My interest in writing this tribute came from a report of Daily Trust (online) of September 19, 2023. The paper stated:
“Among the appointees are three columnists of the Daily Trust: Tope Kolade Fasua, Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters; Gimba Kakanda, Senior Special Assistant to the President, Research and Analytics and Nasiru Yammama, Senior Special Assistant to the President, Innovation”
It further stated that: “Other appointees are Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, Special Adviser on Political Matters…” But what the paper did not state is that Baba-Ahmed was also a former columnist with Daily Trust. And he was a brilliant columnist who had many followers because of his intellect, style and good grasp of the English language.
I should know because when I joined the Department of Political Science, Usman Danfodio University Sokoto in the 80’s, as a Graduate Assistant, he was already a Senior Lecturer with a PhD from a reputable London university. Therefore, whenever he talks, I say “yes sir”. Khaki no be leda!
Central to this tribute is that a silent media revolution had taken place in Northern Nigeria through Media Trust company, publishers of Daily Trust and owners of other media outfits like Trust TV. Tributes are normally for human beings but when I checked Oxford dictionary, one of the definitions is that it is an act, a statement or a gift that is intended to show your respect or admiration to something or somebody.
Without mincing words, the success of Media Trust can be attributed to five sets of people. First, loyal readers who attracted investors. Second, management staff. Third, qualified and dedicated staff. Fourth, investors. Fifth, outstanding columnists.
The choice of loyal readers as first is deliberate and based on my experience with outstanding loyal readers of Media Trust Newspapers. They are the heroes and heroines of the company. Let me give you an example.
I went to Azare, Bauchi State, to interview a famous scholar, Malam Babba Na Kofar Gabas, and met some people in front of his house. When I mentioned my mission to interview him and where I came from one of them immediately stood up and said:
“You are welcome. Malam must talk to you. I am his son. We are proud of your Weekly Trust Newspaper. Every Friday we send somebody to Bauchi to buy 25 copies and we distribute them in Azare to subscribers. We are not vendors or making money from the distribution”
He took me to his father (Malam) and explained to him why he must talk to me. Perhaps he was the favourite of the father because prior to our interview he had never granted interview to any journalist. The father smiled and without arguing granted the request of the son.
It became obvious that, as advertisers, to reach northern readers of newspapers there is no alternative to Media Trust outfits. In a way, advertisers were convinced of the inevitability of the company products and services for maximum reach. Also, in many cases, customers choose their medium for advertisement, and they are aware of the inevitability of Media Trust. The company
would not have survived without advertisement.
For the management team, Malam Kabiru Yusuf and Malam Isiaka Ajibola stand out. They so much believed in the Media Trust project that they were not deterred by the dominant argument that newspapers can not flourish in Northern Nigeria because of low readers (the people prefer radio) and that advertisement companies, which are mainly in Lagos, do not want to patronise northern-based media houses.
The duo kept their eyes on the ball and threw in every thing about them into the project, including the conveniences of their families. They also set integrity standard and tried to live above board despite the inconveniences. Malam Kabiru deserves special mention because he has been providing purposeful leadership and direction since the creation of the company.
The recruitment policy of the company, which emphasizes competence, makes it the most liberal and cosmopolitan in employment. It is an equal opportunity employer which can be seen even from the by-line of the editorial staff. There is no gender discrimination and the staff have been contributing immensely to the success of the company.
Whenever I am permitted to mention two outstanding staff, I will mention Aisha Umar Yusuf and Zainab Suleiman Okino. They are not only pioneer staff of the company who served diligently for long but also worked under me and I know the challenges they faced on the job as mothers taking care of the home front. Their outstanding contributions speak for them. Whoever is looking for a reason to justify girl-child education, here is one.
Now, “masu abun”(the owners). The investors invested in the company at a time when its future was almost certain – that it was not going to survive because there was something wrong with the northern soil that would not allow newspapers to grow. Equally important, they allow the management to run the company professionally. Unless you are privileged to know them, they are always at the background.
The company also enjoyed the contributions of fearless and incisive columnists like Dr Aliyu Tilde, Mohammed Haruna, Wada Nas, Sam Ndah-Isaiah, Mahmud Jega, Garba Deen, Adamu Adamu and Farook Kperogi. In addition to the columnists there are also many members of the editorial board
who have been making outstanding contributions.
Media Trust should be celebrated because for over twenty years it has been a training ground for many people in skills especially in writing, critical thinking, ICT etc. There was a time I met Senator Orji Kalu, publisher of The Sun and The Telegraph newspapers, in Katsina and as media issues were discussed, I made some contributions which excited him and he said, “Perm Sec, how do you know all these things?”. When I told him that I worked with Media Trust, publishers of Daily Trust, he laughed and said: “A very good newspaper. No wonder you know all these things”.
All the four columnists appointed by the present administration are known to many readers of the newspaper. Whether their appointments have any thing to do with their ideas which they expressed in their columns, only those who are in the position to know can confirm. But one thing is certain: Nobody can deny the fact that, like many of us, Media Trust gave them the platform to sharpen their skills and ideas which make them suitable for important public offices.
The private sector has also been benefiting by employing former Media Trust staff, especially online and traditional media outfits. In the case of Leadership and Blueprint newspapers, they have not only been employing former staff of Media Trust, they also benefitted from the “IT CAN BE DONE” spirit of Media Trust. In other words, a good media company with good products is possible in Northern Nigeria.
Please can you remove your cap as we celebrate Media Trust. Hip! Hip! Hip! Hurray!!!