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Sam Nda Isiah: Contestant or Fund Raiser? Featured

Monday, 02 February 2015 00:00 Written by  Published in Viewpoint Read 2825 times
Nda-Isaiah: APC presidential contestant Nda-Isaiah: APC presidential contestant

Umoru Ibrahim was involved in a roadside chat that questions the motives of some of the contestants in APC's presidential primaries in Lagos recently

As we sat with friends on a coffee table in one of the public gardens in Calabar recently, we attempted an analysis of the results of the presidential primaries of All Progressive Congress (APC) that took place in Lagos not too long ago. In the course of our analysis, we individually tried to advance what we perceived to be the reasons for success or failure of each of the aspirants.

Quite amazingly, a prominent member of our group was least concerned with every other result but that of Sam Nda Isiah. ”I am worried”, he said, “by the fact that journalists in Nigeria are used and dumped. Can you imagine how a senior colleague  of ours, a renowned publisher, a man whose organization has undoubtedly  promoted and consistently uplifted some Nigerians to higher pedestals in our political system, Sam Nda Isiah, did not only score 10 votes but was left at the bottom as far as the result of  the contest was concerned? Haba!”

Looking at his face once again as I sipped a Caribbean tea, I found no sign of pretence in his facial expression. Seeing the genuineness of his concern, I was impelled to ask whether he was sure that Mr. Isiah, the publisher, was from day one engaged in the contest to win or, as usual, to use it as basis for fund raising.

Looking to an opposite direction, with no one or any particular object in sight, my friend failed to utter a word, since his knowledge of the publisher of Nupe extraction does not go beyond his analysis of the publisher's weekly column in 'The Leadership' newspaper.

However, the answer was provided by a fellow member of our group. “I know Isiah relatively well” he said, and if my knowledge of him can be anything to go by, my conclusion is that Mr. Isiah was not in the race to win or to make any significant impact. He was simply there to raise funds for further expansion of his media empire, in which he plays the role of an emperor, no more, no less. Here is a man who uses every available opportunity, including the celebration of his children's birth day, to arm twist political office holders to either make outright financial contributions or place adverts in his newspapers to congratulate him and his family  for the occasion”.

According to him, “based on my knowledge of this guy, I am convinced beyond doubt that his motivation in the contest couldn't have been to win.”
At this juncture one of our round table tea members, who all along had refused to utter a word, argued angrily, ”after all, what is wrong if Sam Nda Isiah joined the race in the APC presidential primary to raise fund? We all know that most of them were in the race for different reasons other than wining.  Has it not been said by a reliable authority that beside General Buhari and  Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the rest were in the race for motives beyond winning?”

“It may be difficult to be believe”, he continued, “but the fact remains that  somebody like Kwankwaso, for instance, was said to be clandestinely sponsored by Olusegun Obasanjo for the sole purpose of stopping  General Buhari from emerging, while Okorocha's interest was simply to show that the Ibos are indeed a significant force to reckon with in APC. And if these had been the hidden agendas of some of the contestants, I don't see any abnormality in Sam cashing in on the opportunity  of the race to raise fund”

Just as the speaker was concluding what was gradually becoming a diatribe, a member of the group who had remained quiet all along suddenly took the floor. “Look!” he said, “I don't have any problem with anybody justifying anybody's action or agenda. I am concerned with the history of conduct of the individuals, I mean their antecedents. And if what I know about this guy is anything to go by, the speculation that his sole purpose for the contest lies in the opportunity to, once again, raise funds must not be waived aside”.

At this juncture, my intervention became absolutely necessary. After all said and done, I did not consider the need to take a divergent position as far as this issue was concerned. This is perhaps based on what I may consider my adequate knowledge of the subject mater.  The speculation that Mr. Isiah heavily relies on the APC presidential primaries to raise funds from within and outside Nigeria may be true or false. But the activities of this pharmacist turned journalist over the years obviously lay credence to the belief that after all, the speculation might be right.

He has been alleged to have always initiated programmes in his attempt to raise money for his media empire, most of which were irrelevant to the development of journalism, for the sole purpose of arm-twisting some highly placed Nigerians to donate to or sponsor. According to a source, if he is not organizing ceremony to mark his birthday, it must be those of his children. If he is not organizing ceremony to honour some selected Nigerians, most of whom are dishonourable, he is calling for donations either in cash or in kind for honours he has allegedly induced institutions and or individuals to bestow on him.

As one of the tea table discussants puts it, “here is a man who allegedly organized workshops and seminars not for the sole purpose of enhancing intellectualism and professionalism, but to essentially raise funds from influential Nigerians, especially northern governors. Whenever the fund raising occasions arise, Oga Isiah is alleged to be notorious in disallowing his prey, the northern governors, from using their discretions in determining the amount they wish to part with. In a number of instances, the amount are said to be fixed and refusal to oblige often allegedly attracted the red eyes of the media guru.”

The last contribution reminded me of a story of how the media guru met a stone wall in one of the government houses during one of his alleged Media Scavenging Missions (MSM). In the mission Mr. Isiah was said to have written letters to most northern governors allegedly demanding seven million naira each, to organize an award ceremony in Abuja. Unfortunately for the media guru the letter fell into the hands of the press secretary of one of the governors who was already fed up with the regular arm twisting strategy of the publisher, and based on this advised his principal not to part with anything above half a million naira. This, we understood did not go down well with the media guru.

“If all these are the stock in trade of this gentleman, do we have any justification not to believe that, indeed, he was in the contest for something other than winning the presidential primary?”, one of the tea table discussants opined. At this juncture the man who triggered off this discussion with his anger against his perceived injustice on Nigerian journalists, which he said had manifested in Mr. Isiah's defeat, rose up to speak. “I can now think straight, having listened to all of you”, he continued, ”I noticed during the period that while other aspirants were busy visiting various states to woo delegates, Sam was busy visiting highly placed Nigerians who had no business directly or indirectly with the delegates.

“Well, it's all about human interpretation. So you are free to draw any conclusions“, said another speaker. “No matter what anybody thinks about the phenomenon, we at the level of Tea Table Dialogue (TTD) tried in vain to see any iota of justification in throwing away the speculation that, indeed, Mr. Sam Nda Isiah's interest in the contest was essentially not to win, but to raise funds for his media empire”, concluded one of the members.

Last modified on Monday, 02 February 2015 14:17

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