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When A Columnist Deliberately Misinforms The Public


By: Dr Sullivan Odumegwu
 Published March 15th, 2011

I was struck by an 'article' authored by Ochereome Nnnanna and published by the Vanguard of March 10, 2011.

The article caught my attention because of its curious title, 'Iwu's New Political Adventures', which got me thinking before I commenced reading the article that Ochereome has finally taken interest in politics as it affects Igboland by deciding to write about Chief Cosmas Iwu, the ACN Senatorial candidate for Imo North (otherwise known as Okigwe zone).

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I alluded to Ochereome finally taking interest in politics as it affects Igboland because writing for Vanguard (and other newspapers before Vanguard), Ochereome has come to epitomise what Igbos call 'Oka mma na ama' - roughly meaning someone who puts the interest of other people over that of his own people. If you google Ochereome's write-ups and his usually emotional positions on matters of public discourse, you will hardly believe he is Igbo despite the Igbo name he carries. In some cases, he even dared to be anti-Igbo to the point that one of my friends doubted his true identity.

But leaving Ochereome's antecedents aside for the moment, I began to read the article, and alas, it was not even talking about Chief Cosmas Iwu, who is known to be a Senatorial candidate for the elections next month. Instead, vintage emotional Ochereome chose to talk about Prof Maurice Iwu, immediate past Chairman of INEC as if he was the one running for office. That, plus other parts of the article, is where Ochereome began to misinform the public. So, it came to pass that an Ochereome article of today I could have read and dismissed as another trash of tomorrow, amused me enough to even contemplate this rejoinder.

For the benefit of the public Ochereome sought to misinform (for purposes that I am currently investigating for another feature), Prof Maurice Iwu is not running for any office; he is not a member of any political party; and he is not rooting for any candidate in the April elections, even though he (Prof Iwu) has the constitutional right and moral obligation to root for his own flesh and blood - Chief Cosmas Iwu. And for effect and to give Ochereome more emotional problems, I will add that Prof Iwu, like any other Nigerian (ex-Chairman of INEC or anything else), even has the right to engage in partisan politics out of office. It is there in the black letter laws of the federation of Nigeria. Yet, the truth is that Prof Maurice Iwu has not yet done that but the likes of Ochereome and the terrified politician(s) that induced his article are already running scared. Why?

I really don't know why Ochereome tends to believe that out of nearly 150 million Nigerians possessing the right to run for public office, anybody related to Prof Iwu, like his brother Cosmas, has to to excluded wholesale. Is Ochereome pushing such a screwy idea just to satify his strange emotional needs or is he now pushing for some kind of constitutional ban on the Iwu family aspiring to any office? Or what?

Better still, Ochereome uncanningly sounded like one Advertorial (published in the Nation newspaper of March 7) that bore the same strange message of 'banning the Iwus from politics'. And the common factor between that Adertorial and Ochereome's article that gave Ochereome away is the additional (and weird) proposition that Prof Maurice Iwu is not even supposed to harbour any political opinion, even so privately; or even take the slightest interest in how his native Imo State is governed. And that is even as Ochereome appeared to have been suckered in by some well-known questionable characters that would rather run unopposed in April. Sad; very sad indeed.

Then as you begin to delve into the rest of the article, you begin to get more and more worried about Ochereome - his emotions, contradictions, inner struggles and worse. How can the man begin again to sell the outdated and discredited notion of thrashing Prof Iwu on 2007 election judicial pronouncements that are now the subject matters of investigations by the National Judicial Council (NJC), the Nigerian Bar Association, the EFCC, the SSS; and hear this: the recent Wikileaks revelations that high government officials possessed impeccable evidence of judicial corruption as it relates to some of the judgments Ochereome alluded to.

Again, for the benefit of the general public Ochereome sought to mislead, let me make the following clear: One, Prof Attahiru Jega who replaced Prof Iwu is now in court fighting tenaciously to upturn many of those judgments on the 2007 elections that Ochereome is sill clebrating, including the recent one that barred governorship elections in five states in April. Two, Prof Jega has just petitioned the Chief Justice of Nigeria, warning that many of the judgments being rendered by some judges are threat to the 2011 April polls, Nigeria's constitutionally-set transition timetable; and most importantly, Nigeria's national security. Three, Ex-Gov Donald Duke had since told Nigerians the gospel truth about eletion-rigging, which comprised of a complete and creible exoneration of Prof Maurice Iwu (and other previous INEC Chairmen before him).

There is a lot more; and if Ochereome will care to read up on the current storms in the judiciary and polity issuing from the bulk of the judicial pronouncements on the 2007 elections, he will perhaps check his emotions for once and attempt a retraction of his ill-fated and ill-captioned article. Or at least try to inform the public more honestly by pointing them to where the problems with the current elections lie. It does not take a rocket scientist to know what really ails our elections, past and present. It takes honesty and a balanced non-emotional mind.

To be sure, the problems with the coming April elections do not lie with Prof Maurice Iwu. Ask Prof Jega and he will tell you the same thing. He has a live petition to the CJN to buttress it and many news conferences on point. More particularly, the issue of re-electing or electing anybody as Governor of Imo State in April does not lie with Chief Cosmas Iwu because the man is running for Senate, not Governor; and even less with his brother Prof Maurice Iwu, who is neither running for any office nor is he a member of any political party.

It follows logically therefore that Ochereome's clumsy attempt to drive a wedge between Cosmas Iwu and his party - the ACN will fail simply because it does not make any sense in practical politics. It only makes sense to the Ochereomes who are burdened with festering animosities. Politicians everywhere change parties all the time, including any politician that might have changed parties so many times, but which Ochereome ignores but would rather pursue Cosmas for changing party just one time since 1999. Ask the very great man, the Zik of Africa and he will tell you that 'in politics, there are no permanent friends, no permanent enemies'. Though Ochereome appears clueless on this maxim, the man (Tinubu) he tried to set against Cosmas Iwu knows this too well. The evidence is stark: former adversaries, Tinubu and Ribadu are now political brothers in the same party. Ochereome conceded as much in his article, which I must confess, is the only thing that made
sense in that article.

Odumegwu wrote in from sodumegwu@yahoo.com




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