Leadership and ThisDay’s Rating of Danjuma Goje
As part of assessment of the performance of our leaders at the Federal and State levels in the past one year of the Yar’Adua administration, Nigeria’s leading newspaper, ThisDay, in its edition of Thursday May 29, did a rating of the 36 state governors. The rating was based on three main headings: Above Average, Average and Below Average.
As an indigene of Gombe State, when I opened to the page where the scorecard of the governors was done at a glance, I was naturally very eager to see how my Governor Dr. Danjuma Goje would be rated. I quickly scanned through to the roll where I saw the picture of the governor. I was happy when I saw that he was among the most highly rated governors in the country. Like about seven other governors, Goje was rated Above Average by ThisDay.
This good verdict reached on Goje by ThisDay contrasts very sharply with another one that was done by another newspaper. Late last month, an Abuja based newspaper, Leadership, did another sort of rating. Its own assessment was what it called The Ten Most Hated Nigerians. Curiously, Governor Goje was listed among this infamous company, an action that raised a lot of objections and a storm of protests by many who are conversant with the person of Goje and with the record of achievements he has scored as governor of Gombe.
Many who were aggrieved by what they felt was an act of unfairness and mischief by Leadership bought pages in some national newspapers to castigate Leadership and sing the praises of Goje for what he has done for the good people of Gombe State. Many opinion articles and letters to the editor were similarly written to protest the remarks made about Goje.
It is true that because of the way every individual is wired by God we can not see things in the same way. We are bound to see things from different perspectives. That could possibly account for the way two newspapers could see one single individual in such a diametrically opposed manner.
ThisDay is saying that among the 36 state governors in Nigeria, Goje is among the best of them. Leadership, on the other hand, is saying that among the 140 million Nigerians that live, Goje is one of the ten most hated. How can one man present such apparently contradictory image of himself? The truth of the matter is that Goje can not be a good man who is offering good service to his people and at the same time be a hated man. And both papers can not be right in their different assessment of the same man. The deduction then is that one of the two newspapers must be wrong. Which of them can it possibly be and what may be the possible reason for my reaching such a conclusion?
In my opinion, the paper that is wrong, or rather lying, about Goje is Leadership. And it is easy to see why. ThisDay is a Lagos-based newspaper which is not involved in the politics of the North and of Gombe State in particular. Leadership is very much involved in the politics of the North and of Gombe state. Some of Governor Goje’s notable political rivals in the politics of Gombe are close friends of the publisher of Leadership, Sam Nda-Isaiah’s.
Many who are aware of this fact have concluded that the listing of Goje as the ten most hated Nigerians as a way of running him down, is a proxy fight by Sam Nda-Isaiah on behalf of his close friend Murtala Aliyu who is not Goje’s political friend at all.
Another reason why I trust ThisDay’s assessment of Goje and distrust that of Leadership is in terms of the pedigree of the two papers. ThisDay is a paper that is taken more seriously than Leadership. ThisDay does its journalism in a more professional, more impartial manner.
As has been the practice over the years, ThisDay’s Board of Editors usually meet and brainstorm on issues of that nature exhaustively before e a verdict is reached on any person one way or another. ThisDay has in the past couple of years assessed the performance of state governors and very few objections have been raised about its verdict. At least no one has accused it of biased against certain persons and in favour of others.
More over, ThisDay has always made efforts to provide a reasoned justification of the verdict it passes on the persons being assessed. Before ThisDay eventually came out with its scorecard of the governors on May 29, it had conducted a detail sector-by-sector analysis of the performance of the governors. When Leadership, on the other hand, provided a list of its ten most hated Nigerians, it did not give any arguments whatsoever to support its claim. It just said its conclusion was based on a ‘random survey’. This claim is so unscientific, so illogical and as fraudulent as the April 2007 election which has been dubbed the most flawed election in Nigeria’s history.
The high rating of Governor Danjuma Goje by ThisDay exposes the lie in Leadership’s listing of Goje among what it calls the 10 Most Hated Nigerians. How can a man whose performance in office is rated by a less partisan newspaper as above average be hated by people? If ThisDay had rated Goje below average, then it would have sort of confirm Leadership’s earlier assessment of the man as no good.
Many Nigerians rely so much on what is said about our leaders, about individuals high and low and about what is going on in the country and in the rest of the world. Our media of mass communication are taken very seriously as instruments of reliable information.
This should impose on our journalists the responsibility not to pronounce wrong judgments on individuals. You can destroy a man’s reputation for life by any careless and untrue remarks you make about him. The newspaper is a public trust. Whoever owns it must strive very hard not to use it for selfish goals.
Publishers or owners of mass media should not employ their organs for partisan causes as is clearly the case with the Leadership in its attitude towards Governor Danjuma Goje.
By Joel Danlami
Mr. Danlami, a journalist, lives in Gombe.