Journalism, Power and Mu’azu Magaji Dansarauniya – By: Suleiman A. Suleiman
LLast Thursday, I hosted an episode of the Daily Policy program on Trust the television, the most recent offering to the public on the Media Trust stable. As is often the case, I had two guests and we discussed the topic: “Fuel Subsidy Policy in Nigeria”, following the Federal Government’s sudden U-turn on this most vexatious political issue in Nigerian governance. . One of the guests was engineer Muazu Magaji Dansarauniya, an oil and gas engineer, politician and former Kano State works commissioner.
Shortly after 9 p.m. and about fifteen minutes after the show aired live on television, I received a call from the other guest, Malam Ahmed Sajoh, public affairs analyst, head of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Information Commissioner in Adamawa. State. Sajoh told me that Magaji had just been arrested by the police and taken to Utako police station, a place not far from the offices of the Daily Trust newspaper where the interview took place.
I was beyond shocked and wondered how someone could be arrested right after appearing on my program? I had never met Magaji before that night, I didn’t know much about him, and the program itself was not meant to inflame passions without substance, which is my take on most country’s political newspapers. As the name suggests, the program is designed to provide an in-depth analysis of issues relating to politics, politics and governance in Nigeria and around the world, but in the same measured but serious tone with which I try to write in these pages.
What we appreciate above all is a serious political education through a sober but enlightened analysis. Many prominent politicians from both ruling and opposition parties participated in the program, including former governors, ministers and ambassadors, as well as journalists, lawyers, academics and people from civil society, according to the topic of the day. This is a kind of television version of this chronicle, not the anger and bluster that characterizes most political programs on television in Nigeria. Yet this is a program in which we take guests to task and try to ask probing questions about politics, politics and governance. Above all, the program values freedom of expression and diverse opinions expressed in mature and informed language.
In fact, I often tell guests that they are free to have and express their opinions about anything and anyone, as long as they back up their positions with evidence or sound logic, and that’s my job to call them when they don’t. In short, having a guest arrested after appearing on the show is the last thing I would expect.
More importantly, on this day’s agenda specifically, Magaji was invited primarily because of his technical expertise as an oil and gas engineer, who worked at Shell for many years. He and Sajoh were speaking not as APC politicians but as analysts. To the best of my knowledge, they said nothing misleading, divisive, controversial, let alone defamation. Magaji, in particular, provided very clever technical information on how the oil industry works in Nigeria and around the world. So I did not understand why it would be stopped soon after the program.
My consultations with Sajoh and the reporters in our newsroom made it clear to me shortly after that Magaji’s arrest by the police had nothing to do with his participation in Daily Policy. It appears that he has long been embroiled in a political skirmish with His Excellency, Kano State Governor Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. I also discovered that Magaji was a former ally of Governor Ganduje, in whose government he worked as commissioner. However, after falling out with Ganduje, he joined the faction of Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, himself a former governor and leading member of the ruling APC in the state.
An informant told me that Magaji “has been a thorn in Ganduje’s flesh” since falling out with him, using social media to criticize the government he once served in. Like I write, Magaji has since been arraigned in a Kano Magistrate’s Court on allegations of “breach of the peace, intentional insult and defamation of character” over a photo of Ganduje he reportedly posted on social media.
Like Daily Trust reported over the weekend, quoting the governor’s attorney, Adekunle Taiye Falola, Magaji “posted a photo depicting our client (Ganduje) as an immoral and impious man in an extra-marital affair with a strange woman whose face appeared in said photo. The photo, the lawyer said, “had been widely circulated by the suspect (Magaji) on several social media platforms, in a brazen attempt to assassinate our client’s character, goodwill, reputation and image. , the first citizen of Kano State, which he built over several decades in public service and in frontline politics in Nigeria”.
Now, as a journalist, I know character vilification against anyone is a serious matter, let alone against a sitting governor of a state. So if Ganduje feels strong enough to go to court because of a photo someone posts of him on social media, then of course let him and the person have their day in court. But there is one fundamental thing that Ganduje should understand about the nature of political power, how it is used or abused, and the role the media plays in gaining and using it. , by those who have it as well as by those who seek it, in general, and in the specific context of Kano politics.
First of all, those who have been exalted by Allah should remain in their exalted position rather than stooping to fight with their political “unequals”, so to speak. It is Ganduje who is the executive governor of Kano State, not Magaji, and it is hard to see what political harm Magaji or any other critic can do to a governor who is already serving his last term. There are millions of people, in Kano and beyond, who think Ganduje has done well as governor. Nothing from Magaji or any other critic could deter such people. There are also many others who believe differently and these people don’t need Magaji’s social media posts, no matter how they look.
Indeed, it is in the nature of unequal political fights that the weaker opponent tends to have more advantage precisely because the more powerful side pays attention to them. The most powerful resource Magaji has against someone like Ganduje is not his own intellectual or polemical resources, nor his allies or social media. His most powerful resource is Ganduje’s attention. The more careful the governor is, the more powerful he becomes. That’s what got him to this level in the first place. In this vein, Ganduje can borrow a leaf from President Buhari who generally does not care about people he knows cannot stand up to him other than in the context of our democracy. The powerful must use their power sparingly, precisely because it is the most efficient way to exercise power. One word is enough for the wise.