I got a very interesting call, on the telephone, penultimate Thursday. It came from someone I do not know. Never met him. And, he was calling me for the first time. So, he introduced himself as a regular reader of Thursday Homily. “It is because of you that I buy The Sun every Thursday”, he said. I thanked him and further encouraged him. But that was not why he called. “Anyway”, he said, “I read you your column and I like the way you write but that is not why I am calling you”. So, what was it that made him spend his hard-earned money, and valuable time, to speak to me? Here he goes! “Honestly, I don’t like your column today. I am not happy with what you wrote. You should not have done that”, he said.
What exactly did I write to earn his disapproval? I did comment, and commend, Gov. Hope Uzodimma for successfully recovering Imo Standard Shoe Company from AMCON after paying off the N1.6billion owed by the company by the state, and also, the plan by Shell Petroleum Developing Company to return to Imo state which it left in 2019 on grounds of insecurity. I also commended the Imo governor for his effort at rehabilitating and reconstructing some major roads in the state including the roads connecting Owerri with Orlu; Owerri with Okigwe; Umuahia through Mbaise and the Orlu-Mgbee-Akokwa road. But this caller told me that “you should not be praising Hope Uzodimma”.
My initial reaction was to drop the call and get on with some more serious things before me, like drinking my tea, but I had to hold back to be further entertained. So, I asked, “why shouldn’t I commend Hope for the job he is doing”. The caller asked, “you mean you do not know what he has been doing in that state”. At this point, I showed more interest. I needed to have my ignorance thoroughly educated. So, he went on reeling out all the invectives one hears on the streets and among opposition party members against the Imo state governor. He accused him of this and that. Hope did this; Hope did that sort of allegation. I asked if he has any shred of evidence to support all the allegations he was reeling out. He did not have. I tried to educate him as much as he was ready to bear. That was when he changed the subject matter. He asked, “but sir, are you happy with how he became governor”.
For me, that was actually the crux of the matter. His disapproval of the subject matter in the column was not because the government rescued the shoe company nor was it about the fact that SPDC was returning to Imo state. He did not see any meanings in the information that Federal Medical Center Owerri was to be ungraded to become FUTO Teaching Hospital. He also failed to see the import of the Federal Government guarantee on the full take-over of Alvan Ikoku College of Education and its upgrade into a Federal University of Education. His anger was still about how Uzodimma became governor of Imo state in 2020.
My caller was right to be angry. He has every right to feel pain. But his anger is misdirected. The anger should be channeled to the right quarters. Uzodimma became governor of Imo state as a consequence of a judicial pronouncement, same as Rotimi Amaechi in Rivers state, Rauf Aregbesola in Osun State, Kayode Fayemi in Ekiti state, and Adams Oshiomhole in Edo state. In Rivers, the judiciary pronounced Amechi, who did not contest the governorship election as the winner. In Osun, the judiciary canceled the results of about 10 local governments and pronounced Aregbesola winner on the basis of the remaining local government areas. The judiciary did something similar in Edo and Ekiti states. Recall that the Supreme Court declared Umaru Musa Yar’Adua the winner of the 2007 presidential election even when, by Yar’Adua’s admission and declaration, the election was flawed.
In all the above situations, the appellants took advantage of the enormous powers of the judiciary to ascend office. It was not their fault that the judiciary had the power to make such pronouncements. Logically, therefore, every reasonable anger ought to be rightly directed at the judiciary and not to the beneficiary of judicial pronouncements. There is absolutely no need to waste hot anger on the beneficiary of a judicial pronouncement and use that as a ground to make the environment uncomfortable for everyone.
This argument seemed to deflate the emotions of the guy that called me. I expected him to come up with more issues. And he did. “Is that why he made a law that no IPOB case should be taken to court and that all of them should be detained in prison”, he said. I asked to know the specific title of the said law. He did not have. I asked to know when the said law was passed by the Imo State House of Assembly and when it was signed into law by the governor. He failed to provide. At this point, it became obvious that the caller feeds his mind from the grapevine media. It is a very powerful and thriving media. Its productions travel faster than light. They need neither truck nor train to be transported. Sometimes, they develop from the FRA (free readers association) that mill around newsstands every morning. Here, almost every story published in the newspapers is condemned as not being factual. The factual reports are the ones manufactured by the FRA members and garnished in such a way that reporters would doubt their training.
Fact is that the grapevine media in Igboland is very well developed. It has become a veritable tool in the hands of those seeking to make the southeast ungovernable and insecure. While the discerning few ignore its products, the gullible majority feed from it. Sometimes, they act based on ‘information’ from this alternate media. This is a growing problem that leaderships of states in Igboland grapple with. Many, if not most, of the reasons freely adduced by people in the rural communities for the menace of the unknown gunman in states of the southeast, are manufactured from the grapevine media. The question comes back to us: whose livelihood, business, homestead, family, community etc are we destroying as an expression of ‘information’ from grapevine media?