On using taxpayers’ money for personal causes.
As of Monday, June 24, 2013, the Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory on the watch of Senator Bala Muhammad has spent a conservative estimate of N40m from taxpayers’ money on newspaper advertorials in some newspapers (that may have compromised for the sake of money and chosen to partner with corrupt public officers that cause more harm than good to Nigerians), sponsored news items/press conferences, legal fees, and bulk purchase of DESERT HERALD copies to stop it from reaching the general public, etc, all in an effort to divert the attention of Nigerians from the real issue on the ground: the book entitled FCT Administration: The Rot Within! Going by the two-page advertorial placed in most national dailies on Monday by the FCTA against my person, the ministry using taxpayers’ money must have spent not less than N10m in just one day.
On issues of abuse of office, morality and corruption.
Judging by the record of reckless use of taxpayers’ money, which is now documented through sponsored radio programmes, newspaper advertorials and sponsored articles by the FCTA, it is very clear that the minister has indicted himself. He has no right to waste public resources the manner he is doing on issues challenging his personal integrity. What the ministry is doing is a demonstration of glaring corruption and insensitivity to the plight of the impoverished people of the FCT.
The millions they continue to waste in fighting me are enough for a responsible minister to provide boreholes or instructional materials to dilapidated FCT public schools and communities that continue to suffer under Bala’s inept leadership. The truth is that he will insha Allah NEVER succeed in using the NUJ, NGE, NPAN or the NPC against a clearly very selfish and vindictive mission. He will neither succeed through the police because going by the constitution they have their limit. The minister and his officials certainly have a lot to hide; were it not so, they won’t take it so personal and become desperate the manner they are shamelessly going about it now, exposing their desperation not to allow the book to come out by all means.
The police, NGE, NPAN, NPC, etc, cannot intervene in the manner they (FCT officials) want on an issue already before the court. If the minister doesn’t have anything to hide he should patiently allow the court to decide but not to expose his guilt by way of lobbying these professional bodies to “judge” on an issue before the court. I want to tell you that since this crisis started, I have never spent a kobo of my own, not even in publicity. But ask the minister how many millions he has spent so far from the public treasury? If you are truthful, you don’t need to be desperate and afraid like the minister and his people are.
On the book, “FCT: The Rot Within!”
These are people that repeatedly said we are only being clever to extort money from them. That what we are doing is just a tale of non-existent corruption and scandals but yet they don’t want to take chances by freely allowing the book to come out. They are the same people looking for a restraining order by all means from the court all in an effort to stop the release of the book. They are the same people sending spies and attempting to recruit spies within DH family to monitor what we are doing so as to know the next mischief to employ. We are not arguing with them. We are not making any effort to convince anybody that we are working on a book. In fact, we don’t even want them to believe that we are working on such a book.
It is a contract between us and Nigerians and, by the grace of God, it will come to pass. Nigerians will, at the end, know who is telling the truth and whether there is any project or not. So, my words to the corrupt FCT officials that are fighting us, particularly the likes of Ibrahim Bomoi, is: we don’t have anything on issues of corruption and abuse of office against the FCTA; we are not doing any book and probably too we are only being clever. For some of us that didn’t know Nosike Ogbuenyi, who pioneered the blackmail against me, he can do any form of criminality to retain his position as the SA, media, to the minister.
From the records, it is because of Nosike’s ineptitude as the SA, media, that he was demoted when the minister appointed Jamila Tangaza for the same position. When she was controversially redeployed to oversee AGIS, the minister did not consider Nosike suitable to fully retain his former seat but instead put him on three months’ probation to determine his ability to perform. The crisis between DH and the ministry erupted before the expiration of the three months’ probation and Nosike is desperately determined to commit any evil to get confirmation as the substantive SA, media, hence the concoction of a discussion on a purely media consultancy project and portraying same as that demanding gratification.
The office of the SA, media, also has a huge budget and the only way to mismanage such fund is by doing what he is doing. Nigerians should be patient; our book will reveal what will shock the entire nation insha Allah. By that time, I am sure all this noise and waste of public resources will stop.
On so-called Credible Northern Journalists of Nigeria.
It is on record that, prior to our problem with the FCTA, there was no such organization in Nigeria. My contacts at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) also confirmed that there was no organization in Nigeria registered with that name. So it’s clearly a hatchet job organized from the huge budget of Mr Ogbuenyi’s office. It is indeed a disgrace to the journalism profession in Nigeria. This is a group of hungry journalists, most of whom are not reporting for any paper, accusing me of not balancing and not being objective in my book because I didn’t contact the FCTA to hear their own side of the story.
But they are the same people that rushed judgment against my person and paper because they had heard the concocted transcript of my so-called conversation with Nosike. Even if the claim of Nosike is right — that I truly demanded N50m, N15m or N10m from him — is it still fair for any responsible leader to rush and judge without hearing my own side of the story even if I would tell lies? It is also clear that they were doing the bidding of their sponsors (FCTA officials) when they joined my respected elder brother and colleague, Mr Sam Nda-Isaiah, in the issue. Sam’s only offence is standing on the side of truth at a time most of our colleagues chose to abandon us. No matter what anybody will say, Mr Nda-Isaiah has done and achieved what many journalists and media houses have not, despite the privileges.
In his paper, unlike others, there is an opportunity for everybody, most especially the common people that are not given the opportunity to be heard by many papers. I think our problem in the media industry is envy and laziness. We all know that Mr Nda-Isaiah has worked very hard over the years to become what and who he is today. Others got their luck on a platter of gold, through the contributions of the like of Mr Nda-Isaiah, to become what they are today. I know of a paper that indirectly banned any form of contribution, no matter how constructive and factual, about my state, Yobe State government. In fact, they don’t accept, even if it is a paid advertorial, any piece that may portray Yobe government in a negative way, yet they call the like of myself and Mr Nda-Isaiah unprofessional.
It is sad that corrupt politicians have infiltrated the noble profession of journalism with their loots. Even as politicians and with all their scandals, the ruling PDP has an in-house policy of protecting their own and managing their problems but because in the business of journalism in Nigeria all we do is worship money and do everything for its sake, we don’t value brotherhood, we don’t care to even adopt fairness. I want to advise my colleagues in the media that it is always important to be just and fair. If you believe as a media organization you are on top today and you can do as you want, you don’t know what will happen tomorrow.
We all know the strength and excellent coverage of media organizations like Concord, Daily Times, New Nigerian, Hotline, Citizen, Democrat and even recently the like of Newswatch, Next and their fate today. It is not all about the money you have as an organization. So we must be careful and always think of tomorrow. Contrary to the mischievous claim of the so-called Northern Journalists, the FCT minister is killing the media by insisting on getting whatever he wants on a platter of gold from them. That is why Nosike in his letter wants the NUJ president to act with SPEED over his one-sided petition.
While the declaration of “war” against DESERT HERALD and its publisher Malam Tukur Mamu by the Federal Capital Territory Minister, Bala Muhammad, and his selected officials has assumed a do-or-die affair using public resources in failed attempts to divert the attention of Nigerians from the main issue, Nosike should go back to school and learn how to write official letters/petitions. He wrote to the NUJ president voicing out his frustrations, but it read as though he was writing to Tukur Mamu.
What Bala had said about us
For the record, the armchair critics at FCTA and our jobless brothers that allowed themselves to be compromised by Nosike and even accepted the name Concerned Credible Northern Journalists of Nigeria (CCNJN) he proposed for them should read the following statement by none other than their boss and their paymaster, Sen. Bala Muhammad, in 2010, at the DESERT HERALD Merit Award held at Hamdala Hotel, Kaduna. If they doubt the statement, we are ready to provide the video and audio anytime:
DESERT HERALD is bold and authoritative. I have been following the paper since before I came to the Senate. We patronize it because it is always on the path of truth and justice. The style and professionalism with which they present their facts is commendable and has endeared them to the people. Nigeria needs a patriotic medium like DESERT HERALD. The paper under Tukur Mamu’s leadership has contributed so much to the war against corruption and I believe every responsible government will support the efforts and sacrifices of DESERT HERALD. I know it has not been easy for you in DESERT HERALD because I have been following your struggles and travails. I want to encourage you to sustain your efforts and do not waiver because the nation needs you.
The administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is committed to bringing democratic dividends to our people. The president is also committed to the war against corruption which your paper is championing. That is why I am happy to be part of your historic Award Night today. I feel honoured and indebted to the profession I so much cherished for recognizing me today with this important award. I want to assure my brother, the publisher of DESERT HERALD, that I will not disappoint you in this important national assignment as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory. Your award today has no doubt encouraged me to do even much more. I have so much respect for you and your paper DESERT HERALD.
Without truthful and responsible journalism as demonstrated by DESERT HERALD, the hope of growth and development may be dashed. The courage, integrity, nationalism and patriotism by DESERT HERALD is worthy of commendation. The people that gathered here today to honour your invitation is an acknowledgement of your success in the field of journalism. We came here from Abuja because we believe in the good job you are doing. I pray that Almighty Allah will continue to strengthen your courage, patriotism and vision.
On allegation of extortion and blackmail
It is just a diversionary tactic from the FCTA officials to take the minds of Nigerians out of the main issue on ground. The mischief is targeted towards the book. I have sufficiently answered their false claim of extortion against me in one of my interviews and what actually transpired between Nosike and me. I am yet to read the so-called transcript of the conversation or listen to the recorded version of the said conversation. But since they are going to court on the same issue, I believe Nigerians will know the truth. All I know is that when Jamila Tangaza held sway as SA, media, the FCTA gave us media-related publicity job in the sum of N3.9m and we have a copy of the cheque paid through the same First Bank account they are now using to crucify us.
Thereafter, Nosike called on the same related project and we said, why not media consultancy work for one year? That was the basis of our discussion and bargain and that is the discussion he is using as his so-called evidence. If there is anything more, I strongly believe he masterminded it through his agents. He has that criminal tendency. I was told by one of his aides that he has recorded many conversations with colleagues in the media with a view to using same whenever he deems appropriate.
That, to me, is criminal. Since they believe they have such evidence against me, they should go ahead and file the case in court instead of unduly using their powers to manipulate the police against us. There is no amount of blackmail that will cow or intimidate me. No matter what they do, the truth will finally come out. They believe that as long as I am alive and free, the truth they are trying hard to suppress will definitely be made public.
The plot now is to use the police to arrest and persecute me, using all the resources at their disposal. But we are telling them to be law-abiding like us; let them apply the rule of law and allow the court to determine our guilt or otherwise. We said they are corrupt and we are ready to prove that in court, so why the noise?
I want to assure Nigerians that they will not be disappointed in us. At the end, everybody will be his/her own judge. We will NEVER succumb to blackmail, intimidation or threat from those that are perpetrating more crimes against the Nigerian people than any of us. If we would demand money for what we have from corrupt officials that looted too much, N15m is certainly too little for me. I would demand more than that. I want to tell the FCT minister and the sycophants around him that I am not afraid of arrest.
I am always available whenever the police or the SSS comes. In fact, whenever they call me I am ready to come to Abuja; they don’t have to waste their fuel. I was arrested nine times. I was in police cell, I was in prison three times and I was at the SSS cell in Abuja during late President Yar’Adua — all regarding this job. I’m not new to arrest.
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