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Editorial

HALIMA: The Posthumous Baby Named After Her Mother

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By Adamu Muhammad Dodo

She was reported to have heaved a sigh of relief with the delivery of a new bouncing baby girl, however premature, after the pangs of childbirth. She, with a smile exclaimed “Alhamdulillah!”

She was reported to have told her husband that In Sha Allah she would have a normal birth without ungergoing cesarean section even if it would be the last thing she would experience.

Halima, popularly known as Da’a Duhu the wife of the head of information and media relations FMC Yola and the Periscope Global lead publisher, Adamu Muhammad Dodo was taken to the hospital on April 10, 2022 where she had a premature birth and died few hours later.

It was a shocking death that was however blessed to have overwhelming congregation attending her funeral prayers and other burial rites.

The baby that would survive never to see her lovely and caring mother was eventually discharged yesterday, Saturday, having spent one week enjoying the warmth of the incubator and proper clinical care at the Federal Medical Centre, FMC Yola, Adamawa state.

Today, Sunday marks the naming ceremony. In memory of the caring and loving wife, the father named the posthumous daughter after her late mother.

She is celebrated with her name taken from the creation; Halimah.

May Allah SWT bless the new baby with her siblings. May Allah SWT forgive the deceased and grant Da’a Jannatul Firdaus.

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Editorial

Empowerment And Handouts: Fintiri Vs Others By Toungo

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By Babayola M. Toungo

There has been some hullaballoo in the past week in Adamawa state (or otherwise), depending on who is doing the talking, on the state government’s refusal for the use of a venue to the APC gubernatorial candidate for the distribution of ‘empowerment’ handouts to party supporters.

The brick – a – brak between the supporters of the state government and those of the opposition APC was needless and diversionary, to say the least. It was also uncivil and uncouth, which may be a pointer to how the campaign for next year’s elections may unfold.

The said ‘empowerment’ handouts is supposed to come from the federal government and is meant for all citizens in my understanding and therefore every bona fide citizen of the state is entitled to and not just party members or supporters of a particular candidate. It is in form of cash handouts which, my knowledge, has never ‘empowered’ anyone.

I have searched for the definition of ‘empowerment’ in several dictionaries and atlases but didn’t come across anywhere where it is equated with handouts that can barely sustain one for a week, particularly in world economy shattered by Covid – 19 pandemic and the Russia – Ukraine war. The best definition I came across was “the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights”. My understanding of empowerment is completely divergent from that of the government. What the government refers to as empowerment is no more than keeping the populace in a tight leash only to relax the hold during campaign seasons, like what is causing the brouhaha right now. The poor is given what is enough to fill their stomachs and gain enough strength to hail their conquerors.

Late Commissioner of Police Audu Bako was the governor of old Kano state between 1967 to 1975. He laid a solid foundation for education which is still second to none in the north-western geo-political zone. The old Kano state boasts of adequate, well-trained manpower in every field of human endeavour to this day because of the foundation laid by Bako. I remember in the mid 1990s to early 2000s, there was no Bank in Nigeria without an indigene of Kano state serving on the Board of Directors – as an Executive Director. He also laid down a second to none irrigation project that made Kano state the biggest supplier of vegetables to the rest of the country to this day. Kanawa has been empowered for life. This is empowerment.

Governor Murtala Nyako, when he held sway in the same Adamawa state established Skill Acquisition Centres to train youths in skills that will prepare them for life after adolescence. Today almost all graduates of these Centres have been absorbed by Dangote Industries. Nyako’s successor didn’t see the necessity of continuing with this laudable project but resorted to the handouts system of ‘empowerment’. Nyako empowered the people. What Audu Bako and Murtala Nyako did for the people is my concept of empowerment. Every single individual who went to school or learnt a trade because of the policies of these administrators may be supporting a minimum of ten people and the multiplier effect of this empowerment is best left to the imagination.

The current governor of Adamawa state commissioned the revitalised and retooled eight Skill Acquisition Centres in the state last week. The potential enrolees will be in thousands and will leave the schools with a particular expertise in different fields of day-to-day human endeavours. They will enter the labour market from day one with earning potentials and ability to support their families and be employers of labour thereby taking off a lot of youth from the streets and its vicissitudes. We have seen how acquisitions of such skills have substantially quietened the Niger Delta. This is empowerment.

The inability of parents to pay examination fees for WAEC/ NECO has deprived quiet several intelligent and brilliant students from going further than Junior Secondary School in their pursuit of education. The state by this singular act might have lost a lot of would-be engineers, lawyers, doctors, and other much needed manpower in all sectors. This was due to the failure of past administrations to pay for its students. Only God knows how many of such talents are roaming the streets with no education, no skill, and no hope. His excellency Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri made it a priority since he assumed office to pay these examination fees for all students in the state’s public institutions. This is empowerment.

If any candidate or public official wants to ‘empower’ the people, given the definition above, I don’t think it is something to be done in a Hall in a day. It is indubitably not a day’s job. We should not confuse political populism with practical solutions. Denial or giving access to a venue for the distribution of handouts should not be cause for a political shoot-out war. Politicians should learn to avoid encouraging their supporters to engage in shouting matches while they wine and dine together at the expense of these same supporters. Handouts are not empowerments by any means, but education and skill acquisition is.

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Editorial

Fintiri, Leaving No Stone Unturned By Shelleng

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Mubarak shuaybu shelleng

Despite all the noise making on social media platforms mostly by ranters and Data boys, The executive governor of Adamawa state, Rt Hon Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri has remained steadfast in fulfilling his campaign promises, delivering his best towards the welfare and security needs of the great people of Adamawa State.

The giant strides archived within his first tenure in office are unarguably second to none and that will certainly be written with a golden pen in the greatest history of Adamawa as a sovereign state.

The so-called opposition in the state has found it difficult to singlehandedly point at a major area be it, the economy, security, education, infrastructure, or welfare of workers that the current administration has never touched which gives birth to the full realization of developmental projects all over the state.

Also, our deteriorated educational sector has indeed experienced a total overhaul. As a result, our comatose classrooms were renovated, a great number of teachers were employed, SSCE was paid, and a Scholarship was given. All in the governor’s efforts to improve education which is sacrosanct to the future of the state.

However, the security of the state has improved significantly unlike what the state has been experiencing for over a decade, No more Communal clashes, No farmer’s harders conflict, and No religious clashes now Adamawa is the most peaceful state in Nigeria even with the multicultural and religious nature of its inhabitants. Consequently, farming has improved as people continue to massively partake in irrigation, fishing, and other important business to earn a living.

God is so kind, nobody is talking about nonpayment of workers’ salaries or shortfalls, nonchalant attitude to education, or insecurity among other factors bedeviling the State. Irrespective of your political party and bias, if truly one can shame the devil, one must admit that Fintiri is indeed delivering and Adamawa as a sovereign state is progressing.

The latest outburst from the data boys is Fintiri denying Binani access to state government facilities in planning to distribute Money to small entrepreneurs in the state, a program that is supposed to be under the watch of the state government representatives. For the opposition, looking for other important areas of interest if there is nay that the current administration cannot be able to touch and campaign for could have been a better option than hiding behind a federal government initiative program to sell your candidate.

Besides, some of our people are gullible and have little or no knowledge of how the various levels of government operate and talk more about differentiating their responsibility. Thus, politicians took that advantage and centered their political campaigns on that for their selfish gains.

Anyway, one must confess that Fintiri is lucky to have had good public relations practitioners close by who use silence to deal with social critics decisively because Whosoever has Fair know-how of public relations knows that silence is golden and is used as a weapon to handle paid ranters.

Above all, our priority is Adamawa of our dream with full realization of physical infrastructural, Improved education sector, improved workers welfare, peace, and unity irrespective of who is the governor. Every good citizen of Adamawa must remain relentless in praising what is good for the state and condemning otherwise.

Mubarak shuaybu shelleng writes from Yola Adamawa state.

Can be reached at shuaibumubarak001@gmail.com.

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Editorial

The BBC In Nigeria – Between Reporting And Propagating Terror

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By Kadaria Ahmed

It has simply gotten out of hand.

Journalists and now a global media organisation of repute, the BBC, which should know better, are becoming a tool for terrorists, even if unwittingly, by amplifying the faces, voices and stories of killers and marauders who are still operating with impunity across Nigeria.

The public interest argument seems to have been misunderstood, some may even say misrepresented, to enable sensationalist reporting that is very unlikely to be allowed on screens in the United Kingdom. By not upholding the same standards as they would uphold in the UK, in their work in Nigeria, the BBC Africa Eye producers in their latest documentary titled ‘The Bandits Warlords of Zamfara’ have provided a global platform to terrorists and can be accused of becoming an accomplice to terror in the name of reporting it.

When Communications Professor at the University of Toronto Mahmoud Eid coined the term Terroredia, in his book Exchanging Terrorism Oxygen for Media Airwaves, Eid argues that there is now a ‘relationship between terrorists and media professionals in which acts of terrorism and media coverage are exchanged, influenced, and fuelled by one another.’ Since it was written 7 years ago, it would appear the case Eid was trying to make is now quite self-evident, especially in Nigeria where increasingly, propaganda videos and statements by terror groups as well as features on terror leaders are finding their way into mainstream media.

None of this has ‘helped’ Nigeria’s inept government, led by President Muhamadu Buhari, to find and arrest these blood-thirsty criminals. The ‘pressure’ has also not stopped the administration from playing ostrich and finding an effective way of tackling insecurity. These are some of the public interest arguments put forward by those defending the featuring of predatory criminals on national and now international media platforms.

The arguments also include an assertion that hearing from terrorists helps us better understand the conflicts and therefore come up with solutions. Under the guise of public interest, this is the argument that BBC Africa Eye seems to be presenting, to justify its decision to actively give copious screen time to self-confessed murderers and kidnappers, who are still actively involved in attacking communities, killing, kidnapping, pillaging and generally making life brutish and a living hell for the people of Nigeria’s North-western State of Zamfara and beyond.

The two promotional clips released for the documentary, the Bandits Warlords of Zamfara , feature a marauder who should remain nameless here, confirming that he was part of those who raided Jengebe girls’ secondary school in the state, abducting over 300 students with the attendant horror of these sorts of crimes normally entail, and releasing them, after the payment of ransom. Evidently, the BBC Africa Eye team also had no problem utilising footage that appears to have been shot by these self-confessed criminals because this makes it into the second trailer. No media of repute would take this decision because it is generally understood that these sorts of videos are recorded by terrorists for one thing and one thing only: propaganda.

Reports of the documentary in national newspapers also quote one of the featured criminals boasting, in the documentary, that he only kills, and doesn’t kidnap for ransom. This is the nature of the program that the ‘reputable’ BBC Africa Eye is positioning as having a public interest imperative.

To be clear, the current state of insecurity and all that it entails is the fault of the Federal Government, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, and he must be held responsible for the carnage and state of anarchy engulfing the nation. That does not however mean irresponsible reporting by the media, which after all should champion the common man, should not be challenged.

If terrorists were killing and kidnapping British citizens, especially young children, the BBC would not enable interviews by the perpetrators, particularly if they were still roaming footloose and fancy-free, without an iota of remorse for their crimes and also carrying out many more. The trauma to the psyche of the British public will be unbearable, and the BBC would not be willing to pay that price, or risk the legal consequences sure to ensue.

In the era of the Irish Republican Army, the IRA, for example, the group didn’t make it onto the airwaves of the BBC. Indeed, reporting of the activities of the political party seen as the political arm of the IRA, Sein Fein, was heavily censored. Every time they spoke, the BBC deleted their voices and replaced them with those of actors, in obedience to British Government directives which were put in place because the authorities believed publicity is like air for ‘terrorists’ groups, helping them to grow and thrive. And even though Sein Fein shared what many might argue is only an ideological position with the IRA, they were denied a presence on British airwaves in substantial ways.

Here in Nigeria, concerns about the impact the amplification of terrorists’ voices will have both on victims, their families and the public appear to be a secondary consideration to the BBC’s insistence on hearing from the bandits’ first-hand accounts and justification for their murderous activities.

There is no good argument that can justify the damage this is doing to the public that includes the school girls in Jangebe, who can now in perpetuity, watch the story of their abductions from the mouth of their abductors and relive the attendant trauma of that horrible crime.

For all of these school girls, victims and their families, the BBC Africa Eye has confirmed their attackers’ invincibility.

By documenting and handing over on a platter of gold one of the most respected media brands in the world to justify their actions, the BBC has iconised violent men leading marauding militias that are killing, abducting, maiming and leaving terror in their wake across large sways of Nigeria and who are clearly neither sorry for their crime nor looking to stop anytime soon.

It is hard to see how this will not contribute to deepening fear, mistrust, hopelessness and damage to the national psyche while undoubtedly helping with recruitment, all ingredients that actively contribute to successful outcomes for terror groups.

The public’s right to know is a sacrosanct tenant of journalists who are not and should not be in the job of censoring news. Finding the balance between that and ensuring media platforms do not provide the oxygen of publicity for terrorists and criminals is not easy, but it is at these difficult junctures that good journalism needs to stand its ground.

Recognising the importance of getting it right globally, experts including those at the BBC have taken the trouble to develop guidelines for reporting difficult stories including stories of conflict and terrorism. The German Press Code for example says “in reporting actual and threatened acts of violence, the Press should carefully weigh the public’s interest in information against the interest of victims and other people involved. It should report on such incidents in an independent and authentic way, but not allow itself to be made the tool of criminals. Nor should it undertake independent attempts to mediate between criminals and the police. THERE MUST BE NO INTERVIEWS WITH PERPETRATORS DURING ACTS OF VIOLENCE.’’

The German guidelines are unequivocal about not giving airtime to criminals involved in ongoing criminal activities and for very good reason.

The BBC’s editorial guidelines are more watery, perhaps explaining why the BBC Africa Eye team is able to be cavalier about such a critical issue. But even these guidelines say “any proposal to approach an organisation (or an individual member of an organisation) designated a ‘terrorist group’ by the Home Secretary under the Terrorism Acts, and any proposal to approach individuals or organisations responsible for acts of terror, to participate in our output must be referred in advance to Director Editorial Policy and Standard and also any proposal to broadcast content made by perpetrators of a hijacking, kidnapping, hostage-taking or siege must be referred to a senior editorial figure.’’

The questions to answer therefore include: did senior people in London at the BBC fully understand that they were authorizing the recording of terrorists who are still active and who between them have been responsible for the abduction, rape and killings of thousands of people including school children?

There are other questions.

When homeland terrorists committed the inconceivable crime of hacking British soldier Lee Rigby to death in May 2013, would the BBC have considered it in the public interest to interview these terrorists?

To compare apples with apples, imagine that hero Rigby’s murderers were never held for their crimes, continued butchering people and collecting seven figure ransoms., would the BBC dare to send reporters to film the murderers gloating about collecting ransom, and then hold Twitter Spaces and bask in views, clicks and likes?

The answer is NO. The BBC would never dare.

Why then is the BBC okay to fund, then publicise the glorification of practicing murderers still butchering hundreds across Nigeria and the Chad Basin? How did this three-year disregard for African lives come about, and why is this acceptable?

By their own admission, the BBC Africa Eye producers claim their reporting occurred over three-years. This is clearly well before the crime against the school girls in Jangebe occurred. These bandits and their factions commit cross-border crimes. Therefore, as a matter of urgent national and regional security, other questions which the BBC must answer publicly, in the actual interest of the public include:

  1. In all these years it was conducting these ‘investigations’ of terrorists, did the BBC harbour information on potential criminal or or actual crimes they happened and did the BBC withhold this information from the relevant African security authorities?
  2. After the particular interviews in which the murderers admit their collection of ransoms, and committing acts of kidnap, did the BBC hand over any of this footage to the authorities, and do so in a timely manner?
  3. What footage and information has the BBC handed over to law enforcement, since the publication of this documentary?

In covering a subset of criminals for three years, the BBC has brazenly admitted that it was shooting criminals before, during and after the commission of dastardly crimes that have destroyed generations present and unborn.

The BBC Africa Eye documentaries series have been designed specifically for release on social media platforms (Facebook and YouTube). Given the programme’s track record of dubious editorial decisions and accusations of unethical behaviour including by local reporters who worked with them, BBC managers in London should also explain if the decision to put this documentary out on social media was designed to ensure its producers are not held to the high global broadcast standards the BBC is known for and which are applicable to content broadcast within the UK?

When BBC Africa Eye did a story on drug addiction in Nigeria, there were attempts by a producer to sensationalize some of the reporting, to make it more gripping. On that occasion, he was working with a seasoned journalist who pushed back.

When they did a story on Sex for Grades, the two reporters responsible for the story ended up trading blame on social media over sex for by-line allegations.

An investigative report by them on a popular talk show host in Nigeria who is revered by millions saw the journalist who did that reporting flee his home together with his family as a result of threats to his life. The BBC failed in its duty of care to this local journalist and in the end fellow journalists had to rally around to provide him with safe spaces as he dealt with threats to his life.

In all, the team at BBC Africa Eye appear to be striving to do reporting that would be unacceptable in the UK for being unethical and transparently against public interest.

The problem is they have capitalised on the justified anger of the people and the inconceivable failure of the government, to once again resurrect the ugliest vestiges of colonialism, which one had hoped were long buried.

The unfolding anarchy and violence in Nigeria are serious matters, and every attempt must be made to keep the public informed. A documentary that investigates and examines government failures while centring victims and their families would have done that.

Giving boastful, bloodthirsty criminals a global platform serves only two purposes. It provides free publicity for terror and enables the BBC to push viewership figures on social media.

It does nothing for public service. Even if it does not realise it, the BBC’s reputation for stellar public service journalism is being damaged.

Black lives, their humanity and national security, should matter more than clicks.

Hopefully someone in London will take note.

Kadaria Ahmed was a Senior Producer at the BBC in London and is now CEO at Radio Now 95.3FM Lagos

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