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My NEXT Newspaper misadventure story by Dele Olojede

My NEXT Newspaper misadventure story by Dele Olojede
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International award-winning journalist and publisher of the defunct NEXT Newspaper, Dele Olojede in a recent Podcast  interview titled A conversation with Dele Olojede with Feyi Fawehinmi spoke extensively on his failed attempt to publish a national newspaper in Nigeria.

Seventy five quotes from the interview by our Seye Joseph, MCS Special Contributor are reproduced below.

 

 

  1. Winning the Pulitzer award prompted my idea to start NEXT Newspaper in Nigeria.
  2. The Pulitzer award is always awarded for work from the preceding year.
  3. I decided to do a newspaper that will be anti-corruption and investigative newspaper in a corrupt society.
  4. We wanted to demonstrate that it was possible to run an institution that was not based on corruption at all.
  5. It was a great pride for everybody that worked at NEXT because we could not be accused of involving in scandal
  6. I felt that my skills at that time can arm the citizens with factual information and use it for the betterment of the country.
  7. It was a big assumption that turned out to be false.
  8. I had professional life abroad that made me not to have much room for Nigeria.
  9. For a number of years, I did not want to hear anything about Nigeria because of how my boss was killed in Nigeria.
  10. To start NEXT newspaper, I decided that we will not raise money from abroad, I wanted Nigeria.
  11. I was influenced by Mahatma Ghandi principle to do this.
  12. I raised money only from Nigerian investors, I knew some of them and some were introduced to me.
  13. The idea was a strategic error though it was emotionally satisfying.
  14. Because we were doing thorough investigative journalism in Nigeria, it was affecting political and business elite in Nigeria.
  15. The political and business elite in Nigeria were putting pressure on my investors since they have most of their businesses in other sectors of the economy.
  16. If it had been foreign money, it would have been impervious to this type of pressure.
  17. Our first professionally produced news item was published on Twitter.
  18. We went on Twitter to publish in December 2nd, 2008
  19. Twitter was at its infant age at that time.
  20. For the first couple of months, we were printing in London and air freighting them to Nigeria.
  21. It was of high quality and exciting but clearly I knew it was not going to be sustainable.
  22. We were excellent newspaper men, but poor business men.
  23. We failed dramatically on the sustainability and vision on something meant to last.
  24. Another mistake was to go into printing that we could have started with NEXT234.COM
  25. We took a ten million dollars loan from first bank to build new printing plant in Lagos and to import one year supply of newsprint.
  26. We imported one year inventories for newsprint for the whole year.
  27. They sabotaged our distribution channel, our newspapers were not given to the vendors
  28. We were susceptible to pressure because we were a newspaper company.
  29. They were also hitting us on advertising too.
  30. We also did a story on Mike Adenuga who was owing 100 billion naira, $600 million in unpaid taxes to IGR.
  31. That was unedited, if they had audited it, he may be owing five times than that.
  32. His head office in was shut down and he was able to block Nigerian govt for not announcing the lock down.
  33. We decided to do the story and he sent people to me to kill the story but we refused even up to 2:00am.
  34. By Monday morning, he had pulled out globalcom adverts from NEXT newspaper, even up till to his subsidiary companies.
  35. We also did series of stories on Rilwan Lukman who was oil minister who was also in oil business.
  36. After doing the story, we felt the whole country will take it up but Nigerians shrugged it, it sank like a stone.
  37. That was the first time that I began to realize we may be trouble that our operating assumption may be completely false.
  38. That was the first time the seed of doubt began to creep into me.
  39. We also did a story that forced the political system to follow the constitution and allowed Jonathan to become president.
  40. We also exposed President Yar’adua being brain dead when he was sick and he was not coming back to Nigeria again.
  41. My associates were also afraid when we did the Yaradua story but I told them that we know what we are doing.
  42. We also investigated Diezani Alison-Maduekwe’s involvement in several frauds they were committing.
  43. They wanted to offer me an ungodly amount of bribe, I laughed them out of the room.
  44. So they pulled the plug, blackmailed First Bank, advertising fled and that was how we slowly bled to death in 2011
  45. Fundamentally, newspaper makes money from advertising and sales of newspaper.
  46. Even if we had best of management experts from Harvard, it wouldn’t have helped also but give us six months extra time.
  47. It was government that announced the news that Adenuga office had been clamped down. Except NEXT, no  any other newspaper in Nigeria did.
  48. Some people accused me of profligacy for paying staff $1,000 in a month that was N150, 000 at that time.
  49. If we were able to do that, maybe we shouldn’t be attempting to do it at all because we will only be humiliating people like other organisations.
  50. I will do it again if I have the privilege to pay people in media business.
  51. There was an editor from Thisday with two degrees, 14 years’ experience and he was only earning N30,000 on a month.
  52. It is an article of faith at NEXT that our staff must not take anything from anyone or organizations.
  53. Some of our young editors were dedicated even until all hope was gone.
  54. There were false stories that I spent $20m on golf, women and whiskey, etc.
  55. I never took a single cent in salary for the entire five years in NEXT.
  56. It was not a pleasant time, it was the best time to know the best and worst attributes of people.
  57. I will continue to be grateful to all of the staff.
  58. One of the unpleasant thing that I experienced was when NEXT was dying.
  59. The most pathetic thing to me was the compromising of First Bank by Jonathan govt.
  60. We were negotiating a $5million from Soro fund in NEXT but they said they won’t come in if the first bank debt is still there.
  61. We then negotiated with first bank to advertise everyday in NEXT for 36 months to wipe out the debt and they agreed.
  62. In the main time, we started doing the Diazeni story and First Bank refused to pick our calls again.
  63. That was how we lost out of the Soro fund.
  64. AMCON took over the assets, sold them off.
  65. When banks is making money, they don’t share it with tax payers and when they are losing money, they then come in with tax payers money to rescue them.
  66. We had 199 staff in NEXT at that time, at the end we were down to 20 people.
  67. After the big loss, there was tremendous financial challenge to the family
  68. I had totally lost attention from my family.
  69. I had no interest in doing anything, no interest in writing or work for a company. I became a dabbler.
  70. Until about a year and half ago, I began to hold back to my first love.
  71. I am done with daily journalism which I have done for my professional life.
  72. Society don’t change on our own time table, you just put hope it happens while you are pushing.
  73. I would not do NEXT again because of the stage of my life that is not ideal for the enterprise.
  74. I would only want to pull my networks to help younger people who are doing the same thing.
  75. With little bit of luck, dedication and lot of efforts Nigeria is redeemable.
  76. Nigeria is totally a weak state that does not have control over its territory, the level of violence tell us that.
  77. We really do not have parties in Nigeria because APC is still functioning as PDP was functioning at that time.
  78. The book I am reading now is titled “The Sell Out”

 

Wikipedia

Dele Olojede (born 1961 in ModakekeNigeria[1][2]) is a Nigerian journalist and former foreign editor for Newsday. Olojede was the first African-born winner of the Pulitzer Prize and he is a patron of the Etisalat Prize for Literature.[3] 

About The Author

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Comments (1)

  • Seun

    This man is still lying, blaming everything but him, this is a pack of lies which will fall like Dominos

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