By James Ibechi
Critics and traducers of Governor Samuel Ortom are hurling attacks on the government over the conduct of the All Progressives Congress (APC) LG primary elections, but I think such constitutes an affront on the party’s internal democracy.
But permit me to begin with this confession. Hardly a day passes without me listening or watching news and interviews on personality and politics from foreign media, especially BBC, CNN, VOA and Radio DeusheWella, among others.
The reason I do this is not because I prefer foreign media to our own local Radio Benue, NTA, Channels or AIT and many other credible news media here. But, it is just to help me in my want of balance in reporting issues, because I normally hear, read or watch what the local media carry first.
Doing what I use to do, I have overtime come to develop the fondness for particularly BBC and CNN because of the craft their seasoned journalists such as Larry King put into their own style of the practice of the noble profession. The guys are appealingly crafty and their craft is compelling.
If, for example, a BBC interviewer prefers Archt. Dominic Angwa’s candidature or better still Ogor Andrew’s to Austine Okwoche’s in the current race to become Oju LG Chairman, and Okwoche happens to grant a live TV chat with the journalist, just to speak on why it should be him, and not his opponent, who should pick his party’s ticket or the reasons he wants to be chairman, and if you follow the interview attentively you’ll be able to glean the craft I have talked about that tends to somehow set some of the foreign journalists apart which earns my admiration.
In the course of such a chat, Okwoche will definitely be given the chance with the type of questions the journalist will be throwing at him, to speak on his selling points and if he’s such a candidate who is not just learning the rope, in a few minutes on air, he should be able to hold the voters spellbound by also hitting them with the greatest of the achievements he was able to record in his short stint as a Sole Administrator of the same LG that he wants to return to, this time, as executive chairman, if ever he so recorded some.
But I know too that Okwoche would definitely not escape the BBC journalist’s craft or other side of the art as he would be asked, against the backdrop of certain information that is floating around, to either refute or confirm such about him or his stewardship.
For instance, if he is not the choice of the journalist/masses ( I wish he is), the journalist won’t voice it openly, but he may be asked what he’s got to show for a “N45million” that he was said to be granted for infrastructure development while he still held sway as Sole Admin. If it is true that he received the buck and pocketed it that alone will be enough to put some iron in the voters’mind against him.
Yet, part of the craft is this, before he could be done with the explanation on that question the journalist will throw another poser on top of the one he is still struggling to do justice to, like how did he maneuvered in over 500 votes overshooting the over three hundred and sixty something that were said to be the valid ones to emerge the standard bearer of the APC ticket in the primary election just conducted in Oju LGA. Again, before Okwoche will even go midway in answering this question, the CNN journalist will quickly interject with yet another hot question like, asking Okwoche to react to the allegation that he is being imposed by his godfather, and just almost immediately Okwoche begins to respond, the journalist draws the curtain on the interview in a manner that leaves an impression in the audience that the candidate is probably guilty of most of the allegations leveled against him.
In the end, you would like to praise the journalist for being balanced and objective but very crafty, wouldn’t you? For, Okwoche’s selling points which he himself made known are in the public domain, just as are his flipsides but which are craftily shown to the readers in a way that convinces everyone that the downsides of the former sole admin are clearly his very albatross.
That is part of the craft I’m celebrating that, regrettably, is lacking among the teeming social media journalists of our time which is increasingly bringing the noble profession to its kneels in this clime. But let us put this on one side.
Anybody who wants to know the full implication of why Governor Samuel Ortom was so troubled to the point that he recently thumbed down social media sources of news, describing them as not credible, should read one of the latest pieces by Usha Anenga. Anenga is one of the critics of the governor with a vast presence on the social media. Or do you call him a traducer of Governor Ortom administration you might not be wrong.
For, in that Usha’s piece, which is some kind of a reposte to the interview the governor granted on his return from China in which he took a strong swipe on those who published a falsehood on social media to the effect that one of the commissioners in his entourage was arrested for theft in that country, the social media critical writer in a fashion that clearly depicts him as not just a mere constructive critic, but also a hater of everything the Ortom administration represents – whether good or best in comparative analysis – from the start of the piece to the end of it does not see anything good to mention about the administration that is pulling the state – albeit gradually – out of the socio-economic doldrum into which it was plunged by an administration adjudged to be the worst performed in the anal of the history of Benue. That was ex-Governor Gabriel Suswam-led government.
Usha’s piece negates the popular saying that a man can’t all be bad, as there surely must be one thing good in or about the man but that is not in the prism of the eye of Usha. For him, such is unheard of. And you wonder why the same Usha at the early life of the Governor Ortom administration was a darling of the right-wing or the right-wing was his darling? We can reserve the reason behind his journey into the far-left for another day or do so with trepidation of slanting the tone of the piece.
Governor Ortom used that interview to throw light on his trip to China especially the rumoured arrest of the commissioner, the status of Mbatiav Cement, allegations of imposition of candidates in his party’s primaries and the protests that trailed the conduct of the polls, among other issues. As it were, Governor Ortom basically fielded questions from journalists. So everything he said was a direct answer to the question asked by the pressmen. Inspite of all this, is it not egregious how Usha could ignore all the most important issues of the state as addressed by the governor in the interview and pandered to nuances instead?
Nuances in the sense that issues that are supposed to constitute a fulcrum of any critical write up such as Usha’s as were addressed by the governor because of their importance to the people and the survival of the state as an economy were ignored. Instead, what pinches Usha most is the area where the governor thumbed down on social media reports.
Using that as the basis of his criticism, Usha then berated the governor on everything down to the most current issue of the alleged imposition of candidates which sparked off protests over the APC primary for the forthcoming LG election in the state. In an authoritarian fashion typical of his writing, Usha went out of his way to hastily blame Governor Ortom for a matter that bothers on internal affairs of a party and it bothers me because more persons also toe his line to launch virulent attacks on the governor.
Have we forgotten that all of what is happening is part of democracy? Elections have being conducted and winners and losers have emerged and the agrieved ones have also sprung up. How the party resolves the grievances should matter to the public and the critics than the hue and cry from the corners. If the party’s approach to the issue of imposition negates the principle of democracy the watchdogs can have a good case on which to lambast the party in governance. It is only then will it be right to apportion blame. For now, the swelling criticisms of the government on the basis of the hue and cry arising from the conduct of the party’s primaries are not just disproportionate but are an affront on the APC internal affair/democracy. And it ought to cease forthwith.