Criticism isn’t such a difficult word to comprehend literary, but it’s meaning is often mentally misunderstood as hatred. Particularly in acquiesced societies like Cross River State where passivity is considered as virtue.
While hatred is the very toxic feeling of intense dislike for someone or something, criticism on the other hand is the expression of disapproval of someone or something on the basis of perceived faults or mistakes. It is also the analysis and judgement of the merits and faults of a system, a something or an individual.
The feeling of hatred is compulsorily harmful to the carrier of the feelings than to the object of the feelings. It is also harmful to the nervous and mental health of the carrier. But criticism is a healthy additive essential for the catalization of good governance.
As a watchdog journalist, it is my routine to critic. I must do it. Like an athlete wakes up to resume training, I wake to my work of criticizing and holding government accountable. It is a task both the Constitution and my profession has assigned to me and my colleagues and I embrace it with dignity and pride.
Having said that, let me bring it home by clarifying a few things.
…Agba Jalingo hates Ayade. His criticism is full of hate. It’s revenge because he was arrested by Ayade.
I hear that a lot. I am not surprised one bit neither am I prepared to shift ground because like I said, our people are wired like that. The first thing those who say those things fail to ask themselves is…
Was it after my arrest and imprisonment that I started criticizing Governor Ayade?
Why was I arrested in the first place by Governor Ayade?
For singing his praises?
Was it not because I was criticizing the government consistently for over two years that someone couldn’t take it anymore?
So at what point did it become different?
Or was I supposed to return from prison and begin to say nice things about Governor Ayade so that people will not term it hate and revenge?
That is not possible!
I criticized Ayade’s predecessor, Governor Imoke persistently till the last day he left office.
The first lady at the time accused us of been sponsored by their own predecessor to tarnish the image of their government.
A team of armed Policemen from the State CID looking for me couldn’t get me at the time and stormed the Calabar South home of our freelance reporter then, Mr. Emmanuel Unah in the middle of the night and took him away, leaving two little kids stranded behind without a mother at home.
He was detained at the headquarters of the State Police command for days and later released without any charges, because CrossRiverWatch did a story, Efiok Cobham, our Deputy Governor then and 2023 aspirant, did not like. That was nine years ago. As a matter of fact, Senator Ben Ayade who was in the Senate then, was one of those Efiok Cobham sent to intervene and talk to me to let their government be. He did talk to me and nothing changed.
Click the link below to read how the arrest happened nine years ago.
CrossRiverWatch and I, were abused and called names by appointees, agents and beneficiaries of that government and even professional colleagues working for other platforms in the State. They questioned our integrity and even threatened court actions.
We have a rich and wealthy history of receiving punches from the work we do. So there is actually nothing happening here now that is new unless you are new here. It is a normal thing to be called names in this job unless you are doing it according to someone else’s tune. But I have learnt that when people lack a defense for the facts you ceaselessly churn out, they seek where to hide, they start calling it hatred.
Then, come to think of it, how do you hate a man you talk with every time? Me and Governor Ayade still talk regularly on phone. Very regular I mean. Sometimes up to 30/45 minutes. If he is busy and misses my call, he returns the call. We still chat on WhatsApp. Are we discussing our hatred? We are not quarrelling. He reads everything I write. He gets angry. He lashes back at me. I stand my ground. He can’t do anything about it and we move on. I know how what I am doing feels if I were in his shoes. But for as long as he does what he does the way he does it, I won’t stop doing what I am doing the way I do it. It is for our mutual and societal good. If anyone inputs hatred into it, it is a deficiency in comprehension on the part of the person.
Lastly, what is even there to revenge? My incarceration? That was a mistake Governor Ayade made and has been regretting and will continue to regret for the rest of his life, because history will not forget. Is that not enough revenge? The torment of his conscience. He wishes he can turn back the hand of the clock already and reverse those events. Things didn’t turn out the way he planned and it hurts him till now.
But I have taken advantage of the events to stand on greater heights. It is a forever stain on his integrity if he had any. It is shame and face saving that is making him still keep the matter in court and I will continue to attend all my court dates. So what is there to revenge actually or am I rather to celebrate? My incarceration increased the value of the work I do and put a badge of authencity on it just like it made Governor Ayade more popular for all the wrong reasons. So I will not make God angry by seeking revenge over what God used as a stepping stone for me. I am not that stupid not to know this underlying principle.
So when next you read my criticism, that is just what it is. CRITICISM! It is my job! Deal with it.
Citizen Agba Jalingo.
Citizen Agba Jalingo, Publisher of CrossRiverWatch and a rights activist, is a Cross Riverian and writes in from Lagos.
NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Agba Jalingo and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.