In a time in our nation, Nigeria, where serious, truthful and unbiased reportage of controversial matters is lacking, the legacy of investigative journalism left behind by Dele Giwa is hardly equalled.
Born Sumonu Oladele Giwa in Ife, Osun state, southwest Nigeria, on March 16, 1947, he grew up in Ife where he had his early education before he relocated to the United States to further his studies.
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Dele Giwa graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English at the Brooklyn College and thereafter went on to earn a Master’s in Public Communication from Fordham University.
In his brief foray abroad which Dele Giwa would later admit was life-changing, he worked for the prestigious New York Times before returning home to Nigeria. On his return home, his work with the Daily Times, reporting and writing at a time which coincided with the Second Republic democratic regime of 1979 – 1983, cut him out specially.
In 1982, for his rabble-rousing investigative journalistic pieces for a publication in the Sunday Concord, Dele Giwa was arrested. He was defended by a legal icon and human rights activist of his time, late Chief Gani Fawehinmi.
However, the Second Republic would not last long as it was truncated by a military coup led by the incumbent Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari and Tunde Idiagbon. Seasoned journalists of the time knew they had to make a difference as the Fourth Estate of the sovereign, and so they stood up to the task.
The suppression of press freedom as is currently being witnessed all over Nigeria became the order of the day immediately Buhari took over power from the civilian rule in December 1983. The repression and clampdown on journalists which were common in the Second Republic became even more pronounced as he could not tolerate criticism to his decrees and policies.
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By 1984, Giwa and other journalists interested in pursuing a high standard of journalism in Nigeria founded Newswatch Magazine. The magazine soon became very popular among members of the labour, the middle class, and the poor.
Giwa went on to have a successful and illustrious career. He distinguished himself right from the get-go through his dogged commitment to quality journalism and by the possession of what it takes to be an erudite journalist.
Giwa’s commitment to political and social injustice was unwavering despite the challenges posed by the persecution of the renegades. The Giwa era in journalism continues to be remembered, a rich history of the press, as a vehicle for Nigeria’s social and political evolution. In the pre-colonial era, newspapers were published to create awareness in society.
The day before the highly contentious #LekkiMassacre of 20th October, 2020, which has been shrouded in various muddled reports by the press, marked 34 years that Giwa was assassinated with a parcel bomb delivered to his home. Reports have it that as he opened the parcel, the content exploded and severely wounded him. Dele Giwa, a scion of the courageous era of the press fought gallantly for the truth until the end.
And since 19th October 1986, during the junta of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (rtd.), the perpetrators of the dastardly act aiming to silence the press/media are yet to be brought to book.
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