Recently, a section of a weekly programme on NTA, ‘Tuesday Night Live’ was put on hold, while two journalists, participants in the programme, Madina Azaki and Jubrin Baba Ndache were suspended from taking part in the presentation without any prior notice. In this interview, Madina Azaki explains why she was removed from participating in the programme.
Can you tell us why you are here?
The live programme on NTA called ‘Tuesday Night Live’ is a programme in which my colleagues from other media organisations and I participate. The corner, where we make contributions, has been stopped. We felt that the programme represents the people, and it shouldn’t be stopped, not just because of us alone, but because of millions of Nigerians out there.
What was the reason given for stopping the programme?
As usual, I called on Monday from the producer, Adamu Abdullahi, to find out what was going to be the topic of discussion for the week, but he told me that the NTA management has been summoned to the presidential villa and that a colleague and my humble self, Jubrin Ndachi, who is an assistant general manager with Blue Print Newspaper, should stop participating in the programme. I tried to find out the reason for the action, but was told that it cannot be discussed on phone. When I visited the NTA some days after, some friends I met jokingly told me that they heard that I am an APC member. Another person told me that I was using the programme to promote a northern agenda.
I was shocked and I said how I can be promoting a northern agenda when most of the people who come are northerners and we really ask them very hot questions and we take them on topical issues. I am not even a card-carrying member of any political party and we have never discussed anything on ‘Tuesday Live’ pertaining APC registration or whatever. How can you then say that we are APC members? What that means is that every vibrant person is an APC member.
Was it only two of you that were removed from participating in the programme?
Yes, I think that the NTA was trying to rescue the situation, by coming up with the excuse that it wants to reshuffle the corner, because the corner is not balanced. According to them, there are more of northerners in the corner than other zones and that they need to bring in other Nigerians. So they were asked to stop the corner for now. But in the same week we were asked to step down, some other journalists, who are pro-government, were asked to participate in the programme.
The corner is supposed to air a different view from the NTA’s view. It is supposed to be the Nigerian view, which is an independent view. I think it was because the NTA wanted to save itself that they told us that they were reshuffling the corner. We don’t know the kind of reshuffle they are planning, but I believe that at the end of the day the kind of people they are going to bring are people who are pro-government. We are approaching 2015, and so every opposition, every voice that will be against the president’s ambition in 2015 must be muzzled, crushed and intimidated. I think it is very dangerous for our growing democracy.
What topic do you normally discuss on this programme?
It’s a current affairs programme. We discuss national issues. This two-hour programme starts every Tuesday by 11pm and ends at 1am. Stakeholders’ corner comprises journalists from different media organisations who have their own independent questions. Four telephone lines are also opened for 30 minutes into the programme, to allow people call in to ask their questions, as part of their own contributions. It is kind of participatory programme.
When did this programme start on NTA?
Well, I started participating in 2009, but it has been on-going since the year 1999. Many journalists have been participating on that programme for a very long time.
How were you picked to be a participant in the programme?
In 2009, I went to NTA and told the then presenter, Aliyu Baba Barau that I want to participate in the programme. He didn’t know me from anywhere. I also wanted to know what the criteria was for choosing participants for the programme, but he told me that if you are a journalist and you have very good questions to offer, then they will give the opportunity to come and prove yourself. That was exactly how I became a participant in the programme.
Are you expecting any kind of apology or compensation from the NTA on the way your participation in the programme was suspended?
I am not asking for any compensation, because right from the beginning, I felt it was an opportunity to represent the average Nigerian on the streets.