While the government of President Muhammadu Buhari believes so much has been done in achieving the change mantra the administration promised Nigerians, the Presidential Diary hopes to tell the story through its publications. Martins Ifijeh writes
It is no longer news that for every administration to gain the confidence of those they govern, they must be able to carry them along in their activities and projects through information linkages that can tell their stories generously.
This is often what those in power, especially in Nigeria, say is missing with the circular journalism, as they believed only a handful of their achievements are projected to the public, an approach they presume leads to a disconnect between them and the citizens whom they govern.
But in order to avoid this in President Muhammadu Buhari-led government, a group of seasoned journalists led by the image-maker and Director of Special Duties at the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Dr. Abubakar Jimoh, has championed the Presidential Diary Magazine, a publication dedicated to telling the stories of Buhari’s change mantra, it’s activities, projects and intentions.
Unveiled recently in Abuja by the wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, the Magazine is expected to roll out publications monthly, focusing on all sectors in the country, from economy to agriculture, security, health, sports, among others.
As with events that have the presence of the matriarch of the Presidential Villa, the public presentation of the journal that catalogues the activities of President Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo was characterised by glamour and high profile fashionista.
Among those who graced the unveiling were the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Senator Ahmed Yerima, the Director General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr. Garba Abari and former Minister of State for Science and Technology, Pauline Tallen.
Speaking during the unveiling, Mrs. Buhari said this will bridge the information gap between the federal government and the citizens, adding that it would afford Nigerian journalists the opportunity to continue to educate and inform the citizens at all times,
The First Lady, who was represented by the wife of the Vice-President, Dolapo Osinbajo called on Nigerian journalists not to stop doing their work with the gravy task it deserved.
She emphasised the importance of always reminding the media why it must live up to expectations, adding that some Nigerians might not leave their communities all of their lives, but know about happenings across the world through media reports.
“I want us to know how important words are. Beyond the things we see, words are the next most important things. The education we have comes as a result of the pains we have had. Journalists tell us the things we all know collectively.
“We must not underestimate the importance of the media in our country. It is easy to say something but hard to put it down in writing. I implore all of you, journalists, to do your work with the gravitas that it requires.”
She explained that some people never leave the radius of their communities or nations till the day they die but through the work of journalists, they are able to expose to them the things that they cannot see with their eyes.
“For this reason, I commend you and implore you to continue with this good work. So much is being done that people do not hear about. From today, you should know how much we all rely on you and depend on you. You are the ones who can bring the gladness to the hearts of Nigerians,” she stressed.
The Chairman of the Editorial Board of the magazine, Alhaji Mohammed Tukur, who kept his welcome address short, commended the management of the magazine, stating that this was a step in the right direction, as Nigerians deserve to know what their leaders were doing in every step of the way towards governing them.
On his part, the Coordinator, Jimoh said the idea of setting up the publication was borne out of the need to give voice, resoundingly, to the administration of President Buhari. “It is a magazine conceived and designed to provide a platform for projecting the noble intentions, change agenda and vision of Mr. President,” Jimoh said.
He added: “I and a host of other professional colleagues conceived the initiative to begin this magazine. We believe in this administration, and believe also that the task of informing, educating and sensitising Nigerians cannot be left only for government agencies and their spokesmen.”
Jimoh explained that the Presidential Diary Magazine was conceived by a group of like-minds; those who believe in the administration of President Buhari. Adding that these persons are made up of seasoned journalists, public affairs analysts, alongside men and women, young and old, irrespective of language, culture and tribe, who believe in the change agenda of the administration.
“Before the coming of this administration, these persons yearned for change because they were tired of the state of affairs as it were. We therefore decided to come together to rebuild this confidence in Nigeria that this government can reclaim our lost glory and take us to that pristine age. The only channel for doing this is not by carrying out propaganda or engaging in all sorts of media hypes, but by articulating the policies and programmes of this government in this magazine; through constructive narratives and photographs of what is on ground.
“We believe that pictures speak volume of words, therefore, we don’t just tell, we show. In the last two and a half years of this administration, a lot has been achieved from security to economy and manpower development. All these achievements are captured monthly in every edition of the magazine. You can confirm this in every edition that you pick up. None of these achievements and many more, are left out, and we hope to sustain this as long as President Muhammadu Buhari remains in office to deliver on his change agenda to Nigerians in all walks of life,” Jimoh said.
He said while the magazine was conceived out of love for Mr. President and his agenda immediately after inauguration as the President of Nigeria, him, men and women of goodwill sat down to articulate the policies and programmes of the government that was coming.
“When we found out that they fit into the yearnings and expectations of the people, we decided to key in and give it the needed support. It is only a blind man who will not appreciate a good soup; even at that, he should be convinced by its aroma and agree that the soup is indeed a good one.”
To what extent are you achieving this task of informing and sensitising Nigerians on the policies and programmes of the government? Jimoh said: “We have never thought it will be easy to do this. There are those who have eyes but cannot see. There are also those who can see but are not convinced, and there are those who may be convinced but pretend they are not.
“To these die-hard skeptics, we try as much as possible to back up our facts with figures and photographs. For instance, we cannot say activities of Boko Haram have truly been degraded by this administration without providing you with evidences. We don’t just tell, we show.
“So far, we are happy that a lot of people, including ‘doubting Thomas’s’ are believing in this administration and they want to see it succeed. The President and his team are also happy with our contribution to the administration. The wife of the President, Her Excellency, Mrs. Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, the Honourable Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adeshina, SSA (Media and Publicity) to the President, Malam Garba Shehu and other top government functionaries have actively supported our efforts,” he explained.
Jimoh disclosed that aside from giving detailed coverage of interventions from the president and his team, job creation is a major goal of the magazine.
On how the magazine will be circulated, he said at the moment, the magazine’s presence was being felt all over the country in all states of the federation, especially in states that believe in the change agenda.
“We are happy to announce the support of state governments that are identifying with us. We enjoy the support of a good number of them and that of certain individuals and corporate organisations in and outside the country. Embassies and foreign missions of Nigeria are also identifying with us in numerous ways.
“At the moment, many of them use and process the information contained in this magazine in rating the achievements of this administration. Every month, we avail them of copies, the way we do to all Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs), group and organisations in and outside the country. This we do without charge,” he said.
He explained that the magazines are given out free of charge to Nigerians, as it is stated clearly ‘Not for Sale’ on the cover. “In order to get the desired effect, in terms of wide readership, we decided not to sell the magazines. This does not mean that they are printed free. This group of like minds including my humble self who is the initiator pools our meager resources, time and energies together to ensure the publication of this magazine. And we believe that our efforts and commitments to this cause is not in vain.”
What will be the fate of this magazine if the current administration is not returned to power in 2019? The seasoned journalist said: “We believe in policies and programmes that are people-oriented. For us, people-oriented programmes outlive people, governments and administrations.
“Therefore, we believe that the seed Mr. President and his team is planting has started yielding fruits. We will continue to defend and nurture them and sensitise Nigerians towards national growth and development. So we cannot begin to contemplate this question because millions of Nigerians know that there is a silent revolution taking place now and more time is required to gain traction and firm foundation,” he added.
On his part, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who was represented by Juliet Ibeakwu, assured that the president who was elected on the promise to reduce corruption drastically, has not lost sight of the wishes of the electorate. Stressing that the federal government was open to partnering with the media to confront corruption, he assured his office will utilise the resources available to it in the implementation of national strategy on fighting corruption.