The free press as Buhari’s headache

Sunday Trust - - VIEWPOINT COMMENT & DEBATE - Tun­deasaju@ya­ with Tunde Asaju

Noth­ing spoils a good Villa day like wak­ing up and not know­ing which of your best-kept se­crets is al­ready leaked. It’s a freak­ing night­mare. As a good French man once wrote - the press is free to do as it’s told. Not in Naija. They are ev­ery­where, tartly dressed, un­paid or grossly un­der­paid, stupidly smart; they keep ex­hum­ing pu­trid skele­tons.

Our el­ders say that when you want to guar­an­tee the safety of a prized pos­ses­sion, you en­trust it to the trusted thief. To this end, Naija gov­ern­ments al­ways hire a mis­er­able new­shound to feed the press all they need to know. In the case of Sai Baba, he hired two em­i­nent hounds as guard dogs to the truth. The duo of Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu are not your run of the mill mem­bers of the Press Cen­tre Press Corps, usu­ally called PCPC in my Abuja days; they are ex­pe­ri­enced new­shounds and for­mer heads of the Guild of Edi­tors. The GE is your equiv­a­lent of silks in law. With their ex­per­tise, you would think that their boys would feel served and that if it needs to know any­thing, it would clar­ify with its silk. But the hounds of sleaze have their long snouts wet­ted sniff­ing out car­rion.

I am ab­so­lutely un­happy with the way the me­dia have been mak­ing both Adesina and Shehu feel be­trayed. For Al­lah’s sake, why can’t th­ese peo­ple do it like NTA and win 30 mil­lion view­ers? Why can’t they be like NAN, sniff­ing other peo­ple’s be­hind and leav­ing gov­ern­ment’s smeared butts alone? Only last week, I was strug­gling to ab­solve Sai Baba of all the com­plic­ity of the Maina saga. We all know that if cor­rup­tion lands on any­thing that Sai Baba has touched, it dies like snake in kerosene. In my last mis­sive, I even con­fessed to my own con­tri­bu­tion to the sleaze train hop­ing by so do­ing to get a #MeToo hash tag, but see where we’ve landed in just one week?

The hounds of truth are never sa­ti­ated with leak­ing a lit­tle streak of blood; they must find the real car­rion and fall on top of each other de­vour­ing it. They have done just that through­out the week, smear­ing every­body on the way. Dis­sat­is­fied with shov­ing Maina vi­o­lently into the un­em­ploy­able mar­ket with his hard-earned Abuja and Kaduna houses un­der the im­pen­e­tra­ble lock of the EFCC, th­ese new­shounds have bro­ken through the vaults of pres­i­den­tial se­crecy to un­cover time­lines and per­son­al­i­ties. It in­cludes what poor Oyo-Ita did to why Dam­banza did not at­tend the FEC meet­ing and by Wed­nes­day, some­one was wily enough to fo­cus their cam­era on Os­in­bajo’s me­di­a­tion be­tween the HOS and the Chief of Staff. When­ever we got close to reach­ing nor­mal blood pres­sure, th­ese guys seek to send us to the ER know­ing fully well that even Aso Rock Clinic lacks com­mon sy­ringes.

Or­di­nar­ily, noth­ing shams an anti-cor­rup­tion gov­ern­ment like know­ing that its czar lacked fo­cus so bad that he went look­ing to re­hire a known fugi­tive ac­cused of steal­ing bil­lions of pen­sion­ers’ funds. No, not even the shameful act of re­ceiv­ing three SUVs from Santa Da­suki or fail­ing a cam­paign prom­ise to de­clare your as­sets comes close. No, not turn­ing the bad ear to proof of back­hand re­cruit­ments in CBN, NNPC or ex­cus­ing al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion against your chief of army comes close. Not mark­ing time with the re­port of cor­rup­tion against your chief scribe and your spy chief un­til vir­tu­ally forced to take ac­tion. In our an­ti­cor­rup­tion war, the log in our eyes is pre­vent­ing us from see­ing the speck in other peo­ple’s eyes.

All th­ese sound and fury over the se­cret meet­ing with your head of ser­vice warn­ing you of the im­pli­ca­tions of re­hir­ing Maina af­ter the act has been done is sad. New­shounds think that scan­dals like th­ese, which would have made any sissy Amer­i­can or Euro­pean politi­cian, re­sign and call snap elec­tions could cause a rau­cous in the sys­tem. As Ze­bru­daya would say, fa, fa, fa, foul!

This sub­tle de­mand for heads to roll doesn’t hap­pen in Naija. Sai Baba would not fire any­body. It’s not in the char­ac­ter of a mer­ci­ful anti-cor­rup­tion czar. Th­ese new­shounds want­ing the head of Malami on a plat­ter while be­rat­ing ISIS for do­ing that in Mo­sul are wait­ing for the crab to go to sleep.

No res­ig­na­tions would hap­pen here be­cause in gov­er­nance, we don’t do con­science. We read your sleazy sto­ries, laugh, drink tea, bot­tled wa­ter or Five Alive and move on. Maina, your en­emy is gone and wanted by the law; your wicked­ness has seen the back of Ayo Oke and grass­cut­ter Babachir Lawal. That’s all you’ll get as cam­paign dawns. But we would sat­isfy the yearn­ings of states that feel blind­sided in the cab­i­net of drones. We would re­luc­tantly make it even - each state gets one! We ex­pect all those mur­mur­ing over marginal­iza­tion to be com­forted. In Naija pol­i­tics, noth­ing wrong com­pares with be­ing wrong and not lev­el­ing the grounds for do­ing wrong. So, let in­do­lence obey fed­eral char­ac­ter prin­ci­ple as en­shrined in the con­sti­tu­tion. And the press dis­plays their bile as if we’re not aware that most of them were last paid in 2015. Tell us how you sur­vive!

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