One of the most common features of fascists and dictators is their dislike for media freedom. It is like eczema on the skin of all repressive and autocratic regimes. Dictators detest the idea of allowing the press to do their work without hinges and it simply makes them sick. In their parochial minds, dictators, whether in the White House or Peregrino House, always wish the kleiglights go off so they can smash off. When it suits them, they use the same media to fester their nests and when the media is independent, it is marked as foe. What a contradiction! But in the end, they usually end up consumed by their own actions while always blaming extraneous ghosts and others for their woes.
At the 2019 National Broadcast Summit organized by the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, in the Cross River State capital, Calabar on Wednesday, July 31, Governor Ben Ayade, reinforced this contradiction by urging the Federal Government to implement policies for the control of the social media.
According to Governor Ayade at the summit “There should not be absolute freedom of the press in Nigeria. There must be tighter control of the social media …. NBC must take a bold step like it is done in China and other progressive climes against social media and absolute freedom of the press.”
Yet on Thursday, November 3, 2020, while presenting the 2021 Budget of Blush and Bliss, to the State House of Assembly, Ayade hinted of plans to strengthen his social media unit, the same social media he wants tightly controlled, but this time, to use it against his “enemies.”
Hear him: “Our social media unit will be strengthened to focus on those enemies who seek to destroy our State for political considerations.”
A couple of things keep running through my mind as I peruse these thoughts that torment the carapace of my Governor’s mind about our noble pen profession or should I say key-pad profession now ….
That my Governor of all people, does not believe in press freedom?
I don’t know what ‘absolute’ has to do with it. What the Press, the world over is asking for, is freedom to do their job. PRESS FREEDOM means just that and nothing more or less. Don’t qualify it. It’s an attempt to shift the post. It is politicians that talk tongue in cheek.
But Ayade believes that the press should still be in some kind of manacles that will make it susceptible to domineering politicians like himself.
Governor Ayade, a well travelled professor describes China, one of the most repressive and autocratic environments in the world for journalism, as a “progressive clime” and he dreams of a country where the media should be treated as they are treated in China?
Ayade loathes the social media so much yet he has budgeted millions in 2021 to strengthened it, not for development, not to penetrate predominantly rural Cross River with Government outreaches, not to improve on education and health, but to target his perceived enemies, who exist mostly in his warped imagination.
With 26 media aides in your first term and a bevy of them in your second, your problems sir, is not the social media or the media for that matter, your problem is your lack of direction and constantly shifting values and goals that portray you more as a man of impulse than a pensive leader.
The advocacy for sanitization of the social media space is an ongoing global discussion and all hands are on deck in that direction. The goal is to see how this important tool can be used to further improve the world and not to fight perceived enemies, like my Governor wants to.
But he who delights in punching the air, will only swell the crowd that celebrates his madness.
Citizen Agba Jalingo.
Agba Jalingo is the Editor-In-Chief of CrossRiverWatch and writes from Lagos State.
NB: Opinions expressed in this article are solely attributable to the author, Agba Jalingo and do not in anyway represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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