Sunday, 31 July 2016

Sahara Reporters: A basket of negative history!

By Odaa Opuo

In 2009, when Sahara Reporters made their debut in Nigerian blogging world, people were shouting, clapping and rejoicing because of the advent of a new phase of media and new dissemination in Nigeria. Today, Sahara Reporters is a different ball game. It has deviated from the hot, fresh and objective journalism to what can be referred to as jungle journalism , cash and carry media outfit and pseudo political outpost. When it started, blog business was a serious business and bloggers were seen as business minded people . Bloggers were seen as the sharp opinion moulders. Bloggers were regarded as compendium of truth.

Meanwhile, in 2011 general elections, bloggers were employed and deployed by the political class to for campaign purposes. They were engaged to launder their political images for the purpose of making them acceptable to the electorates. Politicians even paid bloggers to blackmail their opponents in order to make them less attractive to the electorates .

In 2015 general elections, many blogs and bloggers sharpened their pens and pencils to grab the campaign funds from politicians and political parties. Many false and abstract stories emanated from social media for/against political parties and politicians as the case might be. Pseudo politicians had field days on social media. Unimaginable news and stories were generated and sold to the public by these bloggers and blogs. The most prominent amongst these blogs are Fejiro, Sahara Reporters and Premuim times and 247ureporters.

I could remember when the story of Uche Ekwunife had to fight dirty when publish a video of sex scandal that went viral on social media. Ellis Ikenna Ezenekwe was arrested by DSS and the video was pull down. I could equally remember when Fejiro who was a staff of NTA Asaba was arrested when he went to extort money from Babangida Aliyu of Niger state for a story he published in order to blackmail him. It was obviously clear that bloggers and blogs are being used for blackmails and lies propagation in order to achieve selfish ambitions.

Sahara Reporters played a pivotal role in blackmailing Jonathan's government out of office. The APC propaganda machines were ready to pay anything to anybody that could manufacture lies and blackmails that would quake the foundation of Jonathan's administration. Sahara Reporters and Premium Times benefitted immensely from the clandestine largesse of APC. I believe that both the Sahara Reporters and Premium have had their own share on the touted change. Are they enjoying the stipends collected for blackmailing Jonathan's government out of office? Their response will even shock APC.

On Sahara Reporters recent publication against ANAMBRA state government, I believe that this is their worst publication, lies , blackmails, misrepresentation and jungle journalism which they commandeered. They would be rubbished and disgraced for playing the scripts of some selfish individuals who held Anambra sway for a very long time. They would be rubbished for publishing a story to blackmail the government without having the cause to investigate the authenticity of the story. Anambra state government is aware of the source of the story but the government is a very responsible government that allows freedom of information and speech. But Sahara Reporters and their cohorts must acknowledge that there are limits to rights. They have to seriously understand that electronically-generated evidences are now admissible in courts now.

It is important to note that Sahara Reporters being biased and subjective refs used to see and publish giant strides achieved by Anambra State. Government within two years of fruitful administration. They equally went deaf, dumb and blind about the accolades and encomiums showed on the working governor of Anambra state Chief Dr Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano on his feats and achievements in Anambra state.

Meanwhile, Sahara Reporters turned eyes right to all the worrisome activities of many governors in Nigeria including IMO, Rivers, Osun, Ekiti, Kogi, Zamfara, Edo, Bayelsa, even Abia.

When journalism is built on CASH-AND-CARRY foundation, the society is in trouble. The general notion of the public is that Sahara Reporters is a propaganda machine used by Pseudo politicians to blackmail opponents and targets. Nigerians citizens both locally and those in diaspora are no longer taking their publications seriously.

Anambra state government is moving from strength to strength and from glory to glory. The assurance is that Sahara Reporters will soon be relegated into the basket of negative history.

...Odaa Opuo writes from Awka.

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