COUNTERPOINT By Femi Akintunde-Johnson
Once upon a time, it was said that journalism was the enactment of history in a hurry. Those who queued behind that school of thought would have been overwhelmed by the relentless surge and unwieldy influence of social internet networks, otherwise called ‘Social Media’. The frenetic pace of social media activism provides a potpourri of emotions – sometimes odious and mundane outbursts, some excellent and seminal submissions, and the regular fare of warmongering, hate speech, kitchen-sink-stroke-dirty-linen splash, feverishly lavished by ‘post-modest’ reporters, and greedily lapped by eager-beaver millions of net-zens.
Yet, we find great opportunity on Social Media for learning, teaching, exhortation, remonstration, illumination, examination, deconstruction, etc, in our engagements with state actors, policies, personalities and politics. Of greater advantage is the benefit of instantaneous response and rebuttal. Comments come in different garbs: from the acerbic, to the urbane, to the scholarly; from the universalist, liberal citizens of the world, to closet bigots, tribal anarchists, and irreverent disruptors; from the jocular to the banal…and even the downright nasty. The categories are endless.
Beyond this weekly column, we elected in the new year to be more active on the social media, especially on Facebook, and frequently engage a more voluble and responsive audience of friends, colleagues, ‘followers’, and others. Therefore, from the first week of January 2021, we have upped our interventions in a series of posts that articulate our thoughts on immediate and important issues. Simply dubbed ‘My Point’, we have chosen, today, to showcase positions taken between January and February on different hot topics, and which had elicited interesting and serious attention. Unfortunately, there is not enough space even for a fraction of ‘comments’ generated by ‘My Point’. Below are some of those Social Media interlocution…
“News: Nigerians Be Fair When Criticizing My Government – Buhari
My Point: Eskis Sir… It’s difficult to be fair to your government – and any in the past 35 years, or more – when you think of the hope dashed by unfulfilled promises, abandoned manifestoes, confusing corruption crusades, suffocating stories of multiple heists of public funds… weakly portrayed as fissures of democratic limitations.
When the majority of the people feel that some government actions and policies are essentially designed to torment and frustrate their entrepreneurial and self-improvement endeavours…
It is very difficult to empathize with an administration which is rightly (or wrongly) accused of lacking empathy and humaneness. I rest.
“News: 2023: South-West Speakers, Ex-Lawmakers, Political Allies Unite In Ibadan For Tinubu
My Point: Politicians?! Always scheming… optimistic. Proactive on issues of self-interest… Yet, we are under the attack of a most vicious pandemic during which absolutely no one is guaranteed to be alive in 2023 to vote or be voted for! Surely, politics is vanity…only the superbly vain thrive in.
Just wear masks and keep safe distancing as you scurry and scheme for a year that only Coronavirus may permit.
“News 1: Ohanaeze urges Buhari to consider South-East in next appointment
News 2: Ohanaeze faction lauds Buhari over appointment of Leo Irabor
News 3: Northern elders back Ohanaeze, want review of appointments
My Point: Apparently, the fact of the ancestry of Lucky Eluonye Onyenuchea (LEO) Irabor, a major general and acting CDS, being an Ika-Igbo rubbed the two factions of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in different ways.
The Igbo nation should underscore the seriousness and sensitivity of their reactions to these critical security appointments by unifying their positions – and muzzling their internal structural disagreements. For the greater good!
“News: Army deploys 300 female soldiers to secure Kaduna-Abuja road
My Point: Who is the problem here? Is it the military authorities who cavalierly share vital operational intelligence with the public? Or the excitable media who are unable to apply circumspection in their reportage of delicate security information?
How do you provide critical components of your offensive strategy, churning out numbers, gender and location of your next action? Is it to provide the miscreants and despicable elements with feeders for their countermeasures?!
This has been a recurrent gaffe amongst government agencies, and even governors and ministers, who reel out vital information at public forums…on issues that can be better dealt with using subtlety and covert measures.
Then, we wonder why our painful anti-social misfortune lingers…and festers.
What really is our problem? Intelligence? Loud-mouthiness? Showmanship? Eye-service-ism? Strategic thinking?
“News 1: Not All Fulani Are Kidnappers – Sultan of Sokoto
News 2: Seven Out Of Every Ten Kidnappers Arrested Are Fulani – Sultan
My Point: Of course, we know, sir. We generally categorise anyone who asserts generalisations in any human activity as short-sighted and bigoted.
What we are asking is that when elements caught in the act of kidnapping and mindless murdering, raping, maiming and destruction of farmlands… there should not be a call from Abuja or anywhere else asking police officers to “release them immediately”.
We want suspected criminals of Fulani, Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa…or whatever stock, to face the full force of the law, promptly and fairly, without tribal or sectional hiccups.
And sir, let’s find a modern means of dealing with our beef matter…this 300-400km trek with cows, child-herders, AK-47, and accompanying casualties and devastation should STOP.
Also, erecting colonies seems to me archaic and disruptive. This is 2021! We no dey shame?
“Tori: Bandits: Islamic Cleric Sheik Gumi want make FG give amnesty to bandits, herdsmen and a share of di ‘national cake’ (BBC Pidgin)
News: Negotiate with unrepentant Fulani bandits, grant amnesty to them – Sheikh Gumi tells Buhari (Daily Post)
My Point: I come dey wonder wetin Evans (inside Lagos jail) for dey think now…
PS: Daily Post, by the way, that is not a news headline…it’s editorial! Needless opinion.
“News: Bauchi Gov: Herders Have No Option Than To Carry AK-47
My Point: It has become clear that anyone interested in any elective office should first undergo rigorous psych-eval … at a government facility, fully paid for by the political aspirant.
Imagine a state’s chief security officer making such incendiary statement. Has he ever read the constitution? Or his state runs a different one? Where do the herders derive such ‘option’?
So, the tormented and endangered farmers and southern locals are entitled to carry similar weapons, or higher grades…since they have no option but to protect themselves from blood-drunk mad herdsmen who cannot differentiate between cash crops and lemon grass.
Then, I remembered he recently tested positive for coronavirus…and also that Dr. Omoniyi Ibietan’s assertion which ties post-virus status with mental health issues… Perhaps, we ought to be more charitable…he may not know what he is saying or doing… perhaps, like some of the governors who contracted the disease?
But going forward, this is a frightening scenario.
“News: “My administration is at war with the bandits and so we cannot negotiate. Eliminating them is the only solution to banditry. – Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai
My Point: I hope other Northern governors are reading el-Rufai (especially that AK-47-loving polemicist in Bauchi), instead of shamelessly throwing their hands up, and claiming ‘kissing’ the bandits is the only way to peace. Smoke-filled mentality!”