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Saraki provokes mother of all media wars – 1

Dele Sobowale

“God save me from my friends; I can take care of my enemies.” Anon. “…A man cannot be too careful in his choice of enemies.” Oscar Wilde. (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, p 48).

Professor of Economics and Noble Laureate, John K. Galbraith, once observed that a man who makes his entrance by breaking down the front door of the house deserves some criticism for excessive violence; but, something also needs to be said about the condition of the door. Saraki’s emergence as Senate President, against the wishes of the leaders of the All Progressive Congress, APC, is a classic case of a weak door meeting an individual determined to gain entrance – even if it means breaking down the door.

Senator Saraki
Senator Saraki

Among the elements contributing to that outcome was the meeting summoned by an unknown convener, drawing away loyal Senators to the International Conference Centre, leaving the “door” unguarded for the successful assault. Unless the situation changes Saraki has become the Senate President for the 8th National Assembly, NASS.

He has also provoked a political and a media war that will last for years – even longer than the life of the 8th NASS. Permit me to leave the political war untouched for now. Only history will tell if Saraki secured a permanent victory.

The media war started almost immediately; and it is still raging and will only escalate in the next four years. Saraki’s emergence, as well as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, had polarized the NASS into several camps; each of which seeks justification for its actions in the increasingly powerful Nigerian media.

At the moment, every member belongs to either the old ACN, led by the leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; the original members of the alliance clinging to President Buhari as their leader; former PDP members mostly hanging on Saraki and the PDP, which though in opposition is powerful enough to frustrate the APC. It would amount to gross understatement to describe the APC as a party divided against itself.

It was probably never a party; and is probably still not a party. US President Dwight Eisenhower, 1890-1969, had made the point that “a political party deserves the approbation of [the people] only as it represents the ideals, the aspirations and the hopes of [the people]. If it is anything less, it is merely a conspiracy to seize power.” (November 7, 1956). The APC which emerged in 2013, remains till today a work-in-process. To call it a party amounts to doing violence to the word “party”. Its victory was based on only two elements: first, the national need for “change” (ill-defined) and the search for a new leader. Beyond that, nothing else unifies the members of the party. According to Gandhi, 1869-1948, the great Indian leader, among the things that will ruin any nation are:

Politics without principles/Wealth without work (VBQ p 245)

One looks in vain for the principles which all the members of the APC share in common and which form the basis of their association. Indeed, the manner Saraki had emerged had exposed the absence of shared ideals and aspirations. Given what is known about several members a great deal of wealth had been acquired without commensurate work to justify them. Granted the PDP is worse, we might have proved Goethe, 1749-1832, right. He proclaimed that “In politics, as on a sick bed, men toss from side to side in the hope of lying more comfortably.” (VBQ p 191). With the exception of the change of President, we now toss about on the bed. Hope for lying more comfortably is not yet guaranteed.

However, one change was totally unexpected. Hitherto, the APC had appeared like a tightly organized army with a great deal of self-discipline. Obviously, the control was made possible as long as there was a common “enemy” (Jonathan/PDP). The adversary removed, Nigeria’s political allies are behaving like the Allied Forces, (USA, Britain, France and Russia) during World War II.

No sooner did Germany, the common enemy, surrender on May 8, 1945, than the Cold War started between the West and Russia. That prolonged war, which still smolders (e.g the war in Ukraine) had been largely a media and propaganda war. The Nigerian political war just starting will also be fought mostly in the media. Any of the groups which fails to assemble its own media war machine will be at a decided disadvantage. Mark my words.

Jonathan and the PDP lost the last election because they lacked dedicated media support. Jonathan’s media advisers made the costly error of thinking that they alone could persuade Nigerians. Abati, Okupe, Fani-Kayode and Methu thought they were sufficient to win the propaganda war. They made little effort to recruit additional support. No leading media outfit was solidly in their camp – except NTA.

By the time they recruited outsiders, the opposition had not only got its own newspaper and magazine going, it had recruited allies everywhere. None of the nine leading Nigerian newspapers (in alphabetical order): DAILY TRUST, GUARDIAN, LEADERSHIP, NATION, PUNCH, SUN, THIS DAY, TRIBUNE and VANGUARD was totally in support of the ruling party and the former President. Thus when Jonathan made that rash statement, “I don’t give a damn”, he was never allowed to correct himself and that declaration was attached to everything – Boko Haram, Chibok girls, corruption, subsidy, security, jobs etc….


My childhood friend Bode George vowed to go into exile if Buhari won the election. He is still around. Area Boys plan a grand send-off party for Bode at Campus Square. Donations will be thankfully received. Signed: Presido Area Boys.

P.S. And he can take Musiliu ‘Koro’ with him; wherever he is going.



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