Crisis has gripped the information sector in Sokoto State following the death of a member of staff of the Sokoto State Media Corporation (SSMC) in dramatic circumstances.....CONTINUE READING
The deceased, Malami Bandado, who was a producer with the state TV (RTV), collapsed, while facing a panel of management staff of the corporation headed by the Managing Director, Alhaji Labaran Lumo Dundaye.
Bandado was verbally summoned to the panel to answer to the allegation of blocking commercial patronage to the corporation from a furniture factory in Sokoto, Yusha’u Furniture, after adverts stopped coming to the media outfit from the firm.
Staff of SSMC told news correspondents that the deceased producer had an underlying high blood pressure condition and was one of the employees put under strenuous working conditions allegedly by the management, which took over control of the corporation after the recent elections.
On the fateful day, last Thursday, Bandado was subjected to a gruelling interrogation by the panel, which, in addition to the MD, had the DMD, Maryam Abdullahi, Director TV Services, Balkisu Abubakar and Director Commercial, Abdulrahman, in the process of which he suddenly collapsed on the floor of the MD’s office.
According to his colleagues, who witnessed the sad incident, the Producer was rushed to the hospital but he gave up the following morning of Friday, after doctors struggled to reverse his spiralling blood pressure to no avail. A source at the health facility said the doctor who attended to him revealed that Bandado died from the complications of a sudden surge in his blood pressure.
Most of the Corporation’s staff who spoke anonymously, for fear of reprisals from the management, expressed surprise that Malami Bandado who was not a Commercial/Advert officer but a Producer, was accused of influencing decision by Yushau Furniture regarding its advert placements.
According to sources within Yushau Furniture, the company decided to divert its adverts to other FM radio stations in town as a result of recent astronomical increases in the advert rates of the Rima Radio and Television Services.
There have been concerns in media circles in Sokoto State about the high-handed treatment of workers of the state-owned media, since the new APC government took over on May 29, especially at SSMC. Allegations are rife of Labaran Lumo Dundaye’s management’s political victimization of staff, through punitive postings and disposition of those identified as loyal to the opposition party.
After the appointment of new Departmental Directors in the media organisation, those replaced are yet to know their fate, as they have not been posted anywhere else by the Ministry of Information or the Office of the Head of Service. This is widely interpreted to be a deliberate ploy to humiliate those affected by making them work under their subordinates, as a punishment for not supporting the party in power during the last elections.
Meanwhile, as these crises unfold within the outfit, worries are widely being expressed about the degeneration of services by SSMC, as the media under the Corporation fail to operate to even half their capacity. While Rima Radio, for example, is experiencing difficulty in meeting up with its traditional 18 hours transmission period, RimaFM is failing to reach areas within Sokoto Metropolis and RTV is periodically off-air during its peak transmission times.
Another disturbing development resulting from the incident is the failure of authorities of the state Ministry of Information and the media organisation to issue a statement or pay a condolence visit to the family of the deceased days after his passing.
Similarly surprising is the reluctance or, hesitation of the two trade unions in the information sector, RATTAWU and the NUJ, to react to the circumstances of the death of their colleague and member, or even offer the minimal gesture of issuing a public statement of condolence.