By Bala Ibrahim
There is a popular saying that politics is dirty, but perhaps the dirt of politics becomes more poignant when painted on the fabrics of a priest, than on the clothe of a popular politician. The general assumption is that, politicians are so bedeviled that they literally turn off their consciences in return for political gains. That is the assumed nature of the game. Some would say, in politics, if you cant win, cheat.
Politicians, particularly those who play politics in Africa, seem to have lost their moral values because of the drive and desire for political gains, as well as political affluence. Gaining political power, particularly power in Government, is seen as the license of farewell to poverty. Power breeds materialism, which in turn breeds corruption. This makes many to conclude that politics is indeed a dirty game.
A reversed ambition is expected to arrive, when clerics are invited into politics, because they are seen as men of God, who would use their priesthood as the platform for the injection of sanity into the body politic of the country. But alas, sometimes a road block is created by crafty and dishonest politicians, who engage the services of paid pen agents, to embark on reckless and relentless attacks on them, through perjury, false and fictitious publications.
By their calling, priests represent the divine being to their subjects, and in return from them to their God. They act as ambassadors that are expected to play the roles of mediators between man and God.
However, the aim of some opposition politicians, or those with dirty political missions, is to cripple that ambition of political sanity, by financing discredited media outlets, to promote and propagate falsehood against such people of God. After all, if they succeed in getting the public to see the priest as a rogue, then no one can claim sanity against the sins of politics.
For some reasons, which may not be unconnected with envy, Omoyele Sowore, the publisher of Sahara Reporters, who resides in the USA, and who was never invited to come and serve by any Government in Nigeria, has gained notoriety in chastising professionals that are invited from abroad to come home and add value.
Yesterday Friday, Sahara Reporters was at it again in their game of cheap blackmail, this time around, posting some houses purportedly owned by Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy in Nigeria. The caption of the photo news reads, “Buhari’s Minister Of Communications, Dr. Isa Pantami Living Large In Abuja, purchases three houses in Wuse for His Three Wives”.
The minister, a renowned and respected Muslim cleric, was forced to issue a rebuttal through his spokesperson, Uwa Suleiman, thus, “Our attention has been drawn to the grave falsehood Published by controversial online media, Sahara Reporters against the person of Honorable Minister Dr Isa Ali Pantami. The online media, has falsely accused him of procuring three houses within the period of his assumption of office. For the purpose of setting the records straight, the Honorable Minister has not purchased a single property anywhere in the world, in the period he has been in office as a Minister. One of the apartments in the images published is one which the Honorable Minister has occupied since January 2017, more than two years before becoming a minister, while the other one is a house he rented since 17th December 2019. Two of the images are not even known to him”.
Minister Pantami may be the first cleric in Government to fall victim of Sahara Reporter’s unethical journalism, but he isn’t the first of such invited professionals to be so brutalized. Former Finance Minister Okonjo-Iweala, has played victim to them for countless times. In one of such attacks, they published a report, claiming that Iweala’s family had wanted to open a multi-million dollar Hospital in Abuja, but that the opening was postponed because GEJ didn’t win elections. As usual, the story turned out to be false.
Like Minister Pantami, Mrs. Iweala’s spkesperson, Paul Nwabuikwu, had to issue a rebuttal captioned, “Another Lie From Sahara Reporters: The Alleged Multi-Million Dollar Okonjo-Iweala Family Hospital Does Not Exist”. He said, “Having failed to achieve any success after months of unsubstantiated figures and wild allegations against Dr Okonjo-Iweala, the political and corrupt vested interests, who have been attacking her have now turned their evil attention on her family”.
The rebuttal went on to say, the story that former Finance Minister Okonjo-Iweala’s Family plan to open multi-million Dollar Hospital in Abuja, published by the corrupt website, Sahara Reporters is the latest chapter in the anti-Okonjo-Iweala campaign. The story is totally baseless for a very simple reason: The alleged hospital is non-existent.
It may hurt more in the case of Minister Pantami, because over the years, he has made name as a man of piety, who preaches on the good qualities of being religious and reverent. He is also adjudged by many, as a person that practices what he preaches. The Minister’s spokesperson said his salaries and allowances as a serving minister, are lesser compared to what he earned as an academic at the International University Madinah, Saudi Arabia, where he still holds the record of being the first Nigerian to lecture at that level. He only returned to Nigeria out of the zeal to contribute his quota to national development.
In the light of the above, and their disgraceful antecedents of publishing falsehood, once again, Sowore and Sahara Reporters should bury their heads in shame, for being unprofessional, unethical, unscrupulous, and openly ungodly.
Ibrahim, a public affairs analyst writes from Abuja