By Ushang Ewa
There seem to be obvious disagreement and parallel lines between some aides of the Cross River State governor and APC supporters as well as social commentators in the state over wild allegations of compromise against the biggest online news platform in the state, CrossRiverWatch and the Publisher, Agba Jalingo.
Though it is not exactly clear whether the Governor or the leadership of the APC in the state hold the same position with their aides and supporters, but it was clear from their various posts on the social media that both sides wish they could have control of the platform.
A supporter of APC and lecturer in the University of Calabar, Joseph Odok who also describes himself as a critic and self-styled enemy of the government of Senator Ayade, while taking a swipe at CrossRiverWatch wrote on his wall, “It is so amazing that the social media can fall so cheap by compromising with powerful figures that have left Cross River State as poor as it is today. This is evident in the collaboration of our politicians with cross river state media persons and journalists to perpetrate falsehood and commercialize media for pecuniary gains.
“We must now get our eyes open to those that get paid to sell the conscience of the state. No wonder a social commentator of a class Princewill Odidi opined that there is no news in Cross River State at this present time. What kills the true news in Cross River State is the purchase of our social media by the government of the day.
“It is noted that Agba Jalingo is a proclaimed praise singer of the government and agencies that has (sic) contributed in enslaving us. Come to think of it what job does Agba Jalingo do outside of amebo for politician but we know he is rich. To the best of my knowledge he has no real way of wealth creation other than blackmail or praise singing for pay. Or can someone tell me to justify his source of wealth? It smells an obvious commercialization of journalism for personal gain.”
A Canada based Cross Riverian, policy analyst, and supporter of the APC, Obasesam Okoi, also in a post on his facebook timeline expanded the allegation to the entire online journalists in Cross River State. “If there’s anything that is needed urgently it is credible and independent journalists and news platforms in Cross River. Once politicians begin to fund journalists and news platforms, it leads to boot licking, praise singing, hidden agendas, covering news that favor rich and powerful politicians only. The result is reputation damage and loss of legitimacy.
“It saddens me that platforms we thought are created to give voice to the poor have been co-opted by politicians to suppress popular and legitimate discontent. Any alternative? Yes. We need alternative news platforms funded by legitimate board of directors or by international bodies whose only interest is to balance profit with Justice or amplify the voice of the common man as opposed to elevating the interest of the rich and powerful only.”
Another Atlanta based Cross Riverian, social commentator, and also an APC supporter, Mr. Princewill Odidi, who though did not make any allegation of financial compromise, but wondered why according to him, news content has dwindled in the online platforms in the state in recent times.
But in what will sound like a response to the allegations of compromise from the Government House in Calabar, a post was made on one of the pseudo facebook IDs, Simon Truthforall, operated by one of the governor’s aides, counter accusing CrossRiverWatch of being turned to APCwatch
The post reads:
“Time to Change CrossRiverWatch to APCwatch.
“In everything a man does, no matter how much he speaks of sacrifice, take away the excess free baggage at his door step, then you know all the said sacrifice is just to keep the common man from discovering the lot at his disposal.
“The baggage of Five hundred thousand Naira (N500,000) monthly paid to CrossRiverWatch by the Imoke administration is no more going to them as usual, behold they have declared war against Ayade and PDP.
“Agba Jalingo is all out to ridicule the Ayade administration and PDP by planting most of his boys, some who have worked with him before, now appointees and others still at his employ to create bad blood and reveal all PDP plans even if these are secret internal meetings.
“His post on PDP CAUCUS meeting across the State and the lie of zoning the party Chairman to the central and how the Northern Caucus adopted Ayade for 2019, were all to prove to Cross River PDP that he have them in his palms.
“If APCWATCH as their new name is now, is out to frustrate Cross River plans, let them know Cross River is going higher! Higher!! And Higher!!
In the comments box following the post, two of the governor’s media aides could not hold it back.
One of the aides, Paul Ojeka even had to advice his boss in public to reappraise his relationship with CrossRiverWatch: “Do we need CrossRiverWatch which is visibly and invisibly an accomplice of APC in the Cross River State Government House? Ayade must take some time for retrospection on this. If CrossWatch (sic) as it is called supplies info to Paul Ifere and Okoi Obono-Obla to use as arsenals against Ayade, then this CrossRiverWatch is a traitor (which is sharper than a traitor’s sword).”
Another media aide, Solomon Inok also accused CrossRiverWatch of what he called pretentious manoeuvrings: “Smartness, intelligence plus pride and egocentric mannerism, pushes a man far into the desert happy until his bottle of water gets empty, then He start calculating the distance to the finished line and the one made. I now understand the foundation of all attacks, the set ups, the pretentious manner of maneuvering. Fast interest in reporting sympathetic posts about the social media group, all to keep blind and have strong hold.”
In his reaction, Publisher of CrossRiverWatch, Agba Jalingo said what the reactions simply summed up to is that the work of CrossRiverWatch and the online journalists in Cross River state, who no one even believed in, in the first place has come to stay and it is now shaping public opinion.
According to Agba, “We are glad that all these big people (in quote) are bothering to talk about our work. As you can see from what you have read, both sides of the divide wish they could control what is happening on our platforms. When it suits them, the APC people will accuse you of compromise. When it also suits them, the PDP people will also accuse you of compromise. But that clearly is a sign of our independence and I am very proud of that and very proud of all CrossRiverWatch reporters and all online journalists in our state.
“Our job is not to make people happy with us. There is no way external pressure will make us cave in. We will only measure our headlines carefully against the interest of Cross River State. Not the government, not the opposition, not the social commentators, but the interest of the state. We may not always be right but we will not deliberately set out to be wrong. We criticize people and we know how criticism feels like and our skin is thick enough to accept criticism that is why we are even publishing these ones.
“Finally, I will not be one of those who will deny that we are looking for avenues to make money. We are not doing an illegitimate business. Blogging is new in our state and as a registered business in Cross River state, we are working hard not only to be a news model to others but to also become a financial model, to make profit and break even so that we can share our experience with other platforms to enable them grow and strengthen the industry in the state.
“We have a very strong and virile marketing/advert department that is at work looking for legitimate funds for the expansion of our business. The department is headed by Emmanuel Etim who we are all very proud of what he has done so far. Corporate Cross River is noticing us and doing business with us. Already UNICEM and Virtual Office have come on board and they are advertising with us and General Electric plus some other companies are in discussions with us. We want to grow, we want to do new projects and expand our reach. Some of our stories are read by up to 50,000 people, some by 20,000 some by less or more. If only 2 or 5 or even 10 out of that number, mostly those who have entrenched interest complain, there is no cause for alarm, but we take note of their worries and observations and we will work on the ones that are helpful but we will not allow anyone to distract us.
“Some people say I am rich. I may not be rich now, but there is no doubt about the fact that I will have plenty of money very soon. It is not going to be bribe money. It is going to be legitimate money because I am working towards it. In any case, bribes are not given to non-entities.” Agba concluded.
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