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Gov Bala Muhammed, Premium Times and the limits of media witch-hunt, By Liman Balarabe

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BREAKING: Bauchi Gov, Bala Mohammed, tests positive for Coronavirus

Bala Muhammed, Executive governor, Bauchi State.

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It used to be that the regular press, conventional or online, was seen as a trusted source of news, facts and figures on which people rely for truthful and genuine information from which they could make informed judgments. Recent experience, however, seems to suggest otherwise, as hitherto respected media outlets have wilfully set about the noble profession as Undertakers, ready to devour the truth and uphold lies and falsehood, perhaps for a price. Of particular concern, in recent days, are the actions of Premium Times (PT), a foremost online medium, rightly or wrongly regarded as a veritable source of authentic news.

PT has made itself a willing tool in the hands of mischief makers who are willing to pay any price to destroy the hard earned reputation of political leaders – elected or appointed. Their latest target is the popular Governor of Bauchi State, His Excellency Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed.

Of all the pressing issues in the country today, PT could only, in connivance with its collaborators, conjure up a puerile, weak headline ‘Bauchi Governor Bala Mohammed Awards N3.6 billion Contract to Own Company’ in its February 22, 2020 edition, in a desperate attempt to mislead gullible readers on the direction of events in Bauchi since the Governor came into power in May, 2019. The contract was for the supply of 105 official vehicles for the use of the Governor and other Government officials. They alleged conflict of interest because they believed the company to which the contract was awarded is owned by him and even more curiously, that, the execution of the contract was shoddy and controversial. All these, they said were according to officials familiar with the issue. Who are the so called officials? And what makes them credible as a source, to be taken seriously by a medium like PT? This is really unfortunate. Surely there is more to it than meets the eye. How exactly did a contract awarded almost a year ago, become controversial all of a sudden? Is PT (and its sponsors) now responsible for determining what is controversial or not in Bauchi?

This is even as PT admits that the procurement process followed was comprehensive, starting from the State Minsitry of Finance, Secretary to the State Government etc. It is now also clear that all 105 vehicles have been duly supplied and distributed to the three arms of Government and that the signature appearing against the name of the said Alhaji Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed of Adda Motors Ltd seen on Form CAC 7 of the company during incorporation is entirely different from that of the Governor.

As if that was not enough, PT came up with another strand of their ill-conceived campaign of calumny against the Governor on the 29th of February, 2020 titled ‘After Spending N3.6 billion on cars, Bauchi Government says can’t pay WAEC Fees for Students’. This was enough proof that it is an orchestrated witch-hunt perpetrated by disgruntled elements seeking to distort the momentum being achieved by the Governor in his people-oriented leadership style and genuine connection with the people he is leading. PT got it wrong this time – and terribly so. The Bala Administration moved heavily against the wanton corruption that has been perpetrated in the education sector through the WAEC Fees payment racket for several years by introducing a cross cutting sustainable reform programme to ensure that only deserving students who were eligible, got the support. It is therefore little wonder that the forces behind that racket are the ones instigating this foolish campaign linked to the earlier concocted story.

Mr. Bala’s emergence on the scene as Governor of Bauchi was unarguably one of the most popularly accepted and cherished electoral events in the entire State elections that took place in 2019. His success at the polls demonstrated clearly, the level of sophistication of the Bauchi electorate and their uncommon ability to dump a non-performing incumbent even if they belonged to the ruling party at the centre. From the get-go, he faced needless challenges to his very clear victory, with the incumbent subjecting him to series of legal contests which all ended in his favour; and to the delight of the citizens of the state and beyond. Since then, there have been several plots and machinations aimed at derailing the impressive start to his tenure as Governor.

It is on record that the Bala Muhammad administration has achieved in less than a year, what it would take others four years to accomplish. In the short period since his election, the Government has constructed 824 blocks of classrooms in different wards in the State in an apparent attempt to end the disgraceful situation in which children were being taught lessons under the sun or under Trees as a result of the near criminal neglect of the dilapidated buildings and decayed teaching facilities in the schools. Several kilometres of world class roads have also being built or rehabilitated by the administration across the local governments and the capital city of Bauchi. The Governor has also promised to resume work on the protracted Federal Low cost to Railway road project will as experts commissioned to review the contract have finalized their assignment.

As part of his developmental foundation for the State, the Bala Administration has pledged to continue all projects abandoned by previous administrations, create jobs for the teeming unemployed youths in the state, ensure improved water supply and pursue aggressive poverty alleviation programmes for the benefit of the citizens. Healthcare facilities, security and welfare have also received attention like never before. It is undeniable that the State has enjoyed unprecedented peace and tranquility under the current Governor owing largely to his proactive measures against the ever-present threat to the safety of lives and property of the people.

It is gratifying that Mr. Bala is not a stranger to smear campaigns of this nature as he has, in the not too distant past, dealt successfully, with blackmailers, fake news merchants of Desert Herald and other rogue media who had attempted to derail his focus as a transformative Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. PT must be disappointed that their latest effort to bring down a hard working leader has hit a brick wall and has failed to generate the sort of reaction they had hoped for. It is also heartwarming that the good people of Bauchi State are solidly behind His Excellency, the Governor, as he proceeds with his revolutionary initiatives aimed at delivering the dividends of democracy to his people.

  • This piece was contributed by Liman Balarabe of Clarity Media Services, Azare, Bauchi State.
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