Tribune@70: A message from our founder, Awo
THE founder of the Nigerian Tribune, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, sent the following message on the occasion of the Tribune’s 21st anniversary in 1970.
When preparations were actively underway for the publication of the Nigerian Tribune in 1949, there were many people who predicted that the paper would not live. Some of these people were well-meaning and had spoken from their experience of newspaper failures in Nigeria; and to be quite candid, the list of newspaper casualty was already a long one.
It has grown much longer ever since. Besides, the competition from older and then existing papers was so strong that a newcomer from the provinces had very little chance of survival. Others had made their prediction out of sheer ill-will.
In spite, however, of all the discouraging prognostications, my wife and I, together with a few trusting friends, went ahead, in faith with our plan. And so, on 16 November, 1949, the Nigerian Tribune was born.
From the moment of its birth, the paper faced many difficulties. Its life was threatened both by competitors and the powers-that-be. The climax of persecution was reached in the four years before 1966, when all the known weapons in the armoury of tyrannical power were employed against the paper.
But it survived them all. So much so that today the paper has not only come of age, but also now has greater prospects for continued existence than it ever had in all its past eventful twenty-one years.
The Nigerian Tribune was founded with one and only one aim in view: to champion fearlessly the cause of justice and fairplay in every sphere of our public life.
The deep affection which its readers have for it, and the confidence which the common man has in its forthrightness, and courage for truth, are eloquent testimony to the faithfulness with which the Tribune has over the years, fulfilled its destined role.
From all indications, the years that lie ahead promise to be much more eventful than those that are past. The masses of our people yearn more deeply than ever before for rapid progress on all fronts, and for peace and prosperity; the countries of Africa look up to Nigeria to play a leading role in the affairs of the continent, and of the world; a four-year Development Plan, much bolder and more imaginative than anything ever attempted in this country, and designed to further our prosperity and welfare as well as ensure social justice for all, has just been launched; corruption continues to eat deeper and deeper into the vitals of our corporate being; immorality enjoys so much favour and approval in high places that it now has the audacity to threaten mass conformity; democratic practices are in a state of suspended animation; – all these and more, represent the auspices under which the Tribune begins its 22nd year of existence.
Nigeria, and indeed Africa, expects that it will continue in the future as it had done hitherto, to uphold all such things as are judged by it to be capable of advancing the welfare, happiness, and interests of the entire people of Nigeria in particular, and of Africa in general.
From the bottom of my heart, I wish the Nigerian Tribune many happy returns of November 16, and service to justice, fair play, and public morality on the life of our great Republic.
Culled from Nigerian Tribune, November 16, 1970.