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Report of Kano Shapers’ Meet the Leader Session with Kabiru Yusuf of Media Trust

On Wednesday, January 1, 2020

A team from the Kano Hub of Global Shapers Community met with Kabiru Yusuf, the Founder/ Chairman, Board of Directors of Media Trust Limited, publishers of Daily Trust, Sunday Trust, and Aminiya (Hausa vernacular) newspapers. The meeting which took place at Yusuf’s farmhouse, along Dawakin Kudu Road on the outskirts of Kano, was attended by 10 members of the Kano Hub, led by the curator, Dr. Rukayya Sani.

After self-introductions by members of the Hub, followed by a brief about the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community in general, and a brief about the Kano Hub particularly its major activities and projects carried out to date, by the curator. In return, Yusuf also told members of the Hub an about himself including a brief history of the Media Trust company and its newspaper titles.

The Leader told the Team how they started the Media Trust company in very humble circumstances in the mid-1990s, out of their BQ offices in Kaduna before they eventually launched Weekly Trust in 1998 – a few months before the death of military dictator General Sani Abacha. He said the end of the Abacha era which was characterized by gross human rights violations and repression of the press was their “biggest luck” as a fledgling newspaper company.

He also identified as a major advantage to the Trust titles and one of the main reasons for their success, the wave of democratization in Nigeria that began in 1998 leading to the country’s return to democracy in 1999, hence the opening up of the media space which gave the then-new media publishing company an opportunity to expand and thrive.

This was followed by the Questions and Answers session moderated by Ahmed Muhammad Ahmed; the questions fielded by The Leader revolved around Leadership in general; Media Entrepreneurship; Digital Disruption in the Media, Social Media and  Fake News. Other issues discussed were Northerners’ seeming disinterest in making an investment in the media and education sectors as well as the general state of affairs in Nigeria and the role of the media in a democracy.

In his response, The Leader explained to the Team as tips for achieving success in leadership and business entrepreneurship such as dedication, perseverance, commitment. On why Northerners don’t like investing in media, he said, it was because the media is not a “lucrative business” that provides “quick returns.”  The Leader said there is a difference between “creating wealth” (which requires the building of a long-lasting foundation for sustainability) and simply “making money” which is done in haphazard ways and possibly through short cuts.

On the advent of the internet, social media and the proliferation of citizen journalism, which has given rise to fake news, post-truth and yellow journalism, The Leader said there is no need to worry about the phenomenon since the audience would always be able to distinguish between credible news platforms and harbingers of fake news. He added that the audience would themselves “punish” purveyors of fake news by not reading their platforms.

While speaking on the effect of advent new media on the Media Trust titles, The Leader said the company was already responding to the disruption of the media landscape by giving youths who understand the dynamics of the new media the opportunity to lead the editorial aspect of the business. He added that although the emergence of new media had only slightly affected their revenue base, he believed the future of the media was going to be digital and predicted that Media Trust company might eventually cease publishing print versions of their titles, altogether by 2040.

While talking about the general state of affairs in Nigeria, The Leader said poverty was a major contributor to Nigeria’s challenges as a country, hence the need for collective efforts and initiatives that would take as many people as possible out of poverty, such as the Global Shapers initiative. He identified poverty, and not religious differences, as posing the greatest danger to Nigeria’s corporate existence.

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