By Mohammed Adamu
North gets lion’s share in police recruitment’. This was one of the front page stories of the Daily Sun’s edition of yesterday.
And which obviously was an extension of the divisive media narrative about the alleged ethno-regional bias of the Buhari administration in the distribution of state resources and opportunities.
The sharing was done per local government, and the North –having more such councils- naturally had a couple more than the number allocated to the South from the 10,000 Police Recruitment exercise.
And which, by the way should, logically too, have obviated the need for a screaming headline by any newspaper insinuating ethno-regional imbalance. And just as the explanation by government too that the distribution of job opportunities under the nPower… was ‘residency’ and not ‘origin-based’, should have obviated the need for the North to protest the existence especially of South-Eastern names on the list of many of its Local Governments, LGs.
By the way, if the virtue of having members of other ethnic groups benefit from their ‘residency’ status in our midst, is strictly ‘its own reward’ –as ‘virtue always is-’ the North should lose nothing by being eminently assimilating when others are eminently incapable of being equally as virtuous. But the ethno-regional character of our polity is not the subject of this piece. The agenda-setting mischief of the media is.
The media -mainstream and online- by what we report or what we choose to ignore; by what we give prominence to or what we deliberately conceal; by what we luridly sensationalise or what we selfishly play down, are the reason for the unending ethno-regional schisms that have continued to define the character of our national life.
It is said that ‘The truth you tell with bad intent, beats all the lies you can invent”. Meaning, for example, that if you tell a ‘truth’ with a motive to stir up controversy, of a fact then ‘stirring up controversy’ –and not telling a truth- is what you should be credited with. Just as I think former CBN Governor and Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido should be credited with ‘embarrassing’ Buhari’s Government if, and only if, the economic ‘truth’ he told recently about unethical Government-CBN relationship, was with a motive to embarrass it -and not a genuine desire to correct a systemic wrong.
And although you can neither disprove the claim of Buhari-bashers to altruistic motive whenever they purport to tell truth to power, nor can you, conversely, prove their ill-intention, yet no one needs be a journalist to tell when the media is reporting even the ‘truth’ with a motive to stir up controversy. Yes it is true that the North had more police slots allocated to it than the South, but the Daily Sun’s reporting of that ‘truth’ was evidently with a motive to stir up controversy.
And yes, some species of ‘truth’ are inherently debate-evocating; meaning that no matter how they are told, they are more likely to provoke dispute than they may be even to right wrongs or to establish an enduring reality. But generally it is in the nature of ‘truth’ -no matter how it is told- to banish falsehood and even to put liars to shame. Yet we do not always tell ‘truth’ merely to put liars to shame as we do to set the records straight and where necessary even to remedy wrong.
Yet it is to the mainstream –and not Online- media that the aphorism is instructive which asserts that ‘The truth you tell with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent’. Because the online media is essentially –and thus incorrigibly- an outlaw. It can neither be exhorted to know the rules and the ethics of journalism nor can it be compelled to live by them. The Online media lives by a totally different kind of creed, which argues that ‘one do not have to be truthful to be virtuous’. To associate ‘falsehood’ with ‘virtue’ is no less sinful than to smuggle the ‘union of a man and a man’ into the definition of marriage.