Although Intervention’s interview with Bingham University, Abuja’s Dr. Tivlumun Nyitse has enjoyed a high readership, shooting above 1600 clicks within first few hours of its publication, (minus those reading it on Facebook, Twitter, etc), it is also attracting high number of knocks along with kudos though.
The interview with former Permanent Secretary turned academic was published in two installments viz Benue State is doomed Unless … and Tarka, Ebute, Akume, Suswam, Lawani and other Benue Leaders in the Eyes of Dr. Tivlumun Nyitse
While some people are raising hell concerning aspects of it, others are taking a critical view of it. While some are doing so silently through personal communication with the interviewer and Editorial Associate of Intervention who conducted the interview, others are calling Dr. Nyitse and protesting.
The key protest points are what some readers perceive to be Dr. Nyitse’s failure to hit hard at Governor Samuel Ortom whom they said is a failure. A welcome criticism which though suggests that some people don’t actually read between the lines. Intervention has invited all such people to pose their criticism of the governor. What Nyitse said is his own and, as Achebe would say, write your own story if you think the other person’s story is not good enough.
The second key point of protest is the suspicion that Dr. Nyitse is packaging himself for a 2023 shot at governorship of Benue Stat. All four or so persons who made this point are of Idoma extraction and are thinking in one direction which is that the interviewee might be preparing the ground to block Idoma’s governorship chance by then. For such readers, Nyitse’s professorial ambition in the same interview does not exist. It is an interesting sort of reaction but one hopes the Idoma governorship project is not an emotive, hysterical campaign that cannot anticipate and crack counter-narratives with a view to re-narrativising such into its own advantage.
Nyitse made a sociologically important statement that Benue State would remain what it is unless the leadership recruitment pattern is altered. That is the consensus at the national level. Is that not what the Idoma governorship project is all about, in terms of inserting a qualitatively new agency into the political pot? Or is it the case that this complaint is coming not from ideologues and strategists of the Idoma governorship project?
Someone asked to be clarified on the difference between advocacy and persuasion/ negotiations? “Persuasion and negotiations are part of advocacy for the Idoma quest, in my view”, he said. And so on and so forth!
In the end, the major complaint against the interview is the one from Mr. Ochapa Ogenyi who was reported to be late in the interview. That is a very serious, regrettable error because Mr. Ogenyi is not only alive, he is very active, up and doing. He retired recently as a Director from the Federal Civil Service, took some time for an intellectual engagement in London. It would not be surprising if he did not return to Nigeria before the COVID-19 outbreak and might still be held in London.
Mr. Ogenyi’s name was not mentioned as the General Manager of the Benue Printing and Publishing Corporation, (BPPC) at the time or the issue Dr. Nyitse was talking about. If that happened, the error would not have occurred since the interviewer knows Mr. Ogenyi to be very much alive and kicking. And to be a journalism warrior in his own right, having been part of the crew that gave The Sunday Triumph its ideological firepower under the Rimi administration in Kano in the Second Republic.
Ogenyi did not call Intervention but has called Nyitse to protest in his own way by merely saying he is alive. The error is very much regretted, believing though that it also means Ogenyi has many, many more years to live because, according to the theology on that, all those falsely reported dead live many, many years after that.
Otherwise, Intervention stands by the interview to the extent that the platform doesn’t tell people what to say when it interviews them. It publishes what whoever is interviewed has to say except things that are libelous in law or normatively forbidden. In any case, the meaning of such an interview is never static or universal. What it means to Mr. A is not how Mr. B will understand it.