When Dr. Kayode Fayemi (former Governor of Ekiti State who was summarily defeated by Mr. Ayodele Fayose in the June 21, 2014 Governorship election in Ekiti State) founded SaharaReporters (SR) alongside other pro-democracy campaigner at the twilight of Radio Kudirat just before Nigeria’s return to democratic governance; many (including yours sincerely) were relieved that a new platform for the repressed to air their voices was born. However, like everything in life, time has changed and obviously SaharaReporters has changed with it. The incursion into active politics of founders of SR like Dr. Fayemi has since changed how things are run, opinions are moulded and paths are charted at SaharaReporters. SR which used to be the ‘other voice’ on national issues, be it economy, politics etc. has since metamorphosed into ‘the voice of one crying in the wilderness for the opposition party – APC’ on the side of which its founders tents are pitched politically. Once you click onhttp://saharareporters.com/ every news story, opinion, feature article that confronts you reeks of opposition party’s (APC) bad breadth. You begin to wonder who between SaharaReporters and Alh. Lai Mohammed is APC’s chief propagandist? Or is SR now an extension of APC communications department?
Reading SaharaReporters’ (SR) obviously hurriedly assembled piece “Fresh Crisis in Ondo Over Who Heads Jonathan/Sambo Re-election Campaign” posted on http://saharareporters.com/ yesterday (February 2, 2015) left one with feelings of amusement and pity. One is amused to behold the ridiculous level SR has stooped to in its bid to please its sponsors; at the same time, one cannot but feel pity for the unsuspecting so-called, PDP members in Ondo State who are inadvertently offering themselves as subjects of APC-sponsored SR projectiles against the person of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the Peoples’ Democratic Party – PDP all in APC’s vilified bid to take the Presidency by hook or crooked means at this year’s general elections.
One would have quietly ignore the latest tirade from SR as another in its torrent of vilely reports and concocted articles against the government and person of President Goodluck Jonathan, but since SR claimed to have extracted voices from respected Ondo politician like Chief Olusola Oke, one is inclined to pick interest and set the records straight before SR will further mislead the public on goings-on in Nigeria.
In the latest diatribe, SR claimed to have spoken with some ‘aggrieved’ members of PDP in Ondo State whom it said, are protesting the choice of Mr. Adetokunbo Modupe as the director-general of President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election campaign committee in the state. While, SR quoted Chief Olusola Oke (who incidentally, was PDP’s candidate in the October 20, 2012 Governorship election won by Dr. Mimiko) the online platform disguised its other respondents in the report. It claimed that Chief Olusola Oke is angered by Mr. Modupe’s appointment and has vowed to shun the campaigns organised by Mr. Modupe’s committee. SR went further in the report that Chief Oke ‘accused’ Governor Mimiko of plot to sideline older leaders of the party from the process of selecting members of the committee. The report also quoted an unnamed PDP figure who vowed to launch a parallel campaign for President Jonathan without reference to Governor Mimiko should the Governor fail to heed their request for him to drop Mr. Modupe.
These are PDP’s internal issues in Ondo State. Every party has its. There is hardly any party in Nigeria today, whether small or large, that can boast that it’s free of internal squabbles. However, what remains to be understood is why SaharaReporters have chosen to slander Mr. Modupe, Governor Olusegun Mimiko and further disrespect President Goodluck Jonathan in this sponsored report. Where did SaharaReporter get its fact that the “Dome Projects” in Akure is an ‘abandoned’ project? What parameters did SR use to arrive at the conclusion on who and who are ‘more politically grounded’ in Ondo politics? I don’t want to ask why SR has masked its call to question of Mr. Modupe’s integrity in an unknown faceless voice.
I am not a solicitor or defender of Mr. Modupe. He is more than capable to do that himself as a distinguished strategic communications expert. However, for sheer purposes of educating SaharaReporters and their sponsors, let it be known that they are taking on a man the Nigerian media industry unanimously regard as Mr. Media. As a PR/Perception and reputations manager, Mr. Modupe has distinguished himself as a professional with impeccable traits for sound judgment and perfection in his undertakings. A hardworking and devoted professional, Mr. Modupe has distinguished himself as a transparent businessman, a patriotic citizen and a loving family man. If there are characters at SaharaReporters who are being sponsored to take on Mr. Modupe, it will do well for them to come clean and confront him directly rather than masking their identity behind ugly masks and seizing a political situation to pass insults at him.
Whoever wants to challenge Mr. Modupe’s competence on the enormous job he has been saddled with should feel free to do that openly. But before you do that, let it be known to you that people from across the country moving about with the Mr. President on his campaign train have adjudged the rally Mr. Modupe and his committee organised for the presidential campaign train in Akure on Wednesday, January 28 as the best organised rally so far since the president kicked off its campaign about a month ago.
This is the reason why I said I pity the so-called aggrieved members of PDP in Ondo State. Unknown to them, their actions are fertile grounds for the opposition to launch attacks at their party leadership. Do they need anyone to tell them that they are inadvertently offering the enemies of PDP in the opposition the avenues to pass insults at their party and its leadership in the State? Chief Olusola Oke and all the estranged PDP leaders in the state presently at loggerheads with Dr. Olusegun Mimiko seriously need to rethink their stands and consider what their actions may cost their party in this election. Let them not think that the opposition likes them by offering them its shoulder to cry on. No, they don’t. Indeed, they make jest of you soon after you finished crying to them.
If truly SR writes from New York, shouldn’t they have learnt that no American media platform will address any American president disparagingly as SR did in this report. Every report of SR ever since it became blindly partisan has been derogatory and demeaning of not only the person of Nigeria’s president, the office of the president as an institution. One wonders what manner of presidency SR and its sponsors wish to inherit should the APC win - a presidency that the opposition has most of times (wrongly) and derided dragged in the mud through instruments of propaganda?
Ultimately, the real losers in midst of all these political intrigues will be the so-called aggrieved PDP members and may be the party itself. Why have these aggrieved members refused to come out in the open to voice their grievances? Do you win a war by going to your enemies’ camp to complain about your internal problems in a war situation? What do they expect from their party, the president or Governor Mimiko himself? Have these people really sat down to digest their party’s constitution and its provisions, particularly as regards the party’s leadership/command structure at all levels? It is good to show grievances, but do they have to do that so brazenly in an election time as we are now? It is no use playing the role of a spoiler while remaining a team player. They should consider what their actions might portend for their party’s chances in the elections. And if they don’t care what happened, they should also pause and ask ‘what if Mr. President loses Ondo State, but still goes ahead to win the election?’
There’s nothing wrong in good thinking and considering one’s position on issues.
Afolabi Temitayo, a public analyst writes from Akure, Ondo State.