By Tony Eluemunor
Today, I have elected to go the way of the over 160 years old American ideas magazine; the Atlantic monthly. The magazine states challengingly: “We seek debate over agreement, fact over favour.”
Yes, that really, is what I have come to do today. Something that I will get around to soon, got me wondering why there has been little real debate in Nigerian newspapers or on the social media. Instead of debates so that the thoughts, hypotheses, philosophies and concepts about things and situations would be laid bare before the public, to help the citizenry make up their minds, disagreement (especially on the social media) almost always results in the hurling of crude insults.
Ideas rule the world. Yet, here in Nigeria, we have allowed hypocrites and parasites masquerading as leaders not only to run the show, but to also think for us.
For two weeks, I have been providing some insights into the hypocrisy that was spruced up as an anti-corruption fight since the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency incepted in 1999. The moment the first salvo appeared in the Vanguard newspaper of March 20, 2021; Ibori, Okowa, Obasanjo, Ribadu, Atiku, UK; Anti-graft “Politricks”, my phones have not stopped ringing.
Most callers agreed that an anti-corruption fight never existed, and that it was all a ruse to annihilate his political opponents. I’ll leave out the praises and face the attack. The moment I uploaded a variant of that article in our secondary school ex-students forum, Dr. Emma Mordi of the History Department of Delta State University, Abraka, dismissed it as “Sophistry.”
Dr. Mordi knows that I know his opinions about Chief James Onanefe Ibori, the present Governor of Delta state, His Excellency, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa and Delta State Government, but that is not what I want to address today or ever, after all, a man is entitled to his personal opinions.
The issue I have with him is totally and entirely this: the thrust of my article was unambiguous: “How serious is Nigeria’s anti-corruption fight? Answer: That depends on the accused, the accuser and the amount of prejudice (bias, preconception, prejudgment, predisposition, partiality) and the “politricks” involved. (https://newlive.vanguardngr.com/2021/03/ibori-okowa-obasanjo-ribadu-atiku-uk-anti-graft-politricks/
I was immediately convinced that the best thing under the circumstances would be to get him to debate me so that he would have the chance to expose me and for me to defend myself against his grave allegation. To accuse a writer of sophistry is to accuse him of the worst fault a writer could commit; fallacy and dishonesty. So, let him expose all the faults that I committed in that article, and then I will reply. Whatever way the academic give and take goes, some practicing and up and coming journalists would be able to gain from it.
That same evening after Mordi wrote his one word dismissal, I replied: “Dr Emma Mordi, I wrote some two thousand-word essay. Please now, do us a favour, or at least do me a favour; write so that people may read you. I hereby challenge you to an open debate here or in the newspapers.
Then he tried to dodge, saying: “Check me out on Google Scholar. I write for High Impact Journals, not newspapers.” I reminded him that Profs Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Femi Osofisan, Chinweizu, Adesanmi (who died March 10, 2019 on the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash) Farooq Kperogi, Olatunji Dare, Adebayo Williams, G.G. Darrah, Edwin Madunagu, Biodun Jeyifo, Okey Idibe, Ayo Awojobi, Levi Ogwujiofor and other academics both living or dead, did not disdain the newspapers.
That was when Dr. Mordi accepted the challenge. He wrote: “So, these few lines took you two hours to write. Embarrassing. I have not found Tony worthy of my study as a media scholar. I study and write about the media. Why should I run away from this empty debate? Let’s dig it out. I am only reluctant because we have come a long way. I am better than Tony Eluemunor in every material particular. Start the debate and be deconstructed for all time. But let it be on record that I called you to ‘die the matter.’
Hahaha. What does Tony call an article? This is even more embarrassing.”
Well, I have waited for two weeks, but I have not read Dr. Mordi anywhere. That explains this reminder. I am waiting for him to point the faults in my article. I promise to even surrender my column to him in the spirit of “right of reply,” if need be.
Anyone may wonder why I, who has been mentioning names in my articles, should challenge anybody to a debate. Well, Dr. Mordi gave no reasons why my article is nothing but sophistry. He should point it out, in the true spirit of scholarship. I have always furnished the points I have against those I have ever opposed, and challenged them to fault me.
I wrote that what went on under Obasanjo’s administration was nothing but hypocrisy, and that Chief James Onanefe Ibori was targeted because of his politics. Dr. Mordi accused me of sophistry. What really is his point? How does he justify the charge of sophistry (fallacy, fraudulence, illogicality, dishonesty) against me? He should say so, and he and I will have an open debate to defend our positions. I promise to be very civil. I ask for nothing more.
And let the public be the judge.