The image-maker and Director of Special Duties at the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Dr. Abubakar Jimoh, led a group of other seasoned journalists to champion a publication, The Presidential Diary.
Speaking to some select journalists, Jimoh said the magazine was borne out of the need to give voice, resoundingly, to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. He said it is a magazine conceived and designed to provide a platform for projecting the noble intentions, change agenda and vision of the President, among others. Excerpts.
Who are those behind the formation of this magazine?
The Presidential Diary Magazine was conceived by a group of like-minds: those who believe in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. These persons are made 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 volumes 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.
How far have you gone in informing and sensitising Nigerians on the policies and programmes of the government?
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 they are those who may be convinced but pretend they are not. To these die-hard sceptics, 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 this 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 & Publicity, Mr. Femi Adeshina, SSA (Media & Publicity) to the President, Malam Garba Shehu and other top government functionaries have actively supported our efforts.”
How do you circulate the magazine and what is your readership strength?
At the moment, our presence is being felt all over the country. We are in all states of the federation, especially in states that believe in this 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 organizations 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.
It will interest you to know that we give out every edition of the magazine free and we state it 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 pulls our meager resources, time and energies together to ensure the publication of this magazine. And we believe that our efforts and commitments to this course is not in vain.
What will be the fate of this magazine if the current administration is not returned to power in 2019?
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.
So, what do you intend to achieve with the publication?
Another issue which is cardinal to the present administration is the issue of national unity. National unity is connected to national development. If we don’t have peace and unity, there is no way the change agenda of Mr President can be realised. For me, as a student of political science, I know the nexus between this stability and national development. So, this Presidential Diary is going to be a chief advocate of Mr President’s transformation agenda in this country.
We saw how the president hit the ground running immediately he came back from his medical check- up and one of the very historical statements that he made was that Nigeria’s unity is settled and not negotiable. For those who are being ambitious, we believe he has given us an assignment and as a public relations practitioner, I do believe that Mr President alone cannot form national unity by himself. So to that extent, I believe we have a calling; it has become a clarion call for all of us and I have a real privilege of sharing this with her Excellency, the wife of the president who is also at the forefront of driving the national unity project. Like her husband, she also believes that it is not going to be under his watch that Nigeria will divide.
For us who are close and part of government, we must dedicate ourselves to the task of national unity. So, Presidential Diary is one of the check-list activities lined up towards promoting national unity and national development and for us, information dissemination is very cardinal because we need to rally round the citizenry to pull up the various agenda programmes that the government has lined up. There must be a paradigm shift for people to begin to work as government. We are part of government and we have to learn to the very true essence of democracy which is government of the people, for the people and by the people. It should not be a mere sloganeering by the people. They have to live by it and that is what has saved the developed countries.
As a student of politics and also working with NAFDAC, I have the privilege of travelling round the world, I believe that the government’s own function is just to provide an enabling environment and also bring out the very well intentioned policies that can help to transfer the country. But in Nigeria, it is you and I that are the people. How many people work for government when you look at the 170 million Nigerians? That is why some of us who are also public relations practitioners and media people are watching what the vice president is doing. During his acting capacity, he was all over the country, preaching the gospel, also taking the message to the gras root that small and medium scale enterprise is the heart and pillar of the economy and is the rallying point because most of businesses in Nigeria are SMEs and that is what has helped others especially, those that have moved on to become developed nations of the economy. To that extent, for us, we have assignment to support what government is doing. So, beyond NAFDAC, I still have a lot of offers and I am saying that I am not just disseminating information but I am part of the government; you and I are part of government because we are talking of democracy which is government of the people and for the people.
So, there must be citizen participation in what government is doing. That is exactly what the Presidential Dairy magazine is. I have been struggling with the idea and I said, no, I must hold it and as I speak with you now, though it was my own idea, many people have come to own it. Journalists have come to form a rally point behind this Presidential platform and we are going to take it to a dizzying height.
By next year, we are also coming on board with some books. The Ooni of
Ife, I want to also mention, is the grand patron of this Presidential Diary magazine and we have people who are jostling to become patron because when people see a good thing coming, they want to be part of it. The essence of this launch, a public presentation is that it is no longer Abubakar Jimoh’s idea or any other’s but Nigerians have owned it; this country has to own it, those in government has to own it, well-meaning Nigerians have to own it. We need to bridge the information gap between the governed and the government. I am seeing it as a practitioner that the government has well intentioned programmes for people.. We also talked about the issue of no literacy level and even those who are educated, they don’t have the money to buy these things. How many people are reading newspapers? Those who are supposed to go online, they don’t have light occasionally. Issues of power especially in the hinterland, the rural areas are crippling people’s desires to know what the government is doing.
So this is what the Presidential Diary magazine is doing. I want to advocate and bring it out for it to be an agenda setting magazine, bring government attention to some issues that has to be attended to. We are going to use it to advocate and use it as part of the President’s change mantra. There must be attitudinal change for the citizens to support government. Government is saying, seek for a role yourself; don’t wait to be called into action. If you see anything that you can do to ensure that Nigeria can be great, do it, don’t wait for government to come and whip you to action or government to beg you to do it. If you go to some big factories, you will see the roads leading to them are bad. They cannot fill it, they are waiting for the government to come and do it. For me, Presidential diary magazine is a civic responsibility; it is a call to action and I am very happy that many people have keyed into the vision that I have and her Excellency, the wife of vice president is fully in support of this. She said, Jimoh, go ahead and do this. That is what has given me inspiration, encouragement and the zeal.
Also, the media and publicity office of the president, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu are in support of this.