The past few days have been remarkably dramatic for those who had followed the political events in Niger State, as the local journalists, under the umbrella of the state chapter of Nigerian Union of Journalists allied against Dr. Ibraheem Dooba, the spokesman of the Governor. The drama is a string of mostly ridiculous and personalized attacks, especially NUJ’s description of Dooba as professionally unfit for his office.
Today, out of curiosity to understand the genesis of the estranged relationship between the spokesman and his accusers, I traced his response to their weighty charge, produced below: Some journalists in Niger state have asked the governor to fire me.
Here’s my response to that call.
Why? Is it because they are hypocritical change agents?Is it because I’ve deviated from the corrupt and wasteful ways of the past? Is it because I’m still able to use alternative means to reach the people despite their boycott? Is my loyalty is to the governor and to the people, not to some lazy individuals.
Governor Bello is a prudent manager of the people’s resources, I find that example worthy of emulation.
Therefore, when they pleaded with me to give them exactly what the PDP government gave them, I told them to pry it from my cold dead fingers.
Sack me? So what? I’ll get another job tomorrow.
If I wasn’t clear before, allow me be so now: nothing will make me give them bribe. I recognize that I have to be more flexible, but I wouldn’t sell my soul because of a political appointment.
If I shared money the way they desire, they would be the ones to later write articles to accuse me of corruption.
For the first time, I want the people of Niger State and other Nigerians to know what I’ differ, they must get themselves a new CPS, because I won’t give bribes to those who solicit, PERIOD.
They call me arrogant, but I’ve never been anything but civil and respectful to them. I suppose they want me to beg and grovel while kowtowing to their demands.
It may interest them to know that I wasn’t raised that way. And the only person to whom I grovel and beg is Allah.
They said I’m not a journalist, maybe I’m not one like them. Even though I self-identify as a teacher, because it’s the only job I can do for free, I’ve better journalism credentials than most of them, including paper qualifications. As for practice, they should get the best of them to bring his best work and I bring mine and the people be witnesses as to who better.
In fact they are the ones killing the profession.
And why are they overly concerned about me? Do I prevent them from doing their jobs? They should go to our villages and do some journalism, instead of sitting in a corner to mope and grumble.
HOW IT STARTED
First they asked me to give them Sallah “welfare”.
How much? I asked.
One million naira. They answered.
That was in July. And that’s how long some journalists in Niger have boycotted me. (Exceptions: Daily Trust, LEADERSHIP, Punch, VOA, BBC, FRCN, Daily Independent, Radio Niger, NSTV, NTA and a couple others.) When I write press statements, they distribute covert text messages that nobody should carry the news.
Secondly, they tried, but failed, to pitch Sen David Umaru against the governor.
Then they started fabricating stories. I told them if they refused, we’ll sue. For example, Wole of Vanguard wrote a list of commissioners he picked up from the streets and deliberately designed to cause crisis in the state.
And many of these fabricators are not from Niger, so they’ve got nothing to lose when the state is on fire.
On the other hand, I’ve a good relationship with the executive council of the local NUJ.
Meanwhile, the boycott continued.
So I went to some of their editors in the head offices, many of whom I know very well. Did you ask them to do this? No, they said. On the contrary, the ogas invited me to send my press releases directly to them.
That was what enraged the boycotters in Minna.
I’M NOT ALONE
Let me drop some names, so that people know that there are professionals who are concerned about this gutter journalism and that I’ve the support of some credible people in this fight:
Dr. Farooq Kperogi, a friend and a journalism professor:
We will support you. Unfortunately, the major function of a press secretary in Nigeria is that of a bribe giver to journalists.
Malam Mannir Dan Ali, editor-in-chief of Daily Trust newspapers:
If you have any problems with our people, let me know. And I want you to be steadfast in your position. It’s difficult, but don’t waver.
Hajiya Aisha Umar Yusuf, a former editor and wife of the Daily Trust’s chairman:
The Governor is sure to find that he has a rare asset in you.
Malam Ibrahim Sheme, editor-in-chief of Blueprint newspaper:
The newspaper doesn’t belong to them. And that’s unacceptable.