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Sam Nda-Isaiah: And our paths crossed

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Sam Nda-Isaiah: And Our Paths Crossed, by Hassan Gimba

 I first met Sam face to face in March 2015. He had the idea for in-depth coverage of states beyond “The governor said…” with which state reporters inundated their newsrooms. Yobe State was of particular interest to him. So he reached out to me through a friend, Hassan Maina Kaina of the Hausa Service of the Voice of America.

He might have known about me through my write-ups in various national dailies. Our parts would have crossed in 2008, but it didn’t. I was publishing Pen Watch (now rested) having shifted base from agrarian Yobe – where I had a newspaper, the Informant (and Mafadi) – to cosmopolitan Abuja. The Informant was a local, bilingual tabloid focusing on the North East. I set up an office at AMAC Plaza, opposite Heritage House, Wuse Zone 4.

I started printing with Daily Trust, but after realising Heritage House printed cheaper, I decided to cut cost and print with my neighbours. LEADERSHIP newspaper, which did not have a press at the time, publish there also. But it had a particular advantage. Whatever work was in line for printing would be dropped for it. Nothing could change that arrangement.

Therefore, while we might have known each other by reputation, he was the more accomplished.

It was that fateful day that brought us together. After the formalities of introductions by Kaina, we discussed happenings in the nation and world at large. He never talked about foreign lands the way our been-to do.

 When he talked about them, it was on how they achieved what they have achieved and how Nigeria could key in, how we could replicate, how we have better advantages, etc. In discussions, whatever the topic, his main concern was Nigeria, Nigeria and Nigeria. Its sorry state and the absence of quality leadership were of great concern to him. You get the impression that if he could take the mantle of leadership by fiat from those destroying his country, he would. He was so disappointed with the quality of leadership the nation had. At another time some months after this meeting, he told me of one of the presidential candidates “who went to the Church of Satan in the USA just to get power”.

As if he knew he hadn’t the luxury of time on earth, he was a man in a hurry to leave a mark that subsequent generations would look back at and immortalise his name. He was in a hurry to build a reputation, build businesses, build people, and build Nigeria. Perhaps had he joined the army, our history books might have a chapter for “I General Sam,….”

Our discussions, therefore, did not centre on employment but Nigeria. He sounded me out on many issues, and I got the feeling we were assessing ourselves. He never turned any discussion into a competition of who knew better or who will come out tops. No. He told you his mind and expected you to do the same. Mentally you assess each other’s contributions and instead of feeling “defeated” or “victorious”, you come out more knowledgeable and full.

More knowledgeable due to hearing a perspective you never thought of; full of conviction if he considered your views on point. I think Sam was satisfied with what he saw in me. He sent for the then editor, Shu’aib Shu’aib, and told him to get me a desk, telling him I would be a Special Correspondent. For two months, that was what I was. In that capacity, I wrote about what he wanted and more. Despite a colleague undeservedly adding his name to my bye line, I alone wrote a strong exclusive cover story on how Boko Haram insurgents finance their operations.

 Within this period, Sam, who I started calling Chairman, like everyone else, after my name entered his payroll, started Friday LEADERSHIP. It was the first of its kind in the country. Tailored after the best tabloids in Europe and the USA, he wanted Friday LEADERSHIP to help the reader unwind after a hectic week. On May 24, 2013, it took off with Baba El-Nafaty as its first editor and Pembi Stevens, his deputy. Some of its staff were William Orji, Production Editor, while Bode Gbadegbo, Adah Abah and late Paul Chiama were reporters. They were the pillars that anchored unique stories after unique stories. Later Kanayo Jubal, Andrew Essien, Hauwa Mahmud, and one Loretta came on board with Offiong taking over production from Orji when the latter moved over to The Authority newspaper.

The pathfinder publication immediately became accepted by the reading public, and sales soared. Were LEADERSHIP a quoted enterprise on the Nigeria Stock Exchange, its share price would have tripled.

One evening about two months after its birth, I was summoned to the office by Mr Azubuike Ishiekwene, fondly called Mr Azu by all. He was the Group Managing Director, GMD. I met him with Mrs Chinyere Adegbulugbe, the LEADERSHIP’s “discipline prefect”. Thus, she was nicknamed due to her strictness in whipping every staff into line – a disciplined way of life that left LEADERSHIP after her unceremonious departure.

Anyone conversant with LEADERSHIP knew that in most cases when Azu talked, it was only the voice of Jacob, but the hand was that of Esau. Sam was the Esau. That was the extent of the relationship between them; a relationship of trust and mutual respect, of taking the brunt or softening it for the other. Many staffers that feared contact with the charismatic and affable but fear-inducing Chairman preferred going through Azu for anything.

He sounded me regarding taking over the Friday title’s editorship as the pioneer editor was retiring to pursue other interests. He said my short stay there had shown my capacity and leadership qualities and that management believed that I could take the title up a notch or two. I acknowledged the honour and accepted the offer. He then briefed me on the title’s philosophy and what my target was.

I went through all this to show who Chairman was. Once he saw capability in you, that’s all, no matter what any person would say. Many who had been at LEADERSHIP newspaper were surprised or shocked. Not knowing my antecedents, having not started my career in Abuja, Kaduna or Kano, many thought a rookie had come. Some derisively said “a Malam from Yobe”. They questioned his sense of judgement.

For the seven months I left (between 2014 and 2015) to serve as spokesman for the minister of science and technology, Dr Abdu Bulama, the paper went through at least five editors. After May 2015, I did not return because I didn’t want those lining themselves for editorship to think I had returned to block them.

 Chairman was worried but could not call me. All through our relationship, he somehow viewed me with respect and someone a bit semi-independent. So he went through Dr Adamu Fika, the Waziri of Fika. He was the one that called me and asked: “Hassan, you don’t want to go back to LEADERSHIP?” I said I wanted to, and then he said, “Okay, call Sam and tell him you are coming back”. And that was how I returned for a second stint.

He gave us all the support to introduce a potpourri of contents according to the paper’s philosophy. We tinkered with the masthead and cover designs to make it look more pleasing to the eye. What in earlier editions looked like LEADERSHIP Friday was changed to highlight more on Friday, making it read as Friday LEADERSHIP. The publication went on to become a world-beater. It was the toast of vendors, a reader’s delight and an advertiser’s preferred outlet. It was selling more than all the titles put together per week, except for the Monday edition that sold like hotcake because of Sam’s back-page column, the Last Word.

 But as everything with a beginning must indeed have an end, my romance with Friday LEADERSHIP came to an end on June 21, 2016. I was promoted to Assistant Managing Editor, tasked with providing contents for all the titles. However, I remain the publication’s longest-serving editor and the only one to be its editor twice.

That he contested for the presidency because of his love for Nigeria was not in doubt. Did he believe he would win? Yes, and we can forgive him for that. Politicians are incurable optimists. Moreover, many things happen in Nigeria that gives a contestant the belief that he has already won. A whole village can come out and be shouting “sai kayi!” (you must win) at his motorcade and he will believe that village was his. But after the vote count, he may end up getting nothing there. And this is even after the village head would have told him: “We have been waiting for people like you to come out”.

Therefore, Sam believed he could be president. And he was prepared for it. Like all contestants, he thought the people he wanted to lead understood him and believed in him and what he had to offer. We, his employees, did our best where we could. I could remember I commissioned Hausa musicians from Kano to do a song for him. I gave him a copy of the CD plate in one of our Northern Publishers Forum meetings at Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja. I also recall calling Aliyu Mustaphan Sokoto of VoA Hausa and protested when he did his programme (Tsaka Mai Wuya) with representatives of four of the All Peoples Congress minus that of Sam. He gave his reasons and promised to repeat it with the five representatives, which he did, and requested that Sam send his representative’s contact. I called the Chairman at around 6.40 am after this discussion and relayed to him what had happened. That may be the reason he specifically requested that I (though someone else later did it), instead of any of the reporters, write the story he syndicated to various national dailies of Bashir Tofa’s interview in which he mentioned the APC’s five aspirants and declared them all better than the incumbent.

As courageous as he was, taking risks head-on and making forays into uncharted waters, Sam was a man like any other man. He could be confused or frustrated or afraid of what he did not know. Anytime an editor signs off, usually between 1 and 2 am, he awaits Chairman’s call with bated breath. One only relaxes with the approach of sunset.

There was a story Friday LEADERSHIP did on former presidents entitled Exclusive Club of Former Presidents. In it, General Yakubu Gowon was mentioned as owning a house in Abuja. At about 3 pm that Friday a call came to me from Azu asking me to come to the office pronto. Chairman wanted to see me.

 When I arrived, he was with Azu in his office, and he blurted out, “Who, who told you that, that Gowon has a house in, in Abuja?” Before I could answer that, he asked: “Who wrote the story?” I just kept mute and assumed a blank face. Whatever he said and did to squeeze a word out of me fell on deaf ears. I became temporarily deaf and dumb. I thought it would amount to a betrayal to tell him who anchored the story. Again, I could not say I did not read the story because I signed the pages. My silence was, therefore, indicative of me taking responsibility. He just looked at me and blurted out, “I am very, very afraid of you. I am very, very afraid of you.” I was laughing within me as Azu told me to go. He followed me out of Chairman’s office, and we went into his. He gently asked who had written the story, and I told him.

Again, it is when you come close to Chairman that you can understand Sam, the man. He was a man filled with empathy. I realised that almost 50 per cent of the LEADERSHIP staff were there for many reasons other than merit. I used to liken the organisation to a charity foundation. You found widows of friends and family who may have no means of livelihood having a lifeline there. Some were orphans trying to get their footing. And you can even meet some downright unserious characters but with huge responsibilities on their shoulders. And he did not care from where you came or what religion you professed. If you were in need, when you found it tough to survive, Sam, the man, would give you a hand.

 Many times he would refer people who wanted the world to hear their views to me. He didn’t care what your opinions were as long they were not divisive, pitting one tribe or religion against the other. Many budding writers came to me through him, and we encouraged them by polishing their write-ups and publishing them. They grew in confidence and belief in themselves.

I have written a book that may be presented to the public next year if God pleases. In the acknowledgement, I spoke about him and intended inviting him to deliver an address at the occasion. That can no longer be. Death has made sure of that. No one can fight off death when it comes calling. Had it been otherwise, even death would have ‘feared’ before coming for a man like Sam now. Some people believe that those that God loves die young. In any case, at 58, Sam had achieved what a majority of humankind may not achieve were they to live till 88. May his good soul rest in peace. Adieu, Sam, the man.

Hassan Gimba

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Opinion

So who is delaying APC National convention?

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So who is delaying APC National Convention?

By Yusuf Ali

Recently, I read hilarious articles by fifth columnists within the APC rank warning Governor Mai Mala Buni the APC Chairman Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) not to contemplate extension of the party’s National Convention. Its quite unfortunate, this clandestine fifth columnists are now involve in acts of sabotage, disinformation and espionage executed within defense lines by a secret symphatizers working with external forces.

In their delusionary grandeaur, its not surprising, therefore, that these saboteurs have chose to deliverately deny the enormous task before the National Caretaker Committee and all the good things its doing so far to reposition the party for greatness as they went about pre-empting that the Committee is extending tenure when its not.

So who is delaying APC National Convention? It’s clear that some people wants us to go for National Convention without proper planning, irregularity and divided house so they can have their way to further destabilize the party as they have proved to us that they are wolves in sheep’s clothing masquerading as progressives, and there are indications that there are many wolves flooding into APC with sheep’s clothing and who may swallow the Shepherd’s that are determined to protect the national flock. Tufiakwa.

So who is delaying APC National Convention? Its funny that some say and write stupid things like “Gov Buni wants to perpetuate himself in power enjoying the national office”. This is utterly foolish, absurd, senseless and a preposterous tale. Those people should be reminded that Gov Buni is a sitting Executive Governor of Yobe State with all the powers and privileges in office.

For the avoidance of doubt, Governor Buni does not live on the money of the party neither does he earn salary, its only sitting allowances and most of this money are given out to party supporters anyway. It is also important to note that the National Secretary and other members of the committee are also gainfully employed and busy. So, no one is jobless.

So who is delaying APC National Convention? Its not the Caretaker Committee that extended its ongoing membership registration/revalidation and update exercise for three weeks to keep the job. According to the APC National Secretary John Akpanudoedehe, Its the audit of the reports received from the National Membership Registration, Revalidation and Update Committee; the States’ Registration Committees; and that of the party situation room indicated that most states, for varied reasons, started late and require additional time to conclude the exercise.

The party’s decision was also sequel to the avalanche of applications from critical stakeholders including all states Caretaker Chairmen for an extension of time to capture Nigerians who are still desirous of joining the fold of the progressives.

So who is delaying APC National Convention? The Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee under the able leadership of Hon. Mai Mala Buni had done everything possible to keep to the earlier timeline, however, it has become imperative to extend the duration of this very important party activity to produce authentic membership register for the party.

The Forum Chairman of APC States Chairmen, Hon Ali Bukar Dalori has said that the ongoing exercise has tremendously increased the membership base of the party since the exercise began and has continued to increase as the exercise progresses. Dalori stated: “After the conduct and conclusion of membership registration/revalidation exercise we urgently call for the immediate conduct of congresses and convening of the national convention; and to allow for the completion of all other tasks assigned to the committee by NEC within the time frame.”

He noted that the ruling party has seen tremendous turnout of Nigerians and the mass increase in the party strength in the last few months.

The forum stressed that it was only proper that the party allows the exercise to progress to the best of conclusion.
It said immediately after the commencement of the exercise, members saw the need for an extension to accommodate the second stage of the exercise in view of the mass turnout of Nigerians to associate with the party that was not duly prepared for.

The forum added that having reviewed the development and making arrangements for requisite materials to accommodate all into the fold of the party, hence, the need for further extension has logically arisen.
Dalori noted: “Due to logistics bottleneck and the complexity of the distribution process of registration materials, a number of State only received the materials to commence the second phase of the registration exercise not too long ago, and we therefore not be able to meet up with the reviewed schedule timetable of the exercise without denying so many willing citizens the opportunity to join with the party.”

The forum pointed out that the exercise so far has provided a prelude to what is to be expected in all future elections in Nigeria. It stressed that with the turnout of Nigerians to identify with the party, it was certain that the trust of Nigerians in the party remain unwavered and just like projected, it will continue into the next decades to provide the needed leadership to the country as the party in power, not only at the center but in almost all the states of the federation.

So who is delaying APC National Convention? The serious and hard working Governor Buni-led Caretaker Committee is only waiting for the conclusion of the revalidation/registration of members exercise by the state chapters of the party before planning for the national convention. The party is not in a hurry to hold its convention, as rushing into its congresses could lead to mistakes and fuel litigations and factionalization.

So who is delaying APC National Convention? When the Caretaker Commitee is doing everything humanly possible to meet the deadline. They stand by the mandate given to it by the NEC. The Committee members are all gentlemen. They cannot liar to Nigerians. There is nothing like dilly-dally. If there is a need to do anything including the tenure extension, they will go to the National Executive Committee (NEC) the party’s highest decision making body to approve their request. There is nothing
unconstitutional. Everything is now done with decorum, fairness, justice and according to the mandate of the Committee.

So who is delaying APC National Convention? There are so many things that needs to properly put in place before the convention. We are talking of over 30 million registered members that needs to be properly check to ensure that the data and materials provided by members were verified by the party after the exercise has been concluded. This is a herculean task and it must be done.

So who is delaying APC National Convention? The fifth columnists and co saboteurs. May Allah protect Gov Buni and his Committee members from the enemy within to deliver on their mandate.

Yusuf Ali
Media Officer
APC Headquarters Abuja

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Opinion

Buni’s Administration Impacting Positively On The Life Of The People

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Buni’s Administration Impacting Positively On The Life Of The People 
By Haruna Yusuf 
Yobe state, a society with a rich history, with sons and daughters who have excelled and continue to excel in all fields of endeavour within the country and in many parts of the world, an agrarian state with huge potentials, was a shadow of herself, until Buni came-in as the democratically elected governor of the state, then, agriculture took a right turn when he triggered   revolution on the sector. Yobe and Borno are among the states respected in the country and beyond because of her contributions to national development. 
The choice of Buni by Yobeans is the best thing that ever happened since the creation of Yobe state, the people now know what democracy is all about, the dividends has cut across the state and Buni’s actions has changed the face of democracy completely in Yobe state. Most people, young and old now wake up daily to have work to do and earn their daily living. 
Yobe happens to be an agrarian state that made the governor to trigger a revolution in the agricultural sector and beyond, he worked aggressively by even partnering with the kingdom of Morocco to get Yobe back to reckoning by creating wealth and new jobs within the sector, by assisting farmers to overcome the challenges of assets, training, infrastructure, financing and access to markets through the following: a) Large-scale mechanized commercial farming, the wider application of modern technology and the production of high quality and value-added products.b) The complete value (cultivation, harvest, processing, packaging and marketing) among others. 
Governance in Yobe state, under the determined leadership of Gov. Buni, now known as “promise made and kept” it is no more a pleasure ride, it is serious business minds, look at yobe, besides the facts. 
Buni is busy tapping opportunities from FG and canvassing for foreign investors to partner with the state to bring development and job opportunities to all and sundry. 
Right from his first day at work, he has kept his eyes on the ball and kept it rolling, not once has he lost sight of his government call and task despite his national assignment. He has so far, tapped opportunities with various investors home and foreign and brought investment and development to the state in all ramifications. 
It is not always easy to work with a “workaholic” governor, whose main requirement is competence plus, ‘doing the extra miles in achieving the set goals and objectives” like, always a broken record, the governor could be heard saying, that, education is the greatest social equalizer” as he believes in providing access to educational opportunities especially to the children of the poor and low income families, he institutionalize the scholarship programme. 
If you can vividly remember, on his assumption of office, the first and bold step he took was to declare state of emergency on education sector, he know the dilapidated state of schools across the state and the epileptic learning and environment. 
Buni’s led administration has proven itself to be an all-inclusive government by carrying everyone along irrespective of tribe, religion or political inclination. His government has tremendously achieved in delivering so much in education, health, Agriculture, infrastructure, security and above all, job creation, he meant total transformation and also, inline with his campaign slogan of continuity and consolidation and more. Yobe state cannot but remain memorable with how Buni’s transformational agenda is piercing through all the nooks and cranny of the state. 
Even with the two magnitude projects of Sunday market in Damaturu and the Trailer Transit Park in potiskum will turn the fortune of yobeans around and topple with the Cargo Airport, it will automatically make the state envious. The beginning of the end of unemployment and wealth creation has just emerged and yobe will indeed become a shinning example of what governance should be at all levels. 
Gov. Buni also noted that, the move reflects the policy of his administration to provide quality and affordable housing to the people of his state. Inline with the united nations sustainable development goals,( SDGs) we believed that affordable housing is key marker of social progress when the people have comfortable accommodations, they are more likely to have the right frame of mind to engage in meaningful socioeconomic activities, he built 3600 housing unit that cut across the state.
There are facts on people’s opinion about Buni’s transformational agenda, some are rating him the best governor that Yobe has ever got. Buni always say, this state belongs to all of us, together we shall take yobe to a greater glory, irrespective of tribe, religion status or political affiliation, we always seek the prayers, support and cooperation for easy steering of the state ship to the promised land of abundant opportunities and greatness.  

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Grand Coalition For zulum Borno State, Rejoices With Prof Over The Deserving Award Of Alumnus Of The Year

The emergence of the Executive Governor of Borno State, Professor (Engr.) Baba Gana Umara Zulum, MNI, as the University of Ibadan Alumnus of the year in their semi-centennial occasion did not come as a surprise to us, particularly in Borno State.
Prof. Zulum has dedicated his life in providing succor to the people of Borno State even before he became a Governor in the 2019 General Elections. His sterling leadership qualities, distinguished service to the State and the country at large as well as personal his accomplishment in the academia and service to humanity earned him this well-deserved award from the prestigious University of Ibadan.
In view of the above, I am calling on well meaning Nigerians, particularly the youths to emulate his dedication to duty and leadership qualities in taking Nigeria to the Promised Land. Thus, I hereby rejoice with His Excellency the Executive Governor of Borno State and the good people of the state on this well deserved award.
Dr. Ali Bakari
Coordinator, Grand coalition for Gov. Zulum

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