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By NBF News
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Do not (or never), condemn anybody for reportedly or allegedly saying something, without first actually reading a text of what was said or written. Only thereafter, should you set about reaching your own conclusions and resolutions on the appropriate reaction, if any is necessary.

That is precisely because in a country where many people are pretentiously or truly 'too busy' to spare time for authentic news reports and opinions, it is not unusual for them to form hasty judgments about other people, with like-minded individuals, based on merely sighting the headlines, or 'scanning' the editorial item concerned.

Obviously, this is a major communication error, because no communication can be deemed to have been established or completed without proper decoding or understanding of the intended message, purposefully transmitted via any channel.  Frankly, much of the strain in the relationships between journalists and their fellow citizens in the national and State Security Services as well as politics, arises from this lack of attention to the real contents of messages, as conveyed by the media of mass communication.

A suitable example for this assertion or observation was in the Sunday Interview in the May 15 edition of Sunday Sun, headlined 'PDP behind riots in the North  – Tony Momoh' (pages nine and 10). It is quite possible that some of the very loyal PDP members and even more critical members of the public, might have felt irritated by the thoughtful article, written by Olusola Balogun. I can personally report that all sorts of comments have been made on it, some of them very unflattering of Prince Tony Momoh, who offered some unusually provocative insights on the post-April 16 political violence in some States in the northern part of the country. Some of the statements one has heard people make include, 'What does he mean; How could the PDP have been sponsoring violence, when it was winning?'; 'This man sef, he's allowing himself to be used by Buhari; the man will use him and dump him, you will soon see!'

That fellow was cock-sure that nothing good would come out of any attempt by 'Brother Tony',as I call him, to polish Gen. Muhammadu Buhari's image for him.The speaker felt that by words and body language alone, the former Head of State could not be blameless for the violence. While not wishing to go any further on the matter to avoid contempt of the tribunal (for commenting in too much detail on what is already tabled for adjudication), it is, one believes, worth confessing that one has profited immensely from reading the interview, because there are indeed lessons derivable therefrom.

The first lesson is to the benefit of political communication in the entire Nigerian polity: People in politics and public life in general should be courageous, by being fearless enough to challenge current thinking on specific issues and developments, with the sole aim of clarifying issues from their own points of view.

The second lesson one can mention is that however upset and even angry people may be about any issue in the public domain, there is need to remember that piece of advice which many have offered others for many years now:

'Mind your language!'
As Chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Prince Momoh did show a good example in that interview…..let your education and light so shine before the world, that people will not need to copy your bad habits. As some witty people often said in recent times: 'Every mistake in London is a new style in Nigeria!' Turning that around in this context, every inflammatory remark; all verbal bombs dropped while commenting on an issue, may well be an under-trained individual's fresh idea on the best ways of saying what they feel about other persons and events.

And what about the matter of being alert and cautious, when responding to the questions which are sometimes loaded, like 'Are you saying that Buhari won the election?'

Some other person might have unguardedly replied: 'What do you think? There was no doubt about it. The man won and any doubt to deny it is another example of political rascality that any government must not tolerate again in this country.' A statement 'full of sound and fury', signifying zero awareness of the rule of law, because such a response would have revealed inadequate education. Instead, he replied: 'You can't say that someone won the election now, according to the law. All you can say is that the election be cancelled and allow a re-run.'

Those who refused to go stay in school when their parents sent them there or were not patient enough to let the school pass through them, now have an opportunity to henceforth teach their children to do and say what is correct or right always, and to at least avoid talking like someone 'suffering from verbal diarrhoea' - no brake, no sense, which may be viewed as 'firing them' by some people. Let such people not forget the words of that musical rendition by a group, whose name I have forgotten now: 'Fire will burn you!'

In other words, temperance, or perhaps avoidance of intemperate language, is one clear lesson keen observers of political life in the country will take with them for the rest of their lives, however this matter ends.

Another confession must now be made: When my brother Dejumo Lewis of 'Village Headmaster' fame (remember the television comedy series created by the unforgettable Chief Olusegun Olusola), asked me, by text, who my choice for the Presidential seat was. I almost dodged the question, but ended up responding: 'Jonathan first, Buhari second.' Now, until the tribunal finishes its hearings with appeals possibly pending, we may well have a President who is once again an Acting President. Can you imagine that?

To make that a possibility, it is understood that the CPC intends to go into some places in search of experts, who will bring all their gadgets to prove that many of the votes for President Jonathan had been doctored.It appears the experts are so competent that they can detect all the fake votes cast, merely by smelling them 500 metres away. I am not too sure what Tony Momoh said about these forestic or was it forensic doctors, but their presence had been mentioned here in Nigeria many times since 1999, just that I don't see what they've ever achieved.

The greatest lesson from Brother Tony's exposure on the April violence was his revelation that CPC members were 'not involved in the arson that took place in the North. We didn't ask anyone to embark on rioting: that is why we are in the courts. Have you ever asked yourself why it is only in those areas that General Buhari has a lot of following that the riots took place?…..'

Then he came with his upper cut: 'The PDP printed the CPC caps and vests. How would a supposed CPC supporter, dressed in CPC vest  be destroying Buhari's bill boards and cars, and going to the mosque and churches to destroy them and then say 'sai Buhari'? Those supposed supporters destroyed a jeep that has the posters of Buhari. How can they do that? I am surprised that you guys in the media can't analyse things properly. How can we that didn't use branded vests during our campaign now have vests to go to churches and cause destruction?…..'

There you are!! Heavy-duty questions for the public and media to answer. Very grave allegations indeed. I am sure you know that it is a normal war tactic to introduce all possible tricks aimed at winning the battle, but this bombshell is something else: Where did the vests come from? And why did the marauders go so far without being halted by any uniformed officers or even being exposed, before they took to the streets, destroying lives and properties, and feeling happy with themselves?

Those concerned must investigate these allegations as efficiently and honestly as imperative, because it is a development that can earn the country the same international opprobrium that Ken Tsaro-Wiwa's controversial execution with other Ogoni sons did in 1995, under Gen. Sani Abacha.  The critical points to grab are that buck-passing and name-calling cannot stop the infamy that awaits Nigeria, for becoming a place where life is so 'brutish and short' and people are joyfully done to death, even for serving their fatherland.

If some other people used branded vests in committing such crimes, what about those who killed NYSC members?

Unfortunately, Brother Tony was silent on that score: Was it the PDP that killed Youth Corps members as well? Unfortunately, the answer may not be relevant to what Buhari & Co. want from the tribunal. Nevertheless, the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague may take action on such killings, sooner than later. Killers and their sponsors, be warned!!!

Nigeria has reached a stage now in which all citizens ought to be conscious of the contents of the UN's 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)', particularly its Articles One to 10. Its Article three says: 'Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person' Article 10 acknowledges the right of everyone to 'fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal in the determination of his rights and obligation and of any criminal charge against him.' Fortunately, the Federal Government has set the machinery for that purpose in motion regarding the violence before and after the presidential polls in April, and it is now up to the law-enforcement agencies to do their duties to their fatherland.  We are all watching!!!