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What is Osborne Adi Jnr. up to?

By Iliyasu Gadu

A wise saying goes; when you find yourself in a hole, it is better to stop digging otherwise you will not be able to come out of it. 
In my years of practice in the trenches of local and International media, I have never been so thoroughly ashamed as when I read the open letter to Taraba Truth and Fact Newspaper by the Special Adviser to the Governor of Taraba state on new Media, Osborne Adi Jnr. in response to a story on the Lamentations of Taraba Civil Servants over the poor state of affairs in the state civil service. 
As the Governor's minder on New Media, it is entirely within this purview to respond to these kinds of stories. But he should do so with facts and figures to put the records straight. But let us even admit and allow that these days' media flunkeys of public office holders do not even observe these basic rules of media practice. So in this wise Osborne Adi Jnr as is the norm nowadays can take liberties with the truth in trying to defend the indefensible. 
But what he cannot do and be allowed to do is to threaten the newspaper and its publisher in the manner he did while defending the government. 
The title of his response to the story of the plight of civil servants in the Taraba civil service; ''What is Ayodele Samuel Looking For in Taraba State'' is tendentious, unprofessional and actionable'' by any parameter of judgement.
It is tendentious because Adi is trying here to prejudge and by that cause an action that will result on the basis of his prejudice which is most likely to be negative. It is also unprofessional because it goes against the grain of the profession which he purports to belong by not presenting the facts as it is to support his counter argument. And finally it is actionable because he is not only threatening the existence of a legally registered entity but also the publisher of that entity.
Adi has every right to respond with all the lies and falsehoods he can muster in the defence of his principal even though that will earn him the opprobrium and deserved contempt of majority of right thinking Tarabans who know the truth. It is not a hidden fact that Civil servants in Taraba are groaning under the harsh policies of wilful and callous neglect by the administration he speaks for.  I for one can attest to that. My two relations who retired as Permanent Secretaries after long meritorious service to the state waited in vain for their entitlements which did not come until out of frustration they passed on. One them in fact pleaded passionately for his entitlements to paid to him to enable him attend to his ailing health. But it did not come and he passed on with the frustration of not getting what was due him.
As I write this many civil servants in the state are going to spend the yuletide without salaries just as it happened last year. 
Adi's attempt to hinge the inability to pay the entitlements of civil servants and retirees in the state on the economic downturn is disingenuous, wicked and insensitive. Is Taraba state the only state with such challenges? What then can we say about Borno state for instance among many other states, which has been battling with insecurity for over a decade and still manages not just to pay salaries but execute quality projects as well? 
By asking what Ayodele Samuel is looking for in Taraba state, Adi is going beyond his short brief as a Special Adviser. He is questioning the spirit and letter of the Nigerian constitution which guarantees every citizen the right to free expression and association. It is that provision of the question which gives us the right as Nigerians to freely associate and express our views within the ambit of the law. Nobody, no matter how highly placed he is has the right to infringe on those provisions. Anybody doing that or causing that to be done is liable to be taken to court. 
Ayodele Samuel as a young man is doing what real journalists are trained to do; speak truth to power no matter how bitter. The same law which guarantees journalists the right to freely express their views also allows parties aggrieved by the actions of journalists to seek legal redress. Why can't Adi advise his principals to go that way instead of the crude and primitive resort to threats on somebody that is doing his professional duties as guaranteed by the extant laws of the land?
By Adi's logic most of the media houses in Lagos should just pack up and go because their owners and practitioners are not originated from Lagos state. Yes Nduka Obaigbena of ThisDay, John Momoh of Channels, Punch, AIT and many others are all not owned by Lagosians and majority of the people who work in those establishments are not from Lagos too. And some of the fiercest criticisms of Lagos government come from these media outfits.
Adi may not have known it, but the question he asked of Ayodele Samuel can also be directed at some of the principal media officers right there in Government House Jalingo. And I expect them to call him to order as people who themselves owed their exposure and experience in media practice to the free conditions of the profession in Nigeria. 
Is Adi envious of the fact that a young man who came to Taraba for national service saw and utilized the opportunities he saw to establish a newspaper that is giving our state a worthy reckoning? Is he not ashamed that what he does not have the guts and professional instincts to do another fellow from outside the state has been able to do right under his nose? I challenge Adi after he is through with this present cushy job of playing the flunky to a ''big man'' to go and start a publication of his own. It is then we can concede to him the unearned right he currently bandies about as an attack dog to pronounce that somebody who has proven to be better than him in all parameters of the profession as ''unprofessional''.
And while we are it, Adi is now on notice. By his wild, uncouth, primitive and agricultural threatening statement on Taraba Truth and facts along with its publisher some groups in the state have taken a cue to further threaten Ayodele Samuel. This is unacceptable. Professionally as Journalists this matter will be taken to the highest levels of the practice to note and further consideration. Legally should even a hair of Ayodele Samuel is touched or attempt made on the premises of his publication on the strength of Adi's inciting and tendentious statement, he and his principals should be made to face the law.
The allegations that the Taraba state government prefers and surrounds itself with misfits and mediocre people has now been proven right by this action coming from Osborne Adi Jnr. It is no wonder the state is pathetically the laggard it is despite all the God-given endowment. It is not that there are better persons who can move the state forward, but it is because the best of the state are not allowed the opportunity leaving the likes of Adi who for all practical purposes are square pegs in round holes.                  

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