- Posted by Edith Ohaja
- On November 14, 2016
- 35 Comments
I wrote this poem in August 2015 following Nigeria’s general elections and the reprehensible role played by both the local and foreign media in painting the Dr Goodluck Jonathan administration as a failure and packaging the opposition candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, as the answer to Nigeria’s most severe problems. These problems were sung as corruption and insecurity. The impression given was that the moment Buhari stepped into office, his “body language” and sternness will stamp out corruption and insecurity and usher in economic prosperity. The polls were held and Buhari was elected.
Months after the new government assumed office, the past administration was being blamed for everything and no discernible governance was going on, so I wrote a satirical poem, My Swipe at Jonathan. In fifteen stanzas, the poem detailed some achievements of the Jonathan administration in various sectors plus the constraints it faced and counselled for a more beneficial utilization of time and efforts by Nigerians rather than pummeling Jonathan as a scapegoat.
Responses to the issues raised in that poem, even from some highly educated persons, showed me the poor level of media literacy among Nigerians: to wit, the ability to analyse and interpret media messages correctly was so low it was alarming. Even the poem was misunderstood by some as a poignant indictment of the Jonathan administration.
Someone with a Ph.D proudly “asserted’ that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Finance minister under Jonathan, ruined the Nigerian economy. I said, “Of course she did, by making Nigeria the largest economy in Africa!” or words to that effect. He countered by declaring he read it up in Time magazine. I was dumbfounded.
This guy felt that if something was reported in a foreign magazine, that should end all argument. I reminded him that the media usually have agendas that often colour their reports. He rejected that. He rather insisted on sending me a scanned copy of the magazine and it turned out to be a local publication, TheNEWS. My-my! (Not that it would have made any difference if he had sent me such a report in a dozen foreign media.) But for the sake of those unfamiliar with the Nigerian media, TheNEWS is owned by a top member of Buhari’s All Progressives Congress, along with The Nation newspapers, Radio and TV Continental and these media, among others, were used to peddle misinformation and give negative spins to events, issues and personalities associated with the Jonathan administration.
I, therefore, decided to do another poem to explain to those who read it about the manner in which the media operate and warn them against some illusions they may hold about that.
Last week, the American presidential elections were held and try as they might, the media could not pull off what they did so easily in Nigeria. In spite of the huge media bias against him, Donald Trump emerged winner over media-anointed Hillary Clinton. But riots are persisting showing that many wholly believed the media’s propaganda, stereotyping and scaremongering.
That is why I felt I needed to bring this poem to public attention once again (I’ve made corrections on one line). Young and other impressionable people who bought the media narrative are bewildered and devastated. They are finding it hard to come to terms with reality. This violence is what we were spared in Nigeria because the hype was swallowed here. But for most Nigerians, the spell has long been broken and they are now grappling with the dire consequences of their gullibility.
May God restore peace all over America and grant our people the wisdom to make independent judgments rather than being deluded by a wayward press in Jesus’ name.
THEY’RE PULLING THE WOOL OVER YOUR EYES!
Do you wholly believe all the stories in the news?
Do you honestly think that the press is on your side?
Do you scream yourself hoarse in support when they praise?
Do you echo, “Crucify!”, whomsoever they condemn?
If your answer is, “Yes”, then I’ve got news for you
You’re being taken for a ride, they’re pulling the wool over your eyes
For the stories that you read are scarcely neutral, my dear
They mostly reflect the point of views of the writers, you see
Governors with media-savvy Press Secs can just go to sleep
But by the stories that you read, they’re the best in the land
Or politicians can set up media or buy access in lots of them
And suddenly they are saints while painting others as ghouls
And if you think it’s just the locals, it shows you don’t know the game
All you need is – know their leanings, who is pulling the strings
Where’s the balance, who are their sources, what is missing and what’s trumpeted?
Once you piece it all together, out comes the agenda they’re pushing and why
Am I saying that it is wrong – to be subjective, to take a stand?
Am I pretending it can be done, being objective to the hilt?
Of course not, I’m not deluded but I am hoping for disclosure
That you no more be hoodwinked by endless rhetoric that’s bought and paid for
Ⓒ Edith Ugochi Ohaja 2015
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