Elendureports is helping to enthrone political piracy in Nigeria's democracy. It has two reports three days apart that are favorable to former dictator, Ibrahim Babangida. One of the reports is an interview  which reeks of sponsorship and patronage. Almost an expert work of deception, it, however, fails simple tests. The interview was published same day the Daily Sun newspaper did a similar interview with Babangida. For the Daily Sun, we can understand why a patronizing story with IBB would not be out of place- the newspaper, though largely staffed by former journalists from MKO Abiola's National Concord, is owned by Mr. Uzor Kalu, who became rich through IBB. But for Elendureports, famed for exposing corrupt officials, the capitulation is, at least this time, surprising.

Elendureports has for the past several months been revealing properties supposedly bought with stolen funds by corrupt politicians in Western countries. It built for itself a measure of respect. That respect is now under question with the public relations interview it served on behalf of the most corrupt individual anywhere - Babangida. Could the web site have succumbed to  the subtle invitations of the Evil Genius? Can Elendureports.com be trusted to deliver true account of events to Nigerians anymore?

Having carefully dissected the material recycled for readers of its web site to consume, we cite some portions of the published interview (in italics) and ask the questions Elendureports need to provide answers to:

Just before we parted ways, Gov. Ebri told me Chidi Amuta would be getting in touch with me to arrange an interview with former military President Ibrahim Babangida. A few days later, Chidi Amuta called and we started negotiating the interview. As we drove to Minna, I bombarded Chidi Amuta with questions.

What happened between the talks with Chidi Amuta and the drive to Minna. Elendureports deliberately kept silent over what transpired. Of a sudden, he told readers he was on the way to Minna. How did he get on the way to Minna? What were the terms of negotiation? Were the questions approved in advance? Did Amuta make prior requests? Who paid for the interview expenses, such as travel, accommodation? Did money exchange hands before, during and after the interview?

So, how come he lives in a 50 room mansion? “Wait until you get there,” Chidi said. I was disappointed when I did not see the 50 room mansion and I asked Chidi if where we were was the former President’s home. He replied in the affirmative. How did the story of 50 room mansion emanate?

Is Babangida's mansion a 50-room or not? Is it slightly less than 50 rooms, or far less than 50-rooms? Did the reporter go round the whole house to count the rooms or not? If not, how did he know the number of rooms were less than 50? Did he just guess? If he did count, how man rooms did the mansion have? Journalism was done a great disservice here. Even a cub reporter would have done a better job.

Elendureports, if it had any journalistic nose, should have gone to some extent to describe the mansion or house and let his readers know how much those who have written about it before him had lied. Elendureports should, at the minimum, provide a picture of the house on his web site to show how "small" or "insignificant" the house looks. 

Againstbabangida.com has never been inside the house, but from far off, if you have been to Minna, you would know there is a humongous building atop the said Minna Hilltop. To belittle the edifice in Minna is a lie to readers of the web site and Nigerians. Where are the pictures of the mansion? In fact, where are the pictures taken during the interview, if the interview truly took place. Is it possible there was no trip to Minna by Elendureports?

ER: Are you saying that Nigerians didn’t vote for the man that was adjudged to have won it? 
IBB: What I am saying is that like any other elections, there were electoral laws and they are the laws that guide the conduct of any elections and where those laws are violated, there are consequences of the violation.

What are those specific laws violated during the elections? Elendureports should have held Babangida to defined responses, since we all know he is as jelly as a fish. Allowing the Maradona to manouvre was a disservice to Nigerians, and a wasted opportunity, to say the least.

ER: So, Mr. President, what really was the reason behind the annulment? 
IBB: We took into consideration a lot of factors but principally the general stability and security of the country were what we took into consideration. And I think, any person who is running through a transition, will like to see a transition that lasts, not if after handing over, and three months you come back to the same military system.

Babangida should have been asked if the annulment then made his transition program endure? If the transition still failed after the annulment, was it not better to have respected the wishes of Nigerians? Even if it was not going to last, was the electoral opinion more important than IBB's psychic permutations? Where were Elendu's logical follow-up questions?

IBB's Statement A: "When we, like you in the media would say, put up that contraption called the Interim Government, we were very sure of what we wanted to do. The ING had a constitution. That constitution was to last for six months. So, when we set up ING in August, by February there ought to have been a general election which seemed to be a more acceptable way, the world all over. So, we designed a very good constitution, designed by the best brains in law in this country. We allowed Abacha to remain there so as to give that “contraption” stability."
IBB's Statement B: "People just did not like the idea of the Interim Government for so many reasons, as we didn’t have this in the constitution."

Was Elendurepports sleeping? IBB said they made a perfect constitution for the ING. And he went on to say that ING was not in the constitution and it failed because of that. Did IBB's inconsistent statements not deserve a challenge? Should a question not have been asked if it was too difficult to see that the ING would be run over by Abacha? The thief was captured and then allowed to escape in this circumstance.

ER: Why did you describe yourself as the evil genius? 
IBB: No, somebody decided to describe me as the evil genius not me.

A good journalist would do his research. Elendureports did not do any in  this regard. He accepted IBB's answer without a fight. Who first called IBB an evil genius. This had been a contentious issue. Who, in Elendureports' view, first used the term Evil Genius? Again, the reporter just went to sleep, after travelling thousands of miles just to get a never-before-revealed account from IBB.

ER: Mr. President, this is another contraption you put together? 
IBB: Which one?
 ER: The Obasanjo/Atiku presidency. Basically, you are seen as having made Obasanjo president or encouraged him to run for president or even financed his presidential bid? 
IBB: No. God and Nigerian people made Obasanjo president.
ER: What was your role in it? 
IBB: To support him

Lazy questions, bad follow-up? Why not ask him what kind of support? How much did he spend on Obasanjo's election in specific monetary terms? Some people said IBB spent over 100 billion naira to put Obasanjo in power in 1999. Was that true or not? Where did he get the money from? This is how to interview the powerful. What numbers did you come up with in his pre-interview research?

ER: And some would say that these two men have desecrated the office of the president and thinking along those lines, would you encourage the National Assembly to impeach the two men? 
IBB: Well, our Constitution is very clear on the process of impeachment. The decision is theirs. If they weigh it that these accusations have risen to the level of impeachment, I am sure they would do what is expected of them.

Was this a sponsored question? How can IBB be the judge of a desecration of office, when there is enough evidence he desecrated it more than anyone else? Thank the reporter for helping Babangida establish his objective.

 ER: I hope you don’t take this question the wrong way your, Excellency...

What does the interviewer care how the interviewee takes a question. How can Elendureports be apologetic for asking a question? It shows how incapable and disadvantaged the reporter was. Was the interviewer really capable of conducting the interview pushfully and fortrightly? It seemed Elendu was intimidated by Babangida. Did Elendureports succumb in the sight of power? What could it have achieved being so prostrated?

ER: There is a general belief in the media that the eight Babangida years were years that saw a change in the Nigeria polity, years that saw the institutionalization of corruption. What is your reaction to that?

The question asserts that the allegations of corruption was only a making of the media. A general belief in the media? So, associating corruption with IBB is just a media creation, according to Elendureports? Was the Okigbo Report a media belief? How come Elendureports did not ask any question about the Okigbo report?

ER: You are reputed to be a very wealthy man and yet for most of your life you were a soldier, you were a salaried man. One, are you a wealthy man, two if you are, how did you make the money? 

Is Babangida a wealthy man? What a question? Did the Hilltop Mansion look like one built by a civil servant? The real journalist will confront Babangida with questions based on research to show that he did not make his money from honest means. Was Elendureports asking questions with the intention of giving Babangida a medium to voice his opinion?

ER: Your children are also reputed to be very wealthy and there is no pointer as to the source of their income. How do you explain that? 

Pathetically vague question. Why did Elendureports not ask about the wealth credited to Mohammed Babangida by the EFCC? Why not ask, "What is the source of the money used by your son to build his business. How much did you invest in his business, and how would you explain all the houses and investments associated to him by the EFCC, considering he should be too young to have accummulated so much wealth on his own? Is he fronting for you as alleged?" The Sun's handling of the same question should be a tutorial for the Elendureports reporter. The web site just told IBB to  explain the scandal anyway he liked.

ER: Mr. President, are you running for president? 

Mr. President, are you running for president? That sounded really dumb,  but if it was intended to comfort Babangida, the goal was achieved. Was Babangida ever a president? No, he wasn't. He was as president as Idi Amin was a field marshall or Ayinla Kollington was a professor. Babangida was never a president. He was the head of state. Accepting him as president is from a position of weakness by Elendureports.

ER: And the question most people would ask is: You were in office for eight years. To many you were a successful president… 

How many Nigerians consider Babangida a success? Would it not be better to say, "to some you were a successful president..."

ER: To others you were not…

Which means, just some other people. Elendureports implies many Nigerians consider Babangida a success, but some others don't. We say many Nigerians consider him a failure, while a few others don't. We ask Elendureports if it really thinks more Nigerians consider the IBB regime a success?

ER: Isn’t it ironic that as a very young man you attained great heights professionally and now as an elder statesman you are still counting on experience when you didn’t have experience when you first did it? 

This is evident of Elendureports' public relations objective What is the relevance of this question? What is not meant to put IBB on an ego trip? Serious journalists have no business asking questions like this. It is an NTA-style question from civil servant interviewers to their employer-bosses.

ER: This question arises because you also have the reputation of being loyal...

Another patronizing question. What is IBB's reputation of loyalty? Was the ouster of Mohammadu Buhari an evidence? Was the killing of Vatsa an evidence? Was the annulment of June 12 by Abiola evident of this? What is Elendureports's reference point for IBB's loyalty?

ER: Good luck to you sir. 

What kind of luck was IBB being wished? Might as well have said "I pray you win the election and return to Aso Rock, Sir."

Elendureports has done Nigeria a great disservice by this interview with Ibrahim Babangida. It was soft, complimentary, complementary and compromising. In fact, it looks like a public relations trash from Minna.

Having gained much respect from Nigerians for its expose on real estate acquistions by prominent Nigerian politicians in the UK and  USA, Elendureports stands losing that respect by the interview that seemed sponsored right from Amsterdam to Minna.

On its web site, Elendureports states categorically that "Elendureports.com is a for-profit company, and any contributions made are purely voluntary and not tax deductible." To that extent, the web site can be excused to put any garbage on its site for Nigerians to chew on. Nevertheless, Againstbabagida.com determines that Nigeria's presidency is no Magna Carta for any political pirates.

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