Maskela, D’ Banj , Tuface and a host of others. Indeed, I gather she caught a big fish in her net when she interviewed former First Lady of the US and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton during her visit to Nigeria this week.

From where I am sitting, as much as some sisters may not want to hear this, Mo Abudu, has truly done what many others have not achieved in this area. What really got me was when I saw the advert on MNet where our very own Mo was being advertised alongside Tyra and Oprah, as a Nigerian. It made me feel proud that we could develop our media and TV production to this level.

So when I read the article in Next on Sunday and other articles that were to follow, I read them with some caution and I asked myself, the following questions: The very children that we are doing so much to help are they being forgotten? Who cares about the plight of these street children, how they eat, how they are cared for, how they came to be on the streets? I watched with such sadness the street children documentary produced by the Inspire Africa Foundation and it did make me aware that children as young as 8 and 10 were living on the streets and working on the streets as bus conductors, selling pure water and the like. Some of these children were even taking drugs. And I say that in the midst of throwing stones at Mo Abudu, we need to thank her for bringing to our consciousness the fate of these street children. I for one, didn’t give much thought to this previously, I just saw many of these children as a menace knocking on my window in traffic.

The next question I asked myself was does someone have an agenda and is using the press to achieve a premeditated objective? Were these stories sponsored? We know how immature some of our media houses and practices are in Nigeria and it begs the question, “Is someone after Mo Abudu?” and what does anyone have to gain by painting the picture painted?

I am a writer and journalist and we all pretty much know how headlines are determined and built to get our desired point of view across. So could the title of that Next on Sunday article have read: “Mo Abudu builds Centre for Street Children” or “Mo Abudu invests in Street Children”. The possibilities are to numerous to mention!

Another question that I did ask myself was why did Next on Sunday refer to the building of the Harbour in the last paragraph of the article. We know how readers read, they scheme through to get the “gist” of the story and very few get to the end unless they have a personal interest in the article. So I do wonder how many got to the end of this particular article and how many know that Mo Abudu and the Inspire Africa Foundation plan to build a centre for these children.

I think that we all have a responsibility as members of the press to report balanced stories, because when I read the rejoinder issued by Betty Irabor the following week, that she was not interviewed for this particular interview, it really was somewhat deceptive to then present facts as such. In my opinion it is way too soon to start throwing stones at Mo Abudu or the Inspire Africa Foundation, as acts of witch hunting and stone throwing like this will be very discouraging to others who have the will, inclination or passion to step out of their comfort zone to help the needy.

I close with a quotation from Sir Winston Churchill that should serve as a note of caution: “There is no such thing as public opinion, there is only published opinion”.

By Ifeenyinwa Okereke
Published in Thisday:15th August 2009
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