Crusoe Osagie:  How Not to Write a Rejoinder

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By Sufuyan Ojeifo

The abandonment of ethics in the articulation of private fixations has reached its most disgusting level in the domain of rejoinder writing in Edo State. It is necessary to state this now so that Mr. Crusoe Osagie would not go away feeling conceited that there was honour in his use of dishonourable tactics.
In an obtuse bid to massage his ego and satisfy a false sense of accomplishment, he reduced my analysis of the political developments in Edo to a product of dishonest briefing by the Chair of Edo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Dan Osi Orbih. That rationalisation was patently unfair, infantile, pitiable and cheap.

To be sure, Osagie works as a media aide to the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki. He took the opportunity of defending his boss to wantonly assault my person and professional integrity. If he had done so with a touch of brilliance, I would not have bothered so much. But he did it in a poorly-crafted rejoinder to my article titled: “Obaseki and the dialectics of oppositional politics”, which was published very recently in some newspapers and online news portals.
From his deployment of the language of war, he clearly exposed his incapacity to be above the fray, which I consider, stricto sensu, the supreme requirement of a good rejoinder.  If he had been above the fray, he would have been able to deal with the essential issues, correct misconceptions and refrain from personality attack.

Sadly, Osagie failed the critical test from the outset of his riposte.  He allowed himself to sink very low into the odious and the ridiculous when, in a flash of approbation, he claimed that I was well known to him and, in another flash of reprobation, he described his reply to my article as an intellectual exchange with an opponent that he knew fairly well because, according to him, we worked together in THISDAY newspapers for several years.
I do not deny that both of us had the privilege of working in THISDAY but, as I write now, if I run into him, I would not recognize him because we never had any personal contact while in THISDAY. While he was a reporter on the Business Desk (Agriculture beat or so) and later Deputy News Editor many years after I had left THISDAY, I was Politics Editor in Abuja covering the Senate.  He must have known me well by my professional reputation. For personal reasons, I resigned at the point I was redeployed to the State House as State House Bureau Chief in 2010.

Describing me, therefore, as an opponent presupposed that Osagie was out for a battle to settle some personal scores: perhaps because I had the audacity to capture the atmospherics and the nuances of the dialectical relationship between the opposition and the state government in a way that portrayed his boss as somewhat incompetent; or because I had the effrontery to point out Governor Obaseki’s political and strategic misstep of not loading his government with experienced and grass roots politicians whom Osagie gratuitously described as political jobbers.

Osagie actually referred to my case for inclusion of All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders who worked round the clock for Obaseki’s election in the government while he was enjoying himself in THISDAY newsroom in Lagos as “a shameful case for jobs for the boys.”  Now where is the logic in Osagie’s despicable claim that I received a jaundiced brief from Orbih and other actors in the PDP in Edo State?  Was he saying that part of the brief was to make a case for the strategic inclusion of experienced and grass roots politicians in the APC fold in the government who would provide a solid rampart for Obaseki to succeed?
This is obviously non-sequitur.  The PDP does not want Obaseki to succeed.  It is in the interest of the PDP that Obaseki continues to commit a rash of blunders and own goals.  I would not revisit all the specific issues that I raised in my article to which Osagie had reacted.  That is not the essence of this piece.  The essence of this exertion is to instruct Osagie on how not to write a rejoinder.  Referring to me as Ojeifo without the nicety of my person (first name and title)  was jejune.  It largely detracted from the solemnity of the office he occupies and the task of a salesman that he undertakes for his boss.

It is not in apple-pie order for a salesman in the terrain in which Osagie operates to allow unrestrained personal emotions that quite easily befuddle rigorous thinking to overwhelm him.  When that happens, attention is largely shifted to attacking the person (argumentum ad hominem) rather than addressing the issues; or begging the questions (petitio principii), for instance, assuming wrongly from the premise that I had no clue about what is happening in my state.  Whereas, Osagie is egregiously mistaken.
I strongly believe Osagie should be advised and guided next time round that it is dilatory to be foul mouthed in trying to make a point.  For example, such expressions as “for the purpose of safeguarding the little regard I have for you…”, “…this piece that has seriously belittled  the supposedly high standing of journalism expertise which you acquired during your days as a crack reporter for THISDAY”, “…You are probably not quite the investigative and critical journalist you used to be”, “Or has my comrade journalist become so degraded in his idealistic struggle  for the good of the common man to begin  to make such a shameful case for job for the boys?” and “I would like to remind Ojeifo, in case his journalist note pads have been misplaced in the pursuit of other interest…”, et al,  were malapropos in the context of a good rejoinder. Deal with the issues. Do not denigrate the individuals.

Let me state at this juncture that I had sincerely wanted to discountenance Osagie’s rejoinder since my positions as contained in the casus belli (my article) that gave rise to it (rejoinder) remain unassailable; however, I could not but yield to the constant urge to respond in order to guide an unknown friend, not an opponent, on how to acquit himself creditably when next he is challenged to justify the pay he receives from his boss for obligatory defence.
Finally, even though he did not see anything worthy of commendation in my well-intentioned intervention in the political developments in my dear state, I must commend Osagie for leveraging on and taking advantage of his membership of the THISDAY family to facilitate the publication of his rejoinder to my article that was not even published, in the first instance, by the newspaper.  I doubt if that accords to the canon of accepting and publishing rejoinders.  Nevertheless, elbow grease!

–Ojeifo, editor-in-chief of The Congresswatchmagazine, wrote via ojwonderngr@yahoo.com