Frank Meke: How not to be a veteran journalist, By Chinedu Ukah

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One of the golden and ageless rules of journalism that journalists (in print, broadcast and online media) from time immemorial were taught in their formative years in the profession is ‘to leave out when in doubt.’ And this expectedly is supposed to serve as guide to anyone who takes interest in the profession either as reporter, editor or columnist!

The recent noisy column by ‘veteran’ journalist, Frank Meke titled: ‘Cent For Cent: Meet The Generalsimo Of NICO’ is one that neither meets the basic standards of journalistic writing nor tenets. One can tell from the headline and opening word that the entire column was premeditatedly written to attack and not to hold to account as Meke might want us to believe.

One would have expected Meke whose journalistic journey stretches from the good old days of defunct Concord, The Week magazine, Vanguard and The Sun Newspapers not to be professionally caught off-guard blabbing and wandering in both known and unknown territories. Sometimes, a little extra effort of calling or texting sources, Goggling correct meaning/spellings of confusing words, names or titles of people (particularly newsmakers) could be a journalist’s lifesaver.

Like a hunter on deadly hunting expedition to some dangerous forest with crude tools, Meke launched vicious attacks against people he was neither sure of their names nor designation, therefore shooting himself badly in the leg in the process. If any of those he vehemently attacked in his column without due diligence decides to explore the legal option, Meke might be in for a long, exhaustive ride.

Apart from what appeared like a personal score to settle with the newly appointed Executive Secretary of National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) whom Meke lazily and unprofessionally referred to as Augustus Babajide Ajibola but cunningly corrected to Otunba Biodun Ajiboye after being called out for such unpardonable error, the journalist also did not hide his grudge with the Minister of Art, Culture and Creative Economy, Hannatu Musa Musawa who oversees NICO.

‘…In the culture sector, Hannatu Musa Musawa appointee for the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) is a sure replica of a frankiestain being.

One Augustus Babajide Ajibola is the new white lion at NICO, and he is doing a nice job, the type our notable politicians do when they are mistakenly saddled with national assignments beyond their grasp.

No doubt, we know how appointments are made in Nigeria, our only Augustus Babajide Ajibola must have been imposed on Musawa as Executive Secretary of National Institute of Cultural Orientation (NICO), a position he is struggling to find his feet.

Even before his formal engagement, he went about ranting all the place and hurriedly assumed office as if his breath depended on it without official handover notes from his predecessor.

As that was not enough, the Generalsimo of NICO organised for himself a convoy manned by selected security personnel at his militaristic command, opening and closing doors with ” designed salutes” for the new field marshall of NICO…,’ excerpt from Meke’s Monday, May 6 blabbing column published on https://safealtitude.com/ reads.

His subsequent publication on the same medium correcting the misleading column reads: ‘…In the culture sector, Hannatu Musa Musawa appointee for the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) is a sure replica of a frankiestain being.

One Otunba Biodun Ajiboye is the new white lion at NICO, and he is doing a nice job, the type our notable politicians do when they are mistakenly saddled with national assignments beyond their grasp…’

While it is not out of place to make these errors, however, journalistic ethic demands that the writer apologises to the person whose personality has been unjustly maligned and to the audience who may have consumed the misleading report/column hook, line and sinker.

In what appeared like a swift reaction, NICO in a statement recognizing Meke as veteran journalist listed three instances where he (Meke) unwarrantedly attacked Ajiboye. The Institute explained that journalists of Meke’s caliber should know that asking questions on grey areas directly from source was necessary to validate or invalidate whatever preconceived notion regarding certain subject at hand.

‘…However, his recent conduct calls into question his professionalism and integrity as a journalist. Meke’s target of choice is Otunba Biodun Ajiboye, the recently appointed Executive Secretary of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO). In a series of articles, Meke has launched a personal vendetta against Ajiboye, publishing false and unsavoury claims without regard for journalistic ethics or factual accuracy.

‘Despite his seemingly extensive experience in the field, Meke has demonstrated a shocking lack of professionalism, resorting to sensationalism and misinformation to further his agenda. It is deeply concerning to witness a journalist of Meke’s stature engage in such reckless behavior.

‘As a veteran in the industry, Meke should be held to a higher standard of accountability, yet his actions betray a fundamental disregard for the principles of ethical journalism. By mixing up facts and distorting the truth, Meke has not only tarnished his own reputation but has also undermined the integrity of the profession as a whole.

‘Meke’s relentless attacks on Ajiboye reflect a troubling trend of media sensationalism and personal bias. Instead of conducting thorough and objective investigations, Meke has allowed his personal grievances to cloud his judgement, resulting in a series of articles that lack credibility and integrity. Such behaviour not only damages the reputation of the individuals targeted but also erodes public trust in the media as a reliable source of information.’

The Institute also berated Meke for seeking clarifications on issues after he had already published his prejudiced story.

‘…Frank Meke’s 3rd attempt at maligning the image of Otunba Biodun Ajiboye, which further proved his highest level of unprofessionalism, despite his many years of practice as a journalist was contained in his recent article published on May 6, 2024 on an online platform “safealtitude.com”, titled “Cent for Cent: Meet the Generalsimo of NICO”. For anyone who may have known Frank Meke in the past, there would be no denying the fact that the article, written out of desperation or in an attempt to satisfy the ego of some disgruntled and dislodged persons may have just been one of Frank Meke’s worst outings in the history of his career in the pen profession.

‘In this said article, Frank Meke had repeatedly used another person’s name, past positions and experience to mistake Otunba Biodun Ajiboye and the office he heads. What kind of journalist skips such vital facts in a story? Also, maybe Frank Meke may have thrown away the ethics of the job into the ocean, forgetting that legal dangers arising from libel awaits erring journalists for failure to verify sources and facts before going to press. Good enough is the fact that Mr. Frank Meke has already admitted his non-adherence to professional ethics and practice by not verifying information when confronted which also led to his swift removal of the post from the online platform.’

For avoidance of doubt, Augustus Babajide Ajibola whom Meke earlier mentioned in his column and falsely accused of all manner of wrongdoings at NICO is a gentle man to the core. Otunba Ajiboye, his target is a cultural icon and communication expert of repute. The public Meke claims to serve, deserves to be truthfully informed. Meke owes the three (the Minister, Otunba Ajiboye and Augustus Babajide Ajibola) some words of profound apologies for this gross professional misdemeanor.