Excuse me if I am behind the times in still using the phrase “you nko.” These days social media have provided the youth with a plethora of ways to say things — including through emoji icons that are largely indecipherable to me. But back then, “you nko” was a fashionable way to deflect unfavourable comments. It’s a pithy pidgin expression for, “How about you?”
“Your shirt na yamayama.”
“Your papa no get money.”
This is essentially the approach taken by presidential adviser Femi Adesina in deflecting criticism after another bloodletting in the Middle Belt by supposed herdsmen. His press release after the recent massacres in Plateau State seems guided by a simple tactic: If you can’t plausibly explain or assure, then attack.
To begin with, there is the title of the press release, “Plateau and PDP’s crocodile tears.” Crocodile tears? The phrase means that a person is being insincere in expressing grief. But in the wake of another mass — and continual — killings, how can that be true of any Nigerian, regardless of political affiliation? The exceptions would, of course, be the “herdsmen” and their sponsors and tacit supporters.
Adesina, President Muhammadu Buhari’s media adviser, seems particularly miffed that the PDP declared seven days of mourning during which they would fly flags at half-mast. Might the PDP’s declaration have been politically motivated? Of course. Could it have been a sincere expression of grief and outrage? Definitely, yes, as well.
Even granted the first interpretation, it would have been wiser to stop at that characterisation. Referring to the gesture as crocodile tears lends support to the view that the administration is either indifferent to or oblivious of the grief caused by the massacres.
Adesina compounded matters by providing a detailed list of casualties during the PDP’s tenure at Aso Rock, including those resulting from sharia-related riots. The administration has used that argument before, but this appears to be the most detailed.
Problem with this counterpoint is that it is a case against the administration’s reason for being, the campaign pledge to stop such violence. As echoed in the chambers of the British House of Lords recently, mass killings in the Middle Belt have vastly escalated during Buhari’s presidency. That makes the “you nko” argument remarkably uninspired.
In any case, Adesina’s catalogue of mass killings spanned over a period of 16 years of PDP governance. The many major mass killings during Buhari’s presidency have occurred during a three-year tenure. And they have occurred with predictable regularity and impunity.
An then there is the matter of law enforcement and accountability. The “herdsmen” are killing with impunity. Until days ago, they were never apprehended, let alone punished. During the tenure of PDP presidents, there were arrests, imprisonments and executions. And security heads were held accountable. There were several changes during Jonathan’s administration, everything from the replacement of security chiefs to the sacking of field commanders. Buhari has not so much as publicly chastised his all-Northern security leadership.
Granted, the changes didn’t always produce the desired results, but they provided some hope to the general public that people’s cries were being heard and that something was being done. In fact, it was through changes that progress came about. It wasn’t until President Goodluck Jonathan removed subversive and complicit officers from the military that substantive progress was made against Boko Haram, progress that the Buhari administration has claimed to be all its own.
Nigeria’s recent history bears testimony that nothing can more readily threaten the fabric of the country than ethnically motivated mass killings. Declaring days of mourning and lowering flags to half-mast are reasonable ways to acknowledge the gravity. A “you nko” apologia is not.
US newsroom killings
It is not always evident to the general public that being a journalist is a hazardous job. But from time to time, a major event serves as a reminder. That was the case on June 28 in Annapolis, the capital of the US state of Maryland. A disgruntled man who was unhappy with a Capital Gazette article on his legal problems burst into the newsroom and shot and killed five journalists.
What is even more remarkable is how the newsroom reacted to the tragedy. Rather than shut down operations, as most businesses would have, the surviving staff bonded and put out the next day’s newspaper — covering their own tragedy. It was a demonstration of something that most people are unaware of: the missionary zeal with which journalists approach their work, the zeal to keep people informed.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, leaving more than 1,800 dead. Most government and business operations shut down. Even some members of the city police force deserted, unwilling to risk the flood and resulting disorder. Yet, the city’s major newspaper, The Times Picayune, continued to publish.
Similar courage was shown by journalists in this country during the “June 12” crisis. Major news houses, including The PUNCH, were shut down and the journalists were arrested or hounded for reporting critically on Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha’s regimes after they nullified the election of June 12, 1993. Yet several news houses continued to shine the light on the illegitimate regime whenever they could.
Some proscribed publications, such as Tell magazine, actually went underground and continued to publish, thus confounding the military regimes. It’s all because true journalists have a sense of mission that keeps them doing their jobs in the face of dangers. It is the reason they are loathed by despots and public officials who have something dark to hide. It is a story that doesn’t get to be told often enough, certainly not to the general public.
Alas, that loathing is being expressed with unbelievable venom by the president of the United States, the flagship of modern democracy, which celebrated its 242th independence day on Wednesday. He has demonised journalists and journalism—except of the most conservative variety. He has exploited the sordid state of social media to lump professional news stories with trolls. It’s all “fake news,” he has said repeatedly, and journalists are the villains.
When, therefore, the disgruntled man meticulously planned and executed an attack on the Annapolis newsroom, the inevitable question has been whether he was inspired by Trump’s attacks. John Archibald, a recent Pulitzer-Prize-winning columnist for the Birmingham News, is among those who think so.
“When the president proclaims the media is the enemy of the American people, he emboldens those simply looking for an excuse,” Archibald wrote in last Sunday’s paper. It is the ultimate indictment of the man who occupies the most prominent pulpit in the world.
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.
Source: Punch News
All rights reserved. This material and any other material on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from 104.5 Love FM Abuja