Altercation Between Dr. Magashi and Daily Trust’s Editor: Doctor’s Perspective
Dr. Joseph Sunday
Private Medical Practitioner
I wish to join the raging debate over the purported collapse of Health Interactive Column of Daily Trust Newspaper, the only column in the entire Nigerian Newspapers that analyses public health issues. My comment will be based on the available information drawn from Adalat and Janet articles which were posted at Gamji website and published by Daily Trust ( only Adalat write up ) and above all the brief defense and comment made by the Editor of Daily Trust , Mal Ishaq Modibbo Kawu published on Monday ( 21st March 2005 ) edition of the paper .
My intervention, if I will be allowed, would be just like what Mal Sunusi Lamido Sunusi did in his article tagged ‘In defense of Reverend Mathew Kuka, which was with respect to the critism by many Muslim writers over his appointment as the secretary of The National Political Reform Conference. Lamido said that he intervened so that the debate would not be between Muslims and Christians . My intervention today is to prevent the debate to be between those celebrating and hailing Mal Modibbo and those that are morning and calling him names, as such I intent to be as objective as my judgment will allow me.
Let me say that Adalat who happened to be a consistent follower and ardent critic of Dr Magashi’s column in his article’ The collapse of Health Interactive has made an allegation or accusation , that medical doctors in the north are among those celebrating the demise of the column due to the intimidating posture of the young doctor. Although I am not a northerner, but Igbo Man, however I was born in the north, schooled and practiced in Kaduna, until when I shifted my business to Abuja. So I can say that , the accusation labeled against doctors, I am part and parcel of it. To the best of my knowledge, no body in his write senses would be happy about the disappearance of the column, if one say that, people might be envious ones in a while, that is highly possible and practicable, a lot of doctors may wish to be also writing, but unfortunately, the talent and access to information would be the hindrance.
Health Interactive is a column that even my self as clinician never miss it, impact when ever I will be traveling to the eastern part of the country, I always tell my wife who is a nurse to buy and keep Tuesday edition of Daily Trust for me. I enrich myself with a lot of information with respect to the advice Magashi used to give to readers on health problems, such widen my scope in attending to my patients and to be honest with every body, I have never found any factual error. With respect to the articles being featured, they were also eye openers to many doctors concerning tropical health problems and the involvement of International Development Partners in Nigeria. So for someone to say that doctors would be happy, has not done justice to the medical profession.
Janet Bala in her emotional outburst ( AS Trust Paper Fires Dr Magashi ) was unfair to the Daily Trust editor , because she quoted him out of context and with intent mischief , and that would certainly confused the reader and put the blame of the altercation solely on Ishaq . Let me take the pain in reproducing the exact wordings of the editor which was published in Monday edition of Daily Trust (21st March 2005). He said ‘ At no time was a decision taken to stop Dr. Magashi’s column .We felt that it would be helpful if he concentrated on analysis of various ailments, to enrich the knowledge of our readers . This was without prejudice to comments he could make on topical public health issues, which we believed he handled very competently. When this was communicated to Dr Magashi, he chose to stop writing his column. It was a decision that caused a lot of pain because we appreciate the contribution he has made to public health discourse through our pages and he is welcome to return to his column at any time – Editor.
Dear reader , bear me out , these are not wordings of sacking , firing or cynicism on Dr Magashi’s column , these are wordings of encouragement , appreciation , partnership , friendship and above all , it says a lot of how the editor and his team value Health Interactive . The Editor has not mention anything like Dr Magashi was using his column to promote his NGO; it was reveled by Adalat, claiming that he gathered such from a staff of the paper who attended the meeting at which the editor mentioned such promotion. I will come to that later.
Looking at the three probable reasons why the page was stopped as purported by Adalat , he mentioned that it could be due to envy of Magashi’s rising popularity by the editor , pressure from outside and Magashi, to the knowledge of some of the staff of the paper has never visited the editor even to exchange pleasantries, his only business with the paper, was to send his article and phone to confirm if the article reached the paper, He did not deem it fit to even has a friend in the entire company. That attitude might have provoked the editor to teach him a lesson.
Among the three probable reasons , I will dismissed the first two , it could not be pressure from outside , knowing what Trust stands for and its critical editorial comments , equally it could not be envy by the editor . The last reason may sound reasonable, in that regard Magashi is at fault, how can someone maintain a popular column in a widely newspaper afford not to be visiting from time to time the paper’s editor, even for the sake of knowing how people are perceiving the column and also if there are complains and /or commendation from staff and readers. If I am the editor of the paper, I will definitely feel I am only regarded like a robot or computer to do someone’s bidding. Had it been Dr Magashi is the type that visits the editor from time to time , there would not be any reason to even communicate to him on any reservation about his work , such visits would be utilize to address grey areas and strengthen relationship . Although from what I gathered Magashi is a workaholic and married to his job, but still not withstanding I advise he to improve his public relation so that peace can reign and the column can return.
With respect to what the editor wanted him to be discussing I am of the wish that , there is no problem in making a compromise , Magashi can make adjustment by combining discussing and analyzing ailments and discussing topical public health problems of concern which he handles very well and lastly having meeting between Dr Magashi and Mal Ishaq Modibbo Kawu ( Editor ) is inevitable towards resolving this matter if what they represent as each one of them claim is a sincere commitment and service to the Nigerian populace not their selfish interest and ego massaging .
Dr Joseph Sunday is a private medical practitioner in Abuja, Nigeria (comments about this article can be send to firstname.lastname@example.org )