I’ll never forget what my dad said to me once in my days as a cub reporter. I had travelled to Ilorin, capital of Kwara State to interview a man known as Comrade Olola Kasumu. If you had any chance to learn anything about Ilorin, it would be that it used to be a Yoruba city until sometime in the 1820s when Afonja, the Are Ona Kankanfo of Yoruba land and erstwhile representative of the Alafin of Oyo was said to have been assassinated by the descendants of Alimi, a nomad with whom he collaborated during his rebellion against the Alafin.
After Afonja’s death, Alimi’s son, Abdusalami who inherited some of his father’s spiritual and military might became the Emir of Ilorin and the Yoruba has fought without success to reclaim that lost glory since then.
Kasumu was the voice of the Yoruba at this time and he would from time to time benefit a reporter with some explosive scoop that no editor would turn down. So, sometime in the 1990s, my editor at Saturday Punch detailed me to go to Ilorin, seek out Kasumu and fetch a possible lead story from him. Later as I rose in my career, I came across reporters who would tell their editors they were not disposed to a particular assignment, but that couldn’t happen in my days as a reporter. So, off to Ilorin, I went.
After agreeing on when I would be seeing this reporter’s delight of a man, I decided to visit my dad at the Governor’s Office. We got to talk about my mission and he couldn’t understand why I would travel all the way from Lagos to come and ask a man to say something that might be explosive. His conclusion was that “you journalists just like trouble. In fact, they just call you gentlemen of the press, there is really nothing gentlemanly about you. Why would you come all the way from Lagos to come and make a man say something that might incite trouble?” He went on and on as I got on the defence. I had to just get about my business when he wouldn’t stop.
But I felt my old man’s sense about this matter when I read Saturday PUNCH’s attempt to call out governors elected on the platform of the All Progressive Congress in a report yesterday.
When I saw the screaming headline: “APC govs on assets: We won’t follow Buhari’s example,” my first reaction was, “who send this people work” Won’t they allow Governor Rochas Okorocha to enjoy his second term in peace. Won’t they leave Governor Adams Oshiomole to keep talking to officials of the United States embassy so he can come tell us how many people have stolen trillions of naira in the past few years?
Don’t these guys realise that state governors are the presidents of their own states and that the only thing that binds them with Abuja is that monthly elephant for which their commissioners take assorted knives to carve every 30 days? Who says that these governors give a damn about public asset declaration when they only manage to fulfill the mandatory declaration with the Code of Conduct Bureau? Why did they even have to focus on APC governors, shouldn’t this also affect those in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
But trust our governors to give them appropriate responses. I particularly love the portion about Oshiomhole. The report said he has declared that “he would be the last person to make details of his assets public,” wow!
Okorocha in his own case became momentarily nostalgic for the era of former President Goodluck Jonathan when no one “talked about declaration of assets” while Ogbeni Aregbesola’s spokesperson lectured on the constitutional requirement that we forgot. “The constitution does not state that the governor should declare his asset publicly,” Semiu Okanlawon, the Osun State governor’s spokesperson reminded us.
Before any reporter embarks on this kind of misadventure again, they must remember that Nigeria is a federation and as an anonymous senior Lagos State official was quoted in that report, “There is no moral reason for the governor(Lagos State) to make his assets public .“He did not promise to do so during his campaigns. Buhari made it a campaign issue and he has fulfilled his promise.”
Ungentlemen of the press mind yourselves o. Don’t ask any governor such questions again, please.