If Sahara Reporters (SR) peddles its falsehood nine times it is necessary to reply the online rag ten times. SR, in executing its latest brief, has thrown decorum to the dogs as it scaled up its attacks on the President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Mr Abba Kyari.
Fair disclosure. This response to SR’s bunkum is not at the instance of Mr Kyari. It is rather borne out of a disgust at watching the folks behind a pseudo-publication peddling falsehood to make money at the expense of the country’s wellbeing and to the detriment of reputation that people have spent years building.
The response also becomes necessary because this online rag is giving online publication bad reputation in Nigeria. In other nations, the credibility of online platforms is no different from that of their traditional counterparts. But thanks to Sahara Reporters, in Nigeria, online publications are seen as nuisance portals used by jobbers to arm-twist public office holders and businessmen to pay blackmail money.
Tragically, so long as there are gullible readers and followers of the site, its operators would remain in business. So long as hardworking ones among politically exposed persons have to safeguard their integrity SR has victims to extort. To the extent that there are willing clients to pay SR for character assassination then the online hit squad would not be out of work.
Much as one would condemn SR for its questionable reporting one must also not lose sight of those for which it executes these contracts. This is not the first time the platform is hitting out at Mr Kyari’s reputation. It did so in the past an those who placed the orders for previous jobs are well known.
There is the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu. Somehow, the tools meant for fighting corruption have been deployed for carrying out vendetta. Had such payback activities been carried out with due regard to facts it would have been a welcome development since no Nigerian should be above the law. But the whole information passed on or leaked to SR, conveniently branded as ‘exclusively obtained’ are often distorted to a point where one begin to wonder if Magu is running a casino instead of an anti-corruption agency.
Not to be outdone is the National Security Adviser, NSA, Babagana Monguno, who like his co-traveller in the EFCC abuses the information that comes to his knowledge in the course of working for Nigeria. What NSA would compromise national security with his dalliance with a rag publication just to score cheap political points? Since assuming office, it has been one potential breach or the other as Monguno has conveniently allowed his office leak information to SR like a sieve. And like a straining device, the office manipulates the information it releases to indict perceived enemies.
In the mix is Babachir David Lawal, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF who has not hidden his misdirected bitterness that an effective Mr Kyari prevents him from shinning. Curiously, Lawal’s office has been another veritable source of sensitive documents and information leaking to SR. Actually, the scale on which the SGF’s office ferret documents to SR can be likened more to an outpouring than a leak. This is a development that has killed confidence in doing government business to the extent that other members of the cabinet are now sceptical of passing communication through him.
Much as these SR clients appear motely, a common tread that runs through them is the Bourdillon connection. Someone is still bitter that the country wasn’t handed over to him to run as an extensions of his fiefdom. The heat emanating from the anger in this is meant to sear more than Mr Kyari. Other persons that are seen as incorruptible President Buhari loyalists are similarly set up for roasting. The directive from Bourdillon is straightforward – malign Mr President’s trusted appointees to the point where he sacks them. The next phase would be to replace the sacked appointees with Bourdillon lackeys.
Anyone that has paid close attention to SR’s content would see the puny efforts made at running stories that suggest these connections were also to be on the receiving end of its venom. The reality however is that it is a guise to mask the identity of those hounding Mr Kyari by themselves appearing as the platform’s victims.
Since neither SR nor its clients are ready to desist from these acts that threaten the integrity of Nigeria, the responsibility falls on citizens to call them to order. This is something that must be done as a matter of urgency as we all stand the risk of losing the ability to distinguish lies from truth if we continue to consume this diet of falsehood.
****Inuwa Suleiman contributed the piece from Katsina, Katsina State.