Historical records show that indigenous newspapers started from Western Nigeria, particularly Badagry, the headquarters of Iwe Irohin. Gradually, the nationalist consciousness spread to the East and North with the publication of many newspapers by easterners and northerners. Some of these newspapers contributed immensely to the actualisation of Nigeria as a nation.
At the end of this unit, you should be able to:
- discuss the expansion of newspapers in the East and North.
3.0 MAIN CONTENT
3.1 Gaskiya Tafi Kwabo and Citizen
These two newspapers belonged to the northern-based political party the Northern Peoples’ Congress (NPC). They also emerged as rivals to the Party newspapers established by the NCNC and Action Group.
Gaskiya Tafi kwabo an Hausa language newspaper was founded on 1st January, 1939 by the Gaskiya Corporation which later added to its stable, the Citizen, another weekly that (later) metamorphosed into the 54 New Nigerian on 1st January, 1966. The New Nigerian was taken over by the Federal Government alongside the Daily Times in 1975.
The Northern Nigerian government controlled by the NPC had them as its mouthpiece in the struggle for the control of the machinery of the Federal Nigerian Government still under colonial rule. Gaskiya Tafi Kwabo means “Truth is worthier than money.”
While the NCNC used the West African Pilot and its group to fight the battle for political supremacy over its counterparts, the Action Group used the Nigerian Tribune and the resurrected Daily Service to fight its course. The NPC was relying on the Citizen and Gaskiya Tafi Kwabo for national leadership among its rivals. More will be discussed on this topic in the chapter on issues and personalities.
Justify the name “Gaskiya Tafi Kwabo.”
3.2 The Comet Newspaper (1933-1945)
The Comet newspaper was set up in 1933 by Duse Mohammed Ali, an Egyptian who lived in northern Nigeria. This Egyptian Moslem proprietor had earlier founded the newspaper in London but decided to transfer it to Nigeria in 1933. The Comet’s objective was the advancement and promotion of the level of nationalism in Africa through its news reports and editorials. To achieve this objective, the newspaper set out to become militant and nationalistic indeed. It supported and promoted the cause of Nigerian workers as was evidenced by its role in the 1945 worker’s strike which led to its ban and proscription by the colonial authorities.
3.3 The Messenger (1921-1926)
This newspaper established and edited by Ernest Sisei Ikoli began publication on 10th March 1921 in Lagos. It was a weekly newspaper sold for three pence and published by the Nigerian Printing and Publishing Company (NPPC) owned by Ikoli.
The editorial office of the newspaper was at 24 Odunlami Street, Lagos while it was printed at the Awobola Press, Pearse Square, Olowogbowo, Lagos. It published for some period, and was briefly interrupted until 1926 when it suspended publication and transformed into the Nigeria Daily Times when Ikoli was unable to fund the newspaper alone. It was sold to officials of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce who renamed it the Nigerian Daily Times.
3.4 The Daily Service (1933-1936)
The Daily Service was published in 1933 by Ernest Ikoli who had earlier founded the African Messenger and edited the Nigerian Daily Times. The Daily Service later became the official organ of the organisation known as the Nigeria Youth Movement (NYM). The newspaper was published under the proprietorship of a lawyer, Mr. Olatunji Caxton-Martins.
3.5 The Dawn
The Dawn newspaper was edited by Mr. C. Williams, a Sierra Leonean who also was the publisher. He was a stenographer and printer who started publication in Aba with a handful of staff as he had not enough money to hire enough workers. As he was almost doing everything by himself, he was given the name “The jack of all trade of Nigerian journalism.” Despite the lack of enough financial resources and staff to run the newspaper, it was able to remain on the newsstands steadily with a circulation of 2000 copies weekly.
The Dawn newspaper was able to stamp its name as an eastern-based newspaper, making its publisher one of the foremost pioneers of journalism in the eastern part of Nigeria. It ceased publication in the year 1940.
3.6 Other Publications
Other publications include the West African Advertiser (1935) published jointly by J.T. John, a surveyor M.O. and Hiege, a businessman, the Eastern Nigerian Mail (1933) the Calabar Observer (1902).
In addition, there are several religious journals founded in the early part of the 20th Century. They include the Leisure Hours published by CMS Bookshop in Lagos (1917), the Nigerian Methodist (1925), the African Christian (1931), the African Church Chronicle, 1934 and the Catholic Life published in Calabar in (1936 to the 1970s).
The Colonial era was indeed characterised by the preponderance of newspapers. The interesting thing is that most of these newspapers were published by non- Nigerians. It is believed that all these publications inone way or the other contributed to the success of the nationalist movement in Nigeria.
In this unit, we have discussed the establishment of some newspapers in Nigeria such as Gaskiya Tafi Kwabo, Citizen, Comet, Messenger, Daily Service, Dawn and other publications.
6.0 TUTOR-MARKED ASSIGNMENT
Trace the chronology of the spread of newspapers to the eastern part of Nigeria during the colonial era?