By Danjuma Musa
The motto of The Guardian newspaper “Conscience, Nurtured by Truth”, greatly influenced by the social commentaries of the great Islamic reformer Uthman Dan Fodio, that “Conscience is an open wound; only truth can heal it” represents the olympian ambitions and character of the newspaper late Alex Ibru ,the founder had in mind. Alex didn’t hide the desire for a newspaper that will be the flagship in the Nigerian media landscape, an authoritative medium that rigidly adheres to balanced presentation of views.Unfortunately The Guardian has tumbled from its previous enviable heights, due to the likes of Leo Sobechi, with very sloppy and uninformed write ups. Most certainly when the history of the decline of The Guardian is written, the likes of Sobechi will definitely get a mention for their failure to uphold the high journalism standard the newspaper was known for.
Though Sobechi for obvious mischief decided to lump Governor Nasir El-Rufai with his Rivers State counterpart Nyesom Wike , we owe Nigerians the obligation to conclusively prove that the article published in The Guardian,as it relates to El- Rufai is a blow to reputation of The Guardian,which clearly has become a newspaper of “anything goes” and not that of El- Rufai that the paper had set out to demolish. The job of explaining why Wike was compelled to act in the manner he did, will best be handled by his media team.
There are several falsehoods in the article Wike,El-Rufai,Competition in Executive Excesses By Leo Sobechi, which are based on damned lies and which has made demolishing them an easy task. Sobechi’s first unforgivable crime is generalization,which led to the fatal magisterial pontification that the “demolition mission of a hospitality facility, has given fillip to the recurrent conversations about the place of young people in positions of authority”. Clearly and definitely El- Rufai can’t be a member of that club,which has nothing to do with his age,but because he is too serious minded to be frivolous. Sobechi obviously lacks a sense of history,hence he has quickly forgotten the hue and cry about the Not Too Young to Run Movement, which culminated in the passage of the bill that will enable young men and women to run for elective offices into law.
Hear Sobechi :”Wike’s display of strong arm tactics in executing his mandate as governor comes at a time when his colleague in Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El Rufai, took a similar pathway to play the laymaker, judge and executor at the same time, by ordering the demolition of a building in his state”. The truth is that the Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Authority (KASUPDA), demolished a ramshackle structure that was built on a setback in clear violation of planning laws and for which a removal notice was served on the violator since the beginning of the year. Despite the pretensions the article is all about Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi one of the politicians that El- Rufai has retired from politics,which is why attention will be paid to him.
Hear Sobechi:”Governor El Rufai came to demolition limelight during his stint as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), when he led the revalidation of the Abuja masterplan to demolish hotels and illegal structures. But his excess came on the wake of his political vendetta against his rival for the control of Kaduna State structure of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) in the build up to the 2019 general elections”. For the benefit of Sobechi, El- Rufai’s reputation as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) goes beyond the correction of the Abuja Masterplan that had been bastardized to the extent that many Nigerians had given up hope on its correction, but they never reckoned with El-Rufai. For the education of Sobechi , El-Rufai positively impacted on Abuja and in all sectors – from investment to transportation. And if Sobechi cares,he can visit Abuja and see the huge mess that it has become,as ministers after El-Rufai have lacked the will to continue from where he left off.
Another fallacious point by Sobechi that insults El- Rufai was that “Hiding behind the Kaduna State Geographic Information Service (KADGIS), the governor authorized the immediate demolition of the building located at No 11B Sambo Close, GRA, Kaduna, owned by Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi. On Tuesday February 20, 2018, when the building was pulled down, Nigerians were aghast to the level some politicians, especially governors, could go in disdain for dissent and display for rage. Senator Hunkuyi, who represented Kaduna North in the Senate, belonged to the APC faction challenging El Rufai’s perceived dictatorial tendencies in the party.” The first point that must be vehemently corrected is the assertion that El-Rufai is a coward, who had to hide under the Kaduna State Geographic Information Service (KADGIS), an agency under him to perform a legitimate duty bestowed on him by Kaduna State laws- that’s far from the truth. The key attributes of El-Rufai are his decisiveness, loyalty, boldness, patience,dedication to duty, strict adherence to the law and empathy.
For the benefit of Sobechi, who apparently lacks the understanding of how government functions, former Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi was duly served a demand notice as required by the Kaduna State Law to pay up the backlog of his ground rents for his property which has since become an amusement park for children. Note, that as good citizen he ought to have religiously paid up,as at when due,but for over 20 years, he bluntly refused to pay. And typical of the average Nigerian,he resorted to the usual blackmail of being opposed to El- Rufai as why the title to his property was revoked. The tragedy of Nigeria is the failure of government officials implementing the laws,because had previous governments acted, the title ought to have been revoked in 1999. If truly Hunkuyi wasn’t fighting El-Rufai beyond his inordinate ambition to be governor, he owes Nigerians the duty of articulating the areas of disagreements for the purposes of comparison. For instance, while El-Rufai was bent on implementing the reform of the educational sector, especially the competency test for teachers, which could have caused him the 2019 election, Hunkuyi was opposed to it for electoral reasons.
As is the hallmark of Sobechi, he never bothered to inform his readers the dictatorial tendencies that Hunkuyi was opposed to? Was it El-Rufai’s refusal to allow him nominate his deputy for him and appointing the 13 commissioners? Regrettably Sobechi, believes like Hunkuyi that being a senator is an immunity from extant laws and regulations,hence his staunch defense of condemnable and utterly irresponsible actions of Hunkuyi and the reason why Sobechi would question the legitimate actions of a government agency and tag the governor a lawbreaker , while blatantly refusing to call out Hunkuyi who was clearly in gross violation of the law. It might interest Sobechi to know that Hunkuyi has woefully failed to controvert the evidence of the Kaduna State Government that he failed to pay the ground rent as at when and of illegally converting the residential building into an office , without the express approval of the planning authorities, which he required before the act and not after. To date there is no evidence that he ever sought for that approval,clear indications of a mindset of a person that is above the law!
It’s a huge shame that the likes of Sobechi encourage political rascality by Nigerian politicians, by failing to hold them to standards. It’s doubtful if Sobechi has ever read the Constitution of the APC,especially as it relates to discipline. Due to the likes of Hunkuyi that are power hungry , the penalty for any attempt to factionalize the party for whatever reason is instant expulsion, so as to check their penchant to resort to violence, rather than dialogue to resolve political issues. It will interest Sobechi to know that Hunkuyi, like his other newspaper lion Shehu Sani never won anything before the coming of El- Rufai and from the political reality will most certainly win nothing in future due to their bad political behaviors. While Hunkuyi got away with such bad behaviors with past governors, including Ahmed Makarfi who brought him to limelight,El-Rufai has rightly refused to trade with him.
It might interest Sobechi to know that Hunkuyi that he blindly defends has been suspended by the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) for anti-party activities,like he was by the APC. Sobechi must come to terms with the fact that Hunkuyi is trouble, and that his inordinate ambition that propels him has once again landed him in big trouble. There is just no way that Hunkuyi whose brazen lawlessness is legendary, and as a result has in the last 20 years has been a member of the PDP,ANPP,APC and back to PDP,all because of his desperate lust for power be a model of a politician to be held up. Sobechi must learn the hard way that his undisguised support for such a character would always lead to rebuttals which can hurt his career, due to bizarre, unfounded accusations and reverence for outlaws.
The apparent absence of rigor which is essential for a journalist , is the reason why Sobechi eulogizes a senator who should be condemned for being a lawbreaker. In other countries, Hunkuyi would have resigned from the Senate and tendered an unreserved apology to his constituents for letting them down.Sobechi, it’s important you know that a Certificate of Occupancy, is issues with conditions attached, the first is that none payment of ground rent can lead to revocation,the other being that for overriding public interest a land can be acquired and for which compensation must be paid.