When I took on the task of taking on the new found wonder boys of Nigerian online fiefdom, I knew I was treading on dangerous grounds. But the aim ultimately was not to ruffle some feathers, it was to promote debate, foster free speech and encourage us to think as a people. Nigerians are not used to thinking; by nature we are passive consumers – and the responses I have gotten so far have by far exceeded my expectations. It has strengthened my belief in the fundamental prospect of our nation as a virile engine of democracy and free speech.
As a Nigerian, I am well aware that our national past time is rumor mongering and shameless name calling yet doing nothing about it. More so our perennial cynicism of power and those who wield it is well known around the world: in one breathe only 25% of citizens think their government is headed in a good direction (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3812201.stm), in another they are the world happiest people (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3157570.stm). Only cynicism and apt indifference working hand in hand can breed that statistics – what a country!
This article will be devoted to replying my good readers that have decided to dispute certain basis of my last writing – it is important to declare upfront that I appreciate their comments and I am taking all views to heart as an adamant advocate of decency and free speech. One of such rejoinders took me on six points and these are my rejoinders to those points:
1. The Nigerian flag was not burnt at the Independence Day protests if so Paul Adujie would have reported it in his own article he hates Sowore and Elendu as much as you do.
Ans: I used the word “burn” figuratively. A rudimentary understanding of English language will show that whereas every reader can access the said information from Mr. Paul’s article, it will be far fetched that I will simply seek to mislead the public. Defacing the Nigerian Flag should be condemned by all; it amounts to literally burning the same flag – at least from my standpoint.
2. Private Property information is public information in the US more so in New York City and the state of Maryland it is available on the internet for free- don’t know which planet you live in.
Ans: I will be interested in seeing the private property information they obtained. No prove so far– if indeed they obtained the said document why did they review the price of the house three times! Initially it was above a million dollars, later it was half a million and the numbers keep jumping around! Attach the link they got the information from or a PDF file format of the property information: not just some plain hearsay! They will be better off with that. When the Salisu Buhari story broke in Tell Magazine, his ‘certificates’ were published, the evidence on Enwerem was also published – that is what I call real journalism, not plain unsubstantiated hearsays, yet unproven.
3. The address of the finance minister is also public information not protected by any privacy laws she too knows that. You can find it in any zip-search browser go to school!
Ans: While her address might be public information to her friends and relatives, I am not sure you will want the address where you house your kids (even though as public as you might want us to believe they already are) to be published on the World Wide Web. In this age of serial killers, political assassination and child molesters it is simply too dangerous to do so: do you have kids?
4. Olu Obasanjo’s property issue became popular when Fani-Kayode (Presidential spokesperson) publicly defended its acquisition by saying he is a lawyer and that he earns 200000 a year. And that he bought the house with a loan from a bank-Happened he just graduated from law school (not yet practicing) there is still no loan information available on that property (meaning he paid cash for it). If Obasanjo were to be opposed to this actions of Olu G. Obasanjo why did he use his office to defend the acquisition of this property and still unable to provide any further info to dispel the impropriety so far-you need some more truth training!
Ans: All my writings on the Obasanjo issue were heavily punctuated with “Maybe”s unlike Elendu’s- I simply don’t know. But you cannot defame ones character without providing concrete evidence that effectively back up these wild claims that put integrity on the line – refer to my reply on item 2 above.
5. On Saraki- question in that report if you ever read it is why he bought will buy 4.5 million pounds house as his father’s bank-of which he was V. chairman-going down with depositor’s money. ..And why hasn’t anyone been punished by EFCC for robbing that bank SBGN-no answers so far!
Ans: I will answer that question for you. We are no more in the military era when laws are retroactive. If you still have that mentality please get off it. You cannot try a man for a crime before the law existed to prosecute him. The EFCC Act was enacted in post SGBN breakup. Chikena!
6. On Bafarawa-a sharia practicing governor buys a house in London worth N183 million from the proceeds of a house he sold for N100 million-please help calculate the difference. Officially governors earn less than one million naira per year making his total income for 6 six years less than
ten million naira. The difference is till huge we need answers.
Ans: There is no proof that the governor sold the Abuja house for 100 million – how did u know that if not for the wild claims of the Elendu boys? I don’t belief from “the grapevine” sources. Moreover your 183 million naira calculation is based on today’s exchange rate- if the story was true he bought the house in 2001 – a child born in that year will start primary school this year. Haba!
To be fair to the chap that wrote the rejoinder above, I have had certain private communication with him, and in keeping with my own theme of privacy I have decided after second thoughts to keep it private.
Another well informed reader took me on various points however not specifically itemized. One of his/her points however was “Every fellow in government wants to be a sacred cow. Can Okonjo-Iweala call up a US journalist and display such pure bad habit Once they are in Nigeria they part ways with their manners” My simple answer to that is that the media do their job thoroughly in America and the American media also have their fair shares of Bill O’Reily ! Yes people scream on him, yes people rail like market women – it is democracy, I suspect you might prefer cooling your feet in jail if you criticize a minister as obtainable under the military or something.
Many other readers accused me of various crimes ranging from taking on people with precise and accurate information! Wrong! There is nothing precise about revising the value of Bafarawa’s house twice nor is there anything accurate about revising the value of Olu Obasanjo’s property as well. All these based on hear say, no concrete basis, and no solid evidence. Indeed, it isn’t the accuracy of the information that I was really concerned about, it is the lack of journalistic rigor that I expect to accompany such stories that deal with people’s character profile- which in my opinion is a very serious matter. In any case I am not an Elendu hater, I commend their previous works including the Atiku and Alams exposé, but I take issues with other improperly researched stories, or simply out of context essays for that matter.
An interesting observation of all the good Nigerians that criticized the previous article was that they all neglected the main story around which the article was built – which was the improper and unwarranted publishing of the private residence information of the Finance Minister. Who amongst you will expose your family with the attendant security problem she has been suddenly exposed to? Putting yourselves in her shoes, will you agree to be the Finance Minister of tomorrow if this is the way your fellow country men will treat the few accomplished ones in our midst who decided to get off their high horse and devote their brain power to the service of our motherland? Who among you?
Indeed, after the story I continued my forensic analysis of the Elendu brigade website, and one other early story was an attack on the credentials of Philip Emeagwali – the renowned inventor and Bell Prize winner (http://www.elendureports.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=46&Itemid=33). In the said article they inferred he is a Nigerian with a phony credential, claiming 41 patents. In reality, Emeagwali claims he filed for 41 patent applications not that he holds them (http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa111097.htm ). Indeed, as someone very familiar with the patent application process I can assure all readers that while it is anyone’s discretion to apply for patent, the process is tedious and financially consuming. It is also widely known that up until August 1998 when the priceline.com patent no 5,794,207 was awarded the US Patent office continued to refuse most patents for computer-technology related issues, especially those that has to do with programming (software) an area of expertise for Emeagwali – a distinction need to be drawn here between trademark, trade secrets, patent and copyrights. There have been an up tick in these kinds of patent awards since then, but since Dr. Philip’s four most notable inventions pre-dated this era (and are outdated now through no fault of his), it is highly unlikely he will be awarded. Indeed, how can President Bill Clinton be so wrong – were we not all witness to the speech in the Nigerian National Assembly where he referred to Mr. Emeagwali as the “Bill Gates of Africa”? I don’t think the White House do their research on www.emeagwali.com . In fact, the Elendu website claims he invented the Bill Gates thing himself. The man has rightly ignored them.
May be this streak of Pull Him Down syndrome in the Elendu reports is what those critical readers should join issues with – not my ordinary person simply raising legitimate questions. I am sure some faithful brigadiers will comically accuse me of suffering from the same syndrome- I only beg to disagree in advance: there is a stark difference between constructive and destructive criticisms. My hope is that the Elendu site expands to taking on not just men that occupy public officers, but the leeches that have been plaguing our private sector in Nigeria and those soiling our names abroad with their criminal acts.
Furthermore, the article got some rather vitriolic response to say the least, which concentrated on the person rather than the idea. While I will not glorify those comments by replying though this media, I will comment that those responses exemplify the very reason why Nigeria is being held back from her true potential. As a people, we are preoccupied with complaining, whining and criticizing. We are good critics and bad actors. In fact the legions of our leaders are produced from a followership that is preoccupied with intellectual laziness and backbiting – we glorify or attack personalities, not ideas. Not until we rise beyond mundane emotional approach to our national problems, we will not see the proverbial light at the end of the dark tunnel.
But thank goodness as I am putting finishing touches on this article there is good news, Nigeria is no longer among the top 5 most corrupt nations of the world according to the Transparency International barometric – this is something to be celebrated and I hope the Elendu boys do some story on this. We have to put a positive outlook out there for our country, if we want to be respected by others. We are still in the 6th spot and there is still enough room for improvement, with the like
s of Ribadu in place and Elendu and Sowore cheering him on with solid and accurate evidence, we should achieve great results.
In all sincerity however, I appreciate all comments from my able readers. The fact that you took your time out to write me back shows that you have abandoned the league of Nigerians that will simply do nothing about their country. Every key strokes on your key board regardless of the level of blunder or height of grammar, is just one more stroke for Nigeria. God Bless you all. Most especially, I thank those readers with kind words of encouragement, most of them directed at my personal e-mail – you are all appreciated. Even well grounded writers like Wole Soyinka don’t take kindly to critics. Even though many writers won’t admit it, Isaac Asimov once observed that “From my close observation of writers… they fall into two groups: 1) those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and 2) those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review.” Then imagine the fate of minions like me in the jungle of the internet without your kind words. Your words will keep this young mind tapping away until the fortunes of our nation changes for the best! Aluta Continua – Victoria Asserta!
“Without free speech no search for truth is possible… no discovery of truth is useful… Better a thousand fold abuse of free speech than denial of free speech. The abuse dies in a day, but the denial slays the life of the people, and entombs the hope of the race.”
British social reformer (1833-1891)