Ochereome’s Riposte: Stop The Apologies, Fight Vile Propaganda Culture

By Ikenga Chronicles June 14, 2018

–Ken Tadaferua

It is only five days since Ochereome Nnanna’s passing, one liner, riposte response on Facebook to a colleague’s claim that he thought the Yorubas were politically sophisticated until they embraced President Buhari’s recognition and honor of MKO Abiola, the June 12 1993 struggle and social critic, Gani Fawehinmi.

In five days, the Ochereome’s riposte: “Sophisticated morons, more like” had elicited a fury of a storm of angry responses from many Nigerians, in particular the Yoruba, to whom the deemed slur was directed than on many other critical questions. Understandable. Of course.

Suddenly, that statement threw Ochereome into the centre of an already heated national controversy and debate on the matter of Buhari’s unexpected and if you ask me, astounding decision to give recognition to a cause long fought for but technically buried, for 25 years since MKO won that election, by the Nigerian military top brass, to which Buhari solidly belongs.

June 12, The Mandate-Wole SOYINKA

Some dismiss the MKO recognition as a Greek gift by a lame duck Buhari government with weak reelection credentials, as a means to revive its flagging political support in the Southwest region (Yoruba) and rev its reelection bid for the 2019 presidential elections. These group want the “political chalice” offered to the “Yorubas” who led the struggle to actualize June 12, rejected outright or else the Yoruba tribe stand to lose its reputation for political sophistication. Whatever that means.

I personally find this position on the matter absolutely untenable. The protests against the military to annul the clearly won mandate of the June 12, 1993 election for President by MKO, was national. Yes, the struggles were concentrated in the Southwest, still it was a Nigerian protest in which the military machine-gunned hundreds of Nigerians across tribes to their death. Abiola’s blood shed for democracy was preceded by a floodgate of the blood of many unsung Nigerians, martyrs for Nigerian democracy, whose graves have been trampled on and ignored for 25 years.

June 12 And The Buhari Scam

To say that righting this epic meanness in our political history, this onslaught on our national values and ethos is wrong is unacceptable to me. For whatever reason. In fact it is a nice irony of history that it took one of the same military brass to have the effrontery and courage to return honour where it is due and heal the wounds of the nation from the quarter century of obvious wicked deception. I personally am glad that Buhari did right on this.

But then the nation is beset by many other wicked political and economic injustices leading to long deep seated protests and rage in no less regions as the Biafra and the Niger Delta struggles among others. Will Buhari aright some of these horrors of history as well. Ochereome as a columnist pulls no punches to support protests against political pains of the Southeast region of the Igbos, the historical Biafra where Ochereome hails from. Not much political love exists between the south east and south west regions, more on propaganda basis than obvious points of enmity. So when an Ochereome with his love for witty, sarcastic and earthly quips makes a costly slip on this electrically charged ethnic divide, even in his personal capacity, while wearing the hat of responsibility as chairman of the editorial board of the reputable Vanguard newspapers and notable national columnist, he treaded where angels dread.

June 12 Series: Beyond An Award, A Critical Look In Semantics (Part 3)

The Presidency must be amused that Ochereome is taking a lot of the snow down for its decision over MKO. I am bemused. The Net is spilling over with comments, mostly in extremity, laying it on and lambasting Ochereome for vapid tribalism against the Yoruba. From barefaced abuses to calls for his sack as Editorial Board Chairman of the Vanguard newspapers. Someone declared he, Ochereome a “she-goat.” Another said his belly is now torn open. Quite a fusion of stingy wasp and angry viper effusions at he who dared to stain their jealously guarded homesteads.

In the intimidating outpouring of protests and abuses, Ochereome Nnnana had penned an apology. The Vanguard Newspaper had also distanced the paper from Ochereome’s statement which incidentally was merely a response to a comment on Facebook. Both professionally executed. But angst continue to flow.

I believe the Ochereome apology is proper and the professional thing to do. What I think is unnecessary is his continued attempts to placate and apologize. That is rather whimsy and uncalled for. He has been at this tricky business of opinion penning for decades, built up a solid reputation as a hard hitting puncher of power injustices, in defence of the voiceless and weak without so much as a major slur. He should lean on the courage of his reputation. He has apologized. He should leave it there and continue his work, rather than bend his ears to views asking him not to write on June 12 and MKO anymore. For what? My foot.

PMB, MKO, June 12, And Democracy Day: The Wrongheaded Celebration Of A National Tragedy

But to more critical matters arising. If Ochereome was not a celebrated columnist and Vanguard editorial chairman, would these torrents of words of war had poured so vehemently? No.

Ochereome and everyone else must learn the hard lesson of responsibility that comes from celebrity. Watch your tool and never flounce away from years of control and urbane use of language. Ochereome and the paper he represents offer the mirror for which many read the mood of the nation. That is a huge responsibility. It behoves one to be careful and self critical at the import of what one writes. Think before you write. Edit before you publish.

There is a second lesson, more important than Ochereome’s riposte, the wasps’ stings and his apologies. It is a lesson neither acknowledged nor learned, sadly so, from this rowdy tribalism incident. It is the use of unguarded and decidedly uncouth language in our political even daily conversations and debates, particularly online. It is increasingly muddied with the cudgels of abuse and jetsam of the lowest form of illiterate vomit you barely recognize as language. All the debris jousting for space and relevance in the street flood (the debate) generated by a sudden storm (say recognition of MKO).

June 12: The Move Of A Desperate President

When did our public discuss as a people become so flush with such stinking debris of language? I trace the elephantiasis to the debilitation of our national sensitivity and decency in public language use to the deliberate employ of caustic, abusive, shocking, falsehood and vile propaganda as key campaign strategy to win the 2015 presidential elections. The horrors of values destruction though language bastardization was open on a scale unprecedented in Nigeria. Gone were the days when politicians turned clever witty remarks to make headlines, when we sat at the feet of politicians, and at political rallies to hear brilliant, creative phrases even if sarcastic remarks against their political opponents. All lost.

In 2015, the devil opened its workshop and employed brilliant and creatively evil adherents to churn out half-crazed and highly addictive, explosive, gun powder loaded, political literature breathing abuse and lies without recourse to personal integrity and societal decency. Of course, politics like war, can be used to justify extreme meanness. But even in war, there are rules and limitations. But in the 2015 election campaigns, the basin and water and baby plus the mother, got all hauled into the dirty street gutters to win an election.

How More Stupid Can This Dino Melaye Guy Get Before He Is Officially Certified An Idiot?

Let’s give a few examples, a well respected ex-general and head of state did declare publicly that he had incontrovertible evidence of the sitting Nigerian president’s hire of killers to assassinate about 1000 prominent Nigerian politicians in opposition. It was a horrendous statement. But three years after, no evidence is given. It is probably laughed away today as a mere political jobber’s smart use of a horrendous lie to frighten the nation, disdain the President and garner votes against him. But this from a former head of state. He has not apologized for the lie till today. But Ochereome Nnanna has had to apologize only after a few days of his wrong turn of phrase against a tribe following a blitz of angry responses as it ought be. Are Nigerians angry about the assassination lie in high places. We do no seem to care. Maybe it did not touch on our tribal sensitivities.

Obasanjo’s Refusal To Honour MKO Abiola Evidence Of Institutional Failure – Senator Sani

But in the heat of the 2015 campaigns, barely any tribe was spared inflammable abuses, the Ijaws were lazy ogororo guzzling fishermen paddling small canoes with of course President Jonathan, the sitting president painted in worse tribal hues in numerous opinions. The Igbo suffered greatly from derisive terms as greedy whose mainstay was fraud. The Yorubas were prejudiced as cowards and slippery characters unworthy of trust. The Hausa/Fulani of course were “awusa”, the greedy, lazy, power grabbing, cause of Nigeria’s political troubles. So too were forgeries and tall tales about candidate Buhari health and open lies about his person was rife.

June 12 In Series: Beyond An Award, A Critical Look At The Semantics

The consequence? The national debate in a major election became bereft of critical issues. The propaganda, the lies and abuses took center stage. The electorate hardly engaged in the issues of prosperity and welfare delivery but emotionally charged with deep but baseless hatred of other tribes and persons. Political language had never been this gutter in Nigerian political history.

And all these corrosively negative communication that debauched whole tribes and persons no matter their attainments, age and personage were produced and organized by men, representing political parties, who by their ripe age, and otherwise respectable glasses and agbadas and suits, ought know decent behaviour but rather gleefully led followers in particular Internet denizens to vomit these terrible gutter stink on open television, radio, the internet to the nation and whole world. It was a scandal. In utter disgust, I had then dismissed the entire outrage as Vile Propaganda. Did this help stem the ugly tide? No.

June 12: Humphrey Nwosu Breaks Silence

Thus was a new political pop culture born: abuse, lie, forge and vile propaganda. It was a winning formula. It overwhelms the opponent not with facts or issues or logic or research findings or effective plans to improve communities but with one simple tool: lies and abuses. The culture had mushroomed since after the elections and waxing stronger. The reported insertion of a forged excerpt in Buhari’s Chatham House speech is only one of many such ugly incidences. Our young have noticed there is no deterrence for such bad behaviour. So the trend is trending. As 2019 political season opens up, the nation faces another hot season of unbridled abuse and lies even as integrity, truth and key issues facing the nation will be swept under the carpet of ignorance and hatred.

The truth is that this obnoxious culture has been creeping imperceptibly into the remarks of even some of our otherwise prudent, punctilious and professional writers. Perhaps the Ochereome’s oneliner, “sophisticated morons” is one such impact of the abuse-and-not-be-damned- culture. His crucifixion in public opinion for his “tribal” riposte and his apology, I would have thought will tweak the nation to recognize and help start the cleansing of a huge problem, a national emergency: the thick sludge of debris from the abuse and stink language culture heaped on this nation by the managers and denizens of the 2015 vile propaganda campaign factories, whose machines are humming for mass production as we speak. But will it?

June 12 Tsunami And The Ones Who Won’t Forgive Buhari- By Garba Shehu

Why many seem content to roast Ochereome, pour invectives on him and seek his sack or worse, few care about the greater danger of a vile propaganda threatening to engulf our core values, block the dissection of dire issues regarding our national welfare and enthrone abusive ignorance over intellectual progress. As long as the nation does not address this ugly culture, I think we waste valuable time goading apologies from Ochereome or supporting him with same.

So Ochereome Nnanna, enough of the apologies. You have done the needful. Same as Vanguard. Now, roll back your sleeves, pick up your no-frills pen and get to work. Write your column on the historic honour of MKO and June 12 by President Buhari. Then follow up with my only assignment for you: Join the War Against Vile Propaganda in our National Political Language/Culture. Save Nigeria.

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