The media is the mother of all contested spaces. He who goes to speak has also gone to hear. It is thus that it is the surest conflict manager by oxygenating the inter-discursive space such that the media is itself the theatre where all contending groups resolve their differences.
To the extent that one can still speak of Nigeria in the age of the social media, Dr. Farooq Kperogi has been something of a phenomenon. His irreverent jump- off point in a society defined by hierarchical and honorific sensibilities makes him so. The signal, however, is that the generation of radical activists who fought authoritarianism through the instrumentality of the National Association of Nigerian Students, (NANS) and before it, the National Union of Nigerian Students, (NUNS) would not take hook, line and sinker some of the stuff Kperogi dishes out across media platforms. Fortunately and unfortunately, Kperogi does not belong to that generation, coming years much, much later as a Bayero University, Kano undergraduate in the early 1990s, a few years to the demise of the original NANS. NANS has yet to be revived.
The Intervention minder who sent this cross-fire said to be playing out on a WhatsApp platform insists it illustrates that claim. The question is, at what point might it be possible to draw the line between the utility of Farooq’s disciplinary journalism and his assertions that are contextually ill-informed? Here goes the cross-fir:
“There’s frankly no hope. Festus Okoye and Mahmood Yakubu are some of the most corrupt INEC officials Nigeria has ever had. Honor and integrity mean nothing to them. I only pity people whose misplaced PVC optimism leads them to think there’ll be a free and fair election next year”
- Dr. Farooq Kperogi, Journalism teacher at Kennesaw State University in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States and a social media warrior on Nigerian affairs
“Me, Offiong Aqua- I share Kperogi’s sentiment. Lots of prevarications by INEC, (e.g- moving deadlines to please APC a couple of months ago after denying stories). INEC has no credible system in place or guts to announce 2023 results unacceptable to the “owners” of Nigeria. The permanent political class are winning this round. I am still confused about how we expect a half way fair 2023 elections. Any wonder why people are losing confidence in the Nigerian governance system”
- Offiong Aqua, a US based Nigerian radical activist
“I don’t have any close knowledge of the INEC Chairman but I’m sure many that are casting this aspersions against him may not know that he headed the panel on Nigerian universities on the basis of which the recommendation that the universities need N1.6 trillion to upgrade the terrible infrastructural decay in the our universities was made. This has been the foundation of ASUU’s recent struggles.
On Festus Okoye, I have a comradely relationship that dates over four decades. We were in MAAS at Unijos. Chris Mammah’s exco of NANS handed over to Chris Abashi and Festus Okoye as NANS president and Secretary respectively in December 1982. The NANS Charter of Demands which was debated and approved at the Kano December ‘82 Convention was fined tuned and produced under MAAS guidance in Jos. Festus and Chris were active members of the Socialist Congress of Nigeria. Chris was in fact the youngest General Secretary of SC. Festus was an active member of the CLO and was part of the anchor of the northern leadership of the pro- democracy movement as he and Chris lived and practiced law for many years in Kaduna during the 90s. They were also involved in the leadership of the NBA.
Festus served on the 22 person Electoral Reform Committee under Justice Uwais during the Yar’Adua regime with Jega, Bishop Kuka, Agbakoba and co. That Committee’s report started the revolution in electoral reforms in the country. I had worked closely with Festus and the progressive elements on the committee as I was NLC representative on the committee. This was how Festus earned his current appointment.
I have been around this our movement (with all modesty) for the last four decades plus. I didn’t hear of Farooq apart from his having been a journalist with the Trust newspaper brand. And Offiong Aqua, if you have been around too this long and our paths never crossed, my apologies. However, I’m sure if you had tried to find out a bit about Festus, you would have shown some respect. He had lots of opportunity (and excuses to vote with his legs) but he has resisted the temptation to relocate from Nigeria
– Comrade John Ejoha Odah, former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC) and current Executive Secretary, Organisation of Trade Unions of West Africa, (OTUWA)