Malagi’s Ministerial Midas Touch

Muhammed Idris Malagi,
Minister of Information 

By Ibraheem Musa

Somehow, he took a French Leave but the satirist, as Ndaeyo Uko then was, rocked and ruled the media space in the 90s. Indeed,  he was as  prolific as he was proficient,   sustaining  10 columns  on the Daily Times stable. Naturally, he ruffled a few feathers and Chief Alex Akinyele, then Minister of Information, reined him in at a point. Uko, in one outing,  had  caricatured a government official, painting an inarticulate narcissist in a fictional interview with Mungo Park. Curiously, Akinyele saw himself in the text and Uko, with immediate effect,  was sacked from the Daily Times.

However, Alhaji Mohammed Idris Malagi, the current Minister of Information, is of a different cut from Akinyele. Truly, he is a man of sartorial excellence but  Akinyele's  direct opposite in information management. Now,  briefings, press conferences and official engagements, are platforms for selling government policies and not vehicles for ego trips.  Malagi, in his signature wit, delivers  messages without histrionics or needless anecdotes. Besides,  personal details like  clothes designs, how long he takes to dress up and the cost of his apparels, are a no-no for the present Minister.

Likewise, he is not a polemist, a  hectoring firebrand and an ideologue like Walter Ofonagoro, the gadfly of the Abacha era. Coarse, caustic and combative,  Ofonagoro stood up to NADECO, in a Fire-For-Fire brick bats. However, Malagi is not of that mould but the Minister, with aplomb and panache,  markets the Renewed Hope agenda, especially to get citizens' buy-in.

Above all, he is not given to blacklisting critics as wailers, unpatriotic elements and sundry labels. More so, the current Minister and his predecessor, in style and delivery, are poles apart in every material particular. Malagi, from his background, is an image maker and not a ‘Geobbelian’ propagandist who is adept at spinning and spewing alternate facts. Rather, he strives to  win hearts and minds, persuade with facts as well as disarm  with credible information.

Similarly, he is not an attack dog but the chief image maker of the Bola Tinubu administration. However, in this regard, he provides the platform for fellow Ministers,  who give  insights on the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies under their watch.  Malagi, more or less, is  the conductor who mediates, calibrates and directs the choir, giving harmony in  the  orchestra of governance.

Indeed, Alhaji Mohammed Idris Malagi, from the outset, had outlined his vision for the Ministry of Information  at the senate screening last August. Prompt, credible and uninterrupted news flow from government, according to him, will asphyxiate fake news. Mainly, rumour and fake news get oxygen from information black out, a vacuum that gives them life and  the wings to travel far and wide. ‘’Unless credible information is put out there,’’ Malagi had counselled, ‘’there will be room for rumours, misinformation, fake news and all kinds of things.’’ Besides, information is key to transparency, accountability and moulding perception, he added.

 Last August, Malagi  provided a window to his leadership style and  the  matrix  of assessment, after his inauguration as Minister. Specifically, he pledged not to  tell lies on behalf of the government. “As a Minister of Information and National Orientation, I have the duty of telling Nigerians the true picture of what transpired about the various programmes and projects of the administration in all sectors. Being truthful and effective as Minister of Information is essential to engender the trust of the people on various programmes and projects of the administration.” So, far the Kakakin Nupe has not broken this covenant with the people.

Ibraheem Musa is a Public Affairs commentator based in Kaduna

Post a Comment