The last month has been an interesting one at the Lagos State House of Assembly. It started with the suspension of some erring members, which escalated into a barrage of attacks on the office of the speaker of the house, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa.
Eight libelous stories in quick succession were aimed at the speaker and by extension, the whole members of LAHA! These were classified 'exclusive', ostensibly to expose alleged fraud allegations in the Lagos State House of Assembly.
I took my time to read all SaharaReporters stories from the alleged N17million per month to maintain guest houses belong to the speaker to inauguration invitation cards going of N245million to collecting N45m for a Christmas party that never held. The recent one being that the speaker paid online influencers N60million to tackle SaharaReporters on social media, specifically twitter.
The stories, usually with sensational headlines, lack depths as they all left a yearning after reading. Most of the time after reading, you ask yourself where exactly is the punchline in this? Yet SaharaReporters didn't deem it fit to balance its stories; I doubt if it made any attempt to seek Obasa's comments on any of the accusations before running to press.
Let us take a detailed look at some of the stories. Logically, N17million to maintain guest houses is not a reflection of reality. First, the money in question was not managed by the speaker, neither is it for his guest houses. But it was to manage all his offices and home, including all his personal staff of different calibers, who are many and whose number changes from time to time in accordance with specific requirements of the office.
Another of such lame accusation was the issue of N245million to print invitation cards for inauguration, while the documents published showed that invitation was printed for N1.6million.
SaharaReporters accused the speaker of pocketing N45million for Christmas party, which it claimed didn't hold. Contrary to the accusation, the internet is already flooded with pictures from the party.
The one that interested me most was the story that social media influencers got N60million to tackle the publication on twitter. One tends to wonder if the fund was to rebut the stories or use their twitter handles to tell the world about what they believe in.
SaharaReporters, as news media, has built a reputable brand over the years, which I believe most Nigerians appreciate and follow them. But recently, one begins to wonder why it could out of nowhere decided to throw its credibility through the window?! The Obasa saga is fishy and lacks one of the main ethics of journalism, which is balancing. I think news reporting should be balanced but SaharaReporters didn’t balance these stories, which make all they have published so far on the speaker appeared it was paid to fight other people’s battles.
LAHA may not be a total reflection of what we want it to be but compared to many other state assemblies across the nation, it has done creditably and remarkably well; Rt. Hon. Obasa has built on the foundation others before him started, which is making the people first at all times.
I do not in anyway claim SaharaReporters should stop investigating or writing about Obasa's activities at the noble assembly but it should ask questions and be seen as making attempts to balance its the stories.
It is never too late for SaharaReporters to salvage its already battered image.
Temitope Brown writes from ikeja