Mr Publisher, Nigerians are no fools
by Crusoe Osagie
I recently read a story from an obscure online news medium called Trojan News and the headline of that report got me depressed for a week. It reads thus: “Unlike Obaseki, Makinde gifts party chairmen jeeps”.
Having practised journalism for two decades, I was sick to the stomach that not only did a reporter write such a story with a headline that is completely out of sync with the plight of the underprivileged that journalists are supposed to speak for, an editor supposedly worked on that story and allowed it to pass for publication in a mass media title.
With all due respect to Seyi Makinde, governor of Oyo state, I am yet to verify the authenticity of the news of the purchase of SUVs and gifting of these vehicles to party stalwarts in the state.
Even if this happened, I believe the very progressive Makinde would have preferred that the news medium published other accomplishments of his government such as the 65km Moniya-Ojutaye-Ijaiye-Iseyin road, several impactful agricultural programmes, and the ultramodern Lekan Salami Stadium, which is geared to drive youth development in the state.
As a governor who genuinely cares for his people, a fact that has been proven time and again with his people-centric policies and programmes, I am sure Makinde would appreciate it if the news platform constructively drew his attention to some of the key intervention areas that would serve the people.
What was even more laughable about the comic pastime to which my once noble profession of journalism has now been subjected, is that this medium, somehow, found a way to underscore Obaseki as a ‘non-performer’ since he is not wont to handing multi-million naira SUVs to big-time politicians in his state.
If the background investigation of the publisher of the platform that I have carried out is anything to go by, he is the same person who has been concocting phantom stories about poor education infrastructure in Edo. Notorious for trading in half-truths and alternative facts, this publisher has been called out a number of times for being a penpusher for the opposition and any other character seeking hired gun to attack real and perceived enemies. So, this salvo is taken for what it truly is – a hatchet job.
This publisher, on the one hand, expects governors to hand out Toyota Landcruisers to political leaders to be considered achievers, meanwhile, he also wants all the roads tarred, schools built, and other critical infrastructure enhanced. With one unit of this kind of vehicle averaging about N50,000,000, it is not hard to discern how disrespectful this publisher is of the Nigerian people, 90 percent of whom earn less than $100 a month.
Well, Mr Publisher, wake up and smell the coffee. The #EndSARS protest of 2020, which almost kicked off the conflagration which most discerning Nigerians’ fear may be imminent in the country, was the outcome of these sorts of issues and unintelligent remarks published in the now seriously eroded online media.
Please don’t call Nigerians fools, and in Edo, we certainly are not fools. We know how much poverty pervades this country and we are certainly not in any position to hand over “jeeps” to party leaders or even executive council members of the Edo state government.
A serious and conscious government feels the pangs of pain of its people. Even though there may be a need to accommodate politicians, it never engages in such a venture with an air to ridicule the people or tramp on them in the process.
On the other hand, journalists, who are worth their salt, should know better and be true to their watchdog role and not genuflect to the whims of politicians seeking to gratify their huge appetite at the expense of sustainable development in society. Holding government to account is not tantamount to offering the people up for sacrifice on the altar of greed and perfidy. Trojan News publisher should rightly be ashamed of himself and apologise to the good people of Edo state for selling his soul for pittance.
*_Osagie is special adviser, media projects to Edo state governor_*