River state governor, Nyesom Wike and All progressives Congress, APC, national chairman, Tuesday traded blames on the concept of leadership by example.
The two leaders were at each other's throat at the official presentation of "The Big Interviews," a book written by the immediate past Managing Director of the Sun Publishing Limited, Mr. Eric Osagie.
The event which had in attendance journalism finest hands including the publisher of the Vanguard Newspaper, Mr. Sam Amuka, business mogul, Isa Funtua among others started in earnest when Oshiomhole was called to make a few remarks before the unveiling of the compendium.
In his characteristic manner, Oshiomhole drew applause from the crowd with his delivery, as he called on media practitioners to be more courageous particularly when taking on men in power. Citing an instance when a foreign journalist once took on an unnamed Nigerian President a few years ago on the scourge of population control, Oshiomhole said the ex-President was the wrong man to have spoken on the subject matter considering what he called his poor handling of marriage and family institutions.
Flaying Nigerian journalists for often asking men in power questions they enjoy answering, the APC chair said the journalism profession would lose its spark if it is disrobed of its power to probe and unravel tough issues.
He said: "When I watch interviewers abroad, I see fearlessness, I see courage. When I watch any of the international cable networks, I don't hear any of the interviewers interviewing President Trump (Donald) say, Your Excellency. (This is) Not because Trump is not particularly excellent. Even excellent Obama, I never heard or watch any media man interviewing him or asking him a question, say, Your Excellency. All they say is President Barack Obama. But in Nigeria, journalists make you feel that you are already superhuman. And he will ask you questions that sometimes for me are quite patronising. And you get away with so much half truths without the right to interrogate even obvious lies.
"President Muhammadu Buhari would be the easiest person to interview. I watch an interview with a former President and I believe that many of us here watched it. The host of hard talk that popular BBC programme asked a Nigerian President, I won't mention any name but Governor Nyesom Wike knows the person. He has associated with the person and he has been groomed under the person and he is still being overseen by the person. He was asked two questions at two different interviews.
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"The man started by giving lectures as he has always done. He said the problem of Africa is lack of population control. He said the population was growing at 3 per cent and the economy at far less than that and that that was why poverty was endemic. In terms of looking at a holistic approach to the African situation, he said, it could not but focus on the question of population growth. And then this fearless professional BBC hard talk host ask him. 'Since you were the President of Africa's most populous nation, how did you contribute to the population? How many children do you have? And how many wives have you married, all your life?'
"Leaders should not preach what they are not doing? You can't be on record as having so many wives but registered and unregistered, several children, some in dispute and then you go the Queen's land and lectured about population. You ought to have married one wife and maybe two children and then you use yourself as an example. If you were part of those who helped to create the problem, you then become a role model to the younger one.
"The Second one was the same big man who writes letters a lot. They asked him that there was a lot of corruption in his government (Nuhu Ribadu will testify to that). And he said "did they say I am corrupt?" You superintended over a government that according to Transparency International was very corrupt. You didn't fight it even though you set up formal institutions, his interviewer continued. He tried to make a distinction between the President and the government. But the man told him, you have a responsibility to enforce law and order. You made those laws, you did not enforce them. I am trying to imagine if anyone here could have ask him such questions and find his way home."
Governor who thereafter took to the podium to give his goodwill message tackled the APC boss headlong, saying, "I agree with Oshiomhole that leaders should practice what they preach and not to preach what they do not practice. I remember during the chairman's (Oshiomhole) second tenure as governor of Edo state, he came to the villa to thank the then President for One man one vote. Today, do we have one man one vote?" he asked to which the audience chorused, NO.
"'I expected that when he had the opportunity to thank the President, he would have carried it along with him to make sure one man one vote continues to count. So preach what you practice," he added.
The governor, apparently basking in the euphoria of the moment continued: "Remember during their own time, they had what they called occupy Nigeria. Nobody was arrested, nobody was sent to jail, but today, today, today... Are they practising what they are preaching? We cannot be deceived, all of us know, we are not progressing, rather we are retrogressing."
And in what was clearly a salvo fired in the direction of his former principal, and now Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi who was once captured in a video that went viral, declaring his distaste for money, Wike continued, "You know a cabinet member said he does not like money. Who does not like money? Without money can you pay your children's school fees?," he asked and again the capacity-filled auditorium chorused, No.
Vanguard Nigeria News