The President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Paul Usoro, was recently on TV attacking anti-graft institutions. The backdrop was his court case over an alleged N1.4bn fraud. On December 9, 2018, Usoro, on Channels TV, said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission shouldn’t have pressed charges because the NBA didn’t send petition to the EFCC in the first place. His comment that time sounded false and weak, especially coming from the leader of a legal body such as the NBA that should have the highest regard for our judicial institutions.
I think Usoro doesn’t need to attack our institutions. If he’s sure he had no case to answer, I expected him to confidently say he would march to court and clear his name. Instead, he was saying the NBA was a responsible organisation. It has its rules. If the officials didn’t invite an anti-graft agency to investigate its leadership, no such agency should have pressed charges. It’s only Nigerians who take what doesn’t belong to them that should make this kind of argument. People occupy top positions, take what doesn’t belong to them, but it’s alright simply because no one complains to agencies that are empowered to investigate fraudulent practices.
We know there are innumerable cases of stealing that are not investigated because those involved collude to remain silent. The NBA leadership isn’t automatically flawless because the organisation hasn’t lodged a complaint. After all, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, said recently that lawyers forge court judgments when they apply for the title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria. Others serve as middlemen passing bribes to judges. Some lawyers are destroying our institutions and they should be held accountable by the appropriate agencies. The law that empowers anti-graft agencies should be reviewed. These agencies should also have power to automatically receive and investigate the report of every Auditor-General. Meanwhile, it’s unacceptable that the NBA leadership attacks our institutions because it’s on the wrong side of the law. Usoro shouldn’t denigrate institutions that work so hard to rescue us from thieves.
To other issues. Some sport writers allow their sentiment and preference to trump professionalism. On December 8, 2018, the star match in the English Premier League was the one between Chelsea and Manchester City, the two being title contenders as top four teams. But some TV stations, including Channels TV, scripted the results of the matches played by Arsenal, Man United, and Liverpool, (against teams at the lowest end of the league table – Huddersfield, Fulham, Bournemouth respectively) as their headlines. The outcomes of these matches were predictable and there were no upsets. So, how they headline any sports report is a surprise. The fact that Manchester City which had had an unbeaten run until Chelsea beat them 2-0 that week was another reason the encounter should have headlined the matches played. I know a journalist looks for the news in a communiqué or event. On this particular occasion, the news was abandoned for no news. In fact, the matter was so ridiculously handled by Channels TV that it mentioned the Chelsea-Manchester City match last of all the matches played that day during its ‘News at 10’ broadcast. It was flippantly said as though the newscaster didn’t want to forget mentioning it. Some of us watch news as news but we also pay attention to good journalism too.
One would know it when a servant of God talks. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, was talking on AIT on December 5, 2018. That’s when I realised he’s a servant of God who happens to be a public official. We know people don’t need to wear telling attire before they can be servants of God. Word and lifestyle speak louder. Mustapha addressed a group of young Christians from northern Nigeria that time. He said they should realise that the progress they make in life depends on them, not on others. It depends on “What you do with your life, not on anyone else.” He said that as Christians, Holy Spirit-filled and speaking in tongue, his listeners could aspire to anywhere in life. He said in that state nothing could stop them, they could excel more than him.
For me, Mustapha epitomised how a leader, servant of God or otherwise, should talk to Christians who are from northern Nigeria. Mustapha’s fellow Christian and Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, Barnabas Bala Bantex, had stated how servants of God in the north shouldn’t talk to their listeners and I quoted him on this page (November 16, 2018). The SGF didn’t encourage the young Christians he addressed to carry in their hearts burden regarding anyone who denied them anything, or anyone who did evil to them. Instead, he made them realise that they had in them what should make them unstoppable by any human-induced situation. Such was what I pointed out on this page on October 19, 2018. My point that time was that Christians in the north shouldn’t let the kind of ‘servants of God’ whom Bantex had roundly condemned mislead them. Bantex’s words weren’t far from the words those Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo also sent to his fellow Christians and which had spurred my piece of October 12, 2018. What Osinbajo, Bantex and Mustapha said, and other related messages, are what Christians in the north should pay attention to, not messages that approve hate and shedding of human blood in the name of reprisal against ‘enemies’. I don’t need to take this issue further. Christians that Osinbajo, Bantex and Mustapha address, not churchgoers, understand them perfectly.
In his response to my piece on November 30, 2018 about happenings on TV stations, a reader, Musa Mamman, stated a few things regarding what he observed on TV stations. I think Mamman has interesting points so I include his response verbatim:
“I read your article in The PUNCH of November 30, 2018. Good observations. There are other observations that you may want to consider also:
(1.) Some Nigerian TV stations, that claim to be international stations, e.g. ITV, still use virtual backgrounds. This is cheap. The presenters appear like ghosts in front of the fake backgrounds. Reputable international stations like CNN, Aljazeera, BBC, etc, use real studios. They are pleasing to watch. The Nigerian stations should upgrade their studios.
(2.) Some TV stations put too much information in their scroll bar, taking almost half the screen. Channels TV is a major culprit in this area. It fills its screen with share prices; who cares about share prices? If any serious investor wants to know how their stocks are doing, they would not wait for news time to know.
(3.) Pronunciation is another issue with Nigerian reporters. Gone are the days that you look up to the OAPs for right pronunciation of words. These days, you wonder if the presenters have ever done Oral English, or if editorial meetings are held before the broadcast. The reporters of the local stations are the main culprits here, they report as if they are singing in their local dialect.
(4.) Phone-in-programmes. This appears to be a cheap way of filling airtime. Irrelevant topics are thrown at listeners by ill-prepared presenters and the listeners asked to phone in. The incoming calls are not screened before being connected to listeners. All you hear is the presenter shouting “Turn down the volume of your set, please” repeatedly. It is irritating. There is always the risk of somebody saying something off topic and embarrassing everyone. Before such callers could be stopped, the damage must have been done. What would it cost the studios to buy call handling consoles? In organised studios, the calls are pre-screened to confirm that the caller is indeed calling to contribute to the topic at hand. Information about the caller is collected for onward transmission to the presenter, and then is advised to lower the volume of their set if necessary. The presenter introduces the caller before hooking them up to the listeners. That is how it should be done.
(5.) Nigerian media houses are obsessed with the word “incisive”. Every discussion programme is said to be incisive. Even though the word may mean intelligent, analytical, and clear-thinking, it somehow has a negative connotation in Nigerian context as it is easily confused with “incite”. I will advise that they minimise the use of the word.