Sunday Trust online

Oshiomole’s dismissal of the media tour

It is not everyday that the caravan of news moves across the 36 states of the federation. Most states hardly get a mention in a month, except for the odd reasons – an armed attack or something more sinister.

Think of the last positive story from Zamfara outside robbers targeting markets and villagers? Seriake Dickson was so bored with not making the headlines he did the unthinkable, make the first wife who is not a civil servant in the state a permanent secretary.
What did Donald Duke not do to get attention as a governor? He invited foreign envoys to commission the multi-million Naira Tinapa exports processing complex without global headlines. Then it struck him – if you have nothing to export, try nudity! With the Calabar nudist festival, voyeurism is legit. And where there are nubile women strutting the streets for a whole month, you get international media attention. So, every December, Calabar lights up and bureaucracy shuts down, a panacea you cannot suggest to America’s bankrupt states.  Now Cross River can function without a governor as long as the holiday proclamation is made, nothing spoil.
Publicity is the soul of governance; no government can succeed without it.  This is why the greatest form of plagiarism ever carried out by any minister is the renewed National Media Tour led by Labaran Maku. Since his ministry is in charge of patents and copyright, and both Jerry Gana and Smart Adeyemi, the initiators of the idea are alive and not complaining of not given royalties, it is a great thing that the jamboree was initiated. Every PDP governor endorsed it.
Hosting a bunch of hungry newshounds is not a budgetary expenditure -that is why there are security votes. If your director of protocol knows how to stuff brown envelopes and reserve the best guesthouses with free meal and vehicle to roam the state, you get a free media mention. When your envelope has been weighed along with your performance indices on the scale of gbalamun, roger, egunje or kwa, you get a plague proclaiming you as ‘best governor in anything’ and you can add that to your feathered chieftaincy cap or turban.
Such unqualified adulation is like manna dropped down from heaven. It’s a win-win situation for all -the governor is happy ever after, the journalists have a golden opportunity to taste first hand, the Transformation Agenda in its economic form and the minister and union officials are hailed as performers. Never mind the grumbling critics and the unwashed masses.
No governor, willing to showcase his achievements would turn down this caravan. But Adams Oshiomole has just done so and rallied members of the Asiwaju Congress of Nigeria and others along. Oshiomole has gone further to say he would not ‘waste’ Edo money hosting unwanted nosey parkers who should be investigating progress not spoon fed lies.
Now, if that is not a golden opportunity wasted, tell me what is? Puff goes a chance to accelerate work on the everlasting Benin-Ore road – for the cameras! There goes an occasion to host a critical enemy and win them over. Puff goes the chance to pull wool over the faces of a critical media ensuring that they – see no evil, hear no evil and report no evil about you and your government.
By refusing to host; you block chances of an unpopular government to divert attention from its lacklustre performance and open up your flanks to criticism necessary to capture your state at the next elections. You incur the wrath of unpaid journalists to earn a legitimate allowance to feed their poor family. You open a floodgate of opportunities for sponsored newshounds to latch on to every bit of bad news that comes from your territory without hearing your own side. This, Comrade Governor may be a temporary PR-victory with noted sound bite, but it is a bad decision in the long run.
To my recall, it may reduce the level of bankruptcy of the NUJ, the union that sleeps while journalists are exploited. By the time Gana was through with Adeyemi on the trail, the NUJ, I understand owed its president over N5 million. If Adeyemi in his magnanimity had not secured an economic heart transplant that helped him forgive the debt, the future of journalism would have been mortgaged to paying interests whenever proprietors decide to remit their union dues.
Oshiomole and others have declared a war they cannot win. Henceforth, whenever it is their turn to tour the world with the President and Commander, they should expect to pay their own ways. What more, they should accredit their own ambassadors and protocol staff to welcome them to those foreign lands. Like Peter Obi, they should be ready to carry their own bags like commoners and queue for visa at airports when they return. Of course, they can buy their own jets.
If that is not a huge price to pay for a reigning Excellency, here is the clincher – they should expect EFCC sniffer dogs to check their dumpsters for fractions of stolen bones.  And that, my friends is not a good omen, especially if you’re on the last lap of your mandatory two-terms.

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