughout the period I was in office, and was only formally launched late 2015. I did not even attend the launching ceremony. Having seen that the group had finally found its rhythm and its objectives properly defined, I offered to step down from the Board of Trustees.  I got to know of the bitter fight over CAC registration between GOCOP and OPAN in the press release issued by the former. 

      Let me make this clear: I could not have been involved in that fight. The CAC is a statutory body and I believe it is in a position to defend its integrity. Anyone knows that the CAC conducts name-search before registering any organization and where any conflict in identity is subsequently reported, it has its own mechanism for resolving such. If NOPA and OPAN were fighting over nomenclature, it was the job of the CAC to resolve that, not the Presidency. In any case, my office could not have supported one group of online publishers against another, because that would have been counter-productive.  My assignment required me to relate regularly with website owners, bloggers, and all categories of journalists and they all published our materials. I have made it clear privately that I probably received more support from members of GOCOP, many of whom I had always known and with whom I had shared happier moments, particularly at the St Bottles’ Cathedral in Lagos: our hang-out in those days.

       But I see that twice in the past eight months, there have been curious attempts to pitch me against my successor, Femi Adesina. In the imagination of a dubious minority, I am supposed to be fighting him and make his work difficult. I can imagine the kind of stories that may have been going back and forth, invented by persons looking for what to eat. I have been there and I know how it is. But Femi and I have never fought over anything and we have absolutely no reason to fight. I am out. He is in. Life goes on. I have nothing against him or the PMB government. In 2015, the Nigerian people made a choice and spoke. It is a choice that we respect.

       But as if all that is not plain enough, the latest that I have seen is a 2012 private e-mail “document” purportedly leaked to Sahara Reporters giving the impression that I worked with an online group to undermine Sahara Reporters in defence of the Jonathan Government, and of course the sub-text is to link me with the current war of the online publishers. This has to do with an e-mail, which the Association of Nigerian Online Publishers (ANOP) sent to a third party which was forwarded to me. I was then hearing about ANOP for the first time.

        I forwarded the mail to the main promoter of OPAN, the only one of such groups that was known to me then and I only wanted to know if this was the same group, given the striking similarity. The leaked mail is one of many such unsolicited proposals and suggestions that came to my desk. Nothing came out of it thereafter, and I had no reason to worry about that innocuous incident until now. I took an oath of office to defend the interests of the people, President and Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and I did my bit, but it was not the style of that administration or my office to intimidate, gag, frustrate or undermine the free media. I had direct access to Omoyele Sowore, the publisher of Sahara Reporters.

      Throughout my four years on the job, he used every single press release that we issued and always listened to my many protestations. He always insisted however, that he had his facts, and that he knew more insiders than I could ever imagine. I was always shocked how State House documents and inside stories regularly found their way to his desk, and how on the day the President’s brother died, he had published the story even before anyone in Aso Rock knew. If the leaked e-mail proves anything, it is that he and his own colleagues are involved in a bitter rivalry, and that there is indeed a war of online operators and this can only get worse with everyone these days, becoming a blogger or online publisher.   This poses a serious challenge for media, reputation, and perception managers who must continuously swim in an ocean of sharks, alligators and piranhas. If you relate with A, you could offend B. And if you receive a mail from C, you could get into trouble, not knowing which cartel or cabal you are dealing with.

      The truth, if we must say so, is that the social media in Nigeria has become a battle-ground for survival. It is no longer about young people playing with a phone or a laptop, it is big business, and where the stomach or sheer rivalry, is involved, we can see that persons are ready to shed blood, shred reputations and break jaws. It is most unfortunate that this positive force that could be used for the good of society is finally going the way of all things. The other truth is that the big war of communications is no longer fought on the pages of newspapers, but online and all the bad habits of old have been transported, without any ethical restraint. This is where the real danger lies.

     The challenge is to insist that online journalists, publishers, bloggers and tweeters must be held down to certain prudential standards of practice. The in-fighting is unnecessary. The various associations can be useful as vehicles of self-regulation, and for promoting values and best options.  They should not become special purpose mechanisms for patronizing politicians and political office holders.

Courtesy: Reuben Abati
 

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