A wise saying notes that every time hate preoccupies a man, he diminishes in value. This may soon be the lot of?The Nation?newspapers as it takes on the role of serving as Akpabio?s tormentor-in-chief as evidenced in the subjection of its editorial column to hurl invectives at the innocent man, whose assiduity in redefining governance should be a source of celebration rather than such acerbic criticism.?The Nation?by this action may be embarking on a journey of decline if it does not halt its indiscretion.
The paper had on August 8, 2013 dedicated its editorial column to fire unsavoury salvos at Governor Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State. In the piece entitled?Tin god, it criticized Akpabio for relieving Secretary to the State Government (SSG) of Akwa Ibom State of duty. According to the editorial, the raison d??tre for the action was the declaration of the erstwhile SSG to vie for the office of Governor of the state.??In its uninformed comment, it stated that Governor Akpabio was infuriated by that declaration hence the decision to show him the way out. But the aspiration of the immediate past SSG was not new to anybody in the State including the governor who had also mentioned that aspiration liberally at different fora. With this scenario, the paper ought to have bothered to investigate the actual reason for the change of the SSG rather than speculate or provide specious reasons that are not verifiable.
Editorials represent the policy of the paper. It is assumed to be the opinion or position of that media organisation on a said issue. Newspapers are assessed by their editorials. Through an editorial, you can deduce where the organisation stands in terms of public policy. Editorials deal with topical issues and canvass opinions on how public policies could be shaped. The language is often civilized, temperate and impersonal. It labours to rise above mediocrity, subjectivity, frivolity, animosity and personal feelings. The column is often known for exercising professional and civilized values being the image of the paper or magazine.
The editorial of?The Nation of August 8, 2013?failed unabashedly short of all the isolated criteria. It would be one of the few times that a dignified newspaper is surrendering its revered editorial column to pursue the infantile fancy of hatred. Hate is ignoble; it is base and often seen as a product of a warped mind. It is hard to conjecture how egg-heads sat in an editorial board meeting to decide that the editorial policy of the paper for the day should be hatred directed at Governor Akpabio. That is if the ritual of editorial meeting was observed. Or was it an individual who decided to exercise his/her warped fancy that did the editorial without consulting other members of the editorial board? Were the likes of Gbenga, Omatseye and Fagbemi there? It is unbelievable!
The editorial employed clearly indecorous and uncouth language. It made no pretence about its intention to disparage Governor Akpabio. It set for itself the disingenuous task of undertaking and completing investigation on the ousting of the erstwhile SSG, condemned the style and handed down a verdict of ignominy to the man it claimed called the shots for that ouster. It described the governor with all manner of sordid epithets depicting him as a tyrant which does not reflect Governor Akpabio that many know. By this editorial,?The Nation?has failed in holding out the proverbial mirror for the true reflection of man and society as expected of a dignified medium and journalism profession. Its use of far-fetched examples to advance the cause of its defective submission about Akpabio only shows how hate can becloud reasoning.
It is well known to avid readers of?The Nation?that the paper does not see anything good in Akwa Ibom State, its people and its governor. For instance, one would hardly see any positive thing about Akwa Ibom State in?The Nation?newspapers. It is always stories of woes, political violence, allegation of electoral heist, murder, brigandage and other sundry vices that cast the State as insecure. The well-orchestrated and globally acknowledged transformation in Akwa Ibom has never been reported by?The Nation?save it is an advertorial. All one reads in?The Nation?is negative reportage about Akwa Ibom even when it is in a pole position to know the truth.
While one appreciates the dilemma of the medium being a mouthpiece of the opposition, one wishes to advise that it must not sacrifice professionalism to satisfy the fancies of its paymaster. It should at least pretend to be on the side of principle by not allowing politics to interfere and prejudice journalism career and dispose it as a tool in the hands of politicians. The sustained efforts by?The Nation?to see everything wrong in Akwa Ibom seems to be part of a calculated political agenda to discredit the State which has ascended enviable height these past six years to turn the once deafening success story of ACN-controlled Lagos State into a boring tale of drudgery. And as part of it, the star light of Akwa Ibom which is Godswill Akpabio must be dimmed with bad press. This in my estimation is unfortunate and a sad commentary on journalism practice.
Recently, Punch newspapers carried a news item which it purported was a result of a press statement issued by a group called?Northern Emancipation Network. The group is reported to have advised President Jonathan to be wary of Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State. Curiously, it was only Punch that was at that Press briefing out of plenteous newspapers in this country. And the purpose of that mischievous news report is stripped bare when papers further editorialise fiction in the name of reportage. Journalists must find the nobility to commend people that are doing well in other to encourage them as well as others to tow the path of progressive and accountable governance. It must also criticize when the need arises to keep leadership in check. This is the only way journalism would be seen as partners in the all-important task of nation building.
The likes of Sam Omatseye, Olatunji Dare, Gbenga Omotosho and others have done well in raising the quality of reading materials published in?The Nation?newspapers. They have through their sublime and cerebral works increased the paper?s readership tribe especially in Akwa Ibom which I visit often. But the paper may suffer readership alienation in that State if the people realize that the paper is persistently working against the interest of the State. This is not intended as blackmail but a truth. A newspaper of the standing of?The Nation?should not be seen to be parochial or holding jaundiced views against a person or section of the country. It should be seen as a true national paper. This is the only way it can continue to cultivate followership that would nurse this enfeebled adult (agbaya) nation-state to a strong and virile one.
Joseph Ndedu – Lagos