COLUMN/OPINION

Prof Gambari, Mudslingers And The Limit Of Shenanigan


The press, according to Venerable Mahatma Ghandi, is a tremendous power in nation building but when negatively deployed, it can become an instrument of destruction. This behooves a huge responsibility on writers and journalists on the responsible use of the pen.
Alas, many writers and journalists have continued run fowl of this time-tested life-line handed down by Venerable Ghandi by deploying the power of the pen against their fatherland and in the process, dragged into the mud, a global reputation built through dint of hardwork, persistence, character, with the help of divinity.
The shenanigan becomes a pain in the ass, when malicious falsehood, outright lies and brazen mischief is been spewed by those who should ordinarily deserve respect. 
This is the new low, Prof Farooq Kperogi has taken the art of irresponsibility in the deployment of pen. On his regular column, “Note from Atlanta,” Prof Kperoqi relied on tissue of lie and falsehood been peddled by the renegade “People’s Gazette,” as the basis for his analysis. 
Make no mistake, Kperoqi is not a pushover in the art of crafting ideas in writing, what is worrisome however, is how person like him swallowed allegation of such magnitude without first doing a due diligence to authenticate the veracity of the issue at stake before delving into it. 
The manner with which he lashed unto the story signifies his deep-seated bitterness that burns in him against Nigeria and its captains (Government Officials). Whose business is it anyway. Who cares about Kperoqi and his People Gazette evil machinations, if not that the good books urged us to answer a fool, so he will not continue to count himself as wise. 

If not people of indelible bitterness like Kperoqi and People Gazette, who will believe that a man of towering global pedigree like Prof Ibrahim Gambari, is incompetent or too old to discharge his official duties to the extent of delegating official duties to his son, even when it is clear that his son, Bolaji holds no governmental position? Come to think of it, Americans have just elected a 78 year-old Joseph Biden as president. The Prof Gambari, the enemies of Nigeria are dragging into the mud is 76, while the 45th president of the US, Donald Trump who just vacated office is 74. Where is the question of not been able to discharge official functions on the ground of age coming? If not for mischief? 
The ill-fated People’s Gazette report and the one legged Kperoqi analysis that followed, were just brazen attempts at giving dog a bad name in order to hang it. If not, how can any sane mind claim that the Chief of Staff, whose primary duty is to organise staff in the president’s office and schedule his routine will descend to such low level? At what point did the president’s Chief of Staff become the Communication Minister or the Director General of Nigerian Comminucation Commission to suspension or order the blocking of People’s Gazette website? 
Seriously, one certainly expect more from a man of Kperoqi’s standing. In his desperation to validate the People’s Gazette report, so as to suite his purpose, he threw caution, ethics and dignity to the winds and descended to openly praise of the People’s Gazette news blog and how it has astronomically risen on the wings of falsehood. 
“The news site is reminiscent of the advocatorial, muckraking editorial temperaments of the New York-based Sahara Reporters in its earliest incarnation. Peoples Gazette has published PDFs of the illicit financial transactions of Nigeria’s morally decadent political elites and has broken several exclusive.” With the foregoing, what level of objectivity do one expects from Kperoqi? It also goes to validate the fact that, in the first place, he had a hand in the report. 
Going down memory lane, it appears it has become part of our unfortunate heritage in Nigeria to villify anyone who occupies the office Chief of Staff to the president. Before Prof Gambari’s appointment, it was the former Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, who was the object of intense criticisms. Today, it is the turn of Prof Gambari to suffer character assassination, mudslinging and pull him down. If I may ask, what is the offence of that office, since everyone who occupies Co’s office must be subject of castigation. 
Shameless as desperation can expose men, Kperoqi went ahead to allude to a source, People’s Gazette claims pleaded anonymity. With what parameter did Kperoqi validated the story before believing it, since the source pleaded not to be mentioned. You can only play these tricks to the marines. We know how it works. Journalists take advantage of the privilege not to disclose their source to orchestrate smear campaigns.
Don’t judge people from a distance, most times. From a distance, Kperoqi with his gimmicks appears to posses some level of intelligence but one will be utterly wrong to think so! Can you imagine, he bought into the charade of the People’s Gazette that they were approached for a pre-publication censorship, and when they refused, the Co’s men offered money, to do what? To kill none existing story? Are we saying Prof Gambari, who have served as minister and have spent almost all his  work life at global level (United Nations) don’t know that pre-publication censorship is a ruse under democratic governance? This comics from the staple of Kperoqi and People’s Gazette is no longer funny but should all the same be discarded into the dustin of history because the country is facing enormous challenges of nationhood that requires Prof Gambari’s global personae and template to fix.
Certainly no time for distractions from enemies of Nigeria, like Kperoqi, who have never seen anything good about Nigeria, and such is reflected in his writings. 
What is clear is that Kperoqi, People’s Gazette in active collaboration with their paymasters are in a haste to justify their pay or grant by international criminal groups, who are bent on bringing Nigeria to its knees. 

The online newspaper is gaining traction in Nigeria because it fills a void that has been created by the near absence of evidence-based investigative journalism. In a period of unaccustomed quietude and media capitulation in the face of grinding tyranny and moral putrefactions in the highest reaches of the current power structure, the Peoples Gazette has chosen to be a watchdog that not only sniffs and barks at corruption in high places but that also bites the ankles of its perpetrators.
It’s not surprising that government-appointed regulators of the telecommunications industry would pressure telephone companies to throttle or outright block traffic to a news website like that. More than that, Peoples Gazette’s current experience gives a presage for how critical media outlets in the country will be censored henceforth since most news is now read on the internet rather than on hard copies.
If the government gets away with its blockage of this news site, there’s no telling which news website will be the next victim. That is why every journalist and every advocate of press freedom should resist it with every splash of vim and every ounce of vigor that they have.
Where governments used to seize and burn copies of newspapers that published critical stories, they now tell telecommunication companies to block the URLs of news websites. This insidious media censorship appears to have been going on surreptitiously on a small, barely perceptible scale longer than most people realize. For instance, several readers from Nigeria tell me they have a hard time accessing my blog from their phones.
I used to wonder why that was so. I was unpersuaded by people who suggested that my website was being blocked by the government through telephone companies. I thought it made no sense to do that because many websites republish my column and the contents of my blog.
Sometime last year, representatives of Glo and MTN denied on Twitter that my website’s URL was being blocked when people called them out. Their denials, apparently, aren’t worth much because they also denied blocking Peoples Gazette’s website even though it isn’t accessible in Nigeria.
Because of continuing complaints from my readers that they couldn’t access my blog from their phone’s internet connection, I decided to be sharing my entire column on Facebook. But readers still tell me my website is inaccessible to them when they want to read my archives. Now I know why.
It’s disgraceful that a former top diplomat and international civil servant who spent a lifetime preaching the virtues of human rights and freedom (never mind that he served Abacha and cheered the judicial mass murders of Ogoni environmental activists) would countenance—or perhaps instruct—privately owned telecommunication companies in the country to block the URL of a news site that published an accurate but unflattering report on him.
But the blocking of the web addresses of critical news sites is dumb for at least three reasons. One, people who are determined can circumvent the blockage through Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). Citizens in authoritarian states do that all the time.
Two, as my own example has shown, the material the toads in government don’t want people to read on websites can be published and accessed on social media, which defeats the purpose of targeted URL blocking, unless, of course, the government will go the way of China and block Facebook and Twitter in Nigeria. Peoples Gazette now publishes its stories on Facebook and has enlisted the support of like-minded websites to republish its content.
Three, it’s elementary public relations that you don’t dispel a negative story by amplifying it. Blocking the URL of news websites in hopes of suppressing the uncomfortable stories they published will only give wings to those stories when news of the blockage becomes public knowledge, as has happened with the Gambari story.
Experience tells us that stories that are suppressed by the government almost always become “social stories,” that is, stories that go viral because they are voluntarily shared by users on social media platforms.
When Gambari was appointed Buhari’s Chief of Staff, I described him as “A Presidential Babysitter Who Won’t be as Powerful as Abba Kyari.” Well, it has turned out that Gambari himself needs babysitting and is being babysat by his own son. When a babysitter who has been employed to babysit an invalid person needs to be babysat by his own son, you know you have worse problems on your hands than you had anticipated.Read more at:The

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