Following the stand of the Independent Newspaper Publishers’ Association (INPA) the authentic umbrella body of publishers in the state, on governance in Imo State and the refusal of its leadership led by Chief Lambert Ojukwu to bow to pressure, compromise or mortgage the collective will of the people, on the altar of pecuniary interests, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Sam Onwuemeodo, has again, dissolved the Vitalis Diala led dissident publishers exco as popularly known amongst real publishers and appointed Chidi Emeagi, publisher of the Nigerian News Guide as the new chairman.
The crux of the matter is said to be Mr. Diala’s sudden and belated realization, that he was only used by the greedy ones among them, to enrich themselves, by collecting money from Onwuemeodo to publish government advertorials without extending the largesse to him and the others.
According to our source, when Onwuemeodo noticed Diala’s loss of interest, he muted the idea of reconstituting its leadership and eventually, went ahead to appoint Emeagi as the new chairman in the presence of others who now claim it was an election.
It will be recalled, that aside Chief Bright Chimezie, of Nigerian Horn Newspaper, Joe Anyama of Announcer and Gele Agbai of Newsbreak, other members of the dissident INPA has hardly been on the news stand.
Mr. Diala, according to some people close to him, said, he lost interest in the arrangement, because he erroneously, thought that his emergence as chairman would have enabled him resuscitate and revive his newspaper, the Eastern News, only to observe that some of them who are still publishing, were only using them to make money without assisting those of them who lack the resources to publish, remain afloat.
It will also be recalled that the authentic INPA leadership, sometime ago, issued a widely circulated press release, urging the Rochas Okorocha government to account for the bailout, Paris Club debt relief and other funds that accrued to the state, since his emergence as governor in 2011. This release was published in all the regular tabloids in the state, including the Horn, Announcer, Newsbreak etc.
Shortly after this publication, it was said that government struck a deal with the dissident publishers, where they were lured into retracting the story and also made spurious allegations that one of the governorship hopefuls in the state, gave INPA the sum of N2million naira for the publication made in the overall interest of Imolities.
Keen observers of happenings in the state are of the opinion that the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Sam Onwuemeodo, who has virtually usurped the functions and responsibilities of the state Commissioner of Information, has by his style and antecedents, done much damage to the image of the government. According to them, “he should borrow a leaf from the Chief Press Secretary to President Buhari who sits back and allows the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed to speak for the government, without engaging in media battle with the press”.