The rise of investigative journalism in contemporary African societies has undeniably brought a huge conciliation to the average African. Among other African countries, Nigeria has been quite fortunate to have gotten a substantial chunk of its yielding. A few weeks ago, an online newspaper – Daily Nigerian – released a video clip showing the Kano state Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje collecting bribe in hard currency from a contractor who worked for the state. Expectedly, the video has got everyone talking: both young and old.
However, in an attempt to save the dented image of the perpetrator, Mr Ganduje, aides and friends have been dishing out unsavoury excuses – basically with some weak claims that the clip was doctored. I had personally read some fact-scanty articles where some folks who claimed to know Governor Ganduje personally, defended him.
Recently, the Kano state government had issued a press statement concerning the issue. The statement was apparently meant to deceive gullible Nigerians that Mr Ganduje was innocent of the bribery scandal and that the video clip was fake.
The Kano state commissioner of Information, Youth and Culture, Muhammad Garba said in the statement that the state government wasn’t taking the issue likely. The clownish commissioner who was obviously working on his principal’s order had concluded with a threatening statement that the Kano state government would take legal actions against Daily Nigerian and its Editor-in-chief, Jaafar Jaafar. Indeed, I personally wonder how they would refute such weighty evidence in the face of the law.
I had initially made a short statement on my social media handle, ‘Sunny IbehJnr,’ (Facebook), where I clearly noted that from all perceptible indications, the video clip released by Daily Nigerian was authentic. I had also advised the governor’s associates, who have assumed the position of legal advocates to sheath their sword, that, they had no battle to fight.
Consequently, some persons have augured that Daily Nigerian was working for immediate past governor of Kano state, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, who is currently having prolonged political squabble with the incumbent governor. But also, their argument was frail in itself as it lacked the necessary ingredients for conviction. I think it would be honourable if Kwankwaso’s name is left from this whole scandal. It’s an issue of a ‘weighty allegation’ that should be tackled with convincing facts. Politicizing it would be a lost battle for the defendant.
However, a critical look at the whole issue shows that it’s a pure issue of corruption. Bribery is a major aspect of corruption as far as Nigeria is concerned. It’s one practice that has eaten deep into the fabric of the country’s reputation, especially in the international scenes.
The simple truth is that what is known as ‘kickback’, that’s percentage (s) from contract proceeds, has been in practice for far long a time in Nigeria. Almost every sitting governor in the country is guilty of collecting a chunk of percentage from contractors after awarding each contract to them. In fact, it’s a tradition that would be very difficult to eliminate completely.
Daily Nigerian deserves commendation from Nigerians. As one who is into the media and journalism business, I can expressly tell you that it takes special courage and resources to take journalism to the depth where a serving governor can be caught in a video clip. It took the outfit about six good months to carry out the above investigation. Indeed, the Daily Nigerian team deserves our eulogy. Above all, the media must be encouraged if we must fight corruption to a standstill in this country.
Jaafar Jaafar, the publisher and Editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian, is one man I hold in high esteem. His depth and astute wealth of experience in journalism are practically exceptional. I have been following his activities even before now, and can clearly affirm that his investigative stories are reliable and facts-filled, any time, any day. It can’t be different this time because it has to do with a sitting governor.
On a general note, the consequences of such bribery practice are very deadly and can plunge our entire society into the waters of anarchy and underdevelopment. It’s simply one of the reasons why most projects done in our respective states are substandard. The contractors make extra efforts to save money so as to pay the said ‘kickbacks’ to our governors. This invariably culminates to having inadequate funds for quality projects. Hence, substandard projects are made available to the peril of the commoners who make use of some of them.
Finally, I insist that we need more such investigations. In the last few months, the media has been very instrumental in unravelling some of the atrocious acts of our rapacious politicians – Premium Time, Sahara Reporters and now Daily Nigerian; they truly deserve our patriotic support to live up to expectations, and not attacks and criticisms borne out of sheer sentiment.
President Muhammadu Buhari must wade in and investigate the issue without party sentiment. And also ensure that actors who are doing this risky job behind the scene are not given adequate protection. If truly the Buhari led administration is sincere with its anti-corruption cause, then these journalists who are doing these great jobs must be encouraged and be given the needed protection.
Meanwhile, Jaafar Jaafar, whose life has been under subtle threat by allies of Ganduje, also needs assurances from the government that has promised to fight corruption, especially, in the area of protection, since the investigation is also of assisting the government in fighting corruption in the country.
Let me also warn that should anything happen to Mr Jaafar, Nigerian government should be ready for a cold war – with a combined force of the international community. Hence, the government should be interested in his safety at this time. It is only with concerted efforts that we can dislodge the tormentors of our nascent democracy. All hands must be on deck to ensure victory for this noble cause. We must eschew all forms of sentiments – be it religious, political or tribal, in order to hit the target – which is a corrupt-free Nigeria.
Mr Ibeh Jnr, a public affairs analyst, can be reached via [email protected]