Controversially sacked Nigerian journalist gets new job

Otosirieze Obi-Young, now a former Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper, a literary magazine, who was fired on Wednesday after he wrote a scathing piece on the first lady of Kaduna, Hadiza El-Rufai[PHOTO CREDIT: Official Twitter handle of Otosirieze Obi-Young]
Otosirieze Obi-Young, now a former Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper, a literary magazine, who was fired on Wednesday after he wrote a scathing piece on the first lady of Kaduna, Hadiza El-Rufai[PHOTO CREDIT: Official Twitter handle of Otosirieze Obi-Young]

A former deputy editor of Brittle paper, Otorisirieze Obi-young, who was sacked under controversial circumstances, has gotten a new job.

The journalist, who was axed over editorial concerns trailing a controversial post about Kaduna State’s first lady, Hadiza El-Rufai, and alleged insubordination, has been named the editor of Folio.ng, a pan-African platform for cultural and literary advancements.

His appointment was contained in a statement by the management of Folio Group, publishers of Daily Times Newspaper, issued in Abuja.

The newspaper’s statement read: “We are proud to welcome a great talent on-board. Otosirieze Obi-Young is an award-winning writer and editor.

“He won the inaugural The Future Awards Africa Prize for Literature in 2019 and was among Avance Media’s 2020 list of the 100 most influential young Nigerians.

“His short stories and literary commentary have appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition.

“In 2018, he was named a judge for The Gerald Kraak Prize. In 2019, he joined the judging panel for The MilesMorland Foundation Writing Scholarship. He is (was) an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, and is the founder of the Art Naija Series anthologies.”

Controversial sack

Mr Obi-Young, who had been deputy editor of Brittle Paper since 2016, was dismissed following disagreements with the paper’s publisher after he wrote a scathing piece on Mrs El-Rufai.

His post chided Mrs El-Rufai for issuing a controversial tweet after her son, Bello El-Rufai, posted a tweet filled with rape innuendos on Twitter.

The younger El-Rufai has since apologised publicly.

The paper’s publisher, Aniehi Edoro, had expressed concerns about Mr Obi-young’s criticism of some Nigerian papers on the issue and also faulted the use of the term, ‘gang rape’ in the article’s title.

She then asked him to re-edit the piece. Although Mr Obi-Young agreed to effect some changes, “he refused to change the headline – which led to the misunderstanding,” she had explained.

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Ms Edoro, later defending the sack, said Mr Obi-Young, “after flouting editorial guidelines of the company was unwilling to make changes in the report.”

“Unfortunately, this all occurred at a time I had to prepare time sensitive lectures for my students, and without sufficient time to edit the post. The time difference between Nigeria and the U.S. also left me with little time to act quickly, so I pulled the post down as the exigent thing to do.”

She added that “the ex-deputy editor hung up the phone when she attempted to have a conversation (with him).”

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Elated

The young editor said he had no regrets about leaving his former employment.

“I do not regret that I did the right thing. Not at all. I think that everyone should look back at their roles and responses to what happened and decide what they want to feel; and no matter what they decide, there’s only one right side,” he said.

Sharing his excitement about his new post, he said “his vision for creative freedom allies with the Times Multimedia’s vision for Folio NG.”

“I am excited that Times Multimedia’s vision and mine for Folio NG are in full alliance. My sense of urgency is always, when I am not doing much, on an 8. Now it’s on the roof because we are looking to build a pioneering platform.

“I’ve always thought of how to do things differently and with greater significance, but because I have worked mostly in literature; I am also familiar with feeling helpless in terms of execution— no funding.

“So this is the first time that I have the necessary creative freedom, and the full backing of TMM, to pursue the collective vision I was hired to realise,” he said.



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