One of the dictionary meanings of a herald is a “person or thing viewed as a sign that something is about to happen”. I am afraid the Desert Herald, a publication based in Kaduna that is now reduced to SMS, is on the verge of becoming extinct and sadly, it is the publication itself that is heralding its confinement to the dustbin of history. In the recent past the paper have been running a losing battle with public officials because of its brand of journalism, which in the main consists of half-truths and outright conjectures bordering on slander and defamation. The Desert Herald is becoming the platform for settling scores with any public functionary who choose to keep a decent distance between him and the paper which has become a definition of ‘yellow journalism’. Unfortunately, the media industry’s Ombudsman, The Press Council, has become comatose. The paper careless about reputations built over years as long as the publishers perceive one is not ready to “play ball” with them.
I consider the publisher of desert Herald, Tukur Mamu, as a brother who I thought cares about good governance – something I have been working on for almost thirty years. I believe he also believe the same thing of me and that is why I am on his mailing list. I have had cause to engage him in the past on the misrepresentations and falsehoods that appear in his paper thinking that they can mend their ways. I reach a point since last year when I gave up on the publisher and the publication when I realised what they do is not a mistake but deliberate. I felt sad for a man who by dint of hard work took himself to where he is today. It appears he is set in his ways and will not change even though he is fully aware that they are purveyors of falsity. To think that the publisher of such a rag once threw his hat in the ring in the heat of the succession crisis of the Imamship of Sultan Bello Mosque, Kaduna. Wa iyazu billah. I would have cursed myself were I to pray behind such a man.
The recent fixation with the government, governor and Secretary to the State Government, all of Adamawa State may not be unconnected with a proposal submitted to the government by the paper and which did not get the governor’s approval. I wonder how this type of attack will make the governor agree to work with people who believe blackmail is a legitimate weapon of business engagement. Reminds me of the publisher’s problems with the current Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed when he was the FCT Minister. The publisher claimed to have written a book exposing the Minister’s shady land deals and when called upon to produce the phantom publication, he failed because there was none. This earned him forty-four days in the goal.
The latest story on Adamawa State is, as usual full of contradictions. If his excellency, Rt. Hon. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri could perform excellently like the paper claimed when he acted for only eighty-six days, what will make him fail now that he has a four-year mandate? Listen to Desert Herald, “within his eighty six days as acting governor, he was able to rehabilitate a number of roads in the state capital neglected by Nyako, paid two months’ salary backlog to the Adamawa State civil servants making him to earn the nickname ‘ATM’ among many other feats he accomplished during his short stint in power”. Interestingly, the present SSG was the Commissioner of Works when those ‘neglected’ roads were rehabilitated.
The claim of non-payment of consequential salary adjustment may also be an insensitive one because of the effect of Covid-19 on economies worldwide. Nigeria was among the countries hard-hit by the “economic lockdown” because of the country’s dependence on a single commodity as a forex source. If the governor could pay a debt, he inherited in 2014, what makes the Herald think he will fail to pay what he promised? Equally faulty in my opinion is the so-called comparison of the revenues that accrued to Bindowo’s administration in eleven months and that of Fintiri. Their source at the Ministry of Finance (if there is any) conveniently failed to give them the full picture. I did not see where the paper captured the bailout funds, or the Paris Club refunds received by the Bindowo administration. I will also have liked to see reflected in the story the exact position of debts the state owes as at May 29th, 2015 and June 2016, the period the paper chose to cover. An objective analysis will also have found out the number of those who were disengaged from service by the Fintiri administration and when they were employed. Those disengaged were employed after the voters rejected Bindowo in 2019 and these employments were akin to laying land mines by a departing militant group after being routed by a fighting force.
All I read in the said story are conjectures, half-truths and opinions from the opposition. It cost the Herald nothing to get the views of the government if the intention is to do an objective analysis of the government after a year in office. The Herald may be lost in a desert and just going in circles without an Oasis in sight and its thirst is making it see mirages which remain only that – mirages. My fear for my brother is that, this particular Herald may die in the desert from dehydration if it continues on its self-destructive path. I wouldn’t want to be the one to write its funeral dirge.
The Desert Herald’s brand of journalism is no better than that of the Shila boys who the paper grudgingly admitted his excellency, the governor has declared a war on. I hope this herald is not going to be the harbinger of the extinction of Desert Herald.