My attention has been drawn to a piece titled ‘Gov. Oyetola, Aregbesola Set For Showdown In Osun This Week’ written by Temidayo Akinsuyi, the Political Editor of the Daily Independent.
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, is principally visiting Osun in obedience to the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari to members of the Federal Executive Council to visit their respective states and hold robust engagement with their constituents, including their state governors and members of their state cabinet. This is in light of the recent #ENDSARS protest and its attendant carnage.
The Minister had written to the State Government, informing them of the presidential directive and his intention of meeting with them.
The period of the visit also coincides with the 10th anniversary of the return of progressive government to Osun. A group organising the anniversary had invited the minister to the event and he gave his solemn promise to attend.
However, we read with shock, the news report by Mr Akinsuyi that the minister will visit the state with thugs imported from Ede and other neighbouring states.
This we find to be in bad taste and totally unexpected from a reputable newspaper.
The author alleges further that the minister has perfected plans to use his influence as a minister to deploy paramilitary officers of the Civil Defence, Immigrations and Prisons (sic) to shatter the relative peace being enjoyed in the state.
This is a poor reflection of the purposes of the agencies and how they work. Statutorily, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) deals with immigration and border management and have no business with other civil engagement. They can only operate outside on matters regarding breach of immigration rules by aliens.
The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) are in charge of keeping custody of convicts and awaiting trial suspects. They are confined to the custodial centres, except when they take suspects to courts or hospitals. The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NDCDC) deal with specific civil and security issues. How the minister can deploy these agencies like thugs to cause mayhem beats me hollow.
A journalist should be knowledgeable and well informed. Even when absurd and preposterous allegations are made, the journalist should discard such and report only what is reasonable and will not bring his medium to disrepute.
Allegations should not automatically become news. The reporter has a professional duty to either ask for proof of the allegation or go ahead to investigate it. It is only when he is convinced that there is substance to the allegation that he should consider it worthy of being reported. Reporting untrue and unfounded allegations amounts to peddling fake news.
Showdown? Since when has a minister returning to his base become a showdown with anybody? Ogbeni Aregbesola is an indigene of Osun and a Minister of the Federal Republic. He is on presidential assignment. How does that amount to showdown with anyone?
The minister was privileged to be the symbol of the return of progressive government to Osun. His emergence on the platform of Oranmiyan in 2005, his contestation of the 2007 governorship election under the most adversarial condition, the almost four-year titanic battle to reclaim his mandate, the David and Goliath re-election contest of 2014 and the epochal succession election of 2018 are epic stuff with Ogbeni as the main gladiator. It is a history worth celebrating.
This does not connote antagonism with the state government. Rather, it complements it.
It is sad to note that a section of the media is obsessed with fostering a narrative of conflict and antagonism between Ogbeni Aregbesola and the State Governor. Where there is no evidence of this, they have to concoct one and, in the process, detract from the credibility their organisation.
Ministry of Interior,