Mohammed Kudu Haruna: A journalism guru at 65
I am obsessed with newspaper columns. Columns are the intellectual nerve of any newspaper. Columnists’ minds are at times eccentric, peculiar, contentious, brilliant, astute, beguiling and inspiring. Columnist in point of fact sells newspapers. One can judge the superiority of a newspaper by the quality of its columnists and its editorials. Today I have chosen to write a tribute to a star columnist who has written tributes to hundreds irrespective of their race, religion and background.
Mohammed Kudu Haruna who will be 65 tomorrow September 22 and whom I have never met in my life is one of the best Nigerian journalists in the past four decades in Nigeria. A regular Wednesday columnist with Daily Trust and The Nation Newspapers, and Gamji.com and Newsdairyonline.com, he was among those named last week by the Presidency as a National Commissioner to represent North Central at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Haruna is one of the best syndicated political columnists in the country known for his powerful, razor-sharp, and well-investigated writings. He is endowed and exceptional with spontaneous wit. He is also amazingly consistent. I envy him for that. I respect the sheer amount of knowledge he possesses. I go to his pieces for knowledge, but while at it, it is also great fun reading him.
A native of Bida, Niger State and the capital of Nupeland, Haruna was born in Ibadan but grew up in Kano where he started his Western education in the late 50s. He ended it with a Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University, New York in 1984. But even before then he had curved a niche for himself in his career with his razor-sharp weekly column in New Nigerian in the late 70s. His column writing had been preceded by a series of interviews of nearly all the political actors across Nigeria who later became high-flying in the Second Republic.
He was Managing Director of New Nigerian Newspaper (NNN) between 1985 and 1989 after being denied confirmation as its editor in 1981 by political actors owing to his highly independent approach of journalism. Upon leaving the services of NNN in 1989, he and three of his colleagues co-founded Citizen Magazine where he was the Managing Director/Editor in Chief of from 1989-1994.
In October 1998, he was appointed the Chief Press Secretary to the former Head of State and Commander in Chief, General Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar, a position he held until May 29, 1999. From 2008 to 2014, Mohammed Kudu Haruna was a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication of his Alma Mata, Ahmad Bello University Zaria.
Among other things Haruna served as a director on the boards of the following News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), African Petroleum, now Forte Oil, and National Oil Company, now CONOIL. He was also a member of Technical Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation (TCPC) of Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Vision 2010 Committee, Vision 2020 Committee and the People’s Bank.
Apart from being a columnist, he has been a media consultant until his appointment last week as an INEC national commissioner. Haruna is undeniably among the best columnists today across the entire country. He has been in the trenches as a journalist for over 40 unbreakable years. Many, including this writer have been zealously and gladly reading his column for about two decades.
Because of his broad and profound knowledge of so many themes, his several years in journalism, his left-leaning but never polemical politics, his own experiences, his liberalism, his admiration of life, his astuteness, his humour, his attention to detail, and of course his superlative way with writing, every column feels knowledgeable by all of who he is and what he knows and thinks and feels, and reading him is pure contentment. He combines a fearless attitude as a reporter and a columnist with sharp judgement to become an indispensable guide to contemporary media.
Haruna is already a myth in Nigerian journalism circles as a star and one of the most exceptional journalists. How he constantly writes so well, always with bright, engaging and interesting ideas and expressions, week after week is incredible to many and me as well. He is a doyen of Nigerian journalism.
As he answers another clarion call to serve his fatherland, he will be sadly missed by millions of his readers particularly the younger generation who take him as an encyclopaedia in learning from him accurate date and places of events. His style of writing stirred young writers like this author for us to think smarter, write better, read more, and above all, to think for us.
Mohammed Haruna is never engrossed in being acknowledged by the political, religious and regional taste makers. He always puts his ideas on the line. I can frankly say that I picked courage to continue to write because of his writing styles. I can also say that in my own basic and muddling fashion, I have tried to write like him. My barely literate Nigerian education of 21st Century may not compete with the kind of training he must have got four decades ago at ABU Zaria and Columbia University, but at least I was encouraged by his example to articulate my thoughts and let the chips fall where they may.
Having been on the receiving end of more than a few of his darts, I can confirm not only the pointed supremacy of his pen but also the accuracy of his criticism. He could get it off beam, but never intentionally so. He worked the issues as hard and attentively as any I have known, and few contemporary journalists have so thoroughly discredited their critics by later being proved right. He believes in an enormous animating spirit in everything. He has written over 1000 articles and papers presented at conferences and seminars. One spectacular thing that stands him taller than his co-columnists is his regular publishing of a lengthy retraction and apology.
Happy Birthday, Mal. Mohammed Kudu Haruna.
Yahaya wrote from Muye, Niger State.
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