Vanguard Media Limited, publishers of Vanguard Newspapers, has described the comment Ochereome Nnanna, chairman of its editorial board, made about Yoruba as “unwarranted and careless”.
While reacting to a caustic remark on Facebook, Nnanna had indirectly referred to people of Yoruba ethnic group as “sophisticated morons”.
One Areh Sunday, a journalist and aide to Ifeanyi Okowa, governor of Delta state, had taken to Facebook to share his opinion about the declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day and conferment of GCFR on Abiola.
“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.”
He was bombarded with uncomplimentary messages and Areh deleted the message after some hours.
Despite this, screenshots of the chats remained in circulation and comments kept pouring in.
While some called on Vanguard to call Nnanna to order, others demanded that he should be replaced.
Nnanna’s explanation that he did not refer to any ethnic group did not stop the backlash.
In a statement on Saturday afternoon, 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.”
Adefaye assured readers of the newspaper of Vanguard’s commitment to professionalism.
He said the newspaper would not betray their trust.
“We will like to re assure our patrons, readers and stakeholders that Vanguard newspapers will always remain on the path of correct professional etiquette, practice responsible journalism and adhere to the highest ethics of fairness, objectivity and just conduct, as these are essential ingredient for peace and growth in a plural and multifaceted society such as ours,” he said.
“We will like to place on record that Vanguard newspapers will continue to do all within its power to ensure that we do not betray the trust that has been reposed in us by the public.
“Rest assured that we will continue to improve and fine tune our internal processes and adopt a fair dose of self regulation to ensure that we remain truly focused to the ideals of conscientious journalism devoid of profiling, bigotry and prejudice.” (The Cable)