As the Special Assistant to Peter Obi on Media and Publicity, I complement the work of the Chief Press Secretary, in Governor Obi’s own case, Mr. Mike Udah. I call him editor because, besides having edited a National Newspapers, he is quite good at crossing of Ts and dotting of Is.
When a certain Newspaper called Fresh Facts, obviously bought over by the opposition, started writing falsehoods about Governor Obi, we discussed what they wrote together. From an editorial point of view, I told Mike that it would be difficult for even the Pope to merit the headline of a particular newspaper continuously for a month except something was clearly wrong. But Governor Obi continues to grace the front pages of Fresh Facts for about two months now.
Having gone through the papers, I told Mike he could reply to their falsehoods if he had nothing else to do. I have my reasons. Going by the pedigree of those behind the paper, it is not worth replying. Even from psychological point of view, their pictures as published cast question marks on their integrity. Mike replied once and gave up telling me that it is dangerous to be sane among mad men. In the last edition of the paper, Mike suffered under their caustic pen. As I have done, I advised him not to bother replying since a gentleman like him cannot afford to engage in duel of the pen with rascals.
The other day, it was Jerome Azubuko who wrote Okey Ndibe On Andy Uba, a reply to Dr. Okey Ndibe’s article, which appeared in the Daily Sun of Tuesday, October 9th. I can say that Okey is a world acclaimed journalist, with pedigree and is courted as role model. Azubuko of fresh facts said unprintable things about Okey Ndibe. It is the mark of his orientation that he even quarreled with Okey’s grey hair.
I do not want to be caught in the cross fire between Azubuko and Ndibe for I do not have a bullet proof. However, Fresh Facts, and the article written by those behind it are refreshing in the sense that they have proved instructive on how not to practice journalism. First of all, let us do a brief analysis of Ndibe and Azubuko.
I have followed Okey since his days in the Guardian newspaper. Okey has distinguished himself as a writer without cant, who does not know how to dissimulate things. Reading Okey, you get the picture of a sincere, moral crusader. He has an exceptionally logical mind; he marshals his a prioris and his a posterioris with the precision of a chess player.
Any writer who is touched by the mess going on in Nigeria, especially in Anambra State, where the dregs of the society are threatening to turn the State into the kingdom of darkness must always write annoyingly. Okey therefore writes with invaluable sincerity; and his thought go through the clouds and cobwebs of the crooked minded like cleansing lightening and a rushing wind. Okey analyses human nature and events in his dear state with a subtlety as sharp as a surgeon’s knife, and perhaps as salutary. His grey hair depicts what grey hair depicts – wisdom.
Okey is beyond price in the conscious grandeur of a seasoned journalist and a finished personality that knows his onion and has demonstrated this constantly. The secret of this conquest is his faithfulness to Socratic dictum of “Man know thyself.” The more we know ourselves, the less passions control us. Okey is a great writer in any clime, because he has placed himself above the partialities and futilities of uninformed desire.
Have you seen the Okey that Azubuko was trying to vilify? Let us see the irreverent Azubuko, the type I call a little demon without respect for the holy water.
Having read Azubuko and his brother, Sam Asowata once, no critical mind will want to read them again. If they represent a brand of journalism, that brand should be extinguished. How do we describe them? What words do we use? Azubuko and Asowata play what can be playfully called philosophic chess in which axioms, lies, news and vituperations are manipulated like kings and bishops, knights and pawns. Reading the duo and other journalists with Fresh Facts, one observes an over-facile inversion of every accepted notion, the ridicule of every virtue, the praise of every vice and folly; they take, we discover, a childish delight in shocking the reading public. These reveal men that have lost their balance and hovers on the edge of destruction.
The duo, rather than praise the virtuous, celebrate rogues. It is a sign of depravity that the man of money should be the object of so much worship. How can they vilify Okey and choose people to whom thinking is taboo and whom the joys of the intellect are beyond their reach for literary sainthood? From Azubuko’s writing, you see around him and his likes vulgar luxury without taste, sensual amusement that will rather enslave than refresh or stimulate the mind.
In the world of Azubuko, progress is defined in terms of plebeian philosophies, in terms of progressive vulgarization, in terms of decadence and descending life. This is why you observe a sort of Teutonic bluster in their violence of words.
How do we sum up what Fresh Facts is doing? By choosing perfidious journalism, devoid of objectivity, the media is sick-unto-death. While we wait to sing dies irae for Fresh Facts, let us pity it on the suicide mission it has embarked on. Yes, the best attitude is pity, which we consider a waste of feeling for the irremediably botched, the incompetent, the defective, the vicious and the irrevocably criminal.
Fresh Facts calls for the review of journalism practice in this country. Come to think of it, we prepare ourselves assiduously before becoming authorities in physics or chemistry or biology; but in the field of journalism, every scribe is an expert, knows the trade, and demands to be taken seriously. These demands is seen in Fresh Facts motor park journalism with all its obfuscating power of ogogolo rather than the clarifying virtue of decency, which Okey and his likes represent.
Fresh Facts is good for the bonfire. Those behind it are committing treason against the profession; you cannot hold yourself as a journalist because you can scribble a or b or is lucky to have a miserable medium of communications, when you are evidently baptized with the spirit of vituperation, unreasonableness, incompetence, and by total immersion.
A journalist is supposed to educate and inform. We ask school children to read newspapers because of their edifying credentials. I doubt if anybody will ask his child to read Fresh Facts, it will do to him what Guide to the Perplexed will do to a person who does not share the same philosophy with Maimonides; the person will find in it more perplexities than guidance.
Obienyem is the Special Assistant to Governor Obi