Admittedly, over the years, sponsored messages have become a means of appealing to the conscience of many, or mere showcase of status; an appointee eulogizing the appointer, a stooge his godfather, lobbyist his boss; all aiming at a target audience. Flowing from the above, it is a delight to discover that these persons are realizing their short sightedness afterall. This is the case with the recent declaration by Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who turned seventy on November 25, 2016 enjoining his well wishers not to
take paid advertorials in the media which he rightly termed- ‘adulatory and self-glorifying advert messages’, but instead to have such money spent on charitable works.
Regrettably, as expected, this did not stop the sponsors of the paid adverts, too numerous to mention, on, before and even after his birthday. Repugnant! Or how best can one phantom the decision of Nigerian businessman, Michael Ale, in taking out a full page advert in a widely read daily to congratulate Donald Trump, the President-
Elect of the USA. More importantly, we await the sinking of the 10 boreholes in each of the 36 states of Nigeria as promised by Mr. Ale. Next will be congratulatory messages for the emergence of Rotimi Akeredolu SAN as the Governor-elect of Ondo State.
In this sometimes funny, sometimes painful, search for self-worth and values in our polity, hypocrisy has become a way of life. Of course, the demands for the media agencies are much! Oh, if reliable, Bill Clinton would have emerged an erstwhile POTUS turn FMOTUS. But it turned out that both
the traditional media and the Hollywood elite were rewarded as the spirit of death, taking what it cannot give.
Remarkably, we profess to be making concerted efforts to ensure that the naira appreciates, yet we chose to reward our outstanding Super Eagles players with $10,000 for every
unreplied goal scored against Algeria, in 2018 World Cup qualifier. Then pay the Falconets, a paltry sum contrary to the agreed fees upon their return from the FIFA U-20 Women World Cup in Papua New Guinea.
Oh, the many adverts that we see, sponsored and uncensored to becloud our sense of judgment make us wonder if they come for free. Whoever has paid for publication of change of name or incorporated trustees knows better! But reports of how the custom officers meant to protect Nigerian borders taking kick backs for free passage of garbage they know constitute health hazards to the populace are ignored! Or families that have summoned extra ordinary general meeting to announce the ‘postponement’ of Christmas celebration for year 2016 because the current minimum wage cannot match the demands of the harsh economy. Or pensioners dying unsung. Or rejection of vitiligo patients, cerebral palsy patients, persons with down syndrome, albinos and persons living with other disabilities seeking admissions in schools and disqualification for employment purposes.
Why policemen sent to repel militants’ attack in Ikorodu axis of Lagos turn tax collectors causing gridlock on roads does not find a place in the dailies. Or is the pain parents endure watching their children who should be in school sit at home because their lecturers are on strike not newsworthy? Why medical doctors have to abandon patients in hospital due to unpaid salaries.
Or graduates idling away and unable to be promptly mobilized to partake in the mandatory NYSC scheme. Or why ‘the State of Osun’ is being run without commissioners. Why we are suddenly considering de-privatizing the recently privatized power sector. Why Lagos State Government in deference to the Court of Appeal judgment has terminated environmental sanitation which before now takes place every last Saturday of the month with the attendant restriction of movement, yet the Federal Government cannot obey court orders both local and even that of ECOWAS court. Why the Federal Government wants to borrow when we are made to believe that the anti corruption war is largely successful and huge funds have been recovered.
Why our lawmakers need new cars though are not bothered about the roads in their constituencies where same will be driven. Why allegedly corrupt judges and Learned Silks can be speedily arraigned when Ministers having questionable track records and law makers accused of padding our budget are not made to render account. Why our youths now engage in ponzi schemes, Yahoo-Plus, and betting games. Why persons deprived of the basic necessities of life are enjoined to embrace ‘change begins with me’. Why a Governor and his Deputy upon leaving office must have a mansion built from tax payers’ funds when hospital bed space is insufficient for patients in same state.
Why approval is given for the establishment of a maritime university when the existing federal and state universities are underfunded. Why ‘man know man’ is still a prerequisite for employment in the civil service. Lastly, why these and more you can think of do not make the headlines, but adverts praising those who do not recognize our plight grace our news pages. Oh, ours is to wail, not to hail; wail we must! And for persons who hail, their mission must be accomplished. The money is available to be wasted. And some of them are invisible to law enforcement agencies since they cruise on their brooms, having abandoned their umbrellas timeously.
When Goodluck Jonathan lost the 2015 elections, he was congratulated via many paid adverts for being a perfect gentleman. And President Buhari who won, was also congratulated for his doggedness. Chinua Achebe has captured these thus- ‘Nothing puzzles God!’. If only these funds used for vain paid adverts can be channeled towards meeting the needs of persons in their neighbourhood. Little drops of water certainly make a mighty ocean!
Michael O. Ogunjobi, author of the critically acclaimed book-‘Dishonourable Honourable’ is an attorney residing in Lagos.
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