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How NEXT Newspaper Was Silenced. by steve6: 8:35am On Aug 14, 2017
How Investigation Into Alison-Madueke’s Corruption Killed NEXT Newspaper — Dele Olojede
August 13, 2017 Omoniyi Osadare 1

In this second part of his extensive interview with Feyi Fawehinmi, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Dele Olojede, speaks on why NEXT newspapers, which he started in 2008 with a grand vision to beam the light for cleaning up and straightening Nigeria through investigative journalism, could not have survived; and why, in spite of the stifling political environment, he believes Nigeria can still be redeemed and transformed

Feyi: After the Pulitzer you went back to South Africa, then you decided you wanted to do something in Nigeria. What was the key driver for this? Do you think you were over confident?

Dele: Possibly. And I suppose without being over confident you couldn’t try something truly substantial, because the sheer scale of the difficulty would scare you into not doing anything. So I think it was probably a good thing that I didn’t fully appreciate beforehand all the obstacles that one would face and all the consequences of the action that one was taking, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it at all.

But to answer the question more directly, I had never wanted anything in my life other than to contribute in some fashion to making the country a good place you could be very proud of. That you were born there, came from there and your ancestors were from there. As I said to you, even when we were very young reporters at age 21, 22, 23, 24 in Lagos, we felt we were on a mission to change the country and we were free to challenge people. Remember all the fight between the Guardian and the Buhari – Idiagbon regime and all my friends who were put in detention for a while? So we were never afraid of these guys. We felt it was our country and we were going to change it.

So I always had that in me. In fact, I had always had the idea, given the circumstances of my departure from the country, that one day I was going to come back to this place and we were going to attempt to do this all over again. So that was always there. But then, of course, it went into hibernation. For years, I didn’t think much of it. I was travelling and working all over the world, I was busy and enjoying my work and starting a family and raising children. It was only when it became clear to me that I was being thought of as one of the potential successors to my old boss in New York, Tony Maro, who was the editor of the paper, and I was kind of going to be put in line of succession as number two or three or whatever, that I began to seriously think if I get into this track where I’m running a major American newspaper, I will never go back home again.

And so I began to look for ways of exiting. And part of that exit strategy was just to take myself out of the newsroom for a while. Which is why I assigned myself to go to Rwanda on the 10th anniversary of the genocide to do those stories, so that those who did accept to step into the succession could be freed without being constantly second guessed as to whether Dele was going to jump in or not. And so, after all this was all done, I then decided to take the buyout at the end of 2004.

So I always knew I was going to try and do something. The exact shape of it was not clear to me and it was only after I had left the paper that I decided ‘why don’t we go try to do a newspaper sort of similar to NewsDay?’ except that it would be more self-consciously an anti-corruption investigative newspaper. And the idea behind it was that we were going to one, demonstrate to the country, a country that was so infernally corrupt, we were going to demonstrate that it was possible to have an institution that ran properly, that was not based on corruption, that was in fact impenetrable, which we achieved.

I think to the great pride of all the people who worked at NEXT, nobody could accuse us of being even remotely suspected of being involved in any corrupt practice. So I wanted to demonstrate that, first of all, that it was possible, and hopefully a lot more people would try it in their own spheres.

The second thing was that the country was in such bad shape that I thought that using the skills that I knew I had, which was my only serious area of strength, I could make sure that the country was very clear about its condition, that there was no room for self-deception, that people couldn’t say: ‘oh if only we’d known, we would have acted differently’.
We wanted to deny any Nigerian the opportunity to say only if they’d known! So we are going to show you what’s going on and we hope that by arming the citizen with factual incontrovertible information, they would take it and use it to act for the betterment of their own country. Now, that was a big assumption that turned out to be false! But that’s what we were attempting at the time.

Feyi: All the while you were abroad, I Imagine you kept contact with people in Nigeria?

Dele: Yeah. I kept contact with a relatively small number of people in Nigeria. Mostly professional colleagues who were also close and, of course, family and so on. So, I kept in touch but not in an intense way. Remember, I had set out for an adventure. This newspaper in New York was sending me all over the world, living and covering big events: the end of Apartheid and the rise of Mandela in South Africa; genocide in Rwanda; famine in Somalia; covering Asia, the transition in China; the handover of Hong Kong; economic collapse in East Asia; going to Japan; South Korea; India nuclear standoff with Pakistan; all of those things, elections in the Philippines!

It was a very full professional life that I was having, so I didn’t have much of a room for Nigeria at the time. Let’s just say that it was in the back of my mind. I was a bit alienated from it because I really resented (what happened) to Dele Giwa and the fact that the people who killed him seemed to be getting away with it. For a number of years, I didn’t want to hear anything about Nigeria at all. It was only much later, as you ripen, Shakespeare might have put it. Once you start achieving ripeness, then you have a more textured sense of life, and it was that period I slowly began to emotionally and intellectually reconnect with my country.

Feyi: In a way, not knowing much about Nigeria or keeping Nigeria at the back of your mind meant that you could go in boldly. I guess if you had all the information ahead of time, you probably won’t have done it?

Dele: I wouldn’t have, I am very clear about that. (laughs)

To read more on this interesting but lengthy interview visit the link below:

Re: How NEXT Newspaper Was Silenced. by three: 9:29am On Aug 14, 2017
In an attempt to be revolutionary as whistle-blowers in the largest black nation, the management (possibly due to naivete) appears to have made compromises regarding funding.

Similar to what Mr Sahara is doing now.
Re: How NEXT Newspaper Was Silenced. by SalamRushdie: 9:52am On Aug 14, 2017
High unrealistic overheads and a poor sales strategy killed NEXT newspaper and not any Diezani like he claims , they ran through thier investors seed funds in a very short time and sales never picked up because they came at time when a generation of Nigerians had made a shift from reading hardcopy newspapers to reading blogs and online publications to catch up with the news ..It was the same time Linda Ikeji also caught the winds in her sail .
Re: How NEXT Newspaper Was Silenced. by three: 9:55am On Aug 14, 2017
High unrealistic overheads and a poor sales strategy killed NEXT newspaper and not any Diezani like he claims , they ran through thier investors seed funds in a very short time and sales never picked up because they came....... .

In addition to this very valid concise summary, did they not politicise their raison d'etre by choosing sides?

1 Like

Re: How NEXT Newspaper Was Silenced. by aolawale025: 10:46am On Aug 14, 2017
They ruffled the feather of prospective advertisers. A major source of revenue. It's lame to blame it all on the former oil minister

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