Senior Nigerian journalist under fire for calling Yoruba ‘sophisticated morons’
The chairman of the editorial board of Vanguard Newspapers, Ochereome Nnanna, is facing heated backlash over an indirect reference to people of the Yoruba ethnic group as “sophisticated morons”.
Nnanna’s comment followed the reactions to President Muhammadu Buhari’s conferment of GCFR on late MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.
While some welcomed the development and commended the president, others described it as a mere political strategy to woo the southwest into voting for Buhari in 2019.
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One Areh Sunday, a journalist and aide to Ifeanyi Okowa, governor of Delta state, took to Facebook to share his opinion on the issue.
“I used to think the south-west was very sophisticated. I was wrong. They are the most gullible. They fall for every poisoned carrot dangled before them,” Sunday wrote on Facebook.
Responding to the post, Nnanna wrote: “Sophisticated morons, more like.”
The derogatory reference to the Yoruba people has put the senior journalist under heated criticism.
While many reacted to Nnanna’s comment accusing him of not being careful with his choice of words despite holding a high office, others demanded his resignation.
Kayode Adebiyi, with the Twitter handle @KayLord1, threatened to stop patronising Vanguard Newspaper if Nnanna is not removed as the newspaper’s editorial board chairman.
In his own reaction, Babatunde Adebiyi urges Vanguard Newspaper to re-evaluate its association with Nnanna. The tweet below:
Apparently angry over the derogatory comment, Oluwatosin Ibitokun called on the Nigerian police, the National Assembly and other government bodies to ‘deal’ with Nnanna. See his tweet below:
Ibitokun reacted to Nnanna’s comment in another tweet:
Princewill Chimereze, on Facebook, attacked Nnenna and described him as ‘a disgrace to the media’. His post below:
Seun Ibikunle’s response is a short but loaded verbal attack. See his post below:
Meanwhile, not long after the backlash on social media started pouring in, Areh reportedly took down his post but the screen shots had already gone viral.
Reacting to the heated criticisms, Nnanna said he never mentioned any ethnic group.
“In my comment to a friend’s post I never mentioned the name of any ethnic Group. Beware of blackmailers. I am a free mind,” Nnanna said.
When the backlash ceased to stop, Nnanna was forced to make another post, this time apologetic, asking people to ‘just calm down’.
Reacting to the issue, Vanguard Media Limited, publishers of Vanguard Newspapers, described the comment Ochereome Nnanna, chairman of its editorial board, made about Yoruba as “unwarranted and careless”.
In a statement on Saturday afternoon, June 9, Vanguard pledged its commitment to responsible journalism.
The statement signed by Gbenga Adefaye, editor-in-chief of the newspaper, said though Nnanna made the remark in a private conversation, Vanguard had already started probing it.
“Our attention has been drawn to an off hand comment made by Mr Ochereome Nnanna , the chairman of the Vanguard Editorial board,” the statement read.
“The comment, allegedly disparaging an ethnic section of the nation was ostensibly made as part of private conversation on a social media tread.
“While we are carefully interrogating the veracity of the comment, with a decisive response to the author, we wish to acknowledge that the statement was made entirely as part of a private conversation. Vanguard dissociates itself totally from such unwarranted but careless, private outburst.
“But we also wish to stress that Mr Nnanna’s position (as indeed like that of any senior editorial staff at the Vanguard) must always reflect a circumspect conduct that takes into cognizance the sensitive nature of our responsibility , and in particular, the need to maintain decorum and decency in all conduct and dealings, whether private or public, formal or virtual.”
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