Protection Rights of Journalists of Africa and the 2010 Award in Mexico. by- Saka Raji Audu

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In February 2010, the Protection Rights of Journalists of Africa will be presenting award for the Best Journalist of the Year 2009 in Mexico. Already, the Association has earnmarked or rather wished to nominate a gate-crasher- in – journalism, a Kaduna based controversial and notorious publisher of a moribund newspaper, the Desert Herald in person of Mr. Tukur Mamu as her recipient for the award of the Best Journalist of the year 2009.

Whatever was the cretaria used by the Association to arrive at her unpopular and misguided nomination for such an award, it is pertinent to observe without prejudice that if the dream of the Association scales through without replacement, it will simply amount to recognition of deceit and mediocrity at the detriment of what responsible journalism seeks to achieve in Nigeria in particular and Africa in general. Unless and ofcourse, the Protection Rights of Journalists of Africa wants her existing reputation to be rubbished in the dustbin of journalism, there is every reason why her decision to nominate Mr. Tukur Mamu to be the Best Journalist of the Year 2009 must be rescined and thrown to the dogs.

It is on record that Tukur Mamu crashed into the journalism profession without the prerequisite qualification and cognisance experience required of a reputable and responsible journalist. This explains reason for the type of journalism he practices in his Kaduna enclave. Apart from his inconsequential Diploma certificate course in Accounting, he has nothing else to indicate his knowledge of journalism prior to his entry into the profession due to what one can describe as the Nigerian factor.

It would be recalled that in the year 2009 alone, the publisher of the Desert Herald carried so many controversial stories, none of which has been established as fact. For instance, he published a congratulatory advert, among many other similar ones, praising himself on his questionable US Congress award and purportedly attributed it to the National President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Comrade Garba Mohammed. This made- up advert was refuted in the Daily Trust of July 28, 2009 by the NUJ president as embarrassing and unethical of the profession and issued serious warning to the so called publisher that lack an atom of training in the journalism profession. This is not to talk about the various fictions published as truth by the Kaduna based Desert Herald.

Still, the Yobe awareness Forum had in the Daily Trust of July 24, 2009 apologised for being misled by the Desert Herald's stories against the Yobe government after reading in many responsible newspapers about the evil machinations and unprofessional activities of the Desert Herald publisher. From the evidence before Nigerians and the ones provided by the publisher of the misinformed paper himself, it is clear that the publisher lacks the competence for a responsible journalism. This is evident in his medium contents that are bedeviled with self- made stories devoid of truth. This is also in addition to the fact that the so called Editor –In-Chief lacks the ability to adequately proof read his paper devoid of the unpardonable grammatical errors that characterize his moribund paper.

Some people may say that the publisher and his laughable kind of newspaper are of the views that grammar; ethical standards, qualification and correct information do not matter in journalism provided the publisher cum Editor-In-Chief rakes millions of naira and becomes notorious through blackmail and falsification of information. In this case, whoever raises eyebrows against his journalistic flaws should be regarded as being jealous. The many questions begging for answers are how comes an ordinary diploma holder in Accounting refers to himself as an Accountant? How comes an accounts clerk with no basic certificate in media or journalism arrogate to himself Editor-In-Chief, deciding on serious editorial contents of a supposed responsible paper?

For instance, it is true that the late Chief MKO Abiola was a renowned chartered Accountant when he established the Concord newspaper. But, knowing that he was not a journalist, he resolved to hand over the management and the journalistic administration to competent professionals; and through out his life, he never claimed to be a Publisher, let alone an Editor-In-Chief. This explains why his paper was one of the most objective and unbiased papers in the world.

It is also on record that prior to the establishment of the pilot newspaper, Dr. Azikiwe had worked in several international media. He did not just get up to establish the Pilot newspaper out of quest for job or alternative to staying idle as is the case with the Publisher of the Desert Herald. Little wonder, therefore, why with Diploma the Desert man established his junk newspaper, devoid of extensive reading experience in the profession.

Ordinarily, instead of nominating Tukur Mamu as the Best Journalist of the year 2009, he should rather be advised to acquire, at least, a Diploma in journalism to save himself from all these unethical write ups and resultant embarrassment that he has been facing as a result of his junk journalism. I address his journalism as junk because of his most recent confession in his edition of 13th -20th October, 2009, Vol.1, No. 39 that the story he published against the First Lady, Hajiya Turai Yar'adua was not only un-objective, but also not investigated. This shows his level of journalism. As an Editor-in-Chief as he claims, he ought to have been sure that this high class report was thoroughly investigated before going to the press. This makes him different from other experienced journalists and publishers of other media.

Further more, it is obvious that he does not care to edit his articles before being published as a result of his strange entry into the journalism profession. Mamu lacks professional knowledge of journalism. This informs why his correspondents and reporters always write thrash as news. Perhaps, Tukur Mamu does not bother to acquaint himself with the journalistic style, manner and nature of information given to the public. This is why he lacks wide readership and adverts in the first place. No one would like to associate oneself with such newspaper whose news are inciting, blackmailing, defamatory, malicious and mischievous.

Our minds are still fresh on the arrest and detention of Tukur Mamu by the Nigerian Police for his involvement in possession of fake documents he uses against his perceived and imaginary foes. Although the Protection Rights of Journalists of Africa played significant role in his release from detention, we know that in as much as the right of true journalist in Africa must be protected in discharge of their onerous duties, it would simply amount to high level of injustice if a blackmailer as Tukur Mamu that is destroying journalism profession in Nigeria is being proposed to be honoured as the Best Journalist of the year 2009 by the Protection Right of Journalists of Africa. The implication is that there is no reward for honesty and decency in journalism and thus, every one should be aiming at dubious journalism to get dubious award.

In view of the elaborate explanations above, I hereby call on the Protection Rights of Journalist of Africa not to ridicule her Association. This can only be avoided if she drops the nomination of Tukur Mamu as the Best Journalist for the year 2009 in Mexico. There are competent and responsible journalists in Nigeria, one of which should be nominated to earn such prestigious award. The grave mistake made, in the US Congress award this year, should not be repeated in Mexico.

Finally, Journalism is a profession that deserves respect, dignity and moral decorum. The ethics of the profession must not be disparaged or treated with impunity by giving award to politically and self motivated man that has no love of the profession at heart but how to malign, cajole and arm-twist people including men of honour and integrity in order to get money and notoriety. It all in this retrospect that Mr. Tukur Mamu is not in any way qualified for the Best journalist of the year 2009 slated in Mexico by the Protection Rights of Journalists of Africa. A word, they say, is enough for the wise. Saka Raji Audu writes from Kano and can be reached on his email: [email protected]