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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Guest Blogger: Of Political and Journalistic rascality by Lanre Idowu

The Nigerian media has no sense of humour. It does not recognise a joke when it sees one. It is too straitjacketed in its story selection and analysis. It needs a makeover if it is not to bore the nation to death.
At a time the country requires a healthy dose of laughter, the media riles us with inanities. Once upon a time a former head of state (as he then was) put up a sign on his farm that dogs and journalists were not welcome there. The media took it to heart, whining that the general was equating them with dogs. Who does not know journalists are dogs, after all they call themselves watchdogs of society? What does a dog do other than watch its owner’s interests? Why should the farmer open his barns to dogs that would not welcome his interests?

The other day when some northern elders decided to field a former vice president as their northern consensus candidate for the presidency of Nigeria without the consensus of other Nigerians, this former HOS and former president of Nigeria, indeed, the ex VP’s principal, owner of the naughty farm signpost, reacted humorously to the choice, uttering his famous lines: “I dey laugh o.”
What did the media do? They went to town, claiming the former president was mocking his former deputy. What did they expect him to do? Cry? If he had done so, they would have complained he didn’t wish his former deputy well.

Even the former VP’s minders didn’t catch the joke. They derided the old man that if he had died in jail where the dark goggled one sent him, there would have been nothing for him to laugh about. That sent the news hounds on a wild trail, celebrating the insipid utterance.
If they were steeped in the traditional mores of our people, they would have known that when a matter beggars belief laughter is the best antidote.
The latest fixation is with our man lucky enough to be running for the highest office in the land. They say he called the opposition rascals. They say his utterance was un-presidential. They say his prolonged struggle with the former vice president, the zoning evangelist anointed by the northern elders, had taken its toll on him and affected his speech, and he had started abusing people he could hardly look in the eye a few months ago.

One party even tried to drag the former president, the chicken farmer, into it. You see, he was on the campaign podium with the campaigning president and he was adjudged guilty of corrupting the campaigning president’s speech. Are they saying the campaigning president cannot pick his own words? A man who has just won his party’s nomination against grave opposition is an excited person, who can seek recourse in malapropism as he mistakes rascal for radical?

The man had simply said: “We (read PDP) must take over all the states in the South West. The zone is too important to be left in the hands of rascals”. Is the South West not important? Yes, it is. Does the PDP currently control the entire South West? No. Of the six states that make up the geopolitical zone, the Action Congress of Nigeria controls Lagos, Ekiti, and Osun, that is fifty percent. The Labour party controls one, Ondo State, leaving the president’s Peoples Democratic Party in charge of two, Oyo and Ogun; that is thirty three percent. Is the South West in the hands of rascals? What manner of rascals?
Two of my dictionaries describe a rascal as “a person who does things of which you disapprove, but whom you still like”. A rascal could also be “a dishonest or mischievous person”. So which one was the man who wants to be elected president talking about: the likeable one, who irritates now and then and is recognisable in every family and organisation or the dishonest/mischievous one?

You see, the man from the creeks, the one who became governor without being elected, and also became president without being elected, the one who is struggling to be elected into the highest political office for the first time, did not mention any name. So why is the opposition so eager to appropriate a name that may not be theirs?

The man, obviously, did not go there to unfold a grand vision of governance; his mission was to ruffle feathers, and serve notice the recent reverses in the law courts did not mean all was lost. It was to rouse the sleeping warriors to action and assure them that the federal might would be behind them in the battle to defend their turf in Oyo and Ogun and contain the expansion in Ondo, Ekiti and Osun States.
It was also to warn the darling of the media in Lagos not to sit pretty. The Peoples Deception Party wants Lagos badly. It is seen as Nigeria’s honey pot that finances those acts of radicalism, sorry, rascality, of upturning their hitherto carefully orchestrated plans to dominate the South West. That’s why the Assemblage of Confused Nigerians and their friends in the media are so angry with the president.


Originally published in Next

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