Death of Abba Kyari and the failure of journalism in Nigeria ? By Bayo Adeyinka

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Sometime in late 1997, it was rumoured that the Nigerian born international musical legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who had been hospitalized for a while, had died.

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*Abba Kyari*

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Immediately, the late Ladi Lawal, the then Chief Operation Officer of Daar Communications Group, the owners of African Independent Television, AIT, and Ray Power FM, went to work, assigning a few of us to special projects on the musician. It didn’t matter what our primary duties were.

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Actions were in top gear to confirm the rumour by contacting various sources on the phone. Some reporters were sent to the Kalakuta Republic in Ikeja, some to the hospital where he was being treated, some others were scouting newspapers and other materials for news stories on Fela while I led the crew to his Abeokuta country home to do some background stories about him, including interviews with both ordinary and important people there.

*Bayo Adeyinka*

We were already in the middle of the project when it became clear that the musician was alive. We broke the news.

Despite that, Ladi Lawal, urged us to continue with our various assignments. We did. So, when Fela eventually died in August that year, the materials we gathered came handy for the day’s news.

That’s how we rolled as journalists. I can count many of such assignments I was involved in as a practicing journalist. We were trained to find out the truth and break the news.

It’s, therefore, surprising that no conventional media organization found out if one of the nation’s leaders at Aso Rock actually died or not when a blogger, Kemi Omololu Olunloyo, raised the issue some days ago. We all dismissed it as a rumour because the Presidency was silent about it. No one dispelled the rumour with thorough investigation. Up till now, no news medium told us where he was lodged in Lagos and which hospital treated him.

Our journalists virtually relied on a press statement to break the news of the death of such a powerful player in our democracy. The man many believe was the alleged “arrow head of the cabal that holds the nation down”.

While I’m not alleging that the Presidency lied about when he died, the failure of our journalists to tell us the truth about the rumour started by Kemi Olunloyo, having known that Mallam Abba Kyari was receiving treatment for Covid-19 infection, speaks badly about the standard of journalism in Nigeria.

May the Almighty forgive Mallam Abba Kyari’s sins and grant his loved ones the fortitude to bear the loss.

I wish he survived the virus so that he could put his deeds during the Buhari administration in perspective through a memoir. It’s painful many will believe in what they hold against him forever.

Death! No one can stop it when the time comes. It’s a price we will all pay, someday.
Adieu Mallam Abba Kyari.

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