by Demola Rewaju
The first thing that some pointed out to us in the immediate reaction to the matter is that AIT was ‘barred’ and not ‘banned’. A simple check on any grammar website shows that both words (bar and ban) are synonymous. While ban is used more in relation to inanimate objects, bar is used of humans and persons. Hence, one can say that ‘chocolates are banned in my school’ or ‘students are barred from bringing chocolates into my school’.
My reaction to the entire saga was to watch as twitter handles one had hitherto ascribed with a modicum of sense lost it totally and jumped up to defend the indefensible. They should learn from some of us who have mastered that act of condemning our own side in just one tweet embedded in several unrelated issues. Once that condemning tweet is out, one then unlooks or refers attackers to the earlier tweet and lets the matter rest. I for one never justified anything that was clearly against common-sense or traditional principles. Our APC friends have shown that they would carry on as though Pa Buhari is a messiah and everything he does cannot be wrong.
But thank God for some sense within the APC rank – Lai Mohammed quickly stepped in to overrule Pa’s spokesman Garba Shehu. The ban on AIT was foolish ab initio – let’s not mince words. What was he to gain? For me, it was a move that was going to set him on collision course with the media and I was all too happy to just watch it happen. The ethical bounds that AIT crossed during campaign season are best decided by a law court since those were adverts and not AIT original documentaries. Knowing full well that a law case would expose the truth of those documentaries, some hawks around Pa Buhari simply asked him to play judge, jury, accuser and executor in two words: ban AIT.
And there was the argument that ‘he is still a private citizen’ which personally I think is a gross misnomer. There are no public citizens. What Goodluck Jonathan does in the bedroom with his wife is private, even though he is a public citizen. Much as some perverts may want to know what goes on in the presidential bedroom I doubt any journalist would actually venture that far. Same applies to Pa Buhari who incidentally now lives in a state owned building, is surrounded by state security officers and is as much a public citizen as any government official is. But then again, it only shows the length to which voltrons will go to justify anything their messiah does.
Two things disturb me, three actually and I will highlight them briefly:
Firstly, that despite his usual ‘my party will make that decision’. Pa Buhari seems to have a cabal whom he consults and some say this cabal is similar in composition to the Turai Yar’Adua cabal. This also connects with the second point that the APC usually seems to be out of sync with whatever Buhari (and his cabal) are saying and I will give three instances:
When Garba Shehu announced that Buhari was going to London for a short rest, Lai Mohammed quickly stepped in and said it was a working visit to the UK. When Garba Shehu said Buhari would have nothing to do with the National Confab Report, Lai Mohammed again said it would be evaluated and any positives salvaged from it. Then this.
What we have may perhaps be the incipient signs of a weakening ACN caucus and an ascending CPC caucus within the APC ranks. I’d said at some point before the elections that Nasir el-Rufai, Bukola Saraki and Tanimu Yakubu are more adept players of Abuja politics than Tinubu is and he may yet be outsmarted. With Raji Fashola and Kayode Fayemi leaning more to the person of Pa Buhari than Tinubu these days, you will understand why I say the ACN caucus is weakening.
My third disturbance on this matter is that Buhari seems eager to continue waging a war against the media. His Decree 4 of 1984 was brought up consistently by his opponents before the last elections and this unnecessary controversy over AIT seems to play into that narrative all too conveniently…so conveniently in fact that I am reminded of the ‘I don’t give a damn’ attitude of past military rulers (not the unwise words of Goodluck Jonathan). Obasanjo it was who had a sign at his Otta Farm linking journalists and dogs together and claiming both were prohibited. Yet, when he came into power, he demonstrated an ability to work with the media to sell his own side of the story – he did this so well in fact that despite the hardship he inflicted on the nation at some point, the overriding theory was that ‘Baba means well’.
Buhari’s ban on AIT and the way Garba Shehu reiterated it twice seems a bit like these guys won’t care. I’m not afraid that they will have their way but I suspect they will burn their goodwill all too soon.
Have a great day, no matter what.