I have overtime observed if there is any other storm that Nigeria should fear and worry about, and it’s the conduct of buccaneer newsmen and women of today. The later, comprising fortune hunting men and women, soullessly maul journalism into an appendage of terrorism for pecuniary gain.
Politicians are not helping matters either as most if not all those handling the media aspects of politicians are not better than lapdogs and frustrated, street town criers. Their main preoccupation is to fabricate and concoct lies against the rising profiles of those identified opponents of their principals lacking substance and flesh of truth. Ignorant society calls them media handlers than addressing them in their real robes as soulless liars.
There are too many clowns pretending to be lead writers, investigative journalists and opinion moulders. In the end, their conduct manifests like a perversion of Keat’s doctrine of the heart as “the teat from which the mind or intelligence sucks its identity”.
The media may be taken for Nigeria’s heart—Nigeria’s conscience to be precise. Yet several online and the traditional media run the risk of functioning as tools of toxic imperialism for foreign media and so called global superpowers in several ways, the former (Nigerian Press) validates the latter’s (foreign media superpower) presumed hierarchic authority.
A few news media endeavor to fulfill the role of the translent ethicist by paying only lip service to journalistic objectivity and professionalism. But all they do is merely to illustrate a pitiful embowered passivity.
In a grisly mannerist metaphor, most journalists’ self-professed perspicacity protrudes from their frames like cruelly twisted lips curled serpents, disconnected from their souls. The serpent lips are forever attacking society’s breasts with the presumed intent to nibble and feed. Nigeria is the doomed Cleopatra giving suck to their asps.
Few Nigerians clearly understand the magnitude of doom imminent upon the country. The cult of ignorance persists, knifing through Nigeria right now, ripping all that should bind us apart—both in physical and cyberspace.
The cult thrives on self-loathing, and intellectualism, and base sophistry —derogatorily dismissed as otellectualism in Swahili parlance to connote the presumed intellectual’s acquiescence to be corrupted by what they term as ‘ote’ translates as ‘perfidy’ or ‘treachery’.
This strain of anti-intellectualism and self-loathing blows like a constant storm, rifling through our sociopolitical and cultural lives, nurtured by the false notion that freedom of speech means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge’ or that ‘my malevolence is just as good as your benevolence’.
The malady is broadcast and sustained by the traditional and online media, it manifests in physical and cyberspace in real time. In these public spaces, everybody becomes a wilding, trading bitter realism, infantile whim, and pseudo idealism with awful relish.
The guts and sinews of every stereotype and theme park hatred are validated via mind numbing sloganeering, toxic bigotries, sophistry and outright lies.
Perusing through Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, or Twitter manifests as a pilgrimage of sorts; the esplanades of public discourse unfurl to a sordid, cutout version of anarchic thinking replete with ethno-religious bigotries and the hassle of incomprehensible logic.
Then, there are the strange movements and morbid ideologies all fostered and marshaled from bizarre platforms managed by clowns and rogues for selfish interests.
In this public, wilderness, everybody takes sides, “investigative journalists” and “lead writers” “columnists” inclusive. Everyone mutates from philosopher to savage pawn and vice versa; they all speak impressive and atrocious lingo. Call it our patois of rebuke and immoderate assemblies. Here you encounter Nigerians of vast mental stripes.
Once you get past the façade of slogans and artifice, it’s mostly the same defiant, virulent passion driving the mob. And it is all brokered from within and outside the country. More is the pity.
Shady media offer their platforms for dark propaganda, ridicule, slander and disinformation. Where journalists are driven by supposedly noble intent, they are too blinded by personal bias, ignorance, deviltry and greed to submit the nobility of their practice to stirrings of professed noble intent.
As Nigeria approaches the forthcoming elections and its promise of a new dispensation, journalists and the news media ought to unite to provide ethical and patriotic guidance to the educated and the uneducated. The overall intent should be to salvage Nigeria for our collective good.
It may sound a hard task amid dire predictions of doom propagated by foreign media and consulates, as often directed by their home governments and security handlers, but the onus rests on the Nigerian media to decolonize local news and editorials of negative foreign influence.
Much of Nigeria’s contemporary history is partly mythology, partly a product of selective recall, and partly interpretation of what transpired. What is recorded, however, is seldom that which actually took place—as exemplified by the doctored reports of the 2020 #EndSARS protests that almost crippled the country, for instance. No thanks to media bias and the deviltry of several other agents of destruction.
The #EndSARS protest, like most other disturbances of its nature, underwent different recall, interpretation and retelling by the major actors and spectators—people who experienced it and people who heard about what had transpired. The Nigeria Police officers, who superintended the deadly activities of the disbanded SARS, the likes of the suspended DCP Abba Kyari should be brought to justice to answer their atrocities including gruesome murder of suspects under interrogation, extortion and armed robbery against detained suspects. There ought to be a thorough and down to earth investigation on the past modus operandi of SARS.
SARS was the terrorist wing of the Nigeria Police so to say. It was an organization that specialized in brutality and armed robbery against innocent suspects that lacked the required resources to regain their freedom.
The narratives of participants in the crisis, like those of most other participants of previous historical events, differ in the rendition of what actually took place.
History is in the telling. Thus each generation modifies actuality into written history according to its needs and interpretation, building on selective recall and distortion.
Having dodged the bloody missiles of the #EndSARS protest, the enemies of Nigeria moved to quash the dreams of nationhood and survival by fanning the embers of several other crises.
The nature of disinformation and outright lies fabricated about the goings-on in the poverty ravaged North-east and Northwest of Nigeria by certain International Non-governmental Organizations (INGOs) in connivance with foreign media continue to affirm their destructive intent in the country.
For instance, there was a spurious report of alleged forced abortions, killings of children of insurgents after they were reportedly grabbed from their mothers by Nigerian soldiers, resonates with unpardonable craftiness and intent to destabilize the Northeast sub-region and Nigeria in the long run.
It is to the country’s credit, however, that the local media approached the poisonous and serialized narratives with caution.
Against the backdrop of the incident, INGOs operating in the country are working dark elements within certain foreign consulates to report the Nigerian government and military service chiefs as war criminals to the, Hague based International Criminal Court of Justice (ICC). The intent is to blacklist Nigeria and further truncate the country’s war against terrorism.
The other curious angle to the plot against Nigeria manifested in the cheeky account of a so called “humanitarian” agent who recently said that her country, a purported “superpower”, would influence the removal of the blockade preventing Nigeria from purchasing the weaponry much needed to fight and defeat terrorism if the country repeals its law criminalizing same sex marriage.
To those superpowers, human life is worthless compared to a minority’s sexual inclinations. They do not consider it sheer wickedness to deny Nigeria access to vital weapons needed to fight terrorism simply because it asserts its inviolable right to ban same sex marriage.
Vast segments of Nigeria’s media personify Hersh’s political hobbyist stereotype. They are disproportionately educated and may flaunt several merit awards, titles and postgraduate degrees.
They espouse professionalism of the soapbox; a wanton game in which they debate Nigeria’s big issues on abstract merits—often mouthing off their “superior” logic or sounding off for clout in social space or on foreign sponsored think tanks and Twitter spaces.
Their assemblage thrives on pseudo-realism; their ability to doctor, profound and market spurious experiences as predetermined by foreign governments and INGOs sponsors. In reality, they are toxic to our politics and harmful to our corporate existence as a united people so desperate to remain united irrespective of imaginary differences. It is our responsibility to resist all those shenanigans and divisive plans.
Muhammad is a commentator on national issues