The Chairman, Editorial Board of Vanguard newspapers, Ochereome Nnanna, sparked a rage on the Internet on Saturday, following his comment describing the Yoruba as ‘sophisticated morons’.
The comment generated angry reactions from Nigerians who noted that Nnanna, based on his position, carried whatever hatred he nursed for the tribe too far with his snide remark.
It all started when Nnanna and one Sunday Areh made nasty remarks on Facebook about the Yoruba in reference to the praise that trailed President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration of June 12 as Democracy Day and conferment of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic on the late Chief MKO Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the 1993 presidential election.
Areh wrote, “I used to think that the South-West was very sophisticated. I was wrong. They are the most gullible. They fall for every poisoned carrot dangled before them.’’ Reacting to the post, Nnanna said, “Sophisticated morons more like.”
Upon realising the weight of his comment, Nnanna hurriedly wrote, “My people, just calm down. I can’t call any ethnic tribe dirty names. Coolu tempah. I hold you all in high regard. Let it go.”
He said he only commented on a friend’s post and didn’t mention any ethnic group, urging those provoked by the comment to “beware of blackmailers. I am a free mind.”
Many people further reacted furiously to the later posts with one of them, Ganiyu Olosunde, saying, “Sir, I thought you were an epitome of finesse, a refined gentleman and mind full of wisdom by being an ardent reader of your column since my youthful days until you openly expressed your disdain for my race with the use of gutter language. Please note, this incident has rung the bell of separation between me and your column in any media.”
However, Vanguard dissociated itself from the outburst, which it described as unwarranted, careless and private.
In a statement by its Editor-in-Chief, Gbenga Adefaye, the newspaper stated that the comment, allegedly disparaging an ethnic section of the nation, was ostensibly made as part of a private conversation on a social media thread.
It added, “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 cognisance 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.”
The newspaper assured patrons, readers and stakeholders to always remain on the path of correct professional etiquette, practise responsible journalism and adhere to the highest ethics of fairness, objectivity and just conduct as vital ingredients for peace and growth in a plural and multifaceted society like Nigeria’s.