Jonathan bashing: What does Nda-Isaiah want?
On Monday, January 13, 2014, Sam Nda-Isaiah, owner of the Leadership newspaper, published an article in his “Last Word” back page column that has stirred interest in political circles. The article, titled 'Is The President Aware That $10.8b Is Still Missing?' ended on page 10 of the newspaper where Nda-Isaiah signed off with a characteristic slur against President Goodluck Jonathan. In the last sentence of the article, Nda-Isaiah stated, “Anyone, no matter who that person is, who wants President Jonathan to govern Nigeria beyond 2015 is an enemy of the Nigerian state.”
While Nda-Isaiah has no authority to declare anyone “an enemy of the Nigerian state” for being a supporter of President Jonathan, the mere fact that he desires to do so is deeply disturbing. This is more so for a newspaper publisher who should be in the forefront of the defence of freedom of expression. Moreover, it is freedom of expression that has allowed Nda-Isaiah himself to grow a lucrative, albeit, ignoble career out of pouring vituperations on governors and presidents from the tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, through late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua era to the administration of the incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan.
Nda-Isaiah, who is a pharmacist by training, became active on the media scene about a decade ago through venomous opinion articles written mostly against then President Obasanjo. The articles were often published on the back page of Daily Trust and some online forums. Nda-Isaiah launched Leadership in 2004 and continued in the same malicious vein against the late President Yar'Adua and has reached his vindictive apogee since President Jonathan assumed power.
In the light of this inglorious track record, it is pertinent to ask what exactly Nda-Isaiah wants to achieve. The answer, if his stepped up campaign of calumny against President Jonathan is any indication, is to take a crack at the presidency in 2015. Nda-Isaiah, who in the past, has served as a spokesman for the three-time presidential candidate, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), is clearly no longer content to be a mouthpiece for another power seeker.
In a 2012 interview with Newsdairy.com, an online media outlet, he did not discountenance reports that he was considering a run for the presidency in 2015. Instead, Nda-Isaiah said, “Let me put it this way on a serious note. If I am going to make a foray into politics as you said, I have to see a very clear path. I will not just go in and just become a part of the statistics of what has happened.”
But this month, he has finally unravelled about his presidential ambition in The Union newspaper interview of January 19, 2014 at pages 11 and 32, wherein he said: “Tinubu, Buhari Can't Impose Candidates on APC.” While he is free to seek any elective office of his choice, it appears however—judging from the quantum of negative write-ups he has done against President Jonathan in the last six months alone—that Nda-Isaiah has seen a clear path to his objective by way of misrepresentations, indecorous language and outright dissimulation.
It should also be added that it has now become public knowledge that Nda-Isaiah's brand of opinion-writing and newspapering combines an inordinate dose of chicanery with outright blackmail. In February 2013, Governor Ibrahim Geidam of Yobe State revealed in a widely circulated and published letter that, “Since November 2011, we have been victims of Nda-Isaiah's blackmail.”
An excerpt of Governor Geidam's letter reads: “We are writing to call the public's attention to the disturbingly unethical practices of Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah, publisher and chairman of Abuja-based Leadership newspaper. Since November 2011, we have been victims of Nda-Isaiah's blackmail. He has committed grave ethical infractions that strike at the very core of the integrity of journalism. We feel obligated to state the facts because we are concerned that Nda-Isaiah's brand of journalism will expose the profession to ridicule. The publisher has decided on a deliberate editorial policy to fabricate lies against us, ridicule our institutions, pillory our achievements and maliciously libel our functionaries all because we refused to yield to his unceasing demand for advertisement patronage.”
From the foregoing, it is clear that once the publisher of Leadership does not obtain the favour he seeks from elected officials, he turns his venom on them in a bid to bend them to his will. Unfortunately for him, his latest foray along the lines of his peculiar brand of journalism has drawn the ire of the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih.
In a private letter sent to Nda-Isaiah—which the rather unprincipled publisher promptly published in his Friday, January 24, 2014 edition—Anenih wrote, “Though politics has eaten deep into, and ruined the socio-cultural fabric of Nigeria, I urge you and other influential Nigerians in the media to put the interest of the nation first in your publications over and above personal interest and selfish political and sectional agenda which are capable of heating up the polity and leading to pernicious division in our nation.”
It is good and well that a man of Anenih's political stature and maturity has spoken up to call Nda-Isaiah and others of his ilk to order, for the fact that they so desperately want to wrest power from those currently serving in various positions should never be an excuse to throw the nation into chaos.
Mr Ikejiani sent this piece from Port-Harcourt, Rivers State.