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How not to play the devil’s advocate

How not to play the devil’s advocate

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These are interesting times, and you better hold on tight; there’s a chance they are going to get even more interesting, on air. Elections are holding next year, less than a year away. So, expect to see and hear all sorts. I have barely fully recovered from the last elections.

Just the other day, I heard in the news that former letter writer, Tony Momoh, reportedly said the last three years of the APC in power had already topped all the years Olusegun Obasanjo was President or something like that. I’m not sure what the milestones were. I didn’t listen to the details of the reports because there are different ways and different achievements to match. But anyhow, Tony Momoh’s now a politician and a member of the ruling party. So, we can excuse him and others when they deliberately lie or act unintelligently.

But we cannot excuse journalists when they act deliberately dumb or develop amnesia, all to sound tough or objective.  It’s okay to play the devil’s advocate but why are you sounding so dumb? Even if you’re doing PR, can’t you manage to sound intelligent? Can you please not insult my own intelligence? I guess my bigger issue is with the ‘unintelligence-ness’ of it all (in Wendy Williams’ voice). It doesn’t help that I have been hooked on MSNBC’s political programmes.

I was drawn to watch Sunrise on Channels TV Wednesday morning because someone said Festus Keyamo was on air, and doing what he’s becoming very good at, turning logic on its head. However, by the time I joined in, Keyamo was gone. I met instead Maupe Ogun-Yusuf and Ajuri Ngelale concluding an interview with a female guest, Khairat, with a double-barrelled Yoruba surname, representing the Third Force or some coalition. I would later catch the repeat of the Keyamo appearance. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

The guest had one message, which was that her group wanted fresher and perhaps younger people in government. I’m no fan of people being given jobs just because of their young or old age. We have many young people in government right now like presidential aide, Tolu Ogunlesi, who called some Nigerians animals the other day. And now a few people, who want to be President, just because they are young.

I noticed during that Wednesday morning interview that Maupe was trying rather hard and was taking the devil’s advocate thing seriously. I have to assume she was trying to play the devil’s advocate because no other reason makes sense. Because according to her questions, poverty in Nigeria was worse pre-2015 before the new government came to rescue Nigeria and other such insinuations.

I understand you have to make the guest defend their claims, but not about things that a simple Google search would set you straight. What were the indices for the standard of living? How much did our national staple, rice, cost? What was the exchange rate? Anyhow, the guest managed to stay on her message, even though she too didn’t appear to have all the details and was sometimes bullied into agreeing with her interviewers.

All this before I caught parts of the repeat of Wednesday’s Sunrise Daily. No, I didn’t waste too much time listening to Keyamo. But it explained why Maupe might have been tired by the time the female guest came on. It must have been hard to listen to all that drivel from Keyamo. Whatever Maupe was, the guys in the Channels TV Lagos studio were worse, especially Gimba Umar. While talking to the PDP representative, Kola Ologbodinyan, it seemed the idea was just to ask any question just to sound tough or to please someone else who was watching. I am not so sure what the point was.

I have stayed away from writing about Gimba for a while. He’ll still have his full day, someday.  But on Wednesday, he was struggling even to put his sentences together. He was saying something about ‘the advent of PDP for 16 years’. Isn’t advent a one-time thing? Can you ‘advent’ for all of 16 years?

Why are these guys asking questions like they live in Mars and just lowered themselves to planet earth for the interview? Journalists are supposed to be objective, detached. What about intelligent?

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