Our attention has been drawn to an article titled, “From Falae to Funke– all rhetoric, no action,” written by Mr. Martin Oloja as part of the articles published in his regular column “Inside Stuff With MARTINS OLOJA” on Page 10 of ‘The Guardian’, July 14, 2019.
In the said article, Mr. Oloja insinuated that Governors Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti and Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo States, respectively, were treating security of their people with kid gloves, not speaking truth to power on the security challenges confronting the entire nation, and as such, were not building peace to resolve “this incipient conflict that can lead to war in Western Nigeria.”
We consider the summation of Mr. Oloja on the security challenges of robbery and kidnapping bedeviling our entire national landscape as uncharitable, mischievous, illmotivated and inciting.
While we do not want to trade words with Mr. Oloja, who might have written equally out of concern, we believe that he displayed, through his comments, ignorance of the fact that the current security challenge is a national malaise, or perhaps, he could have been unaware of what is being done by both the federal and state governments to nip the crisis. We are worried that the columnist, who is a senior journalist with the Guardian could intentionally choose the path of falsehood to distort fact and ill-inform the public. By so doing, he is unwittingly inciting the public against the two governors of Ondo and Ekiti States, who have been toiling day and night, joining hands with other colleagues and the federal government, to put an end to the malaise.
To have singled out Ekiti and Ondo as the two states where kidnapping and banditry were taking place in recent times, is to be begging the seriousness of, and national concern for the issue. We should not politicize crime or try to score any cheap goal with it. An injury to one is an injury to all, and we should not isolate the two states for any blame game.
Kidnapping and banditry taking place in any part of Nigeria is an ill-wind that blows no one any good. Reports in the Guardian as well as other dailies inform of the occurrences across the states on a daily basis.
How else does Mr. Oloja want a governor to react to such situation than to provide incentives to security agencies operating in the state to step up their acts and stem the tide?
While security strategies and tactics cannot be broadcast, we dare say that Ekiti State Governor, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, has specifically taken the bull by the horn, ensuring that security agencies in the state are well motivated. A security trust fund has been worked out to ensure they get good equipment, communication gadgets, patrol vehicles, and insurance among others.
As a matter of fact, the law, which was first put in place by Dr. Fayemi in his first regime, was recently ammmended to incorporate informal security sectors wherein local vigilante can also benefit from the fund.
As the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Dr. Fayemi is collaborating with his other colleague state governors nationwide on security matters. Recently, he had a meeting with security chiefs and traditional rulers, enlisting the support and involvement of the traditional institution in the matter.
Add to this the security summit hosted by the six governors in the zone and you will appreciate the efforts by the governors to stem the tide.
Aside the media mention of the Ibadan Summit, the governors also met and strategise for two days with security experts and came up with far reaching plans to tackle insecurity in the region.
In Ekiti as in Ondo State, some of the kidnapping gangs have been bursted in some sting operations. We think this is what Mr. Oloja and other respectable journalists wanted done and should be reporting to discourage the perpetrators, rather than beating the drums of war to their delight.
Speaking of Ruga, the Guardian of 2nd July 2019 reported like every other daily, how Governor Kayode Fayemi had given assurance to Ekiti people that nobody coming from outside the state would be allowed to take over the land from them. According to the Guardian report, non-indigenes wishing to do business in the state must respect the culture of the indigenous people and must pursue their interest in line with the laws of the land.
So how could anyone have insinuated that the same governor or his counterpart in Ondo State was supporting Ruga or banditry?
At this point, we cannot but preach the sermon of social responsibility and quest for respectability to Mr. Oloja and other respectable journalists, whose writings are shaping people’s opinions.
In any sphere of human endeavor, subscription to high ethical standards has many rewards, including respectability. Organisations, professional bodies, religious organisations etc. whose activities are guided by ethical codes are respected and valued. This applies equally to the media. In fact it is the quest for respectable and responsible press that informed the commission on freedom of the press, which we duly supported.
We implore that the Nigerian media should accept and fulfill certain obligations to our society, which are mainly to be met by setting high or professional standards of informativeness, truth, accuracy, objectivity and balance.
There can be no doubt that these principles, when put in practice, would add value to media practice, which would translate to media operating within high standards of information dissemination practice, having a concern for truth and guided by accuracy, objectivity as well as the cherished value of balance. We thus expect our respectable journalists like Mr. Oloja to preach nothing that is antithetical to society’s well-being and progress.
Dipe is senior special assistant on public communications to Ekiti State Governor.