Sahara Reporters vs Okonjo-Iweala: What Do We Make of This? By Emmanuel Arinze
I am not one to make much fuss about media reports beyond profiling and updates. By virtue of my profession, my involvement with virtual and terrestrial media – local and foreign – usually does not transcend the bounds of neutral analysis. But, I must admit that, there have been times when I have had to cast off my aloof toga and join the fray of “glocal” (global & local) debate to air my personal view on pertinent matters where sitting on the fence rankles against the grain.
In the course of my media analysis, I have also been intrigued by a trend I have observed between two parties dear or aggravating to some Nigerians; that is the person of Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the entity called Sahara Reporters. Truly, both parties elicit different reactions from Nigerians for various reasons. But, it appears the party with the biggest voice is not always fair to the other and is consciously attempting to undermine the credibility and dehumanise the other party.
From my findings, it appears that since Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala came back to Nigeria for a second stint at the helms of the country’s finance ministry, she has not really done much to merit the positive reportage of Sahara Reporters. All I have read on Sahara Reporters’ site about the woman have been one negative press or the other.
But, then, this was only a theory that I had no empirical basis of proving as a fact. So, I decided to conduct an independent survey to ascertain the veracity of this claim. I spent hours going through the gamut of Sahara Reporters’ website and consulting popular search engines to get raw data on Sahara Reporters’ coverage of the person of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in the space of 25 months. The results of my findings are captured in the table below for discerning people to see and make their conclusion:
|SN||HEADLINES||DATE OF PUBLICATION||DETAILS OF MENTION||TILT OF MENTION|
|1||Oil Subsidy Is Fiction-Okonjo Iweala Is Here To Seduce People To Accept The Callous “Oil Subsidy” Removal-Tam David West-TheNEWS||Oct 28, 2011||Professor Tam David-West alleged that Okonjo-Iweala is “sermonising to seduce people to accept the callous oil subsidy removal.”||Negative|
|2||AUDIO: Nigeria’s Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Caught On Phone-Tap, Lying, Playing Dumb||January 5, 2012||Saharareporters alleges that Mrs Okonjo-Iweala played the dumb when she was called to tell Nigerians about the fuel subsidies.||Negative|
|3||VIDEO: “Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Is Not An Economist, She Is A Demographer”-Occupy Nigeria-Lagos Day 02||January 15, 2012||A protester at #OccupyNigeria says that Okonjo-Iweala is not an economist but a demographer.||Negative|
|4||Ngozi Okonjo-iweala Must Resign – Prof. Tam David West||February 5, 2012||Prof. Tam David West called on NOI to resign her appointment.||Negative|
|5||Fuel Subsidy: UAD Calls For Sacking of Okonjo-Iweala, Allison-Madueke; Urges Masses To Be Ready For Further Action||March 7, 2012||UAD calls for the sack of Dr. Iweala and others over their role in the subsidy row.||Negative|
|6||World Bank Presidency: Obama Rejects Iweala Nominates South Korean-born Jim Yong Kim||March 24, 2012||The report maliciously screams that President Obama is not comfortable with NOI’s candidacy for the World Bank when she is clearly the favourite and most qualified for the position.||Negative|
|7||World Bank Presidency: Ghana, Uganda Spurn Okonjo-Iweala’s Candidacy||March 25, 2012||SR alleges that Ghana and Uganda reject Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy for the World Bank.||Negative|
|8||#OccupyNigeria: Why Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Should Be The Next President Of The World Bank By Ikhide R. Ikheloa||April 1, 2012||An opinion writer contends that when NOI departs for the World Bank, she will be leaving Nigeria much worse than she found it.||Negative|
|9||Go, Ngo, Go: This Battle Is Not Yours By Sonala Olumhense||April 1, 2012||The writer opines that there are two sides to NOI; “The first is the one who, when she is in Washington, DC, longs to come home, where home is Nigeria. The other is the one who, when she is in Nigeria, longs desperately for home, home being Washington, DC”.||Negative|
|10||Fuel Subsidy Fallout: Combat Corruption, Sack Okonjo-Iweala, Allison-Madueke, Civil Society Organizations Tell Jonathan||April 20, 2012||The United Action for Democracy (UAD) calls for the sack of NOI and some members of the federal cabinet for their role in the fuel subsidy debacle.||Negative|
|11||FOI: Okonjo-Iweala May Be Dragged To Court To Explain Lavish Expenditure On Funeral of Father-In-Law||April 24, 2012||CPC spokesman wants to know how much was spent on the burial of NOI’s Father-In-Law.||Negative|
|12||The Jailing Of James Ibori||April 25, 2012||The opinion writer describes NOI’s World Bank presidency run as “excessive ambition and naivety”.||Negative|
|13||Power Outage Mars South-South Economic Summit As President Jonathan, Paul Kagame, Okonjo-Iweala, Shun Event||April 27, 2012||NOI was reported absent on the first day of the South-South economic summit.||Indifferent|
|14||Ngozi Okonjo Iweala: Rejected Abroad, Resented At Home||May 1, 2012||The writer criticises the economic policies of NOI in strong terms.||Negative|
|15||Is Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Stupidly Intelligent?||May 15, 2012||This opinion article questions NOI’s actions and inactions on the oil subsidy saga.||Negative|
|16||Okonjo-Iweala Insists On ‘Transparency And Careful Management’ Of Nigeria’s Resources, Spokesman Says||July 30, 2012||NOI reassured that the 2012 budget is being managed in a way that protects and enhances the best interests of the country.||Indifferent|
|17||Okonjo-Iweala And The Budget Of Abracadabra By Simbo Olorunfemi||July 24, 2012||The article questions the rationale behind the preparation of 2013 budget when the one for 2012 has not been fully implemented.||Negative|
|18||Budget Implementation Is Failing To Achieve Citizens’ Human Rights, SERAP Tells Finance Minister||July 31, 2012||A civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) challenged NOI’s statement about 2012 budget.||Negative|
|19||PHOTONEWS: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala At The Olympics Sport Of Lying About Budget Implementation||August 2, 2012||SR maliciously captioned the minister’s picture in the National Assembly. SR claimed that her eyes were popping as she claimed that she was “misquoted” by the media when she stated that the 2012 budget has recorded 56% implementation.||Negative|
|20||Ngozi Iweala: Nigeria’s Weakest Link||October 21, 2012||Sonala Olumhense described the minister, whom he called “Double duty” minister, as the weakest link in President Goodluck Jonathan’s cabinet.||Negative|
|21||Anti-Corruption Group Storms Ministry Finance To Demand Removal Of Ngozi Okonjo Iweala Over Oil Subsidy Payment Scams||November 8, 2012||Executive Secretary of the Anti Corruption Network, Dino Melaye led hundreds of protesters to demand for the sack of the minister.||Negative|
|22||Jonathan: Combating Corruption By Conversation||December 12, 2012||A reaction to the clamor for the sack of Minister of Labour and Productivity, Mr. Emeka Wogu, and the Minister responsible for the Niger Delta, Mr. Godspower Orubebe.||Indifferent|
|23||Okonjo-Iweala Pledges Action Against Pension Racketeers||December 12, 2012||NOI stressed that it is a crime to defraud helpless, old people.||Positive|
|24||Sucker Punch: Ten Provocative Demands from Dr. Okonjo-Iweala to President Jonathan||December 12, 2012||The writer presents what he termed “ten provocative demands from Mrs Okonjo-Iweala to President Jonathan”||Negative|
|25||Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s Statement Regarding Release Of Her Kidnapped Mother||December 14, 2012||The minister issued a press statement where she confirmed that her mother, Professor Mrs Kamene Okonjo, has been freed by her abductors.||Indifferent|
|26||Still On Okonjo-Iweala Over Controversial Appointments By Yushau A. Shuaib||March 5, 2013||The piece laments what it terms the ‘biafranization’ of top public offices by Okonjo-Iweala.||Negative|
|27||Assault On Free Speech Continues, As Okonjo-Iweala Masterminds Sacking of NEMA Image Maker||April 17, 2013||The report alleges that NOI has engineered the sacking of Yushaib Shuaib, the spokesman of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).||Negative|
|28||Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s World- All Things Being Equal, Okonjo-Iwealla Continues To Bungle Facts||April 23, 2013||The commentary picks hole in the minister’s assertion that all things being equal Nigeria’s economy is on the right path. The commentary further accuses her of lying over the figures she quoted.||Negative|
|29||Jonathan, Okonjo-Iweala Tip Aig-Imoukhuede As Next CBN Governor||April 23, 2013||The report states that Mr. Aig-Imoukhuede, the Group Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, enjoys the support of NOI and President Jonathan to become the new CBN Governor after the expiration of the tenure of Mallam Sanusi.||Indifferent|
|30||Press Freedom, Yushau Shuaib And Okonjo-Iweala||April 26, 2013||Abdullahi Yunusa, a friend of Yushau Shuaib eulogises Shuaib and expresses worry over NOI’s alleged attempt to use her office to maltreat a patriotic Nigerians of Shuaib’s standing.||Negative|
|31||Stable Electricity Still a Decade Away for Nigeria By Toyin Dawodu||May 4, 2012||The writer quotes Okonjo-Iweala as saying that Nigeria’s power is heavily subsidized and investors want tariffs to match the cost of producing power.||Indifferent|
|32||The Frustrations of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala et al By Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo||May 9, 2013||Rudolf Okonkwo, a columnist on Sahareporters, comments on NOI’s keynote speech at the 5th Annual African Business Conference at Harvard Business School in February of 2013.||Negative|
|33||Clarifying Nigeria’s Debt Position By Dr. Okonjo-Iweala||June 7, 2013||NOI’s release in response to misinformation and misconception in the public debate on Nigeria’s debt.||Indifferent|
|34||Full Transcript Of My Presentation At The Ministerial Platform By Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala||June 16, 2013||Transcript of NOI’s speech at the Ministerial Platform on Monday, June 11, 2013.||Indifferent|
|35||Minister Ngozi Iweala And The Turtle By Prince Charles Dickson||June 24, 2013||The writer takes a swipe at NOI’s figure over economic growth. He holds that those numbers are nothing but a publicity stunt.||Negative|
|36||EXCLUSIVE: Okonjo-Iweala opens up, says Nigeria economy in danger||June 14, 2013||The story claims that NOI painted a gloomy picture of the economy contrary to what she said in her speech at the Ministerial Platform.||Negative|
|37||SR Speaks: Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s Economy of Lies||July 1, 2013||SaharaReporters responds to NOI’s spokesman’s rejoinder in an unsavoury manner.||Negative|
|38||Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala storms Dr. Damages show with a piece of the National Cake||July 7, 2013||A parody of NOI’s presentation at the Ministerial Platform sandwiched with some unsavoury comments.||Negative|
|39||Don’t Be Deceived By Okonjo-Iweala; Economic Growth Stopped In 1970s – Dr. Muttaka||July 7, 2013||In an interview, Dr. Muhammad Usman Muttaka, the Head of Economics Department of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria described the reported growth of Nigeria’s economy as a “paper growth”.||Negative|
|40||Nigeria Rated 8th Most Corrupt Nation- PM NEWS, Lagos||July 11, 2013||In a story that has nothing to do with the personality of NOI, SR prominently features her picture in this report that Nigeria is now rated the 8th most corrupt nation in the world.||Negative|
|41||Nigeria’s Finance Minister Okonjo-Iweala Forced THISDAY Publisher To Sack Editor||September 10, 2013||SaharaReporters alleges that the CME masterminded the sack of the Thisday’s Saturday editor, Lawrence Ani.||Negative|
Judging by the foregoing where out of 41 mentions profiled in 25 months, 32 of them are negative, 8 are indifferent and only 1 is positive, it is obvious to identify the standpoint of Sahara Reporters where the person of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is concerned.
For a medium like Sahara Reporters to have only one positive out of 41 reports about anyone says a lot about how evil such person must be, doesn’t it? My findings leave so many questions unanswered, is Okonjo-Iweala that bad? Is she so wrapped up in evil that she deserves only one positive report out of 41 Sahara Reporters’ mentions in 25 months? In fact, can anyone be that bad? Can there be more than meet the eye in Sahara Reporters’ coverage of the person of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala? Why does Sahara Reporters have more negative things to say about the finance minister than the other media? Why is Sahara Reporters always the first medium to break negative news about NOI? I leave the answers for the discerning minds to conclude.
Emmanuel Arinze is an Abuja-based Research consultant.
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