Ode to Message And Its Messenger



By Femi Akintunde-Johnson

am always amused when people advise that others should try to separate the message from the messenger; that for discussions to be premised on logic, order and substance the personification of the carrier of the message should be pushed to the background so as to focus attention and passion on the spirit and letters of the content (the message). My amusement is not as a result of my inability to appreciate this wonderful argument, nor do I seriously object to it, in principle. I am amused because human beings are not machines – we have sentiments, sensibilities, experiences, exposure, idiosyncrasies, etc, arising from our diverse backgrounds, training, locations and education. Except as means of deliberate academic exercise or some fancy psychoanalytic adventure, where we are requested to suspend reality and immediacy of our environment, to challenge and interrogate issues and problems dispassionately and forensically. Beyond that – well, I may be advised of other situations subsequently – there is hardly any public debate in which anyone can successfully and efficiently maintain dialogue and duality in a manner that separates a messenger from his message! One, most Messengers have motives and mission, good or bad, altruistic or prebendal, mischievous or ingenuous, selfserving or troubleshooting. There is always a reason for arguing (for or against) in the public space on virtually all issues.

Secondly, reliable and responsible Messengers are often consistent and hardly piss too far from their pottie. For some, merely reading the opening paragraphs of their Message, the swerving construction, the elevated words…disparaging anecdotes…tangling sarcasm… etc, discerning readers immediately know the writer’s political or ideological persuasion. For others, they glance at the byline (name at the top of the article) or below, and identify the piece as written by “an old customer”… a sentiment principally fueled by the understanding that tigers don’t change their stripes…and a virile lion can’t share a drinking hole with a hyena!

 Permit this stretch to some sort of absurdity: Can you see the hardworking Nigerian transvestite, Bobrisky, explaining the challenges of living responsibly, and you knowing her/his antecedents, will it be outrageous of you not to wonder, or perhaps “reject” the spirit that leads a man to crave and profess to be a woman… even in all his/her seductive posturing?   Here, as is often the case even in more sublime scenarios, the message is gasping grossly in the suffocating aroma of the messenger!

 So, it is supremely impossible for partisans to wear a robe of objectivity in an arena of open-square discussion, even when they incredibly restrain themselves by seeking to focus on issues, in stead of abuses and cusswords.

 Now, the inability to separate the Messenger from the Message may not be as bad as it sounds… if the duellers agree and make effort to interrogate the Message in civil, responsible and constructive manner. You may repudiate an argument based on the presupposition that an APC supporter (not apologist, nitwit, liar or worse still “zombie”) cannot find anything good in a position canvassed by a PDP enthusiast (scratch PDPig, dimwit, devourer, or worse still “pestilence”).

 Our comfort with abusive, disparaging and vicious debates – garnised with savage baiting, derision, lampooning and such eccentricities make political engagements violent, intolerant and primitive. We then wonder why the streets are extensions of the social media battlefronts.

We can disagree and disprove, and even dismiss possitions and opposition in such a way the other party will seek a review of its strategies and offerings, while scavenging for better, improved substitutes in the wake of mature and invigorating contestations of ideas and suggestions.

 Let us ply a higher road… to solving our mutual challenges of, and temptations in nation building.


“Mr. Sharibu Nethan, Leah Sharibu’s father has disclosed that his family was terrified with the recent murder of Hauwa Leman, by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). The father of the only Dapchi school girl in captivity appealed to President Buhari to act quickly in order to secure the release of his daughter.”

– From a father to another, I join my voice to demand that the president give Leah’s father a definite answer, and give the nation a sense of closure over the Dapchi debacle before this October expires. The signs are indeed baleful.


“National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, on Monday, dismissed as untrue the reported gang-up by APC governors against his leadership of the party. Oshiomhole, while responding to State House correspondents in Abuja, said only one or two out of the 23 state governors under the platform of APC were vehemently opposed to his leadership style.”

– Bros, why are few people “vehemently opposed” to your style? Weren’t we told that good leadership is built on consensus and diplomacy…leading sometimes from the rear…being firm but fair… strong but flexible. How does your leadership style scale along those parameters? Repent, before you’re reposted in the coming days of the long knives.


“A coalition of the All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential candidates have insisted that the National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole must be removed now. The coalition, in a statement, described Oshiomhole as cancerous, accusing him of causing much of the crisis brewing in the party.”

Emm… Emm… Coalition of wetin? So, there were other presidential candidates in APC? Were they dozing when their party was carrying on weeks before the affirmation primary as if Buhari was the only aspirant available? Well, that cancer has spread wide and deep for us to be hearing of disgruntled aspirants long after the owambe has ended. Please, shift!


“The Director of Strategy and Documentation of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Olisa Mbakwe announced in the week that its leader, Nnamdi Kanu has been sacked from the group. Mbakwe said Kanu was fired for placing more value on his dog than those murdered in the struggle for the realisation of Biafra.”

– Oh, you guys just realised he wasn’t fit to lead your dream? Well, now, that you’ve unplugged your heads from the sand, kindly confirm that the brash statement alluded to Kanu actually came from him! Was Jack real? Did he show such disdain for human lives while on the Biafran throne? Is he really in Israel? Were you privy to his exile, or we all saw the rabbi photograph on Facebook about the same time? Any clear and verifiable evidence that he made that broadcast? Audio and pictures can be easily faked. Yes, video too – but at least we’ll have something to investigate. Even a scoundrel deserves the benefit of doubts?