The Media As The Final Hope Of Wrongly Accused Suspects Paraded By The Nigerian Police By Banjo Damilola

Those that were arrested with him got released but he did not have the money so he remained in custody. He was paraded, shabbily prosecuted and for the warped judicial system we have, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. He ended up in Kirikiri Prison before LEDAP, an advocacy NGO, got an appeal court to upturn the earlier judgment and acquit him, after 16 long years. His childhood, gone! His youthful years, wasted! All because he could not pay the bail ransom.

I grew up watching crime fighters, a television programme that shows people who had been arrested by the police for different alleged criminal offenses. For some of these people, what they purportedly stole were so ridiculous; Tin Tomatoes, Instant Noodles and similar food items.

Every Saturday, my brothers and I would watch as these people are being paraded and we would always pass comments. “This one is even lazy. He stole noodles. Ordinary noodles”. We would even joked that they should be tried by Sharia Law which meant that their hands should be amputated so that they would not steal again. Innocently, we had concluded that those suspects were indeed criminals. How could they not be? The police had caught them and they were showing them on the television. They must be criminals!

Three years ago, I became part of those who fed similar content to people in their various homes, including impressionable children like I was some years back. June 2016, I was sent to cover a police press briefing at the command in Ikeja. It was my first assignment covering police press briefing. The police had made some arrests and wanted to show off. On that day, it was an alleged notorious kidnap kingpin, Felix, who had been caught. Felix and supposed members of his kidnapping gang had been evading arrest which meant their eventual arrest seem a thing to celebrate and used as Public Relations for the dented image of the Nigeria Police.

I was at the suspect parade exercise and the green horn I was latched on to the event. I mean, bad news sells and this was as bad as it could get in reporting crimes in the city of Lagos. It was ‘good’ story for me as a young journalist and I didn’t think of it as PR for the police. I was simply happy to write the story of this notorious kidnapper who had just been arrested and would be “sent to court after investigation was concluded”, according to the then Lagos state Commissioner of Police.

What happened to Felix’ case? I did not follow up to know. I was new at the job and I’ve just been introduced to one of the ways to get content for my medium. I didn’t know I was supposed to follow up on the case, so I didn’t bother.

However, with the years came experience. I became wiser and more circumspect of this illegal activity. I follow up on the paraded suspects as much as I could. When Evans the alleged kidnapper was paraded, I followed up and still following up. But it took a sad story of a young boy whose life was destroyed by the police to come to the awakening that the Nigerian Police cannot be trusted and specifically, that not all those paraded as criminals are indeed criminals. Some of them are just poor people who could not pay for bail— which is supposed to be free.

Last year, I did a story of an eighteen year old boy who was arrested by the police on his way from football field and went from football enthusiast to a murderer. His parents could not pay the ransom they were demanding for his bail. Those that were arrested with him got released but he did not have the money so he remained in custody. He was paraded, shabbily prosecuted and for the warped judicial system we have, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. He ended up in Kirikiri Prison before LEDAP, an advocacy NGO, got an appeal court to up turn the earlier judgment and acquit him, after 16 long years. His childhood, gone! His youthful years, wasted! All because he could not pay the bail ransom.

One thing has become obvious, this ignoble act of the police keeps festering because the media have become an enabler in legitimizing and stamping mere suspects as criminals. The press are always quick to blast the affirmative headlines? ‘Police nabs two notorious cultists in Ikorodu’, the headlines would scream after these parades.

During these parades, the CP is left to feel like an island of knowledge. The questions are regulated by ‘crime reporters’. As a newbie in the fold, you’re told questions not to ask so you don’t ‘embarrass’ yourself but in actual sense what they want to avoid is the newbie asking questions that would put the CP in bad light or make him actually think of his actions as the leader of a group entrusted with the safety of a state.

I was once called a ‘baby journalist’ by an old reporter who felt I have not blended well because I asked the question that the veteran ‘crime reporters’ would ordinarily not ask. I had used a video of the question on my platform and it went viral because it was the question that the people would love for the CP to answer.

The pockets of press associations on different beats are many of the time, the organs used to surpass press freedom. As new journalist to a beat, the association would not readily accept you in. They don’t want an outsider poking into their business. Crime reporters are the worse! We— journalists— talk about them in hush voices and in quiet fora where we know no one would judge us.

Recently, I was in a training that had reporters from across the country and the comments about crime reporters was nothing but awful. Second to them are those at the National Assembly, safe for one or two reporters who would not conform, these ones are not even considered  ‘bonafide’ National Assembly correspondents because they would report things the association have been paid to kill. I covered the judiciary for a while and it was the same thing. The association never allowed me in… Bunch of story killers, they are!

In a society like Nigeria where the judiciary is encumbered with so many technicalities and delay, the media is the last hope of the masses. The media should be the place where the masses know that their matters would be brought to the fore and by that instance gain the needed attention but if we keep pushing the narratives of the oppressors, where lies the hope of Jimoh, a 26 year old transport worker who was labeled a criminal and shown to the world as one?

If we must report the charade called ‘suspect parade’ then as journalists, we must tell all the stories. In fact, we should elevate the story of those suspects who would not keep quiet even when their integrity has been soiled by men of the Nigerian Police. We should put our cameras on them and let the world hear them defend themselves against the CP’s accusations. We should follow up on their stories; were they charged to court or held at ransom to be set free? Were they diligently prosecuted and their case thrown out because the IPO would not show up in court. Were they found guilty or acquitted of the offenses they were paraded for? And when we gather these information, do we just say “eeeyah, poor man” and move on or we also report the events after the illegal parade?

The media need to act with the interest of the masses at heart because that is public interest.

Banjo writes from Lagos and can be reached on Twitter; @RealBanjo or email: [email protected] 

P.M.News Has Nothing To Do With PM.Express- Management

The management of Independent Communications Network Limited (ICNL) publishers of TheNEWS/P.M.NEWS has denied having form of relationship with an online news platform P.M Express which has a very similar name with the latter.

The management in a statement through signed by  Mr. Lanre Babalola, Editor, P.M.NEWS, the management disclosed that P.M.NEWS has nothing to do with P.M.EXPRESS and readers should not confuse the popular news medium with the latter.

”Our readers should please watch out. P.M.NEWS is not the same thing as P.M.EXPRESS though some staff of the new online medium have been passing off their medium as P.M.NEWS. We have nothing to do with them. Advertisers should please watch out,” the ICNL management stated.

 

 

NPC Requests Federal Government To Declare Owing Salaries Of Media Professionals A Crime

The Nigerian Press Council (NPC) has requested the Federal Government to declare owing of salaries of media professionals a criminal offence.

The Executive Secretary of the council, Mr Nnamdi Njemanze, gave the advice in a communique issued at the end of a two-day capacity building workshop on “Responsible Media Coverage of Elections held in Akure, Ondo state” on Monday.

Njemanze said that participants at the workshop observed that journalists had become vulnerable in the hands of politicians because of poor welfare, ownership challenges and other anti-social chauvinism of ethnicity and religion.

He stressed the need for media owners to ensure prompt payment of salaries and allowances of their staff and enhance their welfare with a view to reducing their vulnerabilities.

He, therefore, urged media owners to conduct their business in such a manner that would engender national development devoid of ethic, religious and social biases.

“ The workshop also recommended that NPC should set a minimum standard of welfare for journalists in public and private practice and sponsor a bill to this effect,“ Njemanze said.

He said that participants at the workshop also recommended that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should provide reflective jackets with PRESS written on it for all accredited journalists on election duty.

The executive secretary also advised government to ensure the prosecution of fake journalists apprehended during elections with a view to ridding the profession of impostors.

Similarly, he said, the workshop recommended that journalists should arm themselves with the Code of Ethics of Journalism and the Constitution of NUJ to guide them in their reportage.

He admonished media professionals to always apply the ethics and principles of balanced reporting during coverage of elections and avoid unnecessary use of adjectives to counter hate speech.

The secretary said that the workshop objected to an attempt to have a separate law to regulate the Social Media and hate speech, saying existing laws if enforced would take care of their excesses.

No fewer than 52 persons attended the workshop, 36 of whom were journalists drawn from print, broadcast and online platforms.

 

Media And Others To The Rescue

By Adesanya Adeoti

In expressing my feelings about the returnees from the Libya, I commend the effort of the state government for responding to the prompt evacuation of Osun citizens who just returned from Libya: the modern day slavery camp, especially the warmth welcome given by the Osun State Emergency Maintenance Agency (OSEMA) and the reassurance that the state government is ready to give them a new lease of life through skill/acquisition programmes, empowerment, as well as help those who still wish to return to schools for learning. The government gesture shows the commitment of the present administration to the welfare of its citizenry.

However, it is important for the government to take proactive stance to migration the illegal importation of our citizens under the guise of enrolling them for job in Libya and some other countries.

According to the testimonies of some of the returnees, they are being deceived by assurance of availability of lucrative job in the Middle East enroute Libya, not only greener pasture in Europe.

Some of these agents of recruitment who later trade in the lives of the unsuspecting individuals sometimes went on broadcast media to advertise that their agencies could link prospective job seekers with appropriate agency in North Africa and Middle East. So, there is need for media organizations to desist from allowing those agents of slavery to use their medium.

Media houses in general should scrutinize such “travelling agents” as they only recruit for some individuals who later sell their brothers/sisters into modern day slavery.

Aside, the unemployment issue should be tackled by all and sundry as more emphasis should be on productivity rather than seeking office jobs.

Parents too should be enlightened that sending their wards overseas is not the remedy for their joblessness, as money expended on such travelling could be used to settle such individual to establish small scale business.

In conclusion, if mass migration of our youths to slavery must stop, the media should not collaborate with evil agents who disguise as travelling agents and all must help to tackle unemployment of the youth that had plagued our nation.

Capacity Building For Osun Information Officers Hold Tomorrow

In continuation of the capacity building programme for information officers, photo journalists and graphic artists in the employment of the Ministry of Information and Strategy, the Special Adviser to the State Governor on Information and Strategy, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon will tomorrow morning (Wednesday, 15th November, 2017) deliver a paper on THE ROLE OF INFORMATION OFFICERS IN DEVELOPMENTAL JOURNALISM.

The second paper entitled: HOW GOVERNMENT INFORMATION OFFICERS SHOULD RELATE TO PRIVATE MEDIA will be delivered by the Chief Executive Officer of RAVE FM, Mr. Femi Adefila.

Venue is the Conference Hall of the State Ministry of Women, Children and Social Affairs, Abere.

A statement signed by the Director of Press and Public Relations in the Ministry of Information and Strategy, Mr. Dapo Ajayi, enjoined all Information Officers, photo journalists and graphic artists in the employment of the Ministry to attend and be seated at 8.30am as a matter of duty.

It will be recalled that the capacity building programme was declared open last week Tuesday by the State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Adelani Baderinwa.

African Leaders Urged to Unite, Tackle Continent’s Challenges

African leaders have been called upon to unite and tackle the challenges facing the continent for social-economic development.

The Media Training Supervisor, Mrs.Omyma Elsayed, made the call in Egypt, during the forty-Two graduation ceremony of the African Media Training course, organised by the Supreme Council of Media Regulation.

Mrs. Elsayed added that, Africa has enough resources to compete with other continents in the world when effectively utilized.

Mrs. Omyma Elsayed, also urged the participants to use the experiences acquired during the training in their various countries, for the benefits and unity of the African continent.

“The main reason of this training is to bring all Africans together to make Africa strong continent and to be a one unit, just like Europe, America, you participants of the training you know Egypt now we are trying to help you not for yourselves but for Africa,” she said.

The President, Egyptian Supreme Council of Media Regulation, Dr. Makram Muhammad, who spoke in Arabic, challenged the participants to domesticate the knowledge acquired in their respective countries for the overall development of the continent.

Miss. Dibuseng Meloe, from South Africa, who spoke on behalf of the participants expressed their delights and intention about the training.

“Thanks to Egyptian government and the organizers of this training, the training sessions were educative and informative, experts from different media fields conducted our classes, the programmers and technicians enjoyed both theoretical and practical sessions. This training would go a long way in enhancing our performances in our various stations as well as improve the media performance in Africa,” she said.

Thirty-one participants from thirteen African countries including Nigeria partook in the media training in Egypt, which was established in 1977.

VON

Saraki Seeks Media’s Partnership to Grow Economy

Nigeria’s Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has called for greater collaboration between the media and government at all levels towards accelerated economic development of the country.

In a statement to mark the 2017 World Press Freedom Day, signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki called on media owners, public and private – to enhance the welfare and security of practitioners in the media, he said “There is no doubt that one of the major challenges confronting us as a people is how to grow the economy and provide jobs for our teaming population. I believe the press has a great role to play in accelerating the process through the dissemination of appropriate information and unbiased reportage of government’s economic recovery efforts.

“The Nigerian media played tremendous role in ending military rule. It is time for her to join the crusade to build a sustainable economy for the benefit of all.”

PUNCH Saga: The Guardian Newspaper’s Portrayal of President Buhari ‘Uncharitable’ –Presidency

The presidency has dismissed as sheer mischief, the attribution of the unfortunate expulsion of the Punch reporter Mr. Lekan Adetayo from the Villa to the person of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Reacting to the Guardian Newspaper’s headline report entitled “Memories of Decree 4” the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said it was wrong and improper to use the isolated incident to judge the character of the President as if he was responsible for what happened.

According to him, the President has not and would never approve the oppression and humiliation of any journalist in the course of carrying out their legitimate duties.

He explained that the Guardian was behaving like someone waiting eagerly to attack the President at the slightest opportunity in order to portray the incident as evidence of his alleged dislike of the media.

Mr. Shehu added that despite the President dissociating himself from the unfortunate incident and the affected journalist being recalled, the Guardian still chose to go for the President’s jugular, holding him personally responsible for an action he knew nothing about.

The Presidential Aide noted that such headline was misleading and mischievous because it was seeking to portray the President personally in bad light, with the sinister purpose of making him look like an enemy of the media.

According to Shehu, since he was sworn into office, President Buhari has not oppressed any media house or journalist on account of writing unfavourable reports about him or his government.

He reiterated the President’s respect for the freedom of the press and his commitment to protect their liberties at all times.

News Diary

Trump Bars CNN, New York Times, Others from Briefing

Several major U.S. media outlets including New York Times, CNN and Los Angeles Times were barred from attending Friday White House briefing, indicating an escalation in the relationship between the media and the young Trump administration.

Since he was sworn in on 20 January, Trump has been attacking the US media, deriding them as purveyors of ‘fake news’, ‘dishonest media’ and so on and had disputed several accounts published by the media.

Not trusting how they would treat his story, Trump last week addressed a rally in Florida.

Just today, Trump in Twitter posts blasted the FBI for not tracing the source of a leak of his administration’s links to Russia. The story was published by CNN on Thursday.

According to a report by Daily Beast, journalists hav

Osun Is Under The Siege Of Disinformation, By Inwalomhe Donald

There is a partial media blackout in the State of Osun. There is almost no reporting on positive developmental strides taken by Governor Rauf Aregbesola.

Instead, the reports that make it to the media appears to be a huge smear campaign of Aregbesola’s character by paid ‘bloggers’, who use smear headlines like ‘Osun Pensioners IDP Camp’, ‘Islamizing Osun’, ‘Osun Debt’, and others to smear the character of the Governor. A section of Osun media is curiously silent on more than 300 kilometers of roads constructed across various local government areas of the state and the East-West bypass in Osogbo. Interestingly, Osun has one of the longest road construction records in Nigeria, which enhances easy access for residents, but this is never reported by the media in Osun. They have simply refused to report it.

In addition to the roads earlier mentioned:

*The Eastern bypass axis of the intracity ring road in Osogbo is being completed, with work rounding up on the three link bridges connecting the roads;

*A strategic trumpet interchange at the ever busy Gbongan junction of the Ife-Ibadan highway is also nearing completion;

*The Trumpet interchange bridge further connects another dual carriage road construction that links Gbongan town to Osogbo;

*Also, there are a number of intercity and other major road constructions linking Osun to other neighbouring states, including-

*A 74km boundary highway connecting Osun and Lagos through Orile-owu, Ijebu-Igbo;

*A 47km highway connecting Osun and Kwara States; and several other road maintenance and repairs projects across the state are being handled by the Osun Road Maintenance Agency.

Has the media in Osun State collapsed? This question is germane because Osun makes leading headlines for negative reasons, but when there are positive developments in Osun, the media will be silent. Since 2012 when Governor Aregbesola started the Osun school feeding programme, a section of the media has been silent on it. When Governor Aregbesola took sukuk bond, a section of the media said that Aregbesola wanted to Islamize Nigeria. Now that sukuk projects are being commissioned, the media is silent. The media is silent on the six completed High Schools built with sukuk fund: Ilesa High School, Osogbo High School, Ataoja High School Osogbo, Fakunle High School, Osogbo, Wole Soyinka High School Ejigbo and Seventh Day Adventist High, Ede.

Given these evidences, the credibility of the media in Osun has collapsed because the same media who reported that Governor Aregbesola wanted to Islamize Nigeria when he was taking sukuk bond can not tell Nigerians that Governor Aregbesola has used sukuk bond to build 792 classrooms, 66 laboratories, 22 ICT halls for the 11 High Schools across Osun State. The media can not tell Nigerians that Osogbo High School, Ilesa High School and Iwo High School are built with steel, not cement blocks and these are first of their types in Nigeria.

From 2012, the news organizations have suggested over and again that they can never be believed on anything in Osun. They have proven that, if given the chance, they will deliberately withhold important information from their readers while knowingly publishing false, defamatory hit pieces that are engineered solely to misinform the public and subvert the democratic process in Osun.
In essence, the mainstream media in Osun is so desperately biased and unfair in its exasperating effort to destroy Governor Aregbesola that it has obliterated any illusion of credibility it once had. Journalism has utterly collapsed across the entire mainstream media in Osun.

From the inception of his administration in 2010, Aregbesola has been in the eye of the press storm, often for the wrong reasons. His energy and drive; the openness of his government; and his outspokenness attracted the attention of his political detractors and the press. To complicate matters, his enthusiastic embrace of people-oriented policies and programmes generated a lot of debate. This was particularly true of the revolutionary education programme, featuring school reclassification, school mergers, school feeding and uniforms; a social welfare programme for seniors; and an ambitious infrastructure development programme, featuring a ring road around Osogbo and the construction of a modern airport with a hanger.

To be sure, a number of these developments have been reported and discussed in the press. Unfortunately however, it appears that the press can hardly pass off an opportunity to drop a negative line or two about Aregbesola. This was evident in how quickly he was made the scapegoat among the 26 or so governors owing salary arrears for their workers.

The false reports began as soon as Aregbesola assumed office in 2010. He was falsely accused of moving Osun towards secession from the Federal Republic, by styling his state the State of Osun. Later, in an editorial, one newspaper listed Osun as one of the states which purchased exotic cars for their traditional rulers, when not even a bicycle was purchased for any traditional ruler.

In 2014, a newspaper also published a feature article, with a headline which suggested that controversy still surrounded the state’s free school feeding initiative, while in reality, parents, farmers, and caterers were thanking the governor for it. Not done, the newspaper went on, almost a year later, to publish another false story, indicating possible cancellation of the school feeding programme, when no such plan was ever contemplated.

In none of the fabricated school feeding stories were the health benefits of the meal programme highlighted nor was there a mention of the multiplier economic benefits to the farmers, who produce the foodstuffs; the local traders who sell fruits and vegetables; and the caterers, who cook the food, many of whom were simultaneously empowered to service their local communities.

The intensification of the crisis surrounding the delayed payment of salaries was the motive behind another false story by the same newspaper in which a chairman of a pensioners’ forum was cited as calling on the Central Bank of Nigeria to stop the bailout for Osun. The fellow cited in the story claimed that he never spoke with the said newspaper.

These false reports raise a major question. First, why would a reporter habitually publish false stories, and against the same target? There are three possible answers. One, the newspaper has a hidden agenda against the target of the false stories. Two, the reporter is being rewarded for publishing the stories by the sources of the false information. Three, the reporter is ethically challenged.

Today, the media in Osun State could not tell Nigerians that Federal Government school feeding is not different from the operation of the school feeding programme embarked by the Aregbesola administration and now it has been taken over by the Federal Government. Osun State, the first to provide free meals for primary school children, has had marked progress in school enrolment, retention, and performance but the successful programme has been under-reported by the media. From 2012-2016, Osun State was the only state in Nigeria that sustained the Nigerian school feeding programme and the media under reported it.

Today the media in Osun State could not tell Nigerians that the Osun Elementary School Feeding and Health Programme now known as O-MEALS is the only surviving school meal programmes in the country. It was formerly known as the Home Grown School Feeding and Health Programme (HGSFP) . This has now been restructured and enhanced by the administration of the State of Osun, to reach a larger number of students (254,000) and to empower over 3000 community caterers.

The programme was initiated by the Federal Government in 2004 through the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act but on assumption of office, the Aregbesola administration undertook a comprehensive review of the inherited school feeding arrangement and came up with an overhauled and rebranded programme that was officially launched on the 30th April 2012. Implementation in primary schools is ongoing throughout the State. The key areas of improvement undertaken by the current administration are, inclusion of elementary year 4 , thereby increasing beneficiaries to 254,000, Capacity Development and Empowerment of 3007 Community Caterers , Backwards Integration to Local Markets and Process Improvements.

Till date the media in Osun State has not told Nigerians that this scheme has gained international endorsement as well. In November 2012, Partnership for Child Development (PCD) United Kingdom and the Government of the State of Osun signed the Osun Elementary School Feeding Transition Strategy Plan Document to further strengthen the programme. O-MEALS aims to reverse the very low academic performance of pupils, given that good nutrition is necessary for development of cognitive skills. The daily feeding allowance for each pupil has also been increased from ₦50.00 to ₦250.00.

For effective service, a total number of 3,007 food vendors/cooks were trained and are currently employed to serve midday meals for pupils of classes 1, 2 , 3 and 4 in all primary schools in the State of Osun. For easy identification, each of the food vendors was provided with uniforms free of charge.

Till date the media in Osun State has not told Nigerians that the programme has helped increase school enrolment by a minimum of 25% since the commencement of the revised programme.

When one considers the gross underreporting of developmental strides by the State and the frequent lies published as truth against the current administration, there is only one valid conclusion: Osun is indeed under a media siege.

Inwalomhe Donald, a public affairs analyst writes from Benin City ([email protected]

Always Promote Govt Programmes That Benefit Masses; Aregbesola Tells Media

The Governor of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has called on the media to be the best promoter of programmes and policies of government that have mass benefits to the society.

He also described as exaggerated and uncalled for the action of few elements, who called themselves pensioners, to have tagged themselves as “internally displaced persons” in their own peaceful territory.

The Governor stated these at an investiture and award ceremony where members of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Osun Chapter, made him their Grand Patron.

Aregbesola stated that media organizations have the duty to support and promote any programme that is good and valuable to the general well being of the society.

He stated that based on the beneficial impact of government programmes, journalists should always strive to support and encourage it so as to bring out the positive values to the people.

Aregbesola singled out two such beneficial programmes – Walk to Live and Calisthenic – as such impactful sporting programmes his government introduced for the benefit of both young and old in the state.

According to the Governor, such programmes, which ensures healthy living, promote team work, unity of purpose and develop cognitive ability of school children are too important to be ignored by the media and sports journalists in particular.

“Sporting activities promote healthy living and drive away boredom as well as promote spirit of organisation and team work. In recognition of this, we introduced two key programmes: Walk to Live and Calisthenic.

“But sports journalists did not give these two mass participatory and beneficial programmes enough coverage they deserved. Such programmes are too important and helpful to turn a blind eye to.

“In particular, as sports journalists and in general, as media practitioners, I think we have the enormous duty of informing the people about what government is doing.

“Besides, let us encourage government to do things that have positive values to the generality of the people.

“We should also challenge government on the need to continue programmes that have positive impacts on our people.

“Whatever is good; whatever has values, must be promoted and supported. Whatever will raise and develop the society should not at all be neglected or ignored by the media,” Aregbesola said.

The governor said such sporting activities also involved coordination, saying coordination is very essential for communal development and success.

He said his government would continue to encourage people to engage in sporting exercise so as to eliminate stress, numbness and promote sound and healthy living.

He stressed that government has also expanded the scope and coverage of calisthenics to include both public and private schools, adding that what government wanted is mass participation by all stakeholders.

Aregbesola also said the pensioners have no cause to curry unnecessary sympathy for themselves as they have just received accumulated four months pension arrears.

He noted that apart from Lagos State, no state has paid such amounts, saying the nation’s is just going through what he called “a special period.”

He noted that though government owed them gratuity which will be paid when the economy improves, he added that with the four months of pensions cleared, his government should be commended.

“It was very funny and shameful when some people said they are pensioners and that they are displaced in the own territory. They can never say they are protesting because of money or unpaid arrears.

“It should be to my eternal credit‎ no matter what my traducers may want to say, just two weeks ago, we paid accumulated four months arrears, we are not saying it is the best that can happen but it is a major relief to those who received it,” he said.

Earlier in his address, the Chairman, Osun Sports Writers Association, Mr. Yemi Aboderin, commended Governor Aregbesola for initiating the monthly Walk-to-live programme for the promotion o‎f healthy living development agenda among the people of the state.

He stated that it is also worthy of commendation the declaration of the government of Osun that sporting activities should be made compulsory in all public schools in the state.

The SWAN chairman held that the financing and renaming of Prime Footb‎all Club to Osun United will now allow the people of the state to see the football club as Osun rather than the perception of the club as that of Osogbo.

He said, “We cannot afford to look the other way the honour the school calisthenics display has brought to the state.

“We are aware of the government policy which brought the state sports council under the direct supervision of the office of the Governor for effective supervision and performance.

“Your Excellency, let me put it on record that since the state was created over 25years back and since the coming of SWAN, our amiable governor will be the first beneficiary of this mark of honour as Grand patron of SWAN in the state”. He stressed.