THIS piece would never have been written because of the dictate of our fathers from the depth of the wisdom that chickens should get stuff to eat outside each other’s intensities put too many chicks or adults in too small an area and chickens pecking each other is bound to occur but there is a line they would not cross.
In like manner there is an ethical line in the media that no decent organisation crosses. Columnists do have different perspectives and disagree in a healthy manner and even even combative sometimes but for newspapers to take each other on openly in a very caustic manner is not a popular tradition especially on behalf of a government or regime.
It was that sacred line that the Daily Trust crossed last week when it turned to Aso Rock bulletin churning out a not very responsible editorial against the very popular editorial against, the very captivating editorial against the serial abuse of power in Nigeria that is creating angst in the land and earning US international opprobrium like we got in the days of Abacha dictatorship.
The Punch editorial took a deep overview of the attitude of the government to the rule of law and made the following infallible observations:
“The entire country and a global audience are rightly scandalised by the unfolding saga over Omoyele Sowore and the unruliness of the SSS and the government; but it is only a pattern, a reflection of the serial disregard of the Buhari regime for human rights and its battering of other arms of government and our democratic institutions. The Punch views this tendency and its recent escalation with serious concern, knowing as the great thinker, Edmund Burke, said that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Nigeria had trod a path, a veritable obstacle course, where repression, especially under military jackboots, was a malignant presence and this attracted heroic resistance by ordinary people, civil society groups and the press. But Nigerians have lately become lethargic, divided by ethnic and sectarian sentiments and weakened by widespread poverty brought on by a rapacious political class and bad governance.
The Punch will not adopt the self-defeating attitude of many Nigerians looking the other way after each violation of rights and attacks on the citizens, the courts, the press and civic society, including self-determination groups lawfully exercising their inalienable rights to peaceful dissent. This regime’s actions and assaults on the courts, disobedience of court orders and arbitrary detention of citizens reflect its true character of the martial culture. Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) ran a ham-fisted military junta in 1984/85 and old habits obviously run deep. Until he and his repressive regime purge themselves of their martial tendency therefore, The Punch will not be a party to falsely adorning it with a democratic robe, hence our decision to label it for what it is – an autocratic military-style regime run by Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd).”
And it backed that with a resolve in the order of patriotic media organisations under repression like Malawian newspapers who once left their front pages blank to protest against media repression under Kamuzu Banda’s autocratic reign by declaring:
“As a symbolic demonstration of our protest against autocracy and military-style repression, The Punch (all our print newspapers, The Punch, Saturday Punch, Sunday Punch, Punch Sports Extra, and digital platforms, most especially punchng.com) will henceforth prefix Buhari’s name with his rank as a military dictator in the 80s, Major General, and refer to his administration as a regime, until they purge themselves of their insufferable contempt for the rule of law.”
The paper is not new to standing for democratic values with its sister organisations across the country. It was for this reason it was shut down for several months by the Abacha junta in which our current leader served as PTF chairman and several key operatives of that evil reign in so many positions today. We can’t remember what Daily Trust stood for in those dark days.
The editorial gained wide acceptance among all Nigerians who have not sold their souls to the devil nationwide. The revered Sultan of Sokoto speaking in Abuja at the 2019 fourth quarter meeting of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council with the theme, ‘Religion and civil authorities in dialogue for nation-building did not mince words when echoed punchy view disobedience to court orders was a recipe for lawlessness and chaos.
According to him, “If you are served a court order and you deliberately refused to obey it because you are a governor, president or any influential person, then you are setting a dangerous precedent.
The monarch said, “We must regularly obey and respect the laws of our land. We should never disregard the laws to avoid the consequences. If a court makes a judicial pronouncement on a particular matter, it should be obeyed to the letter.
“If you have any problem or disagree with the pronouncement, the next step is to appeal the pronouncement instead of disregarding or violating court judgments.
“Ignoring court orders by any category of leaders is equal to setting a bad and dangerous precedent for the future.
“Disagreements with any court order should be followed by an appeal and not disregard for such order.”
Days after him, our exalted Iku, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, spoke truth to power at the 70th anniversary event of the Nigerian Tribune in Ibadan, when he asked why any government in this modern age should be thinking of killing people for disagreeing with it as the nasty social media bill is seeking:
“If I have not killed anyone and I give an opinion that is contrary to the government’s, will it be sufficient reason for me to be hanged? Where are the lawyers in Nigeria? Can’t they speak up?
“Nobody is speaking up. If you don’t want to be criticised, then you don’t have to be in government,” he said.
The Alaafin recalled Awolowo’s projection that if the Northerners were not educated, the Almajiri would become bandits who are now being pacified when contrary opinions are being criminalise.
“Today, in Zamfara and Yobe, the governments are now subjected to banditry. And they are exchanging these bandits, giving them money. How can the government give bandits money? That is a collapse of governance and government.”
Our leading monarchs are showing the perspective of what is right cuts across regional lines.
But Daily Trust would want to sustain the notion that we are different values locked in one country when it came with a reactionary editorial rejoinder to The Punch opinion resembling the words of Femi Adeisina and Garba Shehu.
It would be a waste of media space to quote too much from the hogwash which my brother Farook Kperogi rightly dubbed unprofessional. I take this little from what the paper titled “Punch and Counter-Punch”, even when there is no punch in their counter:
“Secondly, the decision to refer to him by his military title removed focus from the real substance of the editorial which was the issue of alleged repressive tendencies and disrespect for the rule of law by the Federal Government. The editorial was an example of clear deductive logic and their decision to change Buhari’s nomenclature was the conclusion of their argument, not the premises. However this conclusion provided the opportunity for their editorial to be reduced to the mundane issue of whether or not Major-General Buhari (retd) has a right to be addressed as respectfully as “President”. That should not be in dispute because unlike his first sojourn, this time round he was actually voted into office.”
What do we say to the fellows who will still continue to go about with the word “trust” after this moral turpitude? They even said disrespect of court orders in Nigeria today is an allegation. Did they read it before they published?
They are reminded that there was a newspaper called Daily Times which was the most influential in the country for decades.In the years of my childhood “Daily Times” was the name for any newspaper.
Then came Abacha evil reign and the paper became a rag sheet in aid of authoritarianism. The readers rejected it and its building became only the relic of its existence. It was eventually sold off many years after its death and the new managers are struggling with the brand.
This editorial will haunt Daily Trust forever like Abacha did to Daily Times!
The true meaning of GSM victory
I called my big egbon, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), minutes after the Supreme Court ruled on the Appeal Court contrived governorship crisis in Oyo State last Wednesday .
I told him what he did was not for my brother Governor Seyi Makinde, who earned his seat democratically, but for the good people of Oyo State and Yoruba nation now spared of what would have been another “tatatatatata” like Kogi by power mongers, who do not mind turning a whole state to ashes just to control its treasury.
Thank God we are now saved of a bloodbath because the court did not order a re-run.
In our pre-Banana Republic days, we would have called on the NJC to probe that strange decision of the Appeal Court which made no sense outside compromise. That judgement that people cannot make sense of till today is a blight on our judiciary in this season of “anything goes”. Lawyers who participate in these shenanigans should be realising the harm they are doing to their profession hopefully.
The broader significance of GSM victory is that anyone thinking of making Yorubaland a one-party state should perish the nonsensical thought. Yoruba are one people but they cherish plurality.
Governor Makinde should continue to let the good people of Oyo know that they made no error in choosing him as their governor. He just must sustain his rating and do even more.
Congrats to him!