ARISE TV’s unconventional journalistic methods, including a blatant display of bias and subjectivity by journalists on its roster, have raised questions on the integrity of its operations, including the antecedents of its owner, Nduka Obaigbena, who in 2013 faced allegations of receiving one million dollars in state funds from then Governor Goodluck Jonathan of Bayelsa State.
Documents revealed to the public in multiple reports showed that Goodluck Jonathan, whilst serving as Bayelsa State governor before his elevation to the presidency, paid Nduka Obaigbena one million dollars in 2006 from funds meant to tackle poverty in the state for a controversial entertainment deal meant to ferry music stars Jay Z and Beyonce to a concert hosted by his ThisDay newspaper.
A report covering the alleged fraud contained witness accounts from friends and associates of Mr Obaigbena who said his luxury lifestyle and media empire were funded by fraudulent contracts involving public funds gotten from political officeholders, mainly within the PDP, whom he cavorted with.
According to the report, Jonathan allegedly offered the dubious ‘financial support’ to Obaigbena as co-sponsor of his ThisDay Music Festival event in Lagos which later saw the attendance of reality TV star Kim Kardashian to the country.
One of the witnesses quoted revealed that, “Mr. Obaigbena often lines up financial bonanzas from numerous governors, ministers and other top government officials to finance his jamborees.”
The revelation generated controversy at the time as many queried if spending $1m to ‘support’ a private entertainment event was a responsible expenditure by a state dealing with debilitating poverty.
In spite of the controversy, Mr Obaigbena has maintained his suspicious links to PDP political figures. Earlier this year, clips of him at a social event with the PDP leadership in which he was celebrating the victory of its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, surfaced on the internet. It prompted severe questions over the impartiality of his media networks, particularly ARISE TV which has since adopted an adversarial approach to other candidates and parties in a display of clear favouritism.
Similar to Mr Obaigbena, a controversial member of his ARISE TV media crew, Rufai Oseni, also courted controversy for breaking traffic laws and refusing to comply with law enforcement, instead threatening to evade responsibility and cause retributive actions against the officers for carrying out their duty.