At 40, The Guardian pursuit of impactful journalism remains evergreen
If, indeed, life, as they say, begins at 40, it could be rightly said that The Guardian has come of age. Today marks the 40th anniversary of this iconic newspaper.
It enjoys a brilliant pedigree as the citadel of excellent journalism, a reason for its acclaim as the flagship of the Nigerian press.
And conscious of the changing dynamics of the news media in the new millennium,
The Guardian has evolved innovative ways and systems to sustain the averments in its motto: Truthful, Trustworthy, Yesterday and Tomorrow as “Conscience” continues to be “Nurtured by Truth”.
In its forward-looking strategy, The Guardian has gradually expanded into Media Group by accommodating the realities of the technological disruption, especially the digital platforms including, The Guardian Television, alongside social media of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.
All the innovations were possible because they budded from the newspaper’s glorious past, a journey that took Nigeria’s news media by storm in 1983 (February 27 precisely).
As a daily publication, The Guardian clocks 40 today (July 4, 2023). It would be recalled that on the occasion of its fifth anniversary in 1988, an annual lecture was instituted as a way of intervening strategically in the course of our nation building.
The maiden edition focused on the contentious issue by then – the proposed loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) with its stringent conditionalities, which culminated in the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) by the then military administration of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.
Notably, the title of that maiden lecture wasn’t pretentious – ‘The Debt Trap, Structural Adjustment and the Future of the Third World’. It had former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Mr Michael Manley, who was by then the leader of opposition of the Jamaican Parliament, as guest speaker.
Although the fifth-anniversary celebration was a week-long package featuring other highlights including, the public presentation of the book, Perspectives on Nigerian Literature: 1700 to the present Vols I & II, which was a compilation of excerpts from The Guardian Literary Series, the lecture stood out.
It did not only represent Jurgen Habermas’ conception of the mass media as a public sphere, where issues of public interest are critically engaged, it also consolidated the profile of the newspaper company as a national institution, and especially, as the flagship of the Nigerian press.
The success of the 1988 lecture spurred the subsequent editions held yearly until 1992, featuring very prominent personalities who were global figures with national and international issues at the centre of discourse.
In the 1989 edition of the lecture, Prof. Ben Nwabueze was the guest speaker. And the topic was, ‘Our march to constitutional democracy’. The following year (1990), the then Secretary General of the Organisation of African Union (OAU), Salim Ahmed Salim, spoke on ‘The European Economic and Monetary Union Scheduled for 1992 and its likely Impact on Africa’. The late Emeritus Professor J. F. Ade Ajayi delivered the 1992 lecture and he spoke on ‘The national question in historical perspective’. Earlier in 1991, the lecture featured the late renowned historian, Prof. Ali Mazrui, as guest speaker.
But, unknown to the reading public, the 1988 lecture served the newspaper company in a big way as it neutralised what could have been the backlash of the hike in the cover price of The Guardian by 100 per cent from 50 kobo to one Naira. And till date, the increment remains one policy that attracted a massive and aggressive campaign mounted by the newspaper itself.
While the new cover price took effect from May 9, 1988, its announcement hit the public 10 days earlier, on April 29, 1988. It was the third time the cover price would be reviewed upward since its inception as a weekly newspaper on February 27, 1983 and as a daily publication on July 4, same year.
The cover price was 20 kobo till March 31, 1986. It became 30 kobo from April 1, 1986 and remained so till November 30, 1986. The increment to 50 kobo began on December 1, 1986. Interestingly, the two earlier increments attracted no prior public announcement.
However, three major reasons were advanced for the rise from 50 kobo to one Naira in 1988: steep rising production costs, diminished advertising revenue and general decline in business and industry.
In addition to the front page story headlined: “Cover price of The Guardian to go up” on Friday, April 29, 1988 edition (which ran from the front page to page two), there was a full-page advertorial on page 12 entitled, “To Our Readers” detailing justifications for the 100 per cent cover price hike.
The advertorial signed by the then Managing Director, Stanley Macebuh, reads in part, “Soon after we were constrained to raise the cover price of The Guardian from 30 kobo to 50 kobo in December 1986, it became clear that the price would have to be increased almost immediately if we were to stay in business. The price of our basic raw material, newsprint, went up from N963 to N2,925 per tonne. The cost of other inputs, such as films, inks, and plates purchased abroad in foreign currency, rose steeply as a result of the devaluation of the naira.
“So did distribution costs. The vehicles, which convey our publications to various parts of the country, now cost at least three times their purchase value in 1986. Advertising revenue that could have cushioned the impact of the increase in production costs has been declining because of the dull business climate. We have remained in business in spite of this burden, without ever once compromising our commitment to excellence. We have tried to keep faith with our readers, at an ever-increasing cost to the company. But we have now reached the point where we have to choose between cutting costs and compromising quality just to stay in business; and sustaining our commitment to excellence at a greater cost to the reader….”
However, certain palliatives were offered as a result of the increase which the advertorial highlighted to include: increased pagination – minimum of 20 pages daily, with 24 on Wednesday and Sunday; expanded foreign coverage; in-depth political coverage; profiles of Nigerians, the prominent and not-so-prominent; greater coverage of the country-side; special monthly pull-outs on arts and culture, science, technology, entertainment, life-styles, foods and wines; investigative reports on a wide range of significant national issues; plus many other features, serious as well as soft.
The concluding part of the advertorial was not only re-assuring, it depicted the business parlance that the consumer (reader) remains the king, which must be respected at all times. “Other GNL publications will carry interesting new features to give the reader excellent value for money. All these features and many more will be presented with our usual grace and quiet distinction, in a re-designed package that does justice to them. We invite you, dear reader, to be a part of this exciting adventure from May 9.”
And for over three months consecutively, the full-page advertorial became a regular menu The Guardian served its readers daily. While the shape of the advertorial remained constant, creativity was deployed in design and content creation. Thus, many variants of the advertorial adorned pages of the newspaper within the period the campaign lasted.
For instance, “To Our Readers”, metamorphosed into “For Effective Reach and Penetration!” highlighting locations of the branch offices in all the then 20 states of the federation excluding Lagos, the headquarters. There was also “Twelve more reasons for reading The Guardian” spotlighting some of the company’s great employees who were pioneer members of staff such as Stanley Macebuh, Onwuchekwa Jemie, Femi Osofisan, Yemi Ogunbiyi, Sully Abu, Odia Ofeimun, Amma Ogan, Godwin Sogolo, Edwin Madunagu, Olatunji Dare, Essien Efiong, and Fred Onyeoziri.
The objective of the advertorial became unambiguous with its explanatory note thus, “Every issue of The Guardian contains a witty, incisive and compelling readable article by one or more of these versatile contributors. Plus the in-depth news, features and superior presentation that have earned The Guardian the accolade of flagship of the Nigerian Press.” Its crescendo was in the pay-off phrase at the bottom, “the discriminating reader’s choice” as a rider to the logo of the newspaper.
Catchy and explicit was “The Guardian reports the news… others report events!” another variant of the advertorial which was published on Sunday, July 3, 1988, as a precursor to “All the stars that make THE GUARDIAN worth N1” first published on July 4, 1988 on page 14.
The two publications bore messages that were overwhelming, but inter-related: while the Sunday, July 3, 1988 copy displayed some of the outstanding stories of some of the stars, the Monday, July 4, 1988 advertorial showed their faces.
Out of the four exclusive news copies displayed in the advertorial of July 3, 1988, Seun Ogunseitan (then Assistant Science Editor) anchored two – “Gas leakage: Onne faces air pollution threat” and “Toxic waste dump in Koko town”; Onukaba Adinoyi-Ojo (then Staff Correspondent) wrote “Passenger with 35 suitcases leaves airport unchecked” and the fourth, “Nigeria pulls out of C’wealth games” carried no byline. Both Ogunseitan and Adinoyi-Ojo were among the “stars that make The Guardian worth N1” published the following day (July 4, 1988). Other faces in the advertorial were Stanley Macebuh (Managing Director); Femi Kusa (Deputy Editor); Amma Ogan (Editor, The Guardian on Sunday); Lade Bonuola (Editor/Executive Director); Jullyette Ukabiala (Defence Correspondent); Olatunji Dare (Member, Editorial Board); Ebube Wadiba (News Editor); Edwin Madunagu (Ag. Editorial Page Editor); Sully Abu (Member, Editorial Board); and Onwuchekwa Jemie (Senior Member, Editorial Board). The pay-off at the bottom of the advertorial, “The Guardian – your money’s worth, plus more” established the goal of the message.
As a star-studded company, the subsequent editions of the advertorial contained other faces such as Dr Yemi Ogunbiyi (Executive Director); Toyin Willoughy-Muyi (Woman Editor); Chief S.A. Odubonojo (Circulation Chief); Dupe Ajayi (Head, Political Desk); Emeka Izeze (News Editor, Guardian on Sunday); Ben Tomoloju (Arts Editor); Rasaq Adedigba (Ag. Chief Sub-Editor); Ejiro Onobrakpeya (Deputy Foreign Editor); Mac Alabi (Night Editor); Chris Ogwu (Sports Editor); Mitchell Obi (Ag. Editor, Guardian Express); Toyin Ogunsakin (Arts Reporter); Bisi Ogunbadejo (Group Art Editor); Nena Uche (Science Correspondent); Krees Imodibie (Political Correspondent); Jide Oluwajuyitan (Advert manager); Goddy Nnadi (Education Correspondent); Wole Agunbiade (Deputy News Editor); Innocent Okafor (Chief Photographer); Abel Oshevire (Staff Correspondent); Chima Nwafor (Sub Editor); and Chukwudi Abiandu (Sub Editor).
The list of stars also included Toyin Akinyebo (Staff Reporter); Sunmi Smart-Cole (Editor, Lagos Life); Harriet Lawrence (Staff Reporter); Odia Ofeimun (Editorial Board Member); Tunde Thompson (Managing Editor); Bayo Oguntimehin (Lagos State Correspondent); Igwe UdoIgwe (Staff Reporter); Kunle Sanyaolu (Judicial Correspondent); Effiong Essien (Consultant, Economy and Business, Editorial Board); Awuku Prenee (Production Editor); and Kayode Komolafe (Labour Correspondent).
Thereafter in the last week of July 1988, the in-house campaign got another design with new inscription and visuals that depicted celebratory ambience – a glass cup (with liquid content) held out for a toast. With “People who insist on quality … nothing less!” As an answer to “What kind of people read The Guardian?,” the advertorial marshaled its goal pointedly as the curtain fell on the three-month long campaign on Friday, July 29, 1988.
In all the variants of the advertorial, two themes remained constant: strong attachment to quality and deep respect for readers. Certainly, the former had its roots in the recruitment that threw up the founding editorial staff led then by the duo of Stanley Macebuh (Managing Director) and Lade Bonuola (Editor/Executive Director).
Other personalities in the pioneering team were Eddie Iroh, who was to be the Editor of the magazine (African Guardian), but due to some hiccups, the content of the magazine was published as a supplement in the newspaper and it appeared in the first edition as The Guardian Sunday supplement; Femi Kusa, assistant editor, who also provided some shaping for the content of the paper; Ted Iwere, Features Editor; Dr Onwuchekwa Jemie, Chairman, Editorial Board; Femi Osofisan, member, Editorial Board; Dr. Chinweizu managed the Business and Economy desk; Sonny Ojeagbase, Sport Editor; Godwin Ofuru, Aerospace correspondent; Sonala Olumhense, member, Editorial Board; Adigun Agbaje, Political Correspondent; Alade Odunewu, the first columnist; Doyin Mahmoud, Chief-sub-editor; the late Mac Alabi, the Production Editor; Sunmi Smart-Cole, Photo Editor; and Bisi Ogunbadejo, the pioneer cartoonist.
The team was largely responsible for what a revered expert on press history, the late Prof. Fred Omu, described as the “dynamic influence” The Guardian brought to bear on Nigerian journalism.
In his scholarly article titled “Journalism in Nigeria: A Historical Overview” and published in 1996 in Journalism in Nigeria: Issues and Perspectives (publication of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Lagos State), Prof. Omu wrote further: “The Guardian calls itself the flagship of the Nigerian press and so it really is. It has been indisputably the best newspaper ever produced in Nigeria and its brand of journalism has had a profound and provocative impact on Nigerian journalism.
“The principles, which it exposes and the standards which it represents, set it out as a national institution. In the poise and polish of its language, in its cultivated and intellectual approach to argument and controversy, in its penetrating and persuasive analysis and interpretation, in its promotion of ideological pluralism and in its endeavor to place events in their historical perspective, The Guardian has achieved great esteem in and outside Nigeria as one of the most authoritative newspapers in Africa. Its journalistic achievements are bound to influence the newspaper industry for a long time.”
Though the media industry, over the years, has gone through turbulent times, with so many publications going down before and after the birth of The Guardian, the publication has continued to be on the newsstand, providing scintillating reports for Nigerians and non-Nigerians.
The publication started as a 16-page paper but for nearly three and a half decades, published on the average, 64 pages and sometimes, over 100 pages with increased advert sales. In the last three years however, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has imposed a 32-page publication by virtually all the print media outlets with occasional pagination increment above 32 pages, especially when there is a sizable number of adverts flowing to support the increase.
Over the years, The Guardian has provided the refreshing pattern for the practice of journalism in Nigeria, which has been attested to by media stakeholders and reward systems such as the Diamond Award for Media Excellence (DAME); the Nigeria Media Merit Award (NMMA); and many others. The publication has won awards locally and internationally.
A significant virtue the newspaper has brought to bear on the media industry generally is the job security and stability, especially at the editorship level. In the 40 years of its existence, The Guardian has been edited by seven great journalists including, Lade Bonuola, Femi Kusa, Emeka Izeze, Debo Adesina, Martins Oloja, Abraham Ogbodo and Alabi Williams.
The eighth editor, Oluwafemi Adekoya, Ph.D. assumed duty on April 1, 2023 with exceptional skills in design, digital aesthetics and creation of compelling contents, thereby consolidating and expanding The Guardian influence on newspaper publishing business in the country.
Ditto in the headship of the management team. Since inception in 1983 till date, The Guardian has had four Managing Directors, namely: Stanley Macebuh; Lade Bonuola; Emeka Izeze and Martins Oloja (serving since December 2021).
At 40, what has been the message of The Guardian and how well is it delivering it? A Trustee of DAME and Managing Director, Diamond Publications Ltd, Lanre Idowu, who also had a brief stint at the newspaper on the Reportorial Desk in the 1980s, said, “In the early days and in a number of ways, The Guardian transformed the news business, serving the public with rich content in an enriching way, and temperate news presentation with elaborate backgrounding replaced sensationalist news packaging.
“An engaging style ensured that the length of stories was no disincentive to pleasant reading. Depth acquired expanded meaning. Elevated prose found its way into news reporting, banishing the staid style some had associated with news reporting. The front page was no longer the exclusive preserve of politics and political actors. Aeronautics, conservation, and other less dramatic subjects found access there. There was noticeable effort to woo the discerning reader who enjoyed news beyond the headlines.
“Opinion writing enjoyed a renaissance that brought in specialisation and elevated it beyond the exclusive headache of the title editor. Even as the concept of the editorial board as we know it today had started at the Daily Times under Dr Dele Cole, The Guardian perfected it, attracting egg heads from our campuses to its editorial board, and enriching the art of informed commentary.”
Idowu recalled how the excellent impact of the newspaper has continued to garner medals from the DAME staples and other reward schemes. “When a deliberate scheme of rewarding professional excellence such as that offered by the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence (DAME) began, The Guardian was one of the early stars, winning the Newspaper of the Decade in 2001 and joint winner of the same prize in 2011 with The Punch,” Idowu said.
However, Idowu identified some gaps in the pursuit of the publication’s cherished values, saying, “the deep research, engaging prose, and informed analyses that characterised its editorial output in the first two decades have declined.”
Insisting however, “the paper is still a respected brand in the market, but it is playing catch-up in a number of areas. It will need to overcome its internal contradictions, refocus, retool, and reinvigorate its workforce with renewed vision for that culture of service delivery that lent some credence to its claim as the flagship of the Nigerian press.”
The journalist attributed the dislocations to “the same problems affecting the Nigerian state of gap between potential and achievement, available resources and their deployment.” Adding that he hopes that the recent reorganisation efforts would lead to greater impact.
Another ex-employee of The Guardian who later joined The Punch and grew through the ranks to become Editor, and later, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of The Punch, Gbemiga Ogunleye said the introduction of The Guardian to the newspaper market through the teaser, “Sooner or later, you will read The Guardian!” worked the magic for the suspense that trailed its arrival on the newsstand on February 27, 1983.
“As a final year and undergraduate student at the university, I waited to read The Guardian, and of course, the publication kept to its words. It was a new and strong voice that changed the standard of journalism in the country. And for a very long time, The Guardian tried to fulfill that mandate. It gave voice to the voiceless and became the conscience of the nation.”
Ogunleye, now a Barrister at Law who has also served as Provost, the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ), Ogba, Ikeja, Lagos believed that the proscription of the paper on August 14, 1994 by the military government of the late General Sani Abacha had negative effect after its de-proscription in 1995.
“But after Abacha's proscription of The Guardian, I wouldn’t say the publication returned to that era of its cherished philosophy. But, overall, we must salute the founders of The Guardian, they came at the right time. They changed the face of journalism in this country,” said Ogunleye.
Former Nigeria’s Permanent Delegate and Ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and President, 32nd General Conference of UNESCO, Emeritus Professor Michael Omolewa, described The Guardian as an old French wine which gets better each day, month, and year.
“The paper deserves our congratulations for its work for 40 years, and still counting. Its roots at its foundation as an independent newspaper have been noble, attractive, and seductive. The paper has therefore predictably stood out as truly independent, respectable and promising, while maintaining its contact with stakeholders and everyone pursuing a similar goal and objectives. It is great joy to be associated with this paper of quality, reliability and focus on quality presentation and provision.
“The broad coverage of the paper allows readers to learn and be informed while also being entertained. The Guardian is thus on many occasions more of a learned journal, armed with the authority, elegance, and confidence to inform and analyse; and sufficiently equipped with materials that make researchers look for past copies kept in archives and depositories. To this end, and for sustained forty excellent years of meeting felt, perceived, and required needs of the population, local and global, The Guardian has remained faithful to its tradition of making independent judgment and drawing attention to issues of topical interest to the nation and the wider world.
“It is important to note that The Guardian has intentionally decided to recruit the best brains with poise, integrity, and eloquence, such as Stanley Macebuh, who wove the English language with magnificent mastery and elegance and made the reading of the newspaper a delight and joy. It has also brought in seasoned journalists such as Yemi Ogunbiyi with vast experience from other papers to give fresh impetus to the editorial work and management of the paper.
“The promotion of liberal democracy has remained an agenda that is not negotiable for the newspaper. That is why all those who have been associated with the newspaper are always ready to be counted among the advocates of the freedom of the press, not minding the cost to their personal life.
“All the best for a greater future of contribution to the development of the nation, and indeed the wider world. There is no doubt that the story of The Guardian is a story of achievements, courage, dedication, commitment to the sacred cause of nation building and the pursuit of global peace.”
Retired Professor Lai Olurode, formerly of Sociology Department, University of Lagos, said, “without doubt, The Guardian has become a colossus, indeed, a giant in Nigeria’s media establishment. Though, founded and owned by a member of the upper class, it has consistently pursued pro-poor causes in its coverage. It advocates policies that are largely beneficial to the downtrodden. In its news coverage, it seems its standard is what is in it for the ordinary citizens, while simultaneously seeking justice for others. Its language of communication, even of its dissenting perspectives, leaves none in doubt about its commitment to national correctness, pluralism, diversity and unity.”
He added, “The Guardian upholds professionalism, preaches it and practices it. Its language is robust and non-offensive with middle-class finesse. Third, the newspaper outfit has suffered harassment, intimidation and closure in the hands of a repressive regime that had recruited its owner as a minister. Surprisingly, this appointment never diluted its sense of mission and commitment to larger values of development, particularly human freedom.”
For Olurode, “the newspaper is a reliable companion in academic research. I vividly recall one of its captivating editorials, which appeared in the December 15, 1992 edition. The focus was on the cause of Nigeria’s underdevelopment.”
Prof. Umaru Pate, Vice Chancellor, Federal University Kashere, Gombe State, said, “I have been an admirer and reader of The Guardian from the first day when it began as a weekly paper in 1983. From then, till date, I have remained addicted to the paper. I have followed its story of transformation, successes and challenges over the years. I can comfortably recall some of its contents, names of editorial staff, columnists and regular contributors. On some few occasions, I have also contributed articles that were published.”
According to him, “as part of my respect for the quality, authority and credibility of The Guardian, I have several times referred to its contents in my academic write-ups. Without doubt, the contents of the paper are mostly products of deep thinking and current research that reflect the paper’s respect for knowledge and scholarly relevance. Of course, there are occasions and issues on which I disagreed with the thinking and expositions in the newspaper, but not to the extent of subverting my respect for its editorial standing.”
He continued, “one commendable element of the paper is its adjustment to accommodate newer realities and evolving changes in the global media world. Both in outlook and contents, one can notice contemporary gradual shifts that project the paper as dynamic, innovative and one that invests in change. I wish the paper better days ahead as it struggles to manage the changes that are blowing across the media world. I pray it can overcome the emerging challenges of new communication technologies, drop in finances and the fall in reading habits of young people.”
For the veteran journalist and print media administrator, Alhaji Liadi Tella, “The Guardian came in as the flagship of the Nigerian newspaper industry with new ideas, directions and philosophy that were hitherto strange in the Nigerian journalism. The paper also brought in a new reportorial style, a new house style different from the Daily Times style that dominated all the Nigerian newspapers. It also came in with a stratified focus addressing middle and upper class members of the society without any pretension. That The Guardian has survived till today is a testimony to the resilience of that philosophy.”
Muftau Kayode Ogunbunmi, ex-employee of The Guardian, said: “The Guardian has been a major compass for the evolution of the country, as it navigates its path from military dictatorships to evolving democracy. Like the nation it monitors, The Guardian has suffered many bruises — closures, staff hemorrhage and economic strictures. It is a testament to its strength and the commitment of its staff and owners that it has not lost its way and continues to be a reference point for good journalism in Nigeria.”
Despite its accomplishments as celebrated by its admirers, The Guardian has had, also, its fair share of travails. In 1976 when the newspaper was being incubated, the military was in power. But by the time the newspaper was launched on July 4, 1983 as a daily publication, the civilian administration led by Alhaji Shehu Shagari, which was sworn-in on October 1, 1979, had only six months left before the government was toppled on December 31, 1983 with General Muhammadu Buhari as the Head of State.
Thus, in 1984, two journalists working for the newspaper company – Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor – were tried and jailed under Decree No.4 of 1984 – Public Officers (Protection Against False Accusation).
But by and large, in the last 40years, The Guardian has continued to weather the storms while remaining alive to its philosophical underpinning as “an independent newspaper, established for the purpose of presenting balanced coverage of events, and of promoting the best interest of Nigeria.”
It was conceived as a well planned and carefully thought-out enterprise, which would present a balanced coverage and projection of news and views, uphold political neutrality and independence and elevate the tone of public discourse.
As a liberal newspaper, committed to the best traditions and ideals of republican democracy, The Guardian believes it is the responsibility of the State not only to protect and defend the citizens but also to create the political, social, economic and cultural conditions in which all citizens may achieve their highest potential as human beings. And as the “flagship of the Nigerian press”, The Guardian directed successive governments and the reading public on how best to live.
In the last eight years, The Guardian has been responding, significantly, to the challenges brought about by innovations in the global media industry dictated by digital technology. The re-engineering process saw the newspaper company adopting, mid-2019, new business status of The Guardian Group with a view to consolidating the company’s transformation into a multi-media establishment in addition to preserving the company’s cherished value of being the best and most authoritative newspaper available to readers from diverse platforms.
Indeed, the concept of ‘The Group’ is not new to The Guardian. It attained that status as far back as 1986 with The Guardian family of publications comprising the fast-paced news-complete-but-in-capsule afternoon paper, Guardian Express; the racy but restrained and classy week-end paper, Lagos Life; the Guardian Financial Weekly which was then called a “Broad Street handbook”, and The African Guardian, a comprehensive weekly magazine of news and analysis. Each of these publications was animated by The Guardian spirit and operated within its philosophy.
The sad impact of the proscription of the newspaper on August 14, 1994 by General Sani Abacha-led military government was the resting of these publications when it was reopened in the mid-1995. The Guardian returned to the newsstand on October 1, 1995 as one publication subsuming all these other subtitles.
The publisher of The Guardian and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Lady Maiden Alex-Ibru, who saluted the readers and associates at 40, told us last night: “I would like to thank and greet all our readers and associates as we clock 40 today. But more important, I would like to thank God for His grace that has enabled our commitment to the ideals that the founder of this great newspaper wrote on a marble for us as our fundamental objective and directive principle of corporate policy 40 years ago.
“My tribute and, indeed, my message today is that we should continue to hold aloft the ideals that have made this newspaper a great brand, a pearl we should not cast before any swine. We should continue to nurture it as ‘an independent newspaper established for the purpose of presenting balanced coverage of events, and of promoting the best interests of Nigeria. It owes allegiance to no political party, ethnic community, religious or other interest groups. Its primary commitment is to the integrity and sovereignty of the Federation of Nigeria, and beyond that, to the unity and sovereignty of Africa’.
“We should therefore, at all times, continue 'to uphold the need for justice, probity in public life and access to the nation’s resources and equal protection under the laws of Nigeria for all citizens’.
“For our journalists in the house, you should continue to note that it is your moral duty to have respect for the truth and to publish or prepare for publication only the truth to the best of your knowledge. In the main, we thank God that our motto remains, ‘Conscience Nurtured by Truth’. Accept my 40 Happy Cheers to The Guardian at 40.”
Kabir Alabi Garba, Ph.D. formerly Arts/Media Editor, is now Editor, Weekend Titles (Saturday & Sunday) of The Guardian.
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