I read without an atom of surprise the news about Governor Ben Ayade’s repression against correspondents of the underlisted media organisations at the Government House in Cross River State: CrossRiverWatch, Hit FM, FAD FM and Sparkling FM. It is the sort of action I have long expected from the governor.
It has never been a secret that Governor Ben Ayade is an emperor with a strong aversion to criticisms and thinks he deserves praises at all times. Even when the governor defecates on people’s heads, he expects them to say: “thank you, Almighty Governor. This is a blessing.” It is this self-delusion that fuels the governor’s arrogance.
I shall be craving the indulgence of my readers to quote from Ayade’s internal memo which clearly explains that Cross River is under a firm dictatorial regime. Hear him:
“His Excellency, the Digital Governor has directed that henceforth, only the underlisted persons should be part of his itinerary:
Channels reporter and camera man;
AIT reporter and camera man;
Ashie Osor (Chronicles);
Daniel Williams, (Government House photographer, Nakanda, Sunny Inah (CRBC), Offiong Onoyom (Social media), Emmanuel Ulayi (Social media), Beatrice Akpala and one Camera man.
Further more, no textual (press releases), photographic and video materials must be sent out to the public without the permission and clearance of Mr. Christian Ita.
All concerned persons must adhere to this directive, failure of which will attract severe consequences.”
Cross Riverians cannot accept this brazen cruelty, a clear re-enactment of Buhari’s Decree 4 of 1984. Governor Ben Ayade as a PUBLIC OFFICER is without the moral and legal competence to decide which media organisations cover his activities.
Beyond his questionable projects, it is deducible from this memo that the governor is desirous to run a shady administration so he resorts to media censorship in order for his clandestine activities to thrive under a dark cloud.
An example of the shadiness under reference is the 2019 budget of Qabalistic Densification which was passed in secret. Until CrossRiverWatch exposed some of its contents recently, no Cross Riverian besides the governor’s cohorts had been allowed to see what ought to be a public document. Is Ayade in any way empowered to conceal a state budget? Is Ayade not schooled enough to understand that the budget he so desperately conceal belongs to the people? Is Ayade not schooled enough to know that the people have a right to know what he intends doing with their money for an entire year? Is Ayade not schooled enough to know that there exist distinctions between a state budget and a personal budget? We cannot accept a government whose activities thrive in secret. The implication is that such a government militates against the interest of the people it claims to protect.
There is no doubt that the recent publication of some parts of the 2019 budget by CrossRiverWatch, including the N1.4 billion for his travels in 2019, riled the governor in the same manner his dancing video did. But such is the role of the media in democratic societies across the world. Ayade’s high-handedness on critical media organisations is therefore counter-productive, overly desperate and even obsolete. Is this what the “Digital Governor” is made of? Overseeing a clampdown on digital media organisations? What an irony! I shudder.
Several people lost their lives whilst fighting for Nigeria’s democracy. Governor Ayade was never one of those patriots. He simply looked on as the fight unfolded, and when victory became a reality, he emerged from his hideout, clad in a political garment. He therefore cannot be allowed to dismantle a democratic system for which many paid with their blood. Dictatorship has no place in our contemporary society. Ayade, who has a strong appetite for repression, must be made to understand this in the clearest terms possible.
The media is the backbone of healthy democracies across the world, and Ayade’s attempt to kidnap our democracy is dead on arrival! His hostility towards media organisations that are critical of his administration is an indication that the governor has many shady things to hide.
We did not beg this man to be our governor. He is therefore not allowed to tell us which media house must cover his activities and which one shouldn’t. He should have known by now that not all media houses are interested in becoming the governor’s praise-singing outfit. Those who are beating these drums for the governor are goading him into a needless battle against the media. By the time these drumbeats die away, the governor will realise that he has been dancing alone under a furious downpour. He will equally realise that he is a victim of his own atrocities.
Summarily, Governor Ayade’s draconian decision to chase out media representatives from the State House is illegal, despotic and a coup against democracy. He should reverse it immediately!
Dear Governor Ayade, I have one question for you. You have been heaping rocks on the very road that led you to the top of the mountain, how will you return home after sunset?
Elias Ozikpu is an activist and a professional playwright, novelist, essayist and polemicist and writes from Lagos.
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