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THE UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS, GUSAU, ABBA-AJI, OJOUGBOH AS TUTORIAL CASES IN PROFESSIONAL SENSITIVITY FOR THE NIGERIAN MEDIA

By: John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D

 Published June 8th, 2010


There is a growing consensus nationally and internationally that Nigeria is mired in corruption and caught within the web of corruption. And many steps are being taking to tackle this great stain on the nation.

Yes, there is no day that passes were by a gigantic report of corruption by a Nigerian leader is not being published, broadcasted, opined upon and/or about to be investigated by the rightful investigative bodies.

However, the whole leadership is not ruled by the spirit and act of corruption, and there are some who are thinking of what is best for the nation, and are making attempts to settle for something positive for the country.

This certainly appeared to be the case of two able leaders, Senator Mohammed Abba-Aji , the Special Adviser to President Jonathan on National Assembly matters, and Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, the Special Assistant to the President on the National Assembly.

But a particular aspect of their forward thinking, and actions on behalf of the national good of the country was shared in an awful manner on the basis of an unreliable petition, as we now know. What followed this isolated and single source petition, almost resulted into a ‘mayday’ or a period of instant distress, political disaster or unusual distressful protect across the halls of power in the nation.

The Economic and Financial Crimes commission ( EFCC) on a flimsy tale reportedly sprang into action, and the Senate, also wasted time, as tension and uneasiness reportedly rose on the floor of the Senate over this matter; all instigated and complicated by flighty and baseless media reports and increased media frenzy.

All these misunderstandings reportedly came about on the account of an unauthorized petition of fraudulent acts against the President’s Aides, sent by one Mr. Aminu Gusau, a University of Kansas (UK) Instructor of Hausa and Business Administration lecturer.

Mr. Gusau is reported as an organizer of some training for the Africanna Leadership Institute, a unit of the African /African American African Studies Department, at the University of Kansas. By the way, it is a great Africentric program, known for its research and work on the African experience in Africa and in the Diaspora. Actually the program is being chaired by an African theatre, film and culture expert, Dr. Peter Ukpokodu.

As part of the ongoing saga, Mr Gusau, in an April 22, 2010 correspondence reportedly accused Senator Abba-Aji and Dr. Ojougboh of defrauding the University of $80, 000 (minus $20,000 which was already paid) over a leadership training for some selected legislators and staff in January, 2010 at the university.

Mr Gusau, in addition to sending his scorching and boiling written indictment to the nation’s Chief Prosecutor, Mrs. Fadira Waziri on the alleged breach of contract and fraudulent act, a firestorm reportedly spread across to the National Assembly, to the United States Embassy, the Office of the President and the streets.

The sensational reports from the various quarters of the print and internet media further aggravated the false financial claims by Mr. Gusau. It would have been helpful to the public if the May, 2010 media reports had a side by side information both from Mr. Gusau’s personal letter and also from official statements or comments from the University as they are bound by public information Act to reveal public communications such as this one.

Even without going deep into the matter, as to revealing the name of Mr. Gusau or any other person involved, the University could have educated the media on who has the authority to speak for the entire school on political and financial matters like this one. Instead various arms of the Nigerian oriented media went into a state of one-way excitement and thrill with captivating headlines like “Jonathan’s aides defrauded us of $80,000—US varsity” , and catchy words like “Furore,” “defrauded”, “Botched”, “Scam” and others.

All these prejudiced, skewed, and narrow minded advances to journalistic practice could have been limited, as within a few seconds the media would have instantly got almost the full story from this public University before openly reporting on the matter.

As we now know from the Presidential Aide(s), all the supposed attendees could not travel to the United States of America for the training as a result of the travel difficulties created by the almost fatal bomb attack by Umar AbdulMutallab, a Nigerian student.

As recently as June 3rd, 2010, an official communication from the University of Kansas proved Mr. Gusau’s petition to be false and it is now out for the whole world to view.

In a press release, Jack Martin, Deputy Director, Office of University Communications, stated, the school “is seeking to correct false claims that have recently appeared in the media regarding the University and two aides to the President of Nigeria, Mohammed Abba-Aji and Cairo Ojougboh.”

In the same communiqué, Dr. Danny Anderson, the University’s Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor stated publicly “We sincerely regret if the unauthorized actions of this individual have in any way tarnished the reputation of these two officials”

For an institutional community or entity in Kansas to carry out this type of acknowledgement towards a Black Leadership like in this case, is a big deal!

As history tells us, terms like “Bleeding Kansas”, and “What’s is the matter with Kansas?” once colored the history of Kansas, in the town of Lawrence especially, where violence occurred between pro-slavery and anti-slavery outside groups over whether to spread slavery into Kansas, which the newly formed state fought against, the town of Lawrence especially—home of the University. With the federal law on this matter not quite satisfactory to many states, the ensued violence beginning in May, 1854 would serve as a prelude to the American civil war. Therefore, Kansas the maternal home of President Barack Obama has again proved its resistance to phony representations and news.

Now that all these issues are out especially with the upright and professional leadership shown by Senator Abba-Aji and Dr. Ojougboh there appears to be some indication of the arrival of a new leadership conduct under the era of the Jonathan presidency. And no matter how the media might view the overall person of these Presidential Aides respectively, what is unfortunate is that some in the media acted inhumanely, gawkily, incompetently, inefficiently, and poorly. As such what is needed now is institutional cleansing of many in the Nigerian media by treating them with sensitivity training.

The handling and coverage of stories could be improved by treating some media personnel with updated lessons in ethics. To ensure sensitivity to the lives and integrity of persons written about, training in control management skills could help the Journalist work on stories better, no matter how exciting is the story.

From now on let the public perception of Nigerian-oriented media nationally and internationally be that of assertiveness, professionalism and fitness.

John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D, DABPS, FACFE, is a practicing Clinical/Forensic Psychologist and the Interim Associate Dean of Behavioral Science, North Campus, Coconut Creek, Florida. Joshodi@broward.edu



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