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Rumour Mill, Quackery, Lies And Fake News: The Story Of Sahara Reporters, By Bilyaminu Kong-Kol

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The objective of communication is, indisputably to attain a desired result; definitely for it to serve the purpose for which it is designed, intended or planned, positive or negative.

Communication has been perhaps the most important aspect of human and social existence even during the primitive age. Therefore, care must be taken to preserve its sanctity and values and that demands that the content being pushed out is not distorted or cooked, espousing the public good and sometimes truthfully exposing wrongdoings in the society.

A medium which hurts, destroys people and elicits growling phone calls and libel suits has little chance of survival. Ethically, objectivity, fairness, sticking to the facts, weighing facts against truths and demanding the other side are hallmarks of good reportage. One of the dictums is that as reporters you should not LIE; it should not be the figment of the imagination of the organization.

The Sahara Reporters team has crafted a different set of canons for its recruits; their specialty, to say the least, is taking the frontier of reporting away from facts to the inglorious realm of groundless speculation and dementia. It is an absurdly false and characterless brand of gutter and blackmail journalism; a pack of chatterboxes and clamps whose stock in trade is falsehoods, obnoxious and villainous “beer parlour’’ gossips.

By constantly waging wars against those in authority and vilipending them, the online medium is gradually tightening the noose around its neck as purveyor of fake news and propaganda.

At best Sahara- Reporters’ variant of journalism is no-par-value as against evidence-based, factual, authenticated and verified reports of a credible medium. The nontradable products of the medium are fertile grounds for a classical study of an abuse of the new media and its irresistibility by gullible few who are wont to be rather quick jn swallowing their churn-outs hook, line and sinker and disregarding rebuttal or apologies by such errant media.

Unlike a renowned restaurateur with wide ranging traditional clientele who are pernickety, the likes of Sahara Reporters are piffling, pigheaded and higgledy-piggledy. The dysfunctional aspect of their reportage is fast becoming a phenomenon contrived mainly to destroy, damage reputation and integrity built over the years all in a bid to get rich quick extortionately. In the absence of any regulation or regulatory body or union, the only option is to approach the court to checkmate this errancy and miscreants in journalists’ toga whose watchword is publishing dishonesty, malicious, repulsive, contemptible and loathsome reports.

They continue to relish in it because the wheel of justice for libel and defamation cases is supposedly slow as most cases are not expeditiously tried – taking several years to serve justice. The question is: How many people who have consumed the fake news ab initio will ever get to read the judgment obtained against such errant medium or media? Even apologies are taken with a pinch of salt !

Since most media are near shutdown or distressed with zero-assets, damages to the tune of millions can’t be settled by them while they resort to out-of-court settlement and getting monarchs and personages to intervene, typical of the miscreants they are. Sahara Reporters as a medium is in and out of court with fusillade of lawsuits and it may just be adding to the long list inadvertently.

The speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, ex-Lagos State Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode, Ogun State Government, the Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele even Nigeria’s Presidency have had to refute their stories time and again with some of them ending up in litigation.

Sadly, there is character or profession in Sahara Reporters that can act as institutional gatekeeper to checkmate these inanely, insubstantial and irritatingly silly bush telegraphs, spreading gossips swiftly without restraint. It would have been better for the medium to go back to the medieval and primitive method of communication by words of mouth or gongs or drumbeats that can be denied or disowned.

A litany of some of the fake news published by Sahara Reporters include: In March 2020 – Sahara Reporters published a report that the Government IT clearinghouse, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) received one billion naira from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on the orders of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami.

According to Sahara Reporters it was intended for a “digital learning scheme”.

NITDA has maintained it is not promoting and has never promoted any programme with the title “Digital Learning Scheme” and has therefore never received any sum from the NCC for this phantom project or any other project.

NITDA in strong terms publicly and unequivocally denied the false report and has challenged Sahara Reporters to publish proof. Till date the media house is yet to respond.

In 2018: Sahara Reporters in a report said that a former minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode’s two-year old union with wife Precious Chikwendu had allegedly “hit the rocks and threatening to explode in dramatic fashion”.

“We wish to put it on record that there is absolutely no an iota of truth in any part of that story and it is nothing but fake news” the minister said in a statement.

“As a matter of fact, it is a total fabrication put together by a desperate and vicious media house that seeks to destroy the lives of every member of the Fani-Kayode family.

The wife, Precious Chikwendu, also came out to accuse Sahara Reporters of publishing falsehood and asked the media house to apologize.

The couple is still together and both had triplets last year. Again, Sahara Reporters is yet to apologize for publishing fake news.

Also in a report fraught with lies and embarrassment, the online medium alleged that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, purchased a multi-million Naira Abuja mansion for his son who recently got married.

Malami described the report as ‘fabricated allegations’ that had become the trade of his traducers. The report also alleged that the Attorney-General was planning “a second leg” of wedding for his son and had allegedly chartered private jets to convey guests to the purported venue. The minister had responded, saying the son does not even reside in Abuja.

“It is one of such libelous publications of which the newspaper is commonly known for, the AGF said. It targets a selected few for unsubstantiated fabricated allegations while overlooking more serious reasonable allegations visibly against its favoured sectional kinsmen.”

The AGF challenged anyone with evidence on his alleged purchase of the said mansion and charter of private jets to make such public.

“Who is the vendor of the purported house bought for my son in Abuja at N300m? Where is it located? Where are the title documents?” he queried.
On the alleged chartered jets: “It is common knowledge that I have neither a father nor mother anywhere in Nigeria to convey to Kano for the wedding.”

“Who then am I using the chartered flight to convey? Which jets are chartered? Who paid for the charter? Through which means was the money paid?” he further queried. Till date, Sahara is yet to publish any evidence to support the story.

Sahara Reporters is on a mission: engaging in needless and self-destructive controversies to tarnish the image of public officers and citizens who are resolute in executing an agenda without kowtowing to powerful vested interest groups who resort to mudslinging when their demands are not met.

Quackery appears to be the vision, mission and centrestage of Sahara Reporters publishing devoid of decorum. In this time and age, no sound professional journalist worth his salt should sit down after quaffing some beer to do a story unmindful that there are consequences. Typing out squiggles from the reporter’s notebook, if not from the head, on the computer represents lives and the reporter and the organization should be conscious of what they do those lives.

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Opinion

Yahaya Bello and the Fuji House of Commotion Called The PDP – By Chris Mustapha Nwaokobia Jnr

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How more frustrated can a Party that prides itself as the largest Party in Africa be? The Party has failed to lead a vibrant opposition having lost power at the centre some 6years ago. And the Party has become a rambunctious and rabble rousing entity shooting at everything like an age grade village union.

The Peoples Democratic Party PDP has failed to present before the nation a viable alternative blueprint which is the least a credible opposition party should do. Alas the Party suffering from the frustration of losing her leading lights to the All Progressive Congress APC in the past weeks, have chosen to walk deeper down the path of shame. Or how else can one describe the present outburst, diatribe, and ill-informed assessment of the Yahaya Adoza Bello watch over the State of Kogi?

Show me a PDP State and a PDP Governor that has handled Gender Issues like Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State? Kogi has the highest gender inclusiveness in the whole of Africa, second arguably to Rwanda, and that’s responsiveness and civilization in leadership. The PDP therefore erred in qualifying the Bello Watch as having taken Kogi State years back. Indeed Kogi State under Bello’s watch tops the chart in the United Nations assessment of States that comply with the Millenium Development Goals in Nigeria.

Show me a PDP State or Givernor that has managed Security issues like Yahaya Bello has done in Kogi. It is without equivocation that a State like Kogi State with 9 borders is yet the safest State in Nigeria. The truth is sacred and facts are Olympic, so the PDP must learn some honour by acknowledging that you cannot because of politics rubbish a record so evident as noon day. Knowing that the primary responsibility of government is the protection of lives and property, the House of Commotion called the PDP must cover her face in shame, and applaud the young man who has made his State the safest in Nigeria.

Show me a PDP State and Governor that has impacted the citizens in the area of Agriculture like Yahaya Bello has done? Indeed today one of the most functional Rice Mills in the Country is in Kogi State being fed with grains by Rice Farmers in and around the State. And evidently Kogi State tops the chart in the support of farmers in the Country, ask the Central Bank of Nigeria, the records are there.

Need we talk about Religious, Cultural and Ethnic harmony? Is the PDP aware that a multi ethnic, multi religious and a multi lingual State like Kogi tops the chart in peaceful coexistence in the Country? Does the PDP know that the inclusiveness in governance of the disparate ethnicities in Kogi dwarfs any other State in Nigeria? Does the PDP know that Kogi State has the highest level of Youth participation in leadership in Nigeria, and does the PDP know that the young men and women running Kogi State and doing profoundly are eggheads whose commitment to responsible and responsive leadership is second to none?

And does the PDP know that in this period of the Covid pandemic it is on record that Kogi State has generated more revenue and impacted her citizens better than most States in Nigeria because the young man Governor Yahaya Adoza Bello thinks outside the box.

The PDP and her fellow travelers on the path of mendacity must imbibe the ability for frank research, for the knack to poke a deep hole in the balloon of naysayers and purveyors of deceit and tommyrot is what stands out the Yahaya Bello Movement.

PDP and its image makers must therefore seek first to resolve the contradictions in the House of Commotion called the Peoples Democratic Party before seeking to deploy falsehood and perfidy as a tool in her failed effort at discharging the duties of an opposition Party. May these indelible words of Sir Walter Scott ‘O what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive’ serve as reprimand to the kindergarten work of the PDP in opposition politics in Kogi State and at the Federal level.

Chris Mustapha Nwaokobia Jnr.
National Coordinator
GOT YOUR BACK NIGERIA (GYB NIGERIA)

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Opinion

Rotational Presidency: Yahaya Bello , Ohaneze and Chief Ogbonnia’s Ignoble Effort to Rewrite History – By Chris Mustapha Nwaokobia Jnr

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I would not have responded to that uncouth and demeaning press statement penned by one Chief Alex Ogbonnia and credited to Ohaneze Nd’Igbo, but for the tissue of lies, perfidy and conceit that liter that ignoble effort at rewriting history.

First that Press Statement clearly exposes the Ohaneze disrespect and disregard for Youth. Does Youth to Ohaneze mean the inability to follow the events of history properly? Does blackmail legitimize falsehood? And to what end was that mendacious Press Statement credited to Ohaneze Nd’Igbo?

I am a Nigerian of Igbo extraction, and do not subscribe to ROTATIONAL PRESIDENCY, and there are millions of Igbo who believe that Competency and Capacity must denominate the entire space of our politics as 2023 approaches.

Again there is also no Constitutional backing for Zoning and or ROTATIONAL PRESIDENCY. Infact the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended provides for the freedom of all citizens above the age of 35 who possess the requisite qualification to aspire to the office of President. To zone and or restrict the High Office of President to a particular region or zone is therefore unconstitutional. How does that logical argument of Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State merit the kindergarten response of one Chief Alex Ogbonnia who claims to be the Spokesman of Ohaneze Nd’Igbo? Even more curious is the effort to drag a highly respected Socio-Cultural group like Ohaneze Nd’Igbo in the mud by deploying very unworthy and uncharitable language in that foul attempt by Chief Ogbonnia to rewrite history.

Let me state prestissimo that that 1998 meeting at the National University Commission Conference Centre in Abuja referred to in the Ohaneze Nd’Igbo statement did not settle the issue of zoning and or ROTATIONAL PRESIDENCY. Yes, there were persuasive arguments on the need for zoning but no such thing was agreed upon. It is on record that a few months after, Chief Alex Ekwueme, Chief Jim Nwobodo and a few others outside the Southwest zone were to contest for the Presidential Ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party against Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who was the leading candidate of the Southwest in the PDP primaries. So where and when was zoning/ROTATIONAL PRESIDENCY settled?

Noted that Governor Yahaya Bello may have been in Ahmadu Bello University at the period in our history that that Ohaneze statement seek to misrepresent, must they deny the young man the right to an informed position on the Nigerian polity? Must they continue in the ignoble trajectory that denigrates Youths? When will they understand that in the 21st century information is at the finger tip of the Youths? Sad.

If Zoning and or ROTATIONAL PRESIDENCY was settled as a protocol on our body polity, would President Mohammadu Buhari have been a three-time candidate before he won the 2015 Presidency in his fourth attempt?

If zoning/ROTATIONAL PRESIDENCY were a settled item in our polity would Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar have been a four-time Presidential Candidate since 2007? Would the array of Northern and Southern Aspirants who participated in the various Presidential Primaries of the leading Political Parties between 1999 and 2019 have been? To attempt to blackmail a sitting Governor with deceit, falsehood and perfidy is a no no, and this generation has gone beyond such tommyrot.

May I state without an ounce of equivocation that what those who believe in Igbo Presidency should do is deploy tact and diplomacy rather than blackmail and diatribe, because those who believe in competency and capacity as the linchpin for the President we crave come 2023 cannot and will not be cowed.

Finally I implore the eminent leader of Ohaneze Nd’Igbo Chief George Obizor to helm in the rabid Spokesman of the group for Ndigbo are good students of history and do not deploy falsehood, mendacity and perfidy in pursuit of any worthy cause. Ya’gazie.

Chris Mustapha Nwaokobia Jnr.
AKA Chukwudumebi Nkemcho Nwaokobia CNN.
Convener COUNTRYFIRST MOVT.

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Of Zoning/ Rotational Presidency and the Fallacy of the Elite I – By Chris Mustapha Nwaokobia Jnr

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Any sincere call for Zoning and or Rotational Presidency should be the call for Gender Equity in Governance. A woman has never been the President of Nigeria, so why isn’t the elite calling for zoning of power to Women?

Since 1999 no Youth and or under 50years have been President of Nigeria, why isn’t the political elite calling for Power shift or zoning of power to the largest population demography in Nigeria, the Youths?

Who says that zoning or Power Rotation will quieten the discord that pummels our polity? Did the two major Political Parties in 1999 not field a Yoruba Candidate from the South West? Did Obasanjo’s 8years as President stop the agitation for Oodua Republic? Is the South West not asking for another shot at the Presidency in the name of zoning of power to the South come 2023? Who is deceiving who?

We must debunk the fallacy of the Ruling elite and tell them that not only is Zoning and or Rotational Presidency unconstitutional, it is a self-serving, a self-seeking and a perfidious power ploy. We are not buying their devious epistemology, not anymore.

The Clock says it is time for competency and capacity, the moment says it is Youth O’Clock and the time says that 2023 politics must be dominated by worthy and worthwhile indices other than those of region and religion.

I want to see a Woman or a Youth in the saddle. I want to see the most gender friendly political operator or office holder as President of Nigeria. I want to see competent young persons with capacity to govern emerge as Presidential candidates across the leading Political Parties, and proceed to win the Presidency come 2023. I want to see vibrant issues oriented debate, not whose turn or to what region power must devolve. I want to see a Pan Nigerian candidate. And I want to see a Pan Nigerian President in 2023.

Nigeria is troubled on all sides by the failure of leadership, by the lack of competency and capacity in leadership, and by the absence of Justice, equity and fairness. The panacea to the ills that trouble Nigeria will undoubtedly be good Governance centred on equity, fairness and justice, and not the self-seeking sermonette called zoning and or Rotational Presidency.

May we thumb down the fallacy that takes the solution to our problem away from empirical issues to banal ethnic and regional epistemology. And may we challenge all political operators to a new Creed, indeed one that makes competency and capacity the linchpin in our journey to 2023. God Bless Nigeria.

Chris Mustapha Nwaokobia Jnr.
AKA Chukwudumebi Nkemcho Nwaokobia CNN.
Convener COUNTRYFIRST MOVT.

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