Onyeka, Poor Journalism & Toni Payne Story

I woke up this morning to news of Onyeka Onwenu, a widely respected Nigerian singer, defending Toni Payne from the journalistic tongue-lashes of a girl called Azuka Ogujuiba of This Day newspaper (Nigeria). Before I delve into deep analysis, let me do a brief summary of what’s been up until now.

The Story:

Toni is a young lady and an entertainment publicist who married a musician, 9ice recently and has a son for him. Shortly afterwards, the marriage crumbled due to rumours that she cheated on him with his friend – the track is titled ‘once bitten twice shy’. Somehow, the trail of rumours started swinging towards Ruggedman as the ‘friend’ – whether true or false is not my business on this blog however.

Ever since this scandal, a lot of things have been going on within the industry and among fans. I was in the middle of writing a post about Diss-Tracks, when this news story surfaced. The most eye-catching of those issues have been the tracks released by both Ruggedman and 9ice  attacking one-another. My question was, are those tracks real or publicity stunts? However, as a hotter issue, ONYEKA REACTS , has occured, it is only right for me to swing my discussion in this direction. The ONYEKA EffectI was giving my house mate the gist now, and she said “what is Onyeka’s own in the issue?”. Well, Toni Payne happens to be Onyeka’s publicist. And according to Onyeka, she rarely makes it her point of duty to respond to newspaper articles, but this time, it has gone a wee bit too far.

9ice and Toni Payne

Onyeka decried unwarranted attacks on women in Nigerian newspapers.

Besides Azuka vs Toni, she also reffered to Mr Reuben Abati of the Guardian Editorial Board. She says, “on the issue of Nigeria’s First Ladies and their “Powers”, Abati’s language is almost always condescending and denigatory, to the extent that I am compelled to conclude that he harbours a deep resentment for women – for some reason.”

Regarding Azuka, and her unwarranted description of Toni Payne as a “GROUPIE who conspicuously falls into this category because of her undying and unimaginable love to be called “Celebrity”, Onyeka reacted that she “had taken enough courses in psychology in college to realize that the attacks were coming from a sense of inadequacy, in herself. When her career of bitterness and vendetta took a nose dive and she couldn’t compete in an era where journalism of personal attack had lost its lure, I concluded that I was right.”

Onyeka Onwenu, Nigerian Singer

Onyeka claims to have initiated a phone call first before publishing, and this is what ensued:

Azuka of This Day

Onyeka: “Hello! May I please speak with Azuka Ogujiuba?”
Azuka: Silence (there is some talking in the background).
Onyeka: “Hello, my name is Onyeka Onwenu. Am I speaking to Azuka?”
Azuka: “Yes, what do you want?”
Onyeka: “You seem not to know me but I really would like to talk with you about Toni Payne and the fact that…”
Azuka: Cuts in – “How did you even get my number?”
Onyeka: “Oh I see that you are intent on being rude. Well, I will write your Editor instead. I don’t do rude” I switched off

This was what led Onyeka to publish her outburst which we now read – visit Nigeria Films.com for details


I remember the first time I told my father I was interested in building a career in journalism, he had his doubts. He just wasn’t satisfied with how it was practiced in Nigeria, and was not sure he would want me in that kind of system. But thank God for some members of my family who were ‘getting it right’, and I saw it as a challenge to contribute my quota of doing it right this time.

Some things I see in the news papers are really uncalled for. But that is not surprising because some people get these jobs without any professional training.

In journalism studies, there is what is called Social Responsibilty of the press. It is so common, even wikipedia has a definition. The idea of the theory is that an individual (most especially a journalist with access to the masses) has the obligation to only publish what benefits the society at large. Articles that stir up harassments, social unrest etc should be avoided. There is nothing wrong with trail-blazing a debate, but let it be constructive for pete’s sake.

It is amazing the amount of libelous comments numerous journalists get away with. But the day the sledgehammer will come down, I pray the plaintiff or defendant (Temiville will know the correct answer) shows no mercy.

Please, be you a citizen journalist (i.e. blogger etc) or a professional journalist within an institution – there is no gain in bringing other people down by your pen just because you have the ‘power’ to.

And for a professional journalist, you have no business injecting your subjective opinion into a piece for the masses to read. It is against the ethics of our profession. Even if you do in a feature story, keep it respectful and less antagonistic. If someone’s personality burns you so much, submit articles to the Op-ed pages like every member of the public and see if it makes the light of day.

Disclaimer: I am not supporting Onyeka, Toni or Azuka. I am simply defending the ethics of my profession. Afterall, I am a Media Junkie.


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4 thoughts on “Onyeka, Poor Journalism & Toni Payne Story

  1. bola says:

    On behalf of my father a journalist and a media junkie like you, this is a brilliant write uop.
    As professionals, journalists, lawyers etc, we should keep our opinions to ourselves and reports the facts as they are without altering them with our bias. As they say in law, “Res Ipsa Loquitur”.

    keep it up.

  2. I like it that you breached the topic of “social responsibility” in journalism. So many so-called journalists and writers need to read this. The fact that one becomes a journalist does not negate politeness and educating others without being derogatory.

  3. temiville says:

    Interesting…strange that I’m only just finding out about this post. I still respect Onyeka, I’m sure there’s more. Also, remember Onyeka is no professional journalist. That was pure subjectivity at play as she was airing her opinion and defending her publicist cum ‘friend’ albeit with the use of her celebrity to give it weight.

    Lovely post.


  4. temiville says:

    *more to the story ie

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