The Yobe state government and Kano based journalist/London School of Public Relations graduate, Jaafar Jaafar have been exchanging hot words on social media since yesterday. It all started after Jaafar posted photos of a dilapidated school in Yobe State on Facebook, comparing it to the alleged N18million front page advert, to congratulate president Buhari on his first year in office, which was sponsored by the state governor.
This morning, Yobe state government replied Jaafar and he fired back. See all that after the cut…
“More pictures from Government Day Secondary School Gashua, Yobe State. Before this dilapidation, it was one of the best schools in the North East. Sadly, the governor chose to “sustain democracy” on the pages of newspapers and ignore the school”
SA to Yobe State Governor replies Jaafar Jaafar. “We paid for the advertorial but so did all state governments”
A statement issued by Abdullahi Bego, the Special Adviser to Yobe State Governor on Media:
“An Internet Warrior’s Internet Mischief: An engagement with Jaafar Jaafar
I respect Jafar Jafar, the young, active journalist and social media chatfigure. Like the rest of us, he is a human being who has opinions and idiosyncacies. His views always come through even on relatively unfamiliar subjects. Plus, I know him to be friends with some media assistants of a major Yobe opposition figure, who has stood for election many times.
So, when Jaafar Jaafar posted the front page of the Daily Trust on Sunday today and said the Yobe State Government paid N18 million for it, I knew instinctively this was a clear act of mischief.
Here is why:
The Daily Trust today carried a ‘wrap-around’ publication on the Yobe State Government in which not just the front page but the second, third and fourth pages of the paper were devoted to highlighting the activities of the Yobe State Government.
The front page was a congratulatory message to President Buhari, and it acknowledges the effort of the Buhari-led federal government in restoring peace to Yobe and the Northeast. We thought it was auspicious on this day when the President has marked one year in office to appreciate his effort in defeating Boko Haram and helping to bring respite to our people. It is also a way of saying we are following the security effort of the Federal Government and we are hugely invested in it.
The second, third and fourth pages highlighted in some detail and with pictures the various interventions of the Gaidam-led government over the past year and over the course of the governor’s first term in office. The pages spoke to developments in healthcare, education, roads and youth empowerment, among others despite all the recent security challenges and the ongoing fiscal straits.
What Jaafar Jaafar wrote is clearly mischievous because he showed only the Daily Trust front page and said it was worth N18 milion. He refused to show the three other pages. But even if he did, the entire publication – the front page and the remaining three coloured pages – is nowhere near the figure he quoted.
Of course we paid for the advertorial. But so did all the State Governments, corporate organisations and individuals who advertised in the paper today. Advertisement is a newspaper’s major source of revenue. So, Daily Trust will not devote pages 1, 2, 3 and 4 of its edition for free.
Over time, we have learnt that the political opposition in Yobe is always very happy when the Gaidam administration is accused of not performing. It serves their crave for political power and provides a cannon for their misinformation.
So, whenever those claims were belied, and the Gaidam administration is portrayed as doing its best within circumstances that are heavily stifling and limiting, those opposition demagogues get jitery. They feel exposed; that people will learn differently from what they say.
But it doesn’t matter. If Jaafar Jaafar has chosen to support the manufacture and spread of lies on the internet, something he said he is opposed to many times, then that’s his choice. If his choice is to put aside the reputation he has built for himself – and for which many of us respect him – and follow in the direction of those cynical, mischievous political opponents, that’s also his choice.
It is his choice to speak and write the truth. It is also his choice to lie, just like he did. (And he is yet to bring evidence that we actually paid the sum he concocted).
But we also have a choice to state what we know to be the truth: That the four pages of advertisement in Daily Trust today were paid for. But we didn’t pay N18 milion. Since the entire argument is about the figure of N18 million, that figure is a false, period! Otherwise everyone knows that advertisements are payable. And all governments at all levels advertise from time to time.
As a student of comunications, I know that social media are hugely empowering. For the price of a GSM internet data, anyone can go onine to say whatever they want. And it is in the nature of our democracy that people express their opinions. That’s okay because democracies are enriched by them.
Here is the catch: We have a responsibility to be truthful and factual and to not malign people unjustifiably, despite our right to express our opinions.
Unless we adhere to this basic fact about the need to be responsbile and factual, Jaafar Jaafar’s own call – on BBC Hausa recently – that we should not use the internet to accuse people wrongly will continue to fall in deaf ears. That would be a blow to his advocacy for responsible and informed use of the internet.”
Jaafar Jaafar replies, “Public funds are being embezzled to ‘sustain democracy’ on the pages of newspapers”
The war of words between journalist Jaafar Jaafar and SA to Yobe State Gover, Abdullahi Bego, continues. His response below:
“Dear Sir, I don’t join issues with senior professional colleagues, especially those I hold in high esteem. On this, I’ll take exception to my standpoint. Before I posted the pictures, I called an advert executive at Daily Trust who confirmed that N18 million is the cost of full front page advert. In your about 1,000-word piece, I expected you give Yobe people a hint of what government spent to buy over the four strategic pages of the newspaper. You evaded the issue and parried the question all through. It may be possible you negotiated the price and got a rebate as a former staff, but the fact remains that public funds were embezzled “to sustain democracy” on the pages of newspapers when public schools are in squalor. Your principal should have turned his attention to post-war reconstruction of Yobe State than egoistic profligacy. On my “friendship” with the opposition in Yobe, I just wondered who you were alluding to as my “friend”. If you ask me, the best friend I have in Yobe is you. Warm regards. Jaafar Jaafar”