Adamu Adamu: Of Fake News And Toxity, By Ahmad Sajoh
For the past few days, an open letter has been in circulation on social media addressed to the Hon. Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu. The letter was written by a highly placed member of the Government and my own brother, Ambassador Aminu Iyawa. I was moved by the content of the letter like most people I know. However, after the initial shock of my perception of the import of the information contained, I began to evaluate. My first concern was that the personality of the author of the open letter.
For those who may not know, Aminu Iyawa is a professional Journalist and member of the Daily Trust Editorial Board. We worked together at NTA Yola. He was Press Secretary to two former Governors of Adamawa State and Senior Special Assistant Media to another Governor. He also served as Hon. Commissioner in Adamawa state cabinet. Today, he is Nigeria’s Ambassador to Mexico and therefore a top member of this Government. I began to wonder as to his motive for using an open source to present an information to a Minister when he has all the contacts and connections to do so officially and even more effectively.
Without insinuating anything, I feel, that my brother was only grandstanding. It was wrong of him. Our people say “it is an insult to advise someone in public if you have private access to the person”. Why will Ambassador Aminu Iyawa choose the medium of an open letter to lay such toxic information in public domain? Are there no means of reaching appropriate quarters to do so? Beyond that, what purpose will such information serve within the public domain beyond creating further divisions in an already fractured polity? In the end it appeared the letter was actually a publicity stunt based on information he confessed was unverified from the agency concerned.
He started his letter with a statement to the effect that “A concerned Nigerian this afternoon sent me the official list of released names of successful candidates for 2020/2021 Federal Scholarship”. He then went into a journey of value judgement by calling it embarrassing and insulting to the North. Additionally, he added elements of religiosity by making it clear that Muslims were short changed in the exercise. This is very bad coming from a public office. Granted, we all have responsibility to advocate for equity, fairness and inclusion in governance, but public officers should be careful less their agitations become incitement. If that happens the likely consequences is definitely unpalatable.
However, unlike Ambassador Aminu Iyawa, I tried to verify the facts contained in the open letter. And that is where my brother got it wrong. Whoever released this list and circulated it to the public using the medium of social media ought to know that it is fluid and has no gate keeping processes. It was meant to create tensions within the polity, expand the existing fault lines of region and religion for some reasons best known to the purveyors of such news. A responsible public officer would have reached out to colleagues within the same government to verify the claims before going public if there was any need for that any way.
According Ambassador Iyawa’s contacts, the South-East had 40 persons, the South-West 20, the South-South 10, the North-Central 13, the Nort-West 5 while the North-East had just 2. There was this stupid insinuation that the South East had the lions share because the former Director Arch Sunday S.T. Echono has massively employed South Easterners who took advantage of the situation. Two quick facts, Arch Sunny Echono is not from the South East, he is from Benue. Secondly according to records in the Federal Ministry of education he did not employ even one person.
It is also heart warming that the Chairman Senate Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFUND himself a Northerner, Senator Ahmad Baba Kaita had invited both the former Director who is now the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Education and the current Acting Director of the Federal Scholarship Board a Northern Muslim Mr. Aliyu Salihu to verify the claims by the Ambassador and others peddling such information. It turned out the whole information circulating is indeed fake news. Coming from informed persons, “Fake News becomes Toxic”
For record purposes and for the avoidance of any further misguided insinuations I went to the Agency in question to dig deeper. My findings are that in 2018, a total 215 persons got Federal Scholarships as follows NC 46, NE 35, NW 36, SE 41, SS 27 and SW 30. In 2019, 269 persons benefitted made up of NC 64, NE 28, NW 55, SE 47, SS 34 and SW 41. In 2020, the record indicate that 345 persons were listed as beneficiaries. Of this number NC has 85, NE 51, NW 69, SE 76, SS 29, and SW 35. The facts totally run counter to the narratives of the Ambassador and his informants.
On a final note, my worries are hinged on two key points. First, that all our so-called champions of Northern interest have lost the main strength of the North, the slogan coined by the Sardauna “one North, one people”. The exploitation of our religious fault-lines by political elites of all divides have only left us with deaths and destruction of lives and values. Secondly, the fact that people serving in the same Government could be talking to each other on open public space is indeed worrisome. A Government is a cohesive entity working in tandem for the good of the public.
Ahmad Sajoh is the Executive Director FutureNow Initiative and he writes from Wuse Zone 1 Abuja FCT and can be reached on 080 58421126.
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