In a meeting with some Professors and senior colleagues a few days ago, one of them shared an incident that made me chuckle. Apparently, he was battling with the politics of accreditation for his college, and being misrepresented in certain quarters. He said he’d never been interested in politics, but after that person battle, he wonders how people in power cope with falsehood written in their name.
“I was stunned”, he said, “to be shown quotes in my name, about things I never said. And I had no idea how to even start refuting. The guys were telling me: but this was reported by a reputable newspaper?”
I was laughing in my mind. Not at the Prof’s predicament obviously, but that it took him so long to appreciate the difference between his cubicle and the vast wasteland of calumny that is politics in the country.
I’m not one to hold brief for politicians or people in power, but if you haven’t had to see yourself in the news with quotes attributed to you, over something you had no idea about, then you may not fully grasp this.
I remember about two months ago in Abuja, a friend was excitingly narrating to me all the things he knew about my Uni. How the former Vice Chancellor was this and that. How he read jack and jane about him in the news. I told him all you read was fiction. He said it was reported in “reputable” newspapers. I said: I know; but what you read was still fiction. "That place is where I work", I reiterated to him, "it isn’t true."
What reputable paper is there in the country anyway? Nothing editorially astute about them. I once made a mistake in an article I sent to a news house, they published it with the same mistake. Nothing investigative either. It is like they all wait for Sahara Reporters to uncover something big, and they hungrily jump on it. But then they learnt something else from Sahara, which is the penchant to sometimes publish outright lies or bizarre speculations.
So when people think because they saw something in a “reputable” newspaper, it had to be true, then they have to be made to walk around with a giant L on their neck signed by the FRSC.
Written By Mitterand Okorie