In the Public Eye - Toni Payne and Obasanjo (Debate Tuesday)

Let's get this straight, I do not support the public, through the press or as individuals, invading the privacy of celebrities or those in the public eye. They are still human beings like you and I and they deserve their privacy too. I do believe that celebs need publicity to remain in the public eye which is how they make their money, but it doesn't necessarily have to be negative. Toni Payne should not just be crucified for marrying/divorcing a famous musician, she's also a hard working woman, and an employer of labor. But while journalists who write about celebs should be rounded, reporting on the good and the bad about these celebrities, at the end of the day though, it's their choice and they're just doing their job.

Now I don't doubt that being in the public eye is a difficult thing. There is probably an invasion of privacy which some of us cannot understand. I had a talk with Atala about this after I found out that some of my comments on the Onyeka Onwenu/Toni Payne/Azuka Ogujiuba saga did not go down well with some people. I am of the opinion that once you enter the public domain, you should be prepared to give up some of your privacy. Sometimes even, it is the publicists of these celebs that push their personal lives to the journalists, all for publicity.

Below is an excerpt from the recent press release by Onyeka Onwenu in defense of Toni Payne, who she thinks is being negatively targeted by a particular journalist.

Ms Toni Payne is my publicist and a young woman who impresses me with her zeal for work and excellent knowledge of the Nigerian Entertainment terrain with regards to what she does, which is publicism. She is respectful and conducts herself with decorum. She handles assignments with a seriousness that belies her young age. Ever since I came in contact with her, for the publicity of my Legend CD early this year, I have not ceased to be amazed by her appetite for work and sincerity of purpose. To watch her pummelled on Azuka’s Saturday This Day column, week after week, and unnecessarily, has been a torture for me. Ms Payne has laughed off these obvious attacks but I am not prepared to do so.

From the above press release, which must have been signed off by Toni Payne herself, being Onyeka Onwenu's publicist, I commend their camp. TP is obviously a consummate professional. She knows that she is a celeb, and she handles her business without getting into spats or fights with those who are writing about her. I think the release is a brilliant double whammy, it puts out a good word for TP and is also a publicity gimmick to bring Onyeka Onwenu (as we can see, half of it was about her and her music) to the young audience, by making her talk about what interests Naija youths today.

Moving on, another person that has also remained vilified in the public eye is former president Olusegun Obasanjo. And to think that the man has been out of office for the past several years. Obasanjo is not a saint, neither is he a devil. He did a few things people did not like, but he also moved Nigeria forward in many other ways. Now he is retired, a private citizen and yet, some keep hounding him. Do we wonder why our public officials amass money to buy private jets and secluded mansions, when we still stoop to this kind of barbaric behavior? Below is part of the Sahara Reporters news report on Obasanjo being assaulted in a Lagos airport

A police source told Saharareporters that when Obj assailant was brought into the police station and asked by interrogator, "are you crazy", the man replied, " if you say I am crazy what would you say about Obasanjo." The man then further asked the police interrogator, whether (he) the assailant was the one the looted the funds of Nigeria, rigged elections and slept with his son's wife" Police authorities are detaining the man claiming that they are investigating his state of mental health.

I think the man should be charged for assault and battery.