Endorsement from alma mater by Abdulhamid Al-Gazali



Our newsroom was hugely enamored and honored when it had the privilege last week of hosting Prof. Danjuma Gambo, one of the leading scholars of Journalism in the country. That alone was a great honor, but then, it went over and above that; for, the erudite scholar, in addition, had in his kitty the full authority of the University of Maiduguri, my alma mater at different levels.

Those who don't know how to read the world, are often those who struggle to place meaning to things. And one who is bereft of the ability to extract meanings from things, cannot navigate this tumultuous, dog-eat-dog world effectively.

The visit would seem to many as a very common affair, because in Nigeria, courtesy visits have been so 'routinized', nay bastardized, that every other one is at the risk of being dismissed as useless, or, at best, a non-issue. That is not.

For me, as the editor-in-chief, it had hit me differently. To begin with, the visit is a clear validation of the contents of our newsroom, the quality of our editorial acumen and the positive impact of our modest work on the society.

I was not taught by Prof. Gambo, because I majored in History all through. But if I am to be taken seriously in this profession, then, I do not need to be taught by him to understand what he represents. I have known and worked with several of his students; I have also interacted with many contents of his scholarly undertakings, enough to bring me to this understanding.

As such, even if Prof. Gambo will struggle in telling a white color from a black one, or the moon from a star, he is not in any case, one to mistake a good media outlet from a bad one. For a fact, we have received several commendations from different people for what we do over the last five years. But given his widely known pedantry and keen attention to details, even the minutest, I have every cause to receive those from him differently. In this case, it was not just a commendation communicated by a word of mouth—which, if it were him, would still have been nonetheless highly regarded—but this was one practically demonstrated.

A similar case was one which came from Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim, who first learnt about our work in 2019, when I participated in a panel he moderated in Kano at #KANSIS19. Apart from the things he told me, he did not forget to mention our work in his column the subsequent week. Another commendation, which coming from him is simply equally an endorsement, is one from Dr. Kole Shettima, who had never hidden his admiration for the work we do.

I think it is also in order I mention those from two other remarkable personalities: Tony Elumelu and Kyari Bukar. Many truly wonder my relationship with these two people. But I only needed to casually mention what we are doing in the North East, by way of introducing myself, for Mr. Elumelu to immediately offer to identify with our cause. As everyone knows, he is not one to be ever mistaken in these things. In fact, he told me that the ‘North East needs more people like me, to put her current challenges behind her.’ Ultimately, he said what we do provides jobs, helps the communities with vital information and when we finally succeed, our success stories will be an inspiration to other young people to tow our path, the path of entrepreneurship. Ever since, I am proud to say, Mr. Elumelu has always identified with me and our work. For instance, I would never forget that in this regard, Mr. Elumelu even stopped his heavily guarded convoy two years ago at Bayero University Kano, just so we could greet.

On the other hand, Mr. Kyari has taken me as one of his mentees and disciples, one of whom he had always left his doors open. It never mattered how late, he had never turned down any of my requests to visit him. I was in fact, overwhelmed when he once described me as ‘a complete role model to young people’ and announced to a large audience in Abuja that I was his friend, despite the obvious gap. He would travel from Lagos to Abuja, at his own expense, to honor our invitation, without needing any thank-yous. I am a very proud beneficiary of his very wide network, vast knowledge and unequaled kindness. My relationship with Prof. Isa Husseini Marte, Kyari’s bosom friend, is in fact, a public knowledge, and needs not even the slightest mention. It was essentially what further cemented my closeness with Mr. Kyari.

Now this Friday, the vice chancellor, Prof. Aliyu Shugaba, also hosted us in his office. If nothing else, I took that as a further endorsement of our work, this time at an institutional level. Our work is an intellectual one, and any university is supposed to be able to tell a good intellectual disposition from a packaged quackery, let alone a university as distinguished as the University of Maiduguri. Besides many things, the university has been in the business of turning out journalists since 1983, when the Department of Mass Communications was first introduced. What the VC said about our work was profound. He said he had taken his time to study our reports extensively, including comparing them to others. He said on the basis of that, he concluded that we have a very rigorous editorial process. Prof. Shugaba was proud of our achievements, but we are even prouder.

It is not at all lost on us that all these endorsements and commendations are a call to more responsibility, steadfastness and commitment. Each of them, as far as we are concerned, is a huge burden, one that seeks to exact from us more hard work, determination and diligence. Taken all these, it is unacceptable for us to fail.

Appeal for support

Conflict Reporting is dangerous and risky. Our reporters constantly face life-threatening challenges, sometimes surviving ambushes, kidnap attempts and attacks by the whiskers as they travel and go into communities to get authentic and firsthand information. But we dare it every day, nonetheless, in order to keep you informed of the true situation of the victims, the trends in the conflicts and ultimately help in peace building processes. But these come at huge cost to us. We are therefore appealing to you to help our cause by donating to us through any of the following means. You can also donate working tools, which are even more primary to our work. We thank you sincerely as you help our cause.

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