By Okon Tom
For some time now, Sahara Reporters owned by Omoyele Sowore has been on a mission to smear and disparage the sterling image and reputation of the Governor of Akwa Ibom state, Mr. Udom Emmanuel through the publication of insidious and factually vacuous reports.
When Sahara Reporters made its debut almost ten years ago, it was a desirable platform whose citizens’ journalism and activism reminded one of the America’s Muck-raking at the turn of the Twentieth Century, whose reportage and its messianic mission was to sanitize the stench that had arisen from the Gilded Age capitalism that had run amok, and to help push the agenda of the Progressive Era in American politics.
The activities of the Muck-rakers whose motto was to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” profoundly changed the way public policy was formulated and made America a more humane society where capitalism had a human face with attendant corporate social responsibly.
The great thing with Muck-rakers was that they concentrated their reportage on issues and not on individuals; their reports were not coloured by prejudice or a mission to witch-hunt or to carry the agenda of certain individuals or groups and use such to hound, blackmail or out rightly publish falsehood about certain individuals whom they don’t agree with or whose politics they don’t like.
Sahara Reporters which fashioned itself along the lines of Muck-rakers have since lost its initial luster, credibility and integrity. It has descended to a platform where truth is violated, where facts are no longer sacred. Sahara Reporters seem to have singled out Akwa Ibom State and the PDP-led government of Governor Udom Emmanuel and has engaged in serial witch-hunting and nit-picking expedition to create issues where such does not exist.
Last year, Sahara Reporters acting the script of its sponsors went to town with a false report that the immediate past Governor of Akwa Ibom State, the Senate Minority Leader, and Senator Godswill Akpabio’s election had been nullified by the Appeal Court. To show how reckless it has been with facts, and in a hurry to carry out the agenda of its sponsors, the editors did not care to tell its readers that the Appeal Court had not yet met, and as a matter of fact, the case was not billed for hearing until the next day, yet Sahara Reporters published the false story and had eggs thrown all over its face.
One would have thought that having eaten the humble pie that the editors of theSahara Reporters would be more circumspect with facts, but they seem to be in a hurry to manufacture more lies and massage the ego of their sponsors.
Consider the latest publication where it stated that Governor Udom Emmanuel had completed and furnished a mansion four months after taking office. It was the same Sahara Reporters that said the ‘’mansion” was constructed shortly after he was sworn in. Now, they are saying he built the mansion four months after he was inaugurated.
Governor Udom Emmanuel until he was appointed the Secretary to the Akwa Ibom State Government (SSG) and subsequently elected the Governor of Akwa Ibom State April 11, 2015 was a hugely successful Financial Services Stakeholder. He was on the board of numerous highly profitable companies and was the Executive Director of easily one of the most consequential banks in Africa-Zenith.
Governor Emmanuel is a known philanthropist who had touched thousands of lives and his work in the vineyard of the Lord is legendary. Are the editors ofSahara Reporters saying that Governor Udom Emmanuel cannot afford a regular four -bedroom home?
There is no doubt that the editors ofSahara Reporters are writing the scripts of its sponsors, but they should be reminded that the election of 2015 has been won and lost and engaging in some wild goose chase is nothing but an exercise in futility.
The editors of Sahara Reporters should challenge their sponsors to prove to Nigerians that they are capable of leading our people and ensuring a future where they can aspire and dream. They should ask Nigerians if they are better off today than they were a year ago instead of engaging in obtuse and inane witch-hunt. They should train their guns on some of its sponsors who are unable to pay salaries of their workers or where a huge disconnect exits between the expectations of the led and the leaders.
Governor Udom Emmanuel has in the face of dwindling resources, managed to pay workers salaries and compensations, kept his campaign promises and one would love to extend an invitation to the editors of the Sahara Reporters to come to Akwa Ibom State and see what Governor Udom Emmanuel has achieved through infrastructural expansion and concrete industrialization push in just eleven months. That way, they will be forced to challenge their sponsors and tell them to leave Akwa Ibom State alone, that Governor Udom Emmanuel is working and the people are happy and in support of his efforts.
Mr. Okon Tom is a public affairs analyst, based in Lagos