BY IFEANYICHUKWU NWANNAH
In every democratic set up, there is no government that can claim to be responsible when it treats the press with a wave of the hand. It is widely believed that the press is the watch dog of the society because of its responsibility to educate the public on the day to day activities of the state, to attack government’s bad policies and programs and to influence the good policies of the government. This tradition has been there for long but the Special Adviser to the Governor on media, Mr. Sani Abdullahi Tsafe, who jumped to the position not on merit, now tends to make journalism a crime.
He has even made it a law that any journalist including the correspondents who publishes anything not palatable to the government must be punished. He said that no matter how wrong the government is, it should not be painted black. Mr. Sani Abdullahi Tsafe has no single experience in print media neither has he worked in any Newspaper setup in his life. He was a local teacher before he jumped to journalism as a reporter for voice of America (VOA) Hausa service covering Sokoto and Zamfara States. This is a position he held until Governor Yari and Senator Yarima compensated him with the position of S.A media because of the alleged spoiler role he played against Former Governor Shinkafi and his PDP. That spoiler role almost took his life as the PDP thugs were about to lynch him in the 2011 general election but the security operatives came to his rescue.
In 2007, when Late President Musa Yar’Adua came to Gusau for his Presidential Campaign, Mr. Abdullahi Tsafe was made the master of ceremony even when he was the reporter of VOA. On the podium, Tsafe was chanting ‘sai mun chanja, sai mu chanja,’ meaning “we must change ANPP government.”
That vexed issue forced the leadership of ANPP in the state to chronicle all the political drama and jamboree of the VOA reporter and petitioned the VOA against Mr. Abdullahi Tsafe. The journalist turned politician was sacked but for the intervention by the PDP led federal government, he was reinstated.
Mr. Sani Abdullahi Tsafe, experts said, understands clearly that the position he is occupying is not on merit otherwise he would have known that it is the duty of the information managers, especially the S.A Media that amends the broken road between the press and the government. He does not care because he is satisfying his whims and caprices. It is clear that Zamfara State has the weakest information management in the North West.
This position of S.A media is very sensitive and for experienced editors who have been in the Newspaper service for a number of years and have good knowledge of managing reporters. Former Governor Saminu Turaki of Jigawa State set the pace when he was shopping for special Adviser on media, went to Lagos and picked a qualified editor, one Mr. Yemisi who was the daily Editor of the defunct Daily Express and he has been an editor for many years and has managed many reporters. He brought a conducive working atmosphere between the government and the press especially the correspondents which brought sanity to the state.
After Former Governor Turaki left, and Governor Sule Lamido came on board, he also went to Lagos and came to Jigawa with another experienced editor, Mr. Onaja, an editor with THE NATION as his S.A. media. Both Mr. Yemisi, and Onoja proved themselves.
Governor Turaki and Sule Lamido know that there are a lot of S.A media in Jigawa before they went for shopping for the best. The presence of Mr. Sani Abdullahi Tsafe as S.A media to Governor Yari has worsened the whole situation. Since he was appointed, he cannot pinpoint one thing he has done to bring sanity in the system. This may be linked to the claim that he is now enjoying the position he never dreamt of even for one day. The incompetent S.A. does not know that the sense of judgment and criticism anchor on the volume of information. It is the right of a reporter to hunt for news whether the ones that interests the government or not also the right of the masses to have free access to accurate information, to inform adequately about the affairs, particularly about the ruling body. But the incompetent S.A media wants to deprive the society of free flow of vital information to protect his selfish interest. The S.A media does not want objective, investigative or subjective journalism. He does not want any reporter to expose the bad side of the government.
Investigation carried out by this reporter revealed that both the Executive Governor and the Commissioner of Information are not aware of his struggle to place journalism in chain. But he is too blind to reason that he cannot intimidate the correspondents. He has the power on the state own media, just as he has made the state radio completely empty shell and toothless to attack government’s unproductive policies and programs. He cannot force the correspondents to remain pro-government journalists. This is where Comrade Mohammed Garba and his NUJ team have to stand up for the salvation of the profession.
The Zamfara State government should not be in slumber while its information management becomes rotten. Mr. Sani Abdullahi Tsafe should recall that where the obnoxious decree No 4 of 1984 placed by General Buhari is not a good record for even his political carrier. But it is very unfortunate that Mr. Sani Abdullahi Tsafe has no political influence in his village, talkless of Zamfara State.
But Mr. Sani Abdullahi Tsafe wants to deprive the society of free flow of information to protect his selfish interest without knowing what damages he is doing to Yari’s administration in information management. Mr. Abdullahi Tsafe openly blacklisted Desert Herald Newspaper because of the report it reporter carried that six serving commissioners and four local government chairmen may dump Yari’s government. The statement was not created by the reporter but by the chairman of Zamfara State Chapter of PDP. He condemned Desert Herald for carrying the report by the chairman. But, today, God has vindicated Desert Herald and it reporter as the former commissioner for Commerce and Industries; Hon. Hassan Zurmi and other commissioners have recently dumped Yari’s administration for PDP.
Yet, the inexperienced S.A media refused to learn that, in a democratic government, the electorates have the right to be informed about the status quo of the affairs. That is how he turned radio house completely empty shell and toothless turning both the radio and the state newspaper (legacy) to the state government propagandists.