There is nothing more pathetic than a critical mob; gangs of columnists, journalists, hatchet writers and career critics may stir up strife but their efforts eventually pass like the hum of mosquitoes seeking to make a noise like thunder. Like the rest of the Nigerian mob, the social media critic, newspaper columnist and journalist symbolize a tiresome mercenariness of complacency, avarice and inertia. However, unlike the rest of the Nigerian mob, this critical mob epitomizes the tragic manifestations of the pious frauds of citizenship, like microbes hastening the decomposition of corpses.
Nigerians love being conned and the Nigerian ruling class knows that; so does the Nigerian critic. The latter knows that, if you can deceive the citizenry in grand and entertaining styles, you will get away with it more often than you could count thus the continual deception, impoverishment and murder of the Nigerian masses.
Like the masses or totality of the Nigerian mob, the critic suffers exposure to pain and humiliation for too long in the hands of the ruling class thus ending up in a pitiful state evocative of a condition of enthrallment in which the hypnotized individual finds himself in the hands of the hypnotizer. Careful observation would however, suggest that foremost crusaders of the critical mob variously suffer paralysis of the intellect as does every hypnotized subject; consequently, the latter becomes enslaved to an object, a need, money, a perversion or an idea by which the hypnotizer (oftentimes the ruling class) directs and belittles him at will.
It’s a shame that I belong to the journalistic segment of this pathetic societal divide; as a journalist and newspaper columnist cum social critic, I am not in any way distinguishable from the rot emblematic of my colleagues in the Fourth Estate of the realm. However much I try to absolve myself of blame; the society is wired to see us all journalists as a bunch of unrepentant liars, pawns to tyrants and die-hard fortune hunters.
We essentially epitomize a style of living which cultivates sincerity and is at the same time a fraud. We arrogate to ourselves rights to nobility and free speech by twisting truth into relative truths and true lies in an existence we have learnt to rationalize as gracious and irrevocably necessary. This has to be odious; it is.
Despite the cowardice and duplicity of Nigeria’s critical mob, it is amusing to see other constituents of this mob divide tirelessly chastise and identify the Nigerian journalist as a bane to progress and monumental disgrace to the society. To this, many a journalist and newspaper columnist have responded that the society essentially wishes that the journalist do not effectively fulfill his responsibilities to it. Likewise, I have corroborated such argument claiming that big business and politicians’ ownership of mainstream media gives them intimidating capacities to influence and set the agenda for the media and society in general.
This is an intimidating reality no doubt; it is obscenely silly and self-serving of the Nigerian society to continually muscle in the media’s job and prevent it from discharging its duties effectively and yet turn around to identify the Nigerian press as fraudulent and disgraceful.
However, this does not in any way ennoble the shamefulness and irresponsibility of the Nigerian press. Journalists, unlike the social media critic, delusional citizen or online journalist, press secretary or special media adviser to the ruling class, are expected to fulfill more sensitive and crucial roles to the society.
The Nigerian journalist should be the hero that perpetually cramps himself into demanding roles of watchdog. It is shameful however, that the contemporary journalist takes unpardonably dense and gruesome human elements for gods and worships them as such; by enslaving himself to such characters, the journalist is duly taken for some idle, nondescript human integer, extant in the world to entertain tyranny and have a few naira and demeaning errands thrown at him that he might get to enjoy a taste of the good life or a semblance of it.
Be it as Special Media Adviser to the President, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Personal Assistant to the MD, Corporate Affairs Manager or any other title created for an enslaved press intellectual within public or private sector, the journalist shirks his role as societal watchdog; he becomes lapdog, dung-dog or junkyard dog of the ruling class. In the strict slave system in which he works, there can scarcely be such a thing as crime; whatever his principal does is fair and justifiable – his ultimate aim is to keep his employer happy and thus guarantee the security of his meal ticket. It is no surprise therefore that the journalist and newspaper columnist who ought to serve as a check on the bestiality and excesses of the ruling class eventually become the defender and justifier of such vile.
Those who are not yet lured into the loop of schemes and largesse of the ruling class painstakingly become gadflies to the ruling class. They taunt and condemn every measure, utterance and action of the country’s leadership in desperate bid to bully whatever government excites their greed and duplicity till they include them as recipients of crumbs of the proverbial “national cake.”
As crucial appendage of Nigeria’s critical mob, the press has mutated into a contemptible factor, trollopy in conduct and pitifully cast in the stormy waters of Nigeria’s sociopolitics. Far flung in the murky waters, many have drowned, a paltry few struggle to swim against the tides while many more hang suspended, to be forced up or down by the chance currents of a sleazy, vicious world. How can such human elements fulfill the roles of watchdog and moral compass of the society?
For too long, the Nigerian journalist has tirelessly fulfilled the role of criminal constituent amid the nation’s critical mob divide. So doing, he becomes blamable for every ill and any ill symptomatic of the country’s steady descent the slope of amorality and currency-activated self-destruct.
What is however, true of the journalist is peculiarly true of other human elements of the Nigerian society; contemporary happenstances attest to the fact that the current generation of Nigerians, the youth in particular, is afflicted by an intense tumult of self-interest, gluttony and intricate trashing of spirit that destroys whatever nerve could be mustered in pursuit of truth, personal and societal progress.
Poverty and job insecurity are ascribed as our reasons for betrayal; true, the society betrays the journalist by the hour but it’s about time we stopped repaying perfidy with perfidy. It’s about time we evolved dependable and practicable means of creating and instituting a leadership, society and media practice we could trust.
We could begin by ditching our familiar whining and blame-mongering to evolve a culture of truthfulness and conscientious citizenship. It is no longer permissible to contend that the journalist is only a reflection of the society he serves. By advancing such argument, we box ourselves into straits of sophistry and frantic rationalizations. This is unacceptable of purported men of letters and conscience of the society.
Truth is what we should speak. Truth is what we should be guided by. But what manner of truth should be the watchword of the Nigerian journalist and critic?