Another Season Of Anomie: Of INEC Destructions And Media Gaffe, By Tunde Abatan
Campaign time is here again. It is another time when citizens, institutions, and players throw reason overboard to achieve despicable goals and realise ambition without considering the damage done to the system and the polity.
Nigeria is a country which always breathes and cracks to breaking point at every strategic and important moment in its evolution.
During processes that lead to the election period both players, supporters and even institutions expected to join in the preservation of ethics, good conduct, and strengthening of the institution design to save the system have themselves become the purveyor of unethical practices.
This they do either out of open partisanship, flagrant disobedient of rules of fairness, hate or mischief forgetting that in spite of their goals or ideological bent they have a responsibility to save the system without which they could not operate both as a business entity or as purveyor of social conscience on which they have faltered several times.
The INEC destructions:
According to statistics, 41 offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the electoral umpire managing Nigeria’s democracy, have had their offices destroyed all over the country by evil men who are either acting on instructions of politicians not ready to abide by rules of the game or out to cause mischief in the system.
From Enugu to Osun, Oyo evil men have made arson of INEC offices targeting election materials and making bonfire of structures which cost millions of tax payers.
It is a practical case of a people not ready to abide by democratic principles.
Last week between Osun and Ogun state alone,65,000 uncollected PVCs have been destroyed in the inferno which gulf the offices of INEC in the two states. This is three months to the election next year.
What is more that the bonfire and destruction of the INEC offices in the two states came within 24 hours of each other is a confirmation that political players are either not ready for election to take place or not ready to play by the rule.
This in effect means that those who sponsored the arsonists are either weaklings or saboteurs of democracy who are inpatient with the principles through subversion of the system or outright rejection of the institution.
In all, the people about whom democracy is installed are the losers while the system which is supposed to support the institution us crippled and destroyed.
Over the years, democracy could not thrive because of weaknesses of the institution which berthed it.
With the destruction of 41 INEC offices in the past two years, should we now begin to create INEC police to protect itself against destruction.
It would appear that, INEC as an institution itself need it’s own internal institution controlled by it to enable it work.
If the police and other law enforcement agents have failed, then it’s systemic rot is a direct threat to democracy and by extension rule of law on which it operates.
Thus Abeokuta South, Ede South and Igboeze North in Enugu State voters may not exercise their rights as citizens because their voting power have been destroyed by state enemies out to make them remain undeveloped and slaves to evil men in politics out to cut corner by all means necessary.
In all, democracy is the loser while enemies of democracy are the gainers as the system put in place to guarantee people’s participation have been destroyed by evil men walking tall pretending to love their people.
To save electoral institution from the systemic rot, it needs an institution controlled by itself making it a government on its own with it’s own police, judiciary and saintly men at the polling booth to ensure votes not only count but are safe to be counted.
Arise TV, others professional gaffe:
In all civilised societies, the media is supposed to be an impartial observer just like the judiciary in order to protect the system or be the social conscience of the nation as an institution which is duly recognised as the Fourth estate of the realm.
But when the Fourth estate which is supposed to be impartial in spite of it’s owners political views or philosophy then right of being an impartial observer is a nullity.
The conduct of the electronic media in the coverage of political events, debates and campaign in the last three months in the country leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
In fact ,the station by its latest act has misled other stations or print and broadcast channels who regard it as a credible source of news by circulating and sharing same.
Granting that the dictum he who pays the piper dictates the tune rules, yet the open disdain of throwing caution to the wind by media practitioners who published or cause to be broadcast unverified, fake and inaccurate information is not only a negation of the principle of fairness which makes the media fourth estate of the realm but reduced it to errand, uncouth and unprincipled professionals deserving of no respect.
Yes, as stated above granted that the dictum of ownership holds, caution and restrain on the part of objectivity should be the word.
Besides, it is only reasonable that such attitude should not be found in professional colleagues throwing caution to the wind to malign, destroy and assassinate the character of politicians opposed to the political views of their paymasters or even themselves.
The publication and broadcast of a letter which have since been found and admitted to be fake news by Arise Television itself speaks volume of the professional Integrity of practitioners who have deliberately misled the public either to score cheap political point or impugned the character of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the Presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC, and easily one of the leading aspirant who has of late become their punch bag.
To cause to be broadcast a letter with fake letter heading of the INEC without verifying the originality of such letter either by phone or direct contact is a deliberate mischief which has removed any iota of Integrity left in the Television station which enjoys viewership all over the world.
In the past few months social media has come under the bash of fake news but that a reputable news medium could do such deliberate infraction means that either the media men themselves are out to do mischief; join the opposition to pull down their subject by all means possible or they themselves have become the real opposition to the candidate and not necessarily the opposing politician.
Yes, the Arise TV where acclaimed journalist Reuben Abati, is a member of it’s top editorial team have since come out to admit serious error of professional misconduct and judgement by accusing Tinubu of “criminal forfeit of funds linked to narcotic, smuggling, conspiracy and money laundering against Tinubu”, the infraction has not only dragged the politicians name in the mud but has also seriously call into question integrity of INEC which Letter heading was admittedly forged.
It is apparent that the motive is not far from urge to disqualify Tinubu from the race for advantages position to others favoured by its proprietors.
With the rush to broadcast the fake news without verification from INEC, could the author of the now admittedly fake letter excused on the lack of assess to INEC or to quote Festus Okoye, INEC director of Publicity and voter education, “an act of deliberate mischief?”
If it is true, has Arise not contribute to bringing into disrepute it’s own image and by extension destruction of the trust and Integrity of its own internal verifying process and by extension dent the credibility of itself to be an impartial umpire?
Has the station not bring into disrepute the institution of journalism and more so eroded the confidence of international institutions like the United States narcotic department in our local institutions?
Should we say we willingly allow ourselves to be used to destroy our leaders just for purely partisan interests?
The rush to cause to broadcast the unverified statement or letter by INEC portrays culpability on the part of editors who by their latent actions either on set, comments and body language have displayed partisanship against Tinubu and probably any other candidate in the Presidential race who falls out of their or paymasters favour.
The admission of fake news is probably a justification for other aspirants not to feel free to attend any debate be it presidential, governorship or any other post called by the station or any other station in their mould which has displayed undisguised and uncontrolled partisanship.
As an institution of which much is expected to sanitize the political process or deepen it, media regulatory agencies like Nigeria Press Council/Organisation and Nigeria Broadcasting Council, NBC, owes it a duty to sanction erring stations at this time and not wait until such infractions are done against sitting governments.
This season of anomie will surely pass!