The Cold War

The Cold War between Channels And Arise TV Stations

The Cold War between

OpenLife Nigeria has gathered that as Nigerians weighed different options on the possible outcome of the 2021 Anambra governorship election which held on November 6 arising from the threats from the Independent Peoples Organization of Biafra, IPOB, there was a cold underground war between the two leading television stations in Nigeria-Arise TV and Channels TV.
The cold war centred on the arrangement for a national debate for the candidates in the election.
In a rare disclosure on Tuesday, Reuben Abati, a presenter with Arise TV, who was indeed at the centre of the cold war, bared it all

The recent Governorship election in Anambra state, held on Saturday, November 6, 2021 was meant to be a major turning point for Nigeria. Most commentators said the election would be characterized by violence or that it would amount to a blow-out for Nigeria and the entire South East. Pundits told everyone to be careful. There were permutations about voter turn-out, the preparedness of the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the character of the main gladiators in the contest and their supportive stakeholders, divided as they were and still are, along religious, ethnic, clannish and party lines. A few days to the 2021 Anambra Governorship election, indeed, every one prepared more or less for war, and bloodshed. The police deployed over 34, 500 personnel, 45 Commissioners of Police,48 ACPs, 2 DIGs, 5 AIGs, 3 Helicopters.
The Civil Defence Corps sent in over 20, 000 men. The Department of State Security deployed its men and women. The Office of the National Security Adviser announced that any non-state actor who made any attempt to test the will of the state will be met with maximum force.
Previously, the President of Nigeria and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari, had given clear directives to that effect. All of this is understandable. Anambra in the lead up to the election had proven to be a major security challenge, a hotbed of violence and grief, and a key spot for self-determination agitators, operating under the umbrella of the Indigenous Peoples Organisation of Biafra (IPOB) and the Eastern Security Network (ESN). We were faced with a test of wills, between the state and those non-state actors who were seemingly determined to use the November 6 election to humiliate the government of the day, in a spectacular manner. This was not, to borrow from the rich repertoire of Nigerian English, “a laughing matter”.
I became part of that drama, in spite of myself when the Chairman of Arise News, Nduka Obaigbena decided to team up with the Chairman of Channels TV, John Momoh to do a joint Governorship candidate debate ahead of the election. Meetings were held on both sides and on a certain Wednesday, we were supposed to meet online and do so repeatedly to fine-tune the arrangements. At our end, we held a long meeting which involved policy, management, technical crew and operational persons. Yemi Ajayi, Director, News (Lagos) and I were mandated to meet with the Channels Team later in the day. And we did. Online. It wasn’t a very pleasant meeting. The Channels Boys rejected every proposal that we made. They decreed that Anambra was too toxic and unsafe and on no condition would they ever risk anything to go there for a debate.
We argued that at Arise, we were determined to go in there to prove that an election was possible and that the security situation could be managed in a way to give confidence to the electorate. We were told to forget it. They gave us the option of a debate to be organized in Lagos or Abuja. Mr. Ajayi and I told them to check with their Chairman. They said they were “the Supreme Council” of Channels TV, and whatever decision they took was final. I found that curious. Then they made matters more complicated by pointing out that they did not want Reuben Abati as the moderator from Arise TV. They would prefer another co-moderator to join Seun Okinbaloye from Channels TV. I was left with no option but to state categorically that long before many of the persons from the other side joined Channels TV, I used to moderate interviews for Channels TV, and analyse elections for the same station and I have letters of appreciation and commendation to show for this, signed by the same Chairman they say has no say in anything decided by a “Supreme Council.” It was also useful to point out that I was the first and only mainstream journalist so far, at that time who had moderated a Governorship Manifesto Defence Debate in the Anambra 2021 election. On September 25, 2021, Arise TV had in fact organized a Governorship debate in Anambra State in collaboration with the Kwechiri Unity Forum, aired live on Arise TV, Anambra State Television, and Ogene FM. I was the main anchor. As it turned out, the proposed collaboration with Channels TV, which could have been a phenomenal demonstration of partnership, innovation and the pooling of talents from both sides, in a unique show of solidarity within the Nigerian media, did not happen. Arise TV decided to move ahead. And we did.

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