The Edo State government-owned Bendel Newspapers Company Limited, publisher of the Observer titles, has resumed production of hard copies after 17 months of revamping.

The fantastic return of the state darling newspaper on Monday, November 13, 2023, opened a floodgate of commendations from residents of Benin City who approached newspaper vendors to grab their copies.

The residents were visibly delighted with the new Nigerian Observer’s unique colour separations, well written stories, packaged adverts with photographs all artistically spread on a modern newsprint used by other national and foreign newspapers.

Prior to last Monday’s hard copy edition, stories of the Nigerian Observer were only available on its official website;

Speaking on the scintillating return of the Nigerian Observer to newsstand and ongoing revamping of the company, the honourable Commissioner for Communications and Orientation in Edo State, Christopher Nehikhare assured that the media outfit has come back to stay.

Hon. Nehikhare allayed scepticism in some quarters over the sustainability of the newspaper as the state government had taken care of that.

“The next paper will come out on Friday (today), so don’t worry. They don’t need to be sceptical. Government has put everything in place to ensure that it is going to be run like a private newspaper. We are very confident that the advertisers will have good stories to tell.

“It’s going to be a daily newspaper eventually, but in kicking off the production we are just testing the waters with two papers a week, the first paper comes out on Monday, and serves Monday to Thursday as a daily paper, the weekend paper comes out on Friday and serves as Friday to Sunday. So, we are kicking off with two papers per week,” the Commissioner said.

On the circulation of the paper, Hon. Nehikhare said flexible and systematic arrangements have been emplaced for wide circulation of the Nigerian Observer newspaper across Nigeria with special focus on Niger Delta, the South-South area, of the country.

Meanwhile, the return of Nigerian Observer newspaper has continued to elicit reactions from journalists in Benin City.

The chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Edo State Council Comrade Festus Alenkhe, commended the state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki for ensuring that the newspaper returned to the newsstands as promised.

He appealed to the governor to ensure professionals are employed to handle the news aspect of the outfit.

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“I want to appeal to the state government to ensure that only professionals are employed into the mainstream, especially the news department.

“Those that can actually do in-depth investigation of stories, those that can actually do the work when it comes to news reporting and all others. Standard editors should be hired,” Comrade Alenkhe said.

The NUJ Chairman however called on the state government to look at the professionals among the redeployed staff of Nigerian Observer with a view to bringing them back for efficient service delivery.

However, a veteran journalist, Victor Ofure Osehobo expressed doubts over the sustainability of the current Nigerian Observer newspaper.

“Well, we were happy to see it on the stand, but I can vouch for the fact that this edition is a flash in the pan because after Alaghodaro, except the government has any other celebration he wants to do again.

“When the Observer was on the newsstand, it was a paper most Edo people wanted to read on a daily basis because it carried news about communities in Edo State, news about government activities.

“People living far and near wanted to get the hard copy which is handy and different from the online edition. So, when the hard copy disappeared, for a lot of us it was like a funeral. It will be sad if the government cannot bring it back to a daily paper,” Osehobo said.

It will be recalled that the Edo State Government had through a three-paragraph statement dated June 30, 2022, endorsed by the Secretary to Edo State Government, Osarodion Ogie, Esq, directed the closure of The Nigerian Observer newspaper for a re-organisation and re-launch expected to last a period of one month.

“The Edo State Government in line, with the reforms of the state-owned media organisations, has directed the closure of Nigerian Observer newspaper for a period of one month, for re-organisation and re-launch of the media outfit.

“All existing staff of the Nigerian Observer are hereby redeployed to the Ministry of Communications and Orientation, with immediate effect, where they will receive further directive on their new responsibilities.

“Members of the reading public and lovers of the Nigerian Observer brand are assured that their darling newspaper titles will return to the stands shortly, better and improved,” the statement said.

However, the resumption of publication of the paper last Monday may lay to rest series of misgivings in some quarters about the outcome of Edo State Government revamping of the media outfit.