The media space had been awash lately about the unsavory activities of the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. HABIB ARUNA over the ways he treats his colleagues; fellow media men who work tirelessly day and night to cover Akinwunmi Ambode’s activities.
The stories generated mixed reactions from the gentlemen of the press and indeed, members of the public with some saying people were out to tarnish his image while others advised him to thread with caution if the stories were in any way true.
It is obvious that the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ambode did not toe the path of caution as his next target was the Radio Lagos/Eko Fm correspondent and the NUJ chairman of that Chapel, Mr. Ayodele Ilori.
HABIB had asked that Mr. Ilori be withdrawn as a state house correspondent for no reason whatsoever.
Now the question is; “what exactly was Ayodele Ilori’s offence that warranted the request for his immediate withdrawal as Eko FM’s state house correspondent or is he just a victim like those who had earlier been withdrawn for baseless excuses?’
In this case, it is obvious that this is yet another journalist who is being victimized by the egoistic and dictatorial Habib Aruna for no just cause despite his dedication and commitment he had always demonstrated while discharging his duties.
A quick look at the background of Mr. Ayodele Ilori showed that he studied Mass Communication from the Polytechnic Ibadan, was certified by Radio Netherlands Training Centre in Holland and he is currently one of their Ambassadors in Nigeria as at today, a privilege given to just three journalists in the country. According to reports, he just represented RNTC along with another journalist from Television Continental at the Holland Study Fair held at the Federal Palace Hotel in Victoria Island in March 2018. Apart from his daily reportage of the Governor’s activities he also had a special weekly report tagged ‘From the Lagos House’, every Saturdayevening for over a year now and still work as a Sports man for his Organisation on a daily basis. I doubt if Habib was aware of all this facts.
For the benefit of those who do not believe the earlier stories been circulated on social media, here is the truth about how ‘General’ Habib Aruna runs the Bagauda Kaltho Press centre and enslaves the members of the Lagos State Governor’s Office Correspondents.
Habib runs the Press Corps of the state house like a slave camp or IDP camp habitually resorting to verbal harassment of correspondents and outright use of swear words at every little opportunity.
Without any modicum of respect for anybody whatsoever, Habib has unilaterally banned everybody, including senior journalists who usually visit for professional reasons from entering the Press Centre to visit their colleagues, a development that has never happened in the history of Lagos State! It is on record that anybody who expects to receive a visitor will need to take permission from the Almighty CPS like secondary school students, or better still, prison inmates.
In fact, many journalists have been embarrassed and ‘walked out’ of the ‘Lagos State Press Centre’ on quite a number of occasions.
Perhaps, someone needs to call Habib’s attention to the portraits of past CPSes lined up on the wall of the press centre conference room so as to remind him that there were others in that position before him and there would be a whole lot more after he leaves.
One is also tempted to ask, how does Mr. Habib Aruna want to be remembered after leaving the position he presently occupies?
Time without number, Habib had gone as far as threatening Public Affairs Officers of the state government in a bid to forcefully (and shamelessly) collect money meant for the welfare of Governor’s Office Correspondents during assignments or tours with the Governor. It is not uncommon to see the press crew bus stopping on the highway for journalists in the Governor’s convoy to buy pure water and biscuits!
It is no longer a secret that two different PAOs had to request for immediate transfer away from the Press Centre because they could not work or tolerate the abusive nature and gestapo style of administration of ‘General’ Habib Aruna.
We are sure that the current PAO of the press centre does not even have a budget tagged to his office.
Many journalists at the Press Centre are scared of voicing out their predicament for fear of victimization or outright blackmail and lies being peddled against them in their offices, as that has been the stock in trade of the CPS. This exactly is what has played out in the case of Mr. Ayo Ilori, a former Financial Secretary of the state council of the NUJ.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s CPS also has a way of reaching out to editors in various media outfits to request for the transfer of any correspondents whom he feels he cannot manipulate. Here, it is necessary to give kudos to the management of Leadership Newspapers who refused vehemently to withdraw their correspondent even when Habib requested for it.
Editors and senior management staff should learn from that incident, be dignified enough to refuse to be arm-twisted into recalling their correspondents because of money Habib goes about boasting that he gives them during festive periods or alleged monthly allowance he ‘settles’ them with. No Editor should ever belittle himself by going cap in hand to collect peanuts from Habib, a man who has a monthly running cost of almost N4,000,000 (four million naira) and yet cannot maintain or fuel generators, cannot provide internet in a press centre, maintain vehicles in his care, and do general maintenance of government infrastructure in his care.
Those on the outside see the Lagos State Governor’s Press Crew as the best in the country but the true situation will be revealed whenever the Governor has a one on one with them and listens to their plight. They only suffer in silence because they are scared although, there are some bold ones who had already been penciled down for eviction like ‘Big Brother Naija show’, yes, that’s the extent of the decadence!
According to stories making the rounds, Governor Ambode regularly extends his goodwill to members of the press crew but sadly, the messages always get lost in transit and who better to ask the reason for this if not the messenger; Mr. Habib Aruna.
Has anyone see the Press Crew Bus of the state Governor lately? It’s always the last in the convoy and when other vehicles are running on Air-Condition, journalists are left sweating miserably without anybody bothering about their welfare. Well, thanks to Habib who sometimes remembers to buy coaster biscuit and hot bottled water in two out of ten times journalists are on tour or inspection assignment with the Governor. Even on some occasions, the situation is so bad that they pack themselves in one bus with some standing or seating on the bare floor.
I believe the NUJ should as a matter of urgency look into the welfare of journalists at the state house, it calls for concern. It is a direct challenge for the current Chairman of the Lagos NUJ, Dr. Qasim Akinreti to take drastic steps on this.
Habib’s latest deranged outburst was on some civil servants during a meeting of the new commissioner for Information and strategy, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan with Governor’s Office Correspondents where he said in the presence of some top officials from the ministry that he can never work with them because they cannot be trusted due to their shady character.
General Habib should be reminded that yes he is the CPS to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and can decide to cook for everybody, and they will eat and be satisfied but is it possible for him to eat the food cooked by everybody?
For all those condemning earler write-ups, please, do not cry more than the bereaved. Those that are directly affected are always very careful but for how long would they keep quiet? If General Habib believes he has done nothing wrong, we challenge him to organize a meeting between the correspondents and Governor Ambode. Let them have a heart to heart with the Governor, at least they are members of his Press Corps, he should have interaction with them once in a while. Let him excuse them if he is sure of himself and we will see if he can keep his job after that.
Finally, a sincere advice to Habib Aruna; no matter how large your appetite is for the things of the flesh, you should not be so randy! learn to control yourself and Stop trying to sleep with the women who work with you, they are not supposed to be your instruments of carnal release!
A word they say, is enough for the wise.
Culled: Triton 1996