By Adamu Adamu
It appears that journalism has been thrown to the dogs in Nigeria with the array of disjointed publications that we are subjected to every passing hour. It gets to the point that one of the worse nightmares one might experience is having to go through some supposed news mediums.
In this ignoble category is Sahara Reporters, which can best be described as a platform for blackmail and sale to the highest bidder. To start with, Omoyele Sowore, its publisher, is reputed for using his medium as an avenue to extort gullible victims. This is aside from the fact that there is no record anywhere where it was stated that he studied journalism or cut his teeth with any reputable news medium.
The best of him was that he studied Geography and Planning at the University of Lagos from 1989 to 1995, with his academic program extended by two extra years after being expelled twice for political reasons and student activism. That is the ABCD of Omoyele Sowore and Sahara reporters.
I am writing this piece in reference to a story published by Sahara Reporters with the caption “North-East Development Commission Managing Director, Alkali in Alleged Multi-Billion Naira Corruption Scandal”, quoting a group named North East Vanguard.
After reading the news story, I almost puked with the way and manner such gibberish was put out for public consumption and without recourse to the sensibilities of some of us from North-East Nigeria, and also conversant with the operations of the North East Development Commission.
As a start, the group North East Vanguard is a shadowy one promoted by a group of nonentities, that is, if they truly exist. Consequently, their submission reads more like tales by moonlight because of the litany of incoherency. The group claimed to have unearthed massive corruption involving billions of naira at the NEDC.
They took their idiocy further by stating that “The Managing Director, Mohammed Goni Alkali, takes home as monthly salary, N8.5 million without recourse to the Salaries and Wages Commission, apart from a whopping N300 million as running cost for his office per annum.”
I was stunned that I wonder which of the Mohammed Goni Alkali they were referring to in their submission. I consoled myself that maybe it was another Mohammed Goni Alkali and not the one that heads the NEDC. I said to myself that it must have been a case of mistaken identity or outright mischief.
I think both could suffice in this case because it remains a figment of the imagination with other wild allegations that reads more like a poorly written Nollywood script. And I am not surprised the group could find a willing collaborator in Sahara Reporters to churn out their illusions about the operations of the NEDC under Mohammed Goni Alkali.
To put it mildly, the shadowy group merely rehashed the propaganda published by some disgruntled politicians sometime back, who felt entitled to the finances of the NEDC meant for humanitarian interventions, and since they could not have their way, they went berserk.
I trust Alkali not to respond to gibberish, which has been his posture in over a decade that I have known him. However, I elected to send a message through this piece to those who think Alkali succumbs to blackmail. My question is, do they even know who Mohammed Goni Alkali is? I don’t think so because if they knew who he is in terms of character and posture, they would try another customer willing to play ball.
Instructively, as close as some of us are to him, we know the limits in terms of asking for favours that would make him bend the rules or subvert the process. We also know that once our request goes against the common good, it is dead on arrival, and as such, we do not bother to even make such requests in the first place.
I can’t count the number of persons he has cut ties with for daring to ask for favours that undermine the objectives of the NEDC. I am sure some of these persons are behind the slander campaign. And to think they can link hi, Alkali to corrupt practice is almost laughable. The corruption toga doesn’t fit him because all of his years in private and public service, he has remained aloft as a stickler for upholding what is right and detesting what isn’t right. And his leadership of the NEDC is not an exception.
Some of us are aware of how he has been managing the affairs of the NEDC and constantly put him in our prayers for God to see him through the onerous task of leading the implementation of the developmental blueprint for the North-East geo-political zone that had been ravaged by over a decade of insurgency.
The promoters of North East Vanguard must realize that this is a tough nut to crack. It would be in their best interest to desist from further malicious enterprise targeted at tarnishing the image of Mohammed Goni Alkali. They should instead channel their resources to more charitable ventures that would serve good to humanity.
And my candid advice to Mohammed Goni Alkali is that the threat is real, and he must not get distracted by their shenanigans. He must maintain focus with his eyes on the ball in his characteristic manner. This is not a time for distractions. If the so-called North-East Vanguard has any documentary evidence, they should do well to present it to the general public and not crying wolf where none exist.
Adamu is a development researcher and wrote from Yola.