By Idemudia Oviosun (PhD)
Monday morning was going rather smoothly, and although I knew it was quite unnatural, I still revelled in the peace of mind I was enjoying. Usually, you see, I am stoically business-like on Mondays or just generally bland and eager to get the day done with. I was therefore amazed, and unhappily so, when I picked up a copy of The Guardian newspaper and saw journalism immolated on an altar of incompetence and bias. The very values upon which the pillars of journalism rested had been crippled in favour of what I read.
The jarring headline of a page-long article read: “PDP waits in the wings as Edo APC rumbles.” By all indications, that was not a fault. That was until I read the article and found it at complete variance with the headline. A headline and an article have never been as different as chalk and cheese as that which Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu wrote.
It turned out that the discord between the headline and the story was the least offence in this journalistically criminal story. Aliu reported himself to the readers as having not fully developed cognisance or, it seemed, perception of time. The story was painfully wanting for chronological precision.
To start with, the utterly misinformed author revealed that: “Barely a month into the administration of Godwin Obaseki….” Well, good sir, Governor Obaseki was sworn in on November 12, 2016. Yesterday, the day your ill-fated article came blundering out was January 9, 2017. That is a timespan of about 58 days. ‘Barely a month’ is inexcusably wrong for a journalist to define that time frame.
Worse still, time and time again, save a couple or triad of occasions, the writer refused to note the exact time actions his story occurred.
By extension, the general structure of this errant report was distorted and resembled a study on enjambment; except there was nothing poetic about it. The story anathematised precision, and this was to be an embarrassingly prevalent issue. Let us take a breather from that and try to understand why Aliu kept shooting his own story in the head.
After beating tediously about the bush, Aliu, who had started his warped tale in medias res, finally revealed what he presumed to be the conflict of the story. Hear him whimper thus: “The Guardian gathered that the problem resulted from disagreement over who has the upper hand in the control of the All Progressives Congress in Oredo.”
In Aliu’s phantasmagorical reality, there is a power tussle between Chief Osaro Idah, the Secretary of the party (APC) in Edo state and a youth leader, Comrade Osakpanwa Eriyo.
As he had compelled us to chronologically piece his article together like a logocentric jigsaw puzzle, it turned out that this tussle was not a cold war as is usually the case in politics. It was a ‘squabble’. Aliu is therefore painting the picture of an APC that is anarchic and has no clear hierarchy of power. So to become more powerful than another person, you have but to squabble successfully and the deed is done.
Again, hear the biased reporter chirp: “The leaders of the party in the council led by Idah had a list of the party executive while Eriyo who supported Obaseki before and after the APC primaries….” Aliu did not say of Idah and the other leaders that they supported Governor Obaseki. But he does indicated it as a modifier for the person of Eriyo. To humour his negligence of that fact, is Aliu suggesting that Eriyo’s support “before and after” makes him the leader of the party in Oredo, and as such, untouchable?
Aliu also claimed, among many other things, to have learnt that the Christmas gifts meant for party leaders in Oredo were ‘diverted’…. Here we must applaud his impish choice of words. Only mischief will make a journalist say such a thing and still not reveal the nature of the gifts. Was it monetary or otherwise? Regardless of that, what exactly has this reporter done, in terms of investigative journalism, to uncover and expose those who diverted the alleged Christmas gifts? Has the Police Force confirmed this alleged diversion? Was there any effort by the reporter to reach the police or government authorities to confirm his speculations? At what point were the gifts diverted, the reporter should know that having started with his fib, he owed the readers elucidative details.
Having thus failed at recording the past accurately, Aliu clairvoyantly went ahead to predict, and drag us into this séance that: “It is obvious with this broadcast that it would no longer be business as usual but it remained to be seen how this would affect the needed cohesion in the party as some party members are already grumbling that such a move would impoverish party members and could lead to defections.” He said this of the Governor’s ban on manual revenue collection within the state.
His reasoning, which enabled him deduce such a prophecy, is indicated in the report although, as to be expected, it defies chronological coherence.
Aliu noted that: “Eriyo, one of the dominant members of the party who allegedly made a fortune from collecting revenues from members of RTEAN and on behalf of the state government, have amassed much wealth….”
That is all there is to it. Since manually collecting taxes was a lucrative venture for Eriyo, it was lucrative for the party, according to Aliu. This is why he said in varying order that Eriyo amassed much wealth (collecting RTEAN taxes) and that “party members are already grumbling that such a move (ban of revenue collections) would impoverish party members and could lead to defections.”
By inference, the only coherence we can perceive from Aliu is that Eriyo is the party in Oredo and the party is Eriyo.
This shallow mind-set must be curbed and, for the avoidance of doubt, Aliu must be reminded that this ban on revenue collection was widely celebrated by the people, politicians across party divides. Aliu’s insinuations that the people and Government of Edo State should surrender their internal revenue to Eriyo to manage must be incinerated and henceforth forgotten.
The lazy reporter again piped that: “The governor’s action received some knocks and applause from different people with APC members not comfortable with the likely backlash on the party’s cohesion and security in the state.”
In other words, according to this piper, “Edo people are comfortable with the Governor, but APC members are not. This is because Eriyo is the symbol of the party in the state, and when Eriyo is not happy, he has the capacity to cause general unrest in the state and thereby makes it ungovernable.
In a report of this nature, one would have expected the reporter to reach out to the APC State Chairman, Mr. Anselm Ojesua, or Secretary of the party, Chief Idah to obtain their reactions to the stories he had.
However, he deliberately avoided those channels to achieve his obnoxious and malicious aim of blackmail and as such, he resorted to the PDP and used a statement by the party’s publicity secretary, Mr. Chris Nehikhare, to balance an APC party issue.
To outline all of Aliu’s transgressions would soon become as tedious as his story itself, which was lacking in everything from manageable grammar to sound journalism. Sensitive issues must be handled meticulously and reports like this should be investigated thoroughly before they are published.
Oh, lest we forget, they must also be titled according to their contents.
Dr. Idemudia Oviosun, APC Chieftain (Edo South Senatorial District) writes from Oredo Local government area and can be reached on email@example.com