meeting of the Northern Publishers Forum, NPF, has ended today in Kaduna with a pledge by the northern media stakeholders to be neutral in reporting political issues as the 2019 general elections approaches. NPF is an umbrella organisation for selected practising media executives of northern origin. NPF has played the leading role in reporting political issues that educate and shaped the minds of voters particularly in the north during the dirty politics of 2015. It would be recalled that the 2015 electioneering campaigns was characterised by character assassination, false claims, use of highly uncharitable and irresponsible languages as well as desperation particularly from the then ruling party, PDP to use whatever weapons to win. NPF then has done the magic through accurate reporting using the print, electronic and the online media.
The Media Group have resolved at the end of its two days crucial meeting today to maintain same tempo and professionalism. And in view of claims that are circulating recently, this reporter has cornered the Secretary of the Northern Publishers Forum, Malam Tukur Mamu who is also the publisher of the Kaduna based investigative newspaper, DESERT HERALD at the end of the two days meeting. Below are some of the questions we asked Mr. Mamu.
Q- It seems you are no longer supporting President Muhammadu Buhari, what went wrong?
A- You got it completely wrong. I have never been against President Buhari as a person and have never question his integrity. But that cannot stop me from criticising or stop my paper from writing the shortcomings of the administration. The purpose is to encourage him to make amends. He is still my boss but quite honestly we are not comfortable with so many things. I am in contact with so many people in the administration and I used to tell them my mind and serious reservations especially those that if not urgently tackle will affect the hard earned credibility of Buhari. I really don’t want to be a sycophant on issues that affects our collective good and interest.
Q- It seems that as some one close to Sheikh Dr Ahmad Gumi you endorsed and even circulated their visit that reconciled Chief Obasanjo and Atiku Abubakar.
A- Really people are misunderstanding the way media works. My paper is independent not a government paper. Did you expect us not to report political issues that affects other candidates just because I have sympathy for Buhari? It’s not possible. It is not being done like that. Even though the APC government is not patronising us, we will still do our best to be impartial. And I hope you know that there is no media organisation in the whole world including New York Times, Fox News, CNN, BBC, Aljazeera, Reuters, Associated Press etc that is not protecting a particular interest in the cause of discharging their official functions. Unknown to many naive minds that are not conversant with media practice and it’s intricacies, there is so much politics in the media the world over. Even the country that prides itself as ethically and professionally the best with the best media practitioners and media outfits, the United States, is not exempted from the politics and interest that characterize media practice the world over. That is why President Donald Trump referred to the so called unfriendly media houses in his country as outfits that disseminate fake news. So in DESERT HERALD we have our interest as well but I can assure you that in the organisation, NPF, which I happen to be its Secretary, we work in liaison and for the interest of the north. I can assure you that we will be fair to President Buhari and all northern candidates in reporting. In fact, that is why we brainstorm for two days in Kaduna. The last meeting we had about five months ago was in Kano. Personally, there is no way I will go against Buhari. The issue of Sheikh Gumi is entirely a different matter. He is a leader and has accepted to broker a peace between Chief Obasanjo and Atiku Abubakar. I think people should respect their decision. Unknown to many, it was Obasanjo himself that insisted that Sheikh Gumi must be there. Why will anybody take offence out of it. How many times did Muslim and Christian visited Aso Rock on the invitation of President Buhari. Why didn’t we accused them of going there to collect dollars from the president but in the case of Sheikh Gumi and Rev Kukah the critics as usual are reading meaning and insinuating mischief. That will not deter Sheikh Gumi. He is for everybody that considers him worthy for advice and direction. His interest is the Nigerian project and how it will effectively work.
Q- But we read a posting from DESERT HERALD that technically indicted the regime of President Buhari.
A- People should be careful about what they read. Some of these postings sincerely did not emanate from DH. The other time I had to sent a disclaimer because my Facebook page was hacked and a lot of provoking items were posted. Some are doing it for several reasons. No matter how ugly a report is you know that I am the type of person that will always take responsibility even if that will lead to my crusification but I can assure you that most of the things you read recently on Buhari is not from us. There is no hatred between us. The mischief makers that are spreading the fake and mischievous news did not know our relationship with the president. But be that as it may, our critics should have it at the back of their minds that as an individual I have a right of choice. Whoever I chose as a person whether Buhari or Atiku is not anybody’s business. But a as professional and a publisher, and as a group in NPF, we have resolved like we have done in 2015 to be focused, professional and will operate in northern interest.