INTERVIEW: Quitting my job for Peter Obi sacrifice for good governance — I’m not seeking political appointment, says journalist

The decision of Favour Bassey Otu, the Nigerian journalist, to resign her job to fully support Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), ahead of 2023 election came as a surprise to many.

But for her, it was a risk worth taking.

Obi has continued to pull weight ahead of next year’s election and enjoys massive support from the youths, particularly on social media.

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Favour, who resigned her job with Silverbird Television, is one of those who believe in the capacity of the LP presidential candidate to transform Nigeria.

In this interview with CRISPNG’s GENEVIEVE ANINGO, she talks about what informed her decision, criticisms, and plans to ensure Obi becomes the country’s next president. 

Please introduce yourself highlighting your role in Silverbird TV and working duration

I am Favour Bassey Otu, a journalist with more than five (5) years of experience. I had worked with several online media organizations before I joined Silverbird in August 2020 as a volunteer just after the coronaVirus pandemic, worked as a volunteer for a year and five months before gaining employment in February 2022. My passion for journalism is what kept me through the years. During this period, I covered the business, health, and foreign affairs beats for Silverbird TV and Radio. I also worked as a news producer, video editor, and newscaster on Silverbird’s Rhythm 94.7FM. I am still shocked at the level of engagement I had on the post I made about the resignation on Twitter. I honestly wasn’t expecting that.

Before your resignation, in what ways did you feel your job prevented you from showing full support for Peter Obi?

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Of course, every journalist knows that one of the codes of ethics of the profession is objectivity, that is balance and fairness. So, in this context, it means that a journalist must not have any political affiliation or interest. The truth is that every journalist has who they are supporting, but the most they can do is argue about their candidates in the newsroom, some will even hide their political leaning just to be loyal to every candidate, because “where you dey work, na there you dey chop”.

But to me, I felt that if I must do more, then I have to resign. It is a sacrifice I needed to pay for us to achieve good governance in Nigeria, I just couldn’t sit back and watch another year go by without doing anything and I know how many people I have inspired just by this move. Some have even come to love Peter Obi because of this. Also, there’s long been a debate in Journalism about whether reporters and editors whose work requires them to be unbiased should vote, but the truth is that by doing so, the journalist would be betraying the code of their profession. So, for me to be actively involved in this fight for good governance, I needed to take a break in my career. It is a sacrifice I have to make to see that we take back this country from selfish people.

Can you tell us the depth of your conviction in Obi’s candidacy that made you take such a bold move?

When I hear people say why Peter Obi? I always say why not him? Peter Obi has got all his boxes checked, he is a man of integrity, he’s not the regular kind of politician we have today, he has a blueprint of success to his name and zero tolerance for corruption. So far, no allegation of corruption has been associated with him. We have seen how he managed public funds in Anambra state, he created opportunities that brought in foreign direct investments that even the Debt Management Office (DMO) rated Anambra as the least indebted state in Nigeria at the time. What sector do we want to talk about under his administration? Education, health… he is young and vibrant. The only people who will not stand with Peter Obi are people who have one selfish interest or the other and they are the enemies of this country. I believe that with the right mindset and adequate grassroots sensitisation which the Obidients are planning, we will deliver Peter Obi to Nigerians. A lot of plans are on the ground to achieve our goal.

What informed such conviction and how do you think Obi can transform Nigeria differently from what it is?

His vision for this country. Anyone that listens to him with an open mind cannot help but key into his vision. Nigeria has remained a consumption economy for as long as I can remember, despite all efforts of the present and past administrations to improve our production capacity. Peter Obi is keen on the economy, when he transforms this nation from a consumption economy to a production economy, we will see an increase in job opportunities, and when people are positively engaged, crime rate reduces. Majority of Nigerians are either uneducated or jobless and that is why criminality and corruption are on the rise.

The only people who will not stand with Peter Obi are people who have one selfish interest or the other and they are the enemies of this country.

In your tweet, you highlighted that your choice to resign and support Peter Obi was not a campaign. How do you describe your action? 

Yes, it’s not a campaign because it is not yet time for a campaign. I would say it is patriotism and expression of interest in the Obidient Movement, when you say Favoritism I laugh, because the Labour Party Candidate “no dey give shishi” “Still Laughing….” I’m not even looking for a political appointment because I am a journalist, and I intend to go back to my career when we have delivered or I start my own media organization. I believe the sky is large enough for every bird to fly.

Can you share your plans to support Peter and Datti in securing the presidential and Vice presidential seat

I have a lot of plans, so many people have reached out to me regarding what needs to be done, I intend to partner with some support groups to reach out to as many people as possible from all the six-geopolitical groups, we want to find out what their issues are especially with the challenge they face with PVC collection.

Also, I plan to start the “Northerners for Peter Obi” and mobilise as many youths as possible in this movement. There are a lot of Northerners who believe in him and are interested in being part of what we do, so we will carry them along. I was born and brought up in Borno state, so I understand these people, they are very simple and I strongly believe that Peter Obi’s emergence will unite this country.

Do you really think Peter Obi can dislodge Atiku and Tinubu in 2023?

Peter Obi has the support of over 70 percent of the youths who make up a larger proportion of our population. Tinubu is not even a competition, he had already lost it with the Muslim-Muslim ticket, I hear recently that Northern Christian leaders have written a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari rejecting a Muslim – Muslim ticket and are threatening to vote the party out if they go on. What people don’t understand is that Christians in the north make up about 60 percent of the population even though most northern states have Muslim governors. But I want to urge the Obidients not to be distracted by this and focus on the goal. Talking about Atiku, he is not a competition as well, so the coast is clear already.

Many are of the view that the “Obidient” movement only exists on social media…do you think your presidential candidate has the structure to clinch victory in 2023?

First, they said the OBIdient Movement exists only on social media, but when last did you hear that phrase? They are starting to feel the wave of heat. Their next argument is that Peter Obi doesn’t have a structure, ask them the structure they are talking about? it is the money that they share to the poor and vulnerable to manipulate their minds they call structure, let’s not be deceived. Peter Obi has more than a structure. Just watch how things play out!

Did you think that the ethics and regulations preventing journalists in Nigeria from involving in politics is undemocratic/ unfair/ unreasonable especially in a democratic society that praises political participation? Should those regulations be reviewed?

It is not just in Nigeria; it is one of the principles of journalism set up by the society of professional journalists. There are around 400 codes covering journalistic work around the world, and this is just one of them, so it cannot be reviewed in Nigeria. Journalists can be involved in politics but cannot support openly and vote.

Tinubu is not even a competition, he had already lost it with the Muslim-Muslim ticket.

One of the ethics of journalism is independence which ensures that journalism should be non-partisan. How realistic is this judging from your stay in the media? Obviously, it seems Silverbird TV is loyal to this, given your resignation. Can you say other media outlets and journalists obey the ethics of independence in their reportage?

How can a media organization be independent? How will they pay their staff? Most of these organizations are being sponsored by these politicians but I do not want to say anything about any organization.

Your advice to other Nigerians who want to fully participate in supporting their political candidate of choice but is limited due to professional ethics

I just want to urge every Nigerian to join the fight for good governance in any way possible, no matter how little, you do not need to leave your job or break a bank, you will be shocked by the number of people you would be inspiring just by doing the little you can. Most importantly I want us to look beyond ethnicity and religion, we are all Nigerians first before any tribe and religion. If we travel out of this country, we are all regarded as Nigerians, no one will address you as Yoruba, Igbo, or Hausa. So, how long will we continue to sell our future and conscience because of tribe and religion? At this point what Nigeria needs is a credible leader to set this country on the right path again.

What do you desire to tell the millions of Nigerians who misjudge your move, perhaps hinging your action as a bribe, planned, or unwise decision?

Majority of the people who misjudge me are uninformed and I honestly don’t have anything to say to them. We must come to terms with the fact that everyone cannot understand you and believe in you or where you’re going, so people will always judge. But the percentage of people that appreciate me are way more than those that don’t, so why should I bother about them?

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