Kwara State — Nigeria's calumny campaigners got a brand new agenda recently when former Education Minister, Oby Ezekwesili, in her usual mudslinging, ridiculously and shamefully stated on Channels TV that, "President Buhari sent the Kankara schoolboys on excursion to terrorists." Oby's all negative vituperations on the president since 2015 is understandable and un-worrisome. But, very worrisome is the bandwagon effect her nefarious conversations are having on gullible Nigerians. To be sure, since she made that statement on Channels TV, a growing body of comments on the Kankara schoolboys abduction has been as nefarious as hers.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, published in the Vanguard of December 18, 2020, the Pan Youruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, describes the rescue of the boys as "a joke." The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council (OYC) in the Daily post of December 19, 2020, describes the abduction and release of the boys as "an award-winning drama of the year, 2020." Writing in the Tribune of December 19, 2020, Farouq Kperogi concluded: "the abduction was contrived to lead unearned veneer of competence to the Buhari regime." By negotiating the release of the boys, the convener of Nigeria Concerned Advocacy, Deji Adeyonju, opined that the president "is encouraging terrorism."
The list of organisations and individuals who have keyed into the Ezekwesili's grueling campaigns of calumny is inexhaustible. Clearly, these are organisations and individuals like Oby who have not seen anything good in the Buhari administration since 2015. In a real sense, is it possible for a president of a country who has served approximately for six years not to have done one single commendable deed? Actually, glorifying irresponsible and thoughtless conversations such as Ezekwesili's raises uncomfortable questions for the future of Nigeria.
For any right thinking Nigerian, the dilemma facing the Buhari government with respect to abduction, banditry and attacks is very visible. When the government strategically calculates and loses time, it attracts condemnation. When it acts swiftly and succeeds, its effort is twisted, turned on its head and interpreted vilely.
Before the rescue of the Kankara schoolboys, the government had been facing (and still facing) barrage of attacks for its inability to rescue the Chibok girls abducted during the Jonathan regime. Rather than commending the government for rescuing most of the Dapchi girls, the calumny campaigners cannot see through any commendable reason but to generate sentiment that the government has willfully left a Christian girl, Leah Sharibu, to suffer in the hands of her abductors. Their thoughts are wholly fixated on the ridiculous to harm the reputation of the government.
Now, the Buhari government has moved very swiftly to rescue the Kankara schoolboys. The Calumny campaigners have also moved very swiftly to rubbish the efforts of the government. Most painful is the fact that their messages have become very cheap. Hence, the Nigerian media contents are full of opinions, views and observations of organisations and individuals who take pleasure in using communication to counter the commendable efforts of the government in pursuit of dubious agendas.
It is very unfortunate that some "respectable" individuals and organisations in Nigeria have not really given enough thought to the country's social problems as they have given to modern political trivia. These are organisations and individuals who in concrete terms have not contributed much to solving the social problems facing the country but have always accepted as the truth anything that favours them and as falsehood anything that does not.
As a former minister and a leader on her own right, it is expected that Oby should not altogether become plastic like beer parlour gossips and weld enormous appetite for rabble rousing. There can be little doubt that Nigeria is enmeshed in a vicious circle. This is so because of past failures of leaders like Oby who has been engrossed in political trivia while making social transformation a mere tantalising rhetoric.
Despite the fact that the views of Oby and Co. on the Kankara schoolboys abduction are not perceptive, their loudness in the media precludes almost everyone from being heard. For instance, the unprofessional spew by Channel TV's Kayode Okikiolu on the station's political programme, Sunday Politics on 20 November, 2020, unveils a deeper malaise. In truth, beyond peddling the general pedestrian views on the handling of national security by the president, Mr Okikiolu more or less parroted the nefarious observations of Oby and Co. in its raw form. In fact, he went as far as playing the video clip of Oby's outlandish outburst.
Invariably, making such a garbage a central theme of an interview with a Senior Media Assistant to the President, Femi Adesina, further exposed the rascaliness, recklessness and the intemperate nature of the Nigerian media. Journalists are not stenographers. Their job is not to parrot just any information but to scrutinise and interpret it. The rule is that questionable assertions that amount to rubbish should be ignored. It is sad that often, Nigerian media men and women become openly ecstatic in portraying views that are clearly unfit for public consumption - the outlandish, the garbage, the trash, the lies, the indecent etc.
Despite the increasingly profound and often intractable social problems facing the country, it is grossly evil to compound the situation through filthy, poisonous and toxic conversations. Clearly, Oby and others who hold similar views to hers on the Kankara schoolboys' abduction and rescue cannot be counted as patriots. Patriots do not indulge in raw misinformation and badmouthing to create confusion, chaos and disintegration. Yeah, they are not heedless rabble-rousers but men and women who can sincerely and honestly help their country in time of trouble.
As the Buhari government struggles to overcome and reverse the persistent socio-economic difficulties facing our country, it is expected that we all render our support. Whatever may be the true cause of Oby's ridiculous attacks on the president with its concomitant restlessness and gnawing discontent, it is generally admitted that it is high time we evaded our trivial past, falsehood, treacherous cunning and tantalising conversations as a people, and attain some levels of decency.
Dr Onjefu Okidu writes from Ilorin, Kwara State