The free press as Buhari’s headache
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!