On Friday 25th 2019, the people of Kwara state woke up to a rude shock. The people’s Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq was cruelly and distastefully accused by a media outlet, National Pilot — whose establishment is traced to deposed political leader Senator Bukola Saraki– that he secretly acquired 2 armoured cars valued at 482million naira. In this unsubstantiated and unfounded claims, they made swerving questions of AbdulRazaq’s honesty and dedication to a desirable Kwara, an impasse Kwarans should not let go easily. To weave and publish lies against anybody is immoral, illegal and ungodly let alone the beloved state Governor.
As a keen observer of the state politics, I must admit I became instantly petrified and disappointed when I read that the Governor allegedly procured the vehicles. I shuddered and wondered if Kwarans had not been deceived yet again. It took restraints and the timely statement from the Office of the Press Secretary for my mood to become enlivened as the malicious tales were not only outrightly debunked but the peddler – National Pilot Newspaper- was given 24hr ultimatum to prove the allegations or issue a rebuttal for publishing fake news. And I feel strongly that, such a bold step had not only assured Kwarans of the government commitment to modesty, but warned agents of distraction and naysayers to be mindful of their antics.
Quite importantly, I waited for the slated time to elapse so as to give National Pilot fair hearing because I believed that a medium which could make such bold claims would have evidence handy. I was guided by the knowledge of the tenets and principles of journalism, and the encompassing ethics of the media which frown at untrue, fictitious, malicious or damaging news reportage capable of misrepresenting others in the eyes of the public. The eventual inability of National Pilot to come up with the demanded proof clearly punched their claims to professionalism. It has only become established, regardless of their weak defence, that the medium advertently sought to paint the new government black.
A respectable media outlet does not rush to the press with unsubstantiated claims. Aside news gathering and reportage for information and education, the media owes society responsibilities of promoting peaceful and harmonious relationship through their contents and messages. It is appalling such understanding is lost on the National Pilot because of primordial interests. A news story of that kind can lead to distrust and anarchy in the society.
What could have informed such coloured journalism is yet unravelling. The good people of the state are already aware they are out to act the script of their paymaster – the identified leader of a sordid yesterday- Senator Abubakar Saraki’s dead-on-arrival 2023 political bid. Only how long the medium will dig so despicably low is unknown. I am just petrified about such antics pitching this democratic government against the press. That has been identified once again as one of their hidden motives to score the government low in the eyes of the public. However, I am elated the public are increasingly aware that National Pilot is more of PDP Media desk than a newspaper outfit. A flip through most of their reportage would leave no doubts. The media house has outlived its purpose, and barely survives on propaganda now.
National Pilot’s partial denial notwithstanding, Kwara state government should drag them to court to make them a scapegoat. It would have been better if they issued a rebuttal. Such a feeble denial cannot absolve them of libel. The good image of the government was tainted. Hiding under the cloak of the media to throw darts at the authority and making a U-turn to describe such as mere “allegations” needing rejoinder is untenable. More so, seeing them unwavering on the path of blackmail as evident in their response to the government is inexcusable. If National Pilot which is on a life support machine wants fame and recognition, they should just die – fold up like a rudderless newspaper- and announce their own obituary. Maybe we would notice them.
Disparaging the government and misinforming the public is not a means to gaining prominence. It is nothing but lowering the bar in journalism!