By YAKUBU LAMAI
In a malicious report by Ibraheem Hamza entitled: “NO SINGLE VENTILATOR: BUT NASARAWA BUYS N500M CAR FOR LAWMAKERS” which first appeared online appeared on the DAILY TRUST of 16th April 2020, Hamza reported that “government claimed the cars were ordered before the COVID-19 pandemic”, and that; “Nasarawa has not reported any confirmed case of COVID-19”, and on further enquiry;
“The ventilators have been ordered and we are expecting them anytime soon,” as confirmed by Commissioner for Information Dogo Shammah, yet Ibraheem Hamza who was writing with hostile intent interviewed three persons:
Omar Nurudeen, who said “the presentation of new Toyota Hilux cars to the 24 lawmakers was unnecessary”, while Umar Angibi said “it’s not an illegitimate act” and Francis Orogu PDP Chairman simply said: “No Comment!” , and from the foregoing, Ibraheem Hamza concluded that “Nasarawa State had misplaced its priorities!”
Nigeria recorded its first case of Corona Virus on the 27th February, 2020 in Lagos and while many other states were still grappling with what to do, Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule instinctively mandated staff of the Ministry of Health to immediately transport and escort 832 students on Exchange Programme from 18 participating states schooling in Government College, Keffi and Government Girls College, Wamba back to their respective States.
Before Corvid 19 was declared a global pandemic, Nasarawa State became one of the earliest states in Nigeria to develop an actual case Management Protocol to handle symptoms of Covid 19 at Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital (DASH) in Lafia.
This was done at the same-time as the quick upgrade of the Isolation Center at DASH, while at the same-time government also activated a State Emergency Preparedness Response team & Rapid Response Team (RRT) for CORVID-19, which was replicated in every local government area of Nasarawa State, just as an Emergency Operation Center was activated and an Incident Manager promptly appointed in Lafia.
Before any other state in Nigeria, Nasarawa State began the training and retraining of rapid response medical personnel on how to deal with CORVID-19 in the very first week of its outbreak on the advice of the State Deputy Governor Dr. Emmanuel Akabe to Governor A.A. Sule!
It will be recalled that the immediate past administration in Nasarawa State had for years initiated the construction of a Centre for Research, Outbreak and control of infectious Diseases in Lafia and after taking over as Governor on May 29th 2020, in his early appraisal of uncompleted projects, Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule committed himself to source for over N2 Billion to undertake the 70% remnant of the work and acquire facilities required to complete and kit this timely, relevant and important Nasarawa State Center for Research, Outbreak and Control of Infectious Diseases.
While as a Governor, Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule implicitly believes there is an abiding urgency for the State to improve its capacity to contain, detect, prevent, and effectively respond to outbreaks of diseases and viral infections; his personal conviction and administration’s cardinal objective to continually strengthen health is further bolstered and daily supported by the Deputy Governor of his choosing, Dr. Emmanuel Akabe who was the erstwhile Commissioner for Health at the time the center for disease control was conceived to undertake research and diagnoses into infectious diseases.
One wonders therefore why when writing about lack of ventilators in a state like Nasarawa which actively promotes the health sector, that a reporter like Ibraheem Hamza of Daily Trust will not bother to simply research the background to his topic and present all the facts and context related to Covid 19 and the varying measures being taken by government with a modicum of decency, impartiality and neutrality.
If only Hamza had been that professional, his slanted repot will have objectively presented the viewpoint that Governor Abdullahi A. Sule has immediately steered his administration and the good people of Nasarawa State to source for N2 Billion naira in order to improve the preparedness of Nasarawa State for future outbreaks of any other infectious pathogens like COVID-19 by the ongoing completion work which has commenced at the complex that will house a comprehensive disease outbreak center.
For the records, the Nasarawa State Center for Research, Outbreak and Control of Infectious Diseases is of international standard and made up of three key components: a two-storey diagnostic and research laboratory, a bio-safety level 3 (BSL-3) laboratory for the handling infectious samples from outbreaks from known (Lassa, yellow fever, monkey pox, meningitis, cholera, Ebola, seasonal flu, avian flu, zika, dengue, etc.) and a third component of the complex, is an isolation ward that would house patients until they are adequately diagnosed and treated to limit spread into the community. This is a monumental project that will be the second of its kind in Nigeria.
But even as Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule is currently committing resources to complete this center that will benefit all of Nigeria and although Nasarawa State is yet to record a single case of Corona Virus Infection, the government of Nasarawa State under the proactive leadership of Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule has still begun the Upgrade, Renovation and Conversion of a pre-existing 300 bed capacity building which was initially built to serve as a hostel for victims of flood disaster and to serve as temporary refuge to Internally Displaced Persons Camp (IDP) into an ISOLATION CENTER in Shabu, Lafia.
In fact government has established Stage 1, Stage 2 and Stage 3 of Isolation centers across Nasarawa State, just as landscaping; perimeter fencing, painting, general renovations and demarcation of sections for suspected cases and isolation of chronic infected victims of CORVID-19 are being concluded at the Shabu Isolation Center. Also a paved road to the Isolation Center is being completed, while medical equipment and facilities for the Isolation Center were delivered and received on Friday, April 17th 2020.
It is noteworthy that at the onset of the Corona Virus infection, even before it was declared a global pandemic, Governor Abdullahi A. Sule inaugurated a taskforce with Deputy Governor Dr Emmanuel Akabe as Chair to provide a road map for the COVID-19 response.
The Corvid 19 committee today conducts Daily Press Briefings to give updates and factual proactive measures being adopted on a day to day basis. Currently, the committee has instituted legally binding proclamations as regards crowd reduction & social distancing just as places of worship remain closed and a 24 complete lockdown has been imposed and extended on Karu which borders the FCT. Infra-Red Thermometers & hand sanitizers have been procured and distributed to all ministries, motor parks, markets and the border posts which provide entry into Nasarawa State, aside palliatives like rice which are being distributed to the most vulnerable families across all the local government areas of Nasarawa State. Medical Personnel are also stationed at the borders and entry points of Nasarawa state just as security has been intensified and mobile courts set up to handle cases of violation of COVID-19 protocol.
It is because of the importance which Governor Abdullahi A. Sule places on advocacy and media sensitization, so as to avoid distortion of facts that the Governor himself appeared LIVE on a two-hour television Programme which was simulcast statewide on radio, where he answered questions from citizens via phone. The approach of Nasarawa State to sensitize and keep citizens abreast with developments on Covid 19 is clearly in tandem with the accepted values of open governance and inclusion.
Engineer Sule has made two Statewide Public Broadcasts, signed three proclamations and has insisted that TWO pages be published every Thursday on LEADERSHIP Newspaper and DAILY TRUST so as to give up-to the minute measures being adopted in Nasarawa State to halt the onslaught of COVID 19.
With all the multi-vocal and multilevel measures being adopted to curtail the entry of CORVID-19 into Nasarawa State, it is incomprehensible that Mr. Ibraheem Hamza of Daily Trust will choose to deviously twist, alter and re-organize his report on official cars for Assembly members into a skewed and false retelling of the efforts of government in Nasarawa State with regards to contain COVID-19, just so as to bring Engineer Sule to great disrepute.
This fierce written attack and analogy of buying cars in the face of COVID 19 is a classical hatchet job and a clear example of blatant distortion of facts, to which height of devious cruelty, Nigerians particularly those of us in the Northern region, are not accustomed to seeing on the pages of Daily Trust.
We fear there is a fundamental shift in values at DAILY TRUST as we are forced to wonder why would DAILY TRUST which prides itself on “Earning and Keeping Trust” will fall short of its own hallowed values, by allowing its own writer to condescend so low as to “subjectively pick and join facts” that do not logically connect? For instance, the health workers Hamza quoted as threatening to go on strike for not receiving their March salary are local government employees and not even under the pay of the state government. So how does buying of official vehicles for local lawmakers in the State House of Assembly relate to health workers crying foul over unpaid monthly wages in Doma local government?
There is no gainsaying that high ethical standards are essential to developing and maintaining trust and this is buttressed in its GUIDELINES ON INTEGRITY, where THE NEW YORK TIMES states that; “Reporters, editors, photographers and all members of the news staff of The New York Times share a common and essential interest in protecting the integrity of the newspaper.” I quote further: “As the news, editorial and business leadership of the newspaper declared jointly in 1998: “Our greatest strength is the authority and reputation of The Times.
We must do nothing that would undermine or dilute it and everything possible to enhance it.” So says the New York Times.
In an online research published September 8, 2019 titled; “Understanding the Rudiments of Media Research Methodology: Content Analysis of Daily Trust, a Nigerian Daily Newspaper” by the trio of Adamkolo Mohammed Ibrahim, Balarabe Maikaba and Suleiman Mainasara Yar’Adua, the writers described Daily Trust as: “an innovative, versatile and market driven newspaper!” and went ahead to surmise that : “Daily Trust newspaper more likely than not, intended to set an agenda of peace, tolerance, national consciousness and consolidation of Nigeria’s unity in diversity for the Government, citizens and other media outlets.”
Furthermore according to Ibrahim, Maikaba and Yar’Adua, , a great deal of the news-related information content on Daily Trust: “attempts to set an agenda for peace, tolerance and co-existence, prioritizing national interest over personal or political interests, prioritizing economic diversification through agriculture and tourism and prioritizing positive national developments over sentiments, ethnicity and regionalism!”.
We in the government of Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule believe that a journalist has the ethical obligation to carry out his professional duties in a trustworthy way. Every word put on paper must bring to bear accuracy, brevity, clarity, coherence, emphasis, objectivity and unity. We agree with the spirit and letter of the “Fairness Doctrine” of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which requires the holders of broadcast licenses to present controversial issues of public importance in a manner that is honest, equitable, and balanced. The key words here are honest, equitable, and balanced. The report written by Ibraheem Hamza and published in DAILY TRUST was not balanced.
A balanced report refers to a report that discusses all views of a particular story, and leaves it to the readers to make up their decisions. This particular article was written with hostile intent to show that Nasarawa State government is financially flagrant and morally irresponsible by buying cars for lawmakers at a time great pandemic, when we should be concentrating on saving lives.
A critique is valuable only when it is not maliciously destructive but a careful and critical inquiry seeking facts and pertinent information on a specific subject matter. Newspapers have an immeasurable important role in building society, and to criticize does not necessarily imply “to find fault”, or to attack a person but to show that something is better served by an alternative approach.
Constructive criticisms are often suggestions for improvement – how things could be done better or more acceptably. But before you criticize us, you owe yourselves the moral responsibility to find out everything we are doing so that your newspaper report can be seen to extoll the professional values and principles of Truth and Accuracy, Independence, Fairness and Impartiality, Humanity and Accountability.
The word integrity is defined as ‘the adherence to moral and ethical principles; the soundness of moral character.’ Integrity is a synonym for honesty and uprightness, and Governor Abdullahi A. Sule of Nasarawa State is clearly exhibiting this vital characteristic of integrity in political leadership in the way he is leading the effort to contain and fight back CORVID-19.
Is Director General: Strategic Communication & Press Affairs
To: HE GOVERNOR ABDULLAHI A. SULE of Nasarawa State.