By Gabriel Omonhinmin
Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa state and his two sons have been under intense media focus forsome time now. Lamido has been the hardest hit because his political rivals saw his children’s alleged infraction as an opportunity to dim what they regarded as his rising political profile, which no doubt, has skyrocketed over the years, due to diligence, honesty, hard work and political sagacity.
Governor Lamido’s political opponents genuinely have every reason to be worried. If the outgoing governor, who seems to have adopted “freedom for all and life more abundant”, as the catch-phrase of his development efforts in Jigawa state, is ignored, and allowed to find his way to the political centreof the nation’s governance, AlhajiLamido, will become an instant hero of Nigerians. This must not be allowed to happen, hence the barrage of unwarranted negative media campaign.
What the section of the media, which is championing this assault on Lamido’s persons, has however, failed to realise, is the fact that the children in question, are grown up adults, who are held accountable for each and every of their actions. For now, I would let this matter remain the way it is, since these cases are still before the courts of law. If God keeps us alive, no matter how long it takes; I shall return to this matter and dwell extensively on the details stating the merit and demerit of the trial of these children.
For a politician like Sule Lamido, these things are minor irritants. As far as he is concerned, his is focused and eager to submit his credentials to the Nigerian electorate at future elections, if and when his party deems it fit to put him up. As a loyal and true party man, Governor Lamido is quick to tell whosoever cares to listen, that “his party’s decision is supreme to all that he does or intends to do politically for now”. One is however, not surprised, that in spite of the troubling stormy waters confronting him; he chooses to remain with the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP. This is the stuff politicians with ideology and focus are made of.
For over forty years, that I have practiced journalism in Nigeria, I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly side of the Nigerian political life. I have also had cause to report varied political issues about Nigeria. What I have found most disgusting and unpleasant among other issues, however, is Nigeria’s passionate desire for ethnic hegemony. Also worrisome is the extreme intolerance of democratic norms and practices on the part of those in power. Fifty-four years after independence, I still cannot fathom why people who found themselves in power at the centre tend to detest dissent.
My third take on this matter is that one of the major reasons why we seem not to be making any meaningful political progress in the country is the complete absence of ideological direction on the part of those in government. In the absence of definite goals, which is bedeviled by the other two causes, one is not surprised that our ship of state has drifted to a sorry state since independence in the 1960 and has suffered a colossal wreck up till now in 2014. This situation cannot and must not be allowed to continue.
Fifty four years after independence is enough time for us as a nation to begin to mend the broken pieces. One of the first steps, if the present situation must change, is for all Nigerians to join hands in ensuring that genuine and astute politicians sensitive to people’s plight are placed in positions of leadership. One is therefore, not surprised, as the chip of the old Talakawa block of MallamAminu Kano school of thought, Lamido regards free education as the fundamental right of all Nigerian children and every citizens including adults. This important programme has been the bedrock of his administration since he assumed power in the state in 2007. This has paid off well in Jigawa state.
The other three components of Lamido’s government are a comprehensive integrated rural development policy; the provision of free health facilities for every Nigerian citizen, visible infrastructures, such as good roads network, schools and office complex and full and gainful employment for all able-bodied Nigerians in Jigawa state.
From what we have been able to see, thus far, Lamido, has bared his political package for the Nigerian people to ponder, using Jigawa state as his example. So far, none of the people jostling for the country’s presidency in 2015, in all the political parties in Nigeria, have been able to come out so eloquently, to say this is what they will do, when given the opportunity to serve as President. Most of our would-be presidential candidates are still looking for the road-maps to get to the voters in precincts scattered all over the country. Enough of using Nigeria as a guinea pig, to political neophytes. Now is the time, for the people of Nigeria to make up their minds, and decide who will provide the much needed credible leadership in the years to come.
Now, back to Lamido, his children, the media and crime reporting, I am firmly of the opinion that the media must play an important role in shaping public opinion. But the way and manner this is done must be in line with the ethics of our cherished and revered profession.
The media definitely has a very important role to play in the society: as an agenda setter; a force multiplier; a watchdog; as a gatekeeper; and as the fourth estate of the realm. This same media is specifically, expected to protect citizens from power abuse, and treating everyone fairly under established rules and laws. For media practitioner’s to be taken seriously anywhere in the world, they must be seen to treating all people with honesty and respect. Giving everyone equal opportunities to succeed, and celebrate the uniqueness and value of everyone. Making sure that citizens are not treated badly.. Of most importance is making sure that everyone has the chance to succeed. This certainly has not been the case with Governor Lamido and his children. As media practitioners, we need to re-examine some of the things we do. This is the best way to go.
Gabriel Omonhinmin is a Lagos based Media Consultant.