NOVEMBER 23, 1859 & 2009

1859

On this day, the first newspaper in Nigeria known as “Iwe Irohin Fun Awon Ara Egba Ati Yoruba” was published by Rev. Henry Townsend, a Presbyterian Church missionary in Abeokuta.

According to the publisher, Rev. Henry Townsend, “My objective is to get the people to read and to beget the habit of seeking information by reading.”

Sent from United Kingdom to preach and propagate the ethos of Christianity to the communities and also spread the gospel to all corners of the country, Henry Townsend, knew that he would not be able to communicate effectively with the people without affording them the opportunity to be able to read and write, hence, the idea of publishing the newspaper.

The main objective of Iwe Iroyin is to popularize reading among Egba and Yoruba and to increase the habit of seeking information by reading. Also, the media was a powerful tool to distribute religious doctrine, fostering the outreach of the Christian religion at the time.

Sold for 120 cowries, majority of the topics covered were focused around the church and to be published every 15 days with a circulation of 3000 copies. Content included news of church activities; arrival and departure of religious dignitaries; ordinations, etc.

A copy of Iwe Irohin

Henry Townsend

 

2009

On this day, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua abruptly left the county to seek treatment for a heart ailment at the King Faisal specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia without handing over to his vice-president. According to the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, “President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua will leave Abuja today for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. While in Saudi Arabia, the President will call on his personal physicians in Jeddah for follow-up medical checks.” The leadership crisis resulting from Yar’Adua’s failure to constitutionally hand over power to Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan – either at time of his departure or on the sick bed – had more than just political implications for Nigeria. So many programmes, events and other sensitive issues that required the personal attention of the president were either put on hold or were cancelled due to his absence. It rocked the oil sector and threatened to undo substantial security gains made in the oil-producing Niger-Delta, following a mostly successful amnesty and demobilization programme for the region’s largest rebel group, movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).

The power vacuum also reinforced international and domestic fears about the insidious level of corruption – considered the largest obstacle to foreign  investment – at all levels of government, exacerbated by the absence of a head of state to impose some level of transparency on public spending.

President Yaradua

Yaradua and Jonathan

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