At a time the presidency is apparently teaching journalists how they should report the rising, sorry declining general insecurity in the country, terrorists who are called bandits for want of better expression or the unwillingness of those in power to call a spade by its rightful name, attacked some markets located in Goronyo and Isa local government areas of Sokoto State and murdered over 40 people. The Sunday incident is unfortunately a reflection of life as lived in Nigeria of 21st century. It is not a fiction authored by an imaginative writer. 

   Goronyo and others like it reflect our present reality and consciousness. It is part of our tragic history as a nation where the protection of life and property has become a scarce commodity. In a recent statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the president advised the media “to address the tone, content and standards of reporting of security and safety measures.” He pointed out that the time has come to replace the prefix “rising insecurity” with “declining insecurity.”

We hope that the presidency is not playing on words. Rising insecurity and declining insecurity are not synonymous. While the former portrays deteriorating situation, the latter indicates an improving situation. Except if words don’t actually mean what they say, it will be very difficult for journalists to replace “rising” with “declining” when the security situation is indeed very scary, when the whole country has become a killing range where blood flows freely on a daily basis

Is the Sokoto carnage an indication that the nation’s insecurity is declining and not on the rise or ascendancy? Our reality of the world around us at times depends on our position in human affairs or the scheme of things. A victim of our oppressive system will always interpret our social reality from what is actually happening around us, in our geographical location called Nigeria and not necessarily how our leaders and our oppressors want us to see and interpret our social reality. What our leaders or politicians want us to see as objective reality is invariably their own subjectivity, their own interpretation of our world. He, who wears the shoe, knows where it pinches. The blind man knows when there is no salt in the soup. The deaf knows when there is commotion in the market. If those in government want to measure their achievements or inflation rate, let them ask ordinary Nigerians, the market women, the okada operators and journalists. It is sad that whenever a politician is accurately reported as in the case of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on naira devaluation, which he later denied, the blame for such a goof will eventually be shifted to journalists for the so-called misrepresentation. They are always misrepresented.

Whenever there is policy somersault, a common feature of our democracy, the media must take the blame, as if our politicians are perfect beings that are faultless. Their own skewed interpretation of reality is to always shift the blame on the media, their flaws notwithstanding. Our politicians have developed the penchant to evade responsibility, including not accepting responsibility for their own mistakes, our broken roads and bridges, comatose health sector and collapsing education sector and poor budget implementation.

Similarly, those in the nation’s film industry, Nollywood, blame the media whenever they goofed. All our public figures, including the ubiquitous politicians are always right except the watchdog of the society, the scapegoat that carries the burden and sins of our public officials. If their wives refused to serve them dinner on time and civil war breaks out and they made headlines, the reporter must take the blame for interfering in matrimonial or domestic affairs.

The sad tales from Goronyo is a true reflection of our present reality and predicament no matter how those in government want us to romanticize it. Nigeria has become an unfortunate witness of horrendous bloodbath and avoidable murders because those who should stop the raging fire are grandstanding and looking elsewhere and blaming every other person except themselves for our common tragedy. Instead of admitting their failure and seeking for help to quench the fire in the homestead, they are watching helplessly as the situation worsens on a daily basis.

Our politicians are always behaving as if nothing is happening or “nothing mega” in local parlance. To them, it is still business as usual. They prefer the sanctity of election timelines than the sanctity of human lives. They will always think about the next election cycle and not the next development phase. That is why Nigeria will continue to stagnate and be a victim of arrested development, a perpetual victim of imperialism and decolonization. The Goronyo tragedy is still unfolding; it is never an isolated case of our existential reality.

As I write, other Goronyos occur in Nigeria every day almost. Recently, the South East region has been at the receiving end of such orgy of violence, anarchy and bloodletting. Imo, Anambra and Ebonyi are the worst hit in the political violence engulfing the relatively peaceful zone.  Unfortunately, political leaders from the zone are really not doing enough to douse the tension. They are tepid in their attempts to stop the orchestrated arson and human carnage going on in the region. Some of them have taken refuge in other safe zones while their home, their region is on fire. From all available indications, insecurity is on the rise in practically all the six geographical zones in the country. The only noticeable difference is the degree.

The raging violence and bloodletting are indications that the alienated or the oppressed, the sidelined, the masses are one way or the other asserting their denied humanity and existence by daily confronting their oppressors or those who are marginalizing them. In the contradictory milieu, there is thin line between the oppressed and the oppressors. Unfortunately, the weapon of violence does not discriminate between the oppressed and the oppressors. That is why some of the victims of the political violence are members of the oppressed class.

Most times, the oppressors are hardly ever hit because of the tight security around them. The rising insecurity, which has assumed a worrisome dimension, does not require those in government to tutor journalists on how they can cast their headlines. It does not even require the use of softer words to qualify the human carnage at home. I don’t know how the government wants to control the so-called practitioners of citizen journalism or internet warriors who deliver the news raw without the services of professional gate keepers of the traditional media. At times, the internet warriors can embellish such stories to look salacious. There are indeed many things those in government can saddle themselves with to lessen the tension in the land instead of meddling in media reporting matters. First, let the government dialogue with all self-determination groups and agitators. Let the government free political detainees and prisoners of conscience and toe the line of reconciliation in settling all political matters. 

Government must stop its discriminatory treatment of Nigerians and let all Nigerians be equal before the laws of the land. All Nigerians must be made to have equal access to the goodies and opportunities in the land. Nigerians want justice, equity and fairness. As for news reporting, if a market is razed, it is the duty of the journalist to say it the way it is. If a politician says something which is contrary to official policy, it must be reported. It is not the duty of those in government to teach journalists how they should do their job.

Journalism profession has codes of ethics and taking tutorials from occupants of Aso Rock is never one of them. For the marginalized to free themselves from their perceived oppressor, they must always fight in the interest of the people and factor their feelings, visions and aspirations in the struggle.

Let me conclude this piece by quoting from Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, where he argues that “violence is initiated by those who oppress, who exploit, who fail to recognize others as persons- not by those who are oppressed, exploited, and unrecognized.”

However, the tragedy of Nigeria and indeed all colonized people, according to Freire is that “at a certain point in their existential experience, the oppressed feel an irresistible attraction towards the oppressors and their way of life. Sharing this way of life becomes an overpowering aspiration. In their alienation, the oppressed want at any cost to resemble the oppressors, to imitate them, to follow them.” Freire’s view is a true reflection of our reality today as voters take crumbs from politicians and emulate their mannerisms and are ever attracted to them.

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Source: news