Some of us suffer the malaise of not being able to decouple our personal ego from our jobs or functions and as such, more often than not, our ego gets in the way and we become feisty.
The reality is that an editor is a gatekeeper in the public information management sphere.
As news is a commodity,a good editor is obligated to be sensitive and diligent in sifting the chaff from the seed.
Given the scenario above, the untrained editor is at the risk of information overload that could make or mar his or her career depending on how the deluge of information is processed.
And once editors start mixing up that very important role of media managers with their personal ego, they may become arrogant and faced with the risk of engaging in self aggrandizement and thus susceptible to suffering from grandiose delusion.
Such an attitude or mind set,more often than not is the affliction of the unprepared editor, who due to inability to separate facts from fiction, gets his/her sense of judgement clouded.
And that is the case of mr Chris Akor, the OPED editor of Businessday who went into the stratosphere in anger simply because l corrected some misconceptions contained in his rebuttal to my article ” Ibori And The Obnoxious British Legal System: What Manner of Justice?” which was widely published online and in mainstream media, a couple of weeks ago.
In his latest counter rebuttal titled “A Persistent And Angry Ibori Goon” published on the 24th in TheCable online newspaper and 26th in Businessday ,mr Akor alleged that l used invectives on him and dubiously claimed he won’t do the same, but in his first rebuttal titled “lbori And His Loyal Goons”, published on the 12th of January , which triggered my response,he applied a more vile adjective-Goon to describe me and other commentators including very powerful media personalities whose views on chief James Ibori, former delta state gov in the UK ,did not tally with his jaundiced notion.
Mr Akor claims to have been following the lbori saga in London but fails to separate facts from fiction hence he stated “Yes, the Crown Prosecution Service,CPS later found “materials to support assertion that a police officer received payments in return for information”, that did not call into question lbori and his associates conviction”.
Mr Akor’s conclusion is factually incorrect, so it is fiction.
The fact as confirmed by a BBC reporter, in a news report titled NEW EVIDENCE SUPPORTING COVER UP CLAIMS IN IBORl CLAIM by Mark Easton , who has been covering the matter diligently and therefore can by all measures be deemed more authoritative, is that “The principal quest before the court is weather the convictions are safe by virtue of the CPS prosecuting counsel having deliberately misled the courts on a number of occasions in respect of a number of defendants (with respect to lbori associates also jailed unjustly) over a period of five years”.
Clearly,the Ibori conviction is not a ‘slam dunk’ or blighted only by the police detective demanding and receiving bribe as mr Akor would like readers to believe.
Unsurprisingly, my clarifications ignited a firestorm that drove him into the frenzy of lambasting me.
That he has now written another rebuttal published on 26/1/17 alongside my rebuttal to his first rejoinder written nearly two weeks ago (until he was ready with his counter) ,speaks volumes of how disappointed he and his sponsors are that Ibori has been able to get a word into the public arena that counteracts the false narrative that they thought had become entrenched having been repeated too many times.
Interestingly, as the editor who has been receiving and publishing my articles regularly, mr Akor reserved the right to debate or reject the original article, if he had any reservations about the content, especially as l had discussed it with him after he received it.
But he preferred to play to the gallery when the puppeteers playing the puppet pulled the strings.
What he did not realize is that when he was embarking on his mischievous mission of putting us (who don’t share his sentiments that the West is right to withhold confiscated funds in their territories) on the chopping board, he would be attracting a reprimand.
In the latest salvo from his quiver of arrows of lies against Ibori , he boasted that he was taught to write with civility.
But if incivility is when we lose sight of the line between righteous anger and crude tantrums, mr Akor can’t pull-the-wool-over-the-eyes of discerning readers, as he continues to use the adjective, goons to describe me and others who have contrary views to his, because we have more current facts.
In deed, his banal use of the word goon is the height of incivility, because the ordinary meaning of the word goon, is a person who is hired to threaten,beat up or kill someone.
None of which are by any stretch of imagination our intention, how much more action.
What we did is essentially present hidden facts about the unfortunate lbori debacle in London to the society and mr Akor would have none of it because he has taken what has been fed with initially as gospel (see vanguard newspaper of 28th January, page 18- How the Uk Conspired to Convict Ibori…)
Then again, as l had noted previously, mr Akor, as an editor is obviously limited in horizon and undoubtedly operating beyond his capacity.
This is evidenced by his stated position that he was not interested in the big picture in my article which l emphasized as being the assertion of Nigeria’s rights in the comity of nations.
Rather, he choose the narrow view that as long as Nigerian leaders are culpable of the crime of frittering money abroad,the host countries to such funds, have the right to retain same by hook or crook.
In mr Akor’s warped world of acquiescence “It is therefore naive on our part to expect the Western world to deprive themselves of the use of money our kleptomaniac leaders so generously stashed away in their countries and return them to us just for the asking”. He concluded that “It doesn’t happen in the real world despite pretenses to the contrary”.
In his universe of fantasy, recovery of funds seized abroad can not be achieved and he draws his conclusion from his limited theoretical understanding of international affairs and diplomacy.
Contrary evidence to his belief that court confiscated funds abroad are irretrievable abound as former president Olusegun Obasanjo is on record to have recovered a substantial part of the so called Sanni Abacha loot and even president Muhamadu Buhari in the past 20 months of being on the saddle has also made some significant recoveries.
According to Ben Akabueze , DG Budget Office, N72 billion is estimated to have been recovered so far by current Govt and it is part of the N258 billion targeted and being planned to be used to augment 2017 budget.
Nobody is saying that funds recovery, even locally,how much less in other jurisdictions, is a tea party, but the reality is that countries that fail to respect international conventions and agreements also get sanctioned when the victim state makes a good case to regulatory authorities in the United Nations, UN system.
Russia is currently under sanction from the UN for annexing cremea in Ukraine and ditto for Iran that was slammed with oil sales embargo for going against international rule on nuclear power development.
lran is selling her oil now because sanctions were lifted after reasonable compliance with the rule.
Had Nigeria not honored the UN brokered agreement, ceding Bakasi peninsula, (the oil rich strip of land formerly in cross rivers state) to Cameroun, the comity of nations could have sanctioned our dear country perhaps by banning the purchase of our Oil & Gas.
Yes, countries are at liberty to engage in delay tactics by holding unto the recovered funds unduly , just like a goal keeper in a football match whose side is leading in goals tally , can attempt to hold on to the ball a little longer as time ticks away towards the end of the match, so that his side would be victorious. But it is the duty of the opponents to draw the attention of the referee to the delay tactics, so that the goal keeper can be compelled to release the ball promptly to resume play or get sanctioned.
That’s the underpinning reason the USA is constantly squabbling with China over currency manipulation which boosts exports from China and dumping of steel and aluminum by China in the USA just as most European nations are often quibbling about dumping of similar products by China and Japan or undercutting each other in trade.
Does that imply that any of those countries like the USA, UK or France are suffering from victim mentality which mr Akor accused me of because l traced the hypocrisy of the Western powers to slave trade and colonialism? Not at all.
Rather, each and every one of the countries engaged in agitation are trying to assert themselves with a view to negotiating and getting better deals.
As l noted in my previous article,mr Akor is clearly not on the same page with president Muhamadu Buhari,attorney general, Abubakar Malami, Itse Sagay led presidential panel on anti corruption and Abike Dabiri , presidential adviser on diaspora affairs, who have been investing enormous efforts in trying to recover looted funds from abroad.
On the contrary , the aforementioned men and woman in the top echelon of Govt are obviously on the same page with me as their expressed frustration at trying to repatriate the recovered Sanni Abacha loots from the UK,USA etc is a validation of my advocacy for more pressure from all well meaning Nigerians, using any platform they have, (soft power) to compel the international community to return the much needed funds for the socioeconomic development of Nigeria.
Mr Akor has declared that Businesday will not be joining in the push and that’s good for him.
His argument that the recovered loot may be re looted, so there is no need to seek for its repatriation, ties with the Western countries narrative which is that they prefer to withhold the funds so that they can send it to us later as aid.
Has mr Akor read Damisa Moyo’s revolutionary book, “Dead Aid:Why Aid Is Not Working And How There Is another Way For Africa”?
Perhaps, the developed world’s concept of aid (handouts like sponsorship for graduate studies in the UK or sinking of boreholes here and there) is what Akor is so enamored with that he has decided to turn a blind eye to the surfeit of fraud committed against the developing world when they renege on agreements to return looted funds promptly or use such NGOs to instigate insurrections and thereby undermine sovereignties.
Because corrupt public officials hide money abroad, the host countries can fraudulently keep the funds after being confiscated in contravention of agreements. What a self defeating concept!
Can two wrongs make a right?
Although in a way, it appears whimsical, l admit that the developing countries that Akor mentioned as being previously colonized like Africans (other commonwealth countries like India, Australia etc) have now liberated themselves from the shackles, it must be pointed out that they are essentially Asian/Caucasians, not blacks (color pigments matter as racism is a strong factor in international relations) and they fought for their liberation side by side their intellectuals and entrepreneurs via agitation and advocacy which is what l set out to do with my article.
Remember MAGNA CARTA in England which gave all free men right to justice and fair trial and The Bill of Rights in the USA, which is an offshoot?
In consonance to the long established conventional wisdom that docility is a major weakness in international relations and diplomacy, l would like to restate the fact that my article and the joint press conference held by both the Itse Sagay led presidential panel on anti corruption and special assistant to president Buhari on diaspora affairs rattled the international community enough to warrant attorney general of the federation, Abubakar Malami’s intervention.
So it boggles the mind that anyone with any modicum of sovereign rights consciousness would dismiss a call for other countries to relate fairly with Nigeria by respecting her right to receive recovered funds which is clearly an advocacy strategy,could be dismissed as victim mentality.
Nigeria’s founding fathers like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Tafawa Balewa, Obafemi Awolowo etc who fought for Nigeria’s independence achieved it through intellectual activism/advocacy which mr Akor dismisses as victim mentality.
My thesis is that we have to boldly demand a better deal from other members of the comity of nations by insisting vociferously that the rule of law and due process should be followed whenever our citizens are arraigned anywhere in the world and where mutually beneficial agreements are entered into, they should be respected.
I believe mr Akor is aware, because l have written about it in two previous articles that the police officer, McDonald that prosecuted lbori was put in the dock in the London court and the documents claimed to contain damning information about lbori were literarily shredded after forensic examination by lbori’s counsel, lvan Krolic revealed that they were not ‘smoking guns’.
He also prefers to live in denial by failing to acknowledge the fact that detective McDonald of UK metropolitan police and Sasha Wass of CPS, both of whom were lbori prosecutors got suspended and transferred from the case on account of improprieties discovered by in-house panels that evaluated their work.
My article also proposed a paradigm shift in the manner that our country addresses the crime of corruption which has been focused on arresting and jailing corrupt public officials even before independence was secured 55 years ago.
I posited that if same strategy of prosecuting anti graft war has not been efficacious, why not consider other options like corruption amnesty?
Various dimensions of it has been applied in both the USA and Italy at different points in time.
Must we allow an individual’s hatred for lbori give him the audacity to condemn an article dwelling on public policy review by dismissing it as revisionist and thus loose the nuggets of wisdom contained in the article? Is that not tantamount to throwing away the baby and the bath water?
To appear intellectual, mr Akor referenced great political scientists like Ricardo Hausmann and Francis Fukuyama on respect for the rule of law, due process and development of robust institutions for sustainability which are ideal prerequisites for a society to be adjudged functional.
Meanwhile, in my essay that he assailed, l emphasized observance of those two pillars of human rights (due process and respect for rule of law) which were breached in the UK courts in the case against lbori and by host countries who fail to honor agreements to repatriate confiscated funds to Nigeria.
He romanticized about Nigeria being in a state of Eldorado by declaring that “my pre occupation is to see that Nigeria develops strong institutions of restraint that will hold leaders accountable and prevent the likes of Ibori and his wife,sister, and mistress from turning state funds into personal funds”.
Mr Akor, for the umpteenth time: a perfect state is a pie dream- even the USA and Uk are not perfect and there is no established link between Ibori and delta state Govt funds in UK banks.
You can fact check.
Willy-nilly, Akor has to wake up from La la land (dream) and face the existential realities of life which is different from theory.
He should ask himself, why do people refer to politics as a dirty game, if it is always played by the rules?
Even the greatest democracy in the world USA is strewn with political casualties of high wire political horse trading like Ibori.Is Akor not witnessing the political tragicomedy about whether or not the crowd at the Barack Obama inauguration in 1999 is more than the Donald Trump inauguration in 2017 now unfolding in the USA? How about president Trump’s new regime’s campaign that an estimated 5 million illegal immigrants voted in some states hence Hilary Clinton was able to beat him by about 3 million in popular votes?
The media has controverted all the fallacies because they fact checked and separated facts from fiction with solid evidence. If the USA media gatekeepers were relying on news handouts like mr Akor, falsehood would have been sold to unwary Americans and the world.
The media has been so gallant in defense of the truth that Trump’s people have tagged them the new opposition party.
The above actions illustrate how any Govt can manipulate information to achieve a set objective, unless the media resists as has been the case in the USA, where, not only the media but all Americans are now fact checking.
But instead of embracing the new zeitgeist of FactChecking , Akor was so pissed off by my rebuke that he wrote in his rejoinder “he (me) variously termed my rebuttal infantile tirades, bigoted,nonsensical, mischievous and emotional outburst”.
He added, “Not done, he went personal, declaring me to be immature, hollow minded, having a simplistic mind, kindergarten mindset,a naive mindset and still being wet under the ears”.
I stand by those epithets used to describe mr Akor’s piece because they are very apt and l invite readers to be the judge by scrutinizing the contents of his latest repartee which is ludicrous and reflects the state of mind of a man who after receiving first Information becomes impervious to the dynamics of further developments which further consolidates my earlier unflattering assessment of him.
The truth is that mr Akor is lazy, rude and crude hence his venomous attacks against me and others who exercised their rights of freedom of expression.
Clearly , he makes his judgement based on perception not on hard facts that’s why he has continued to rely on innuendos about lbori and for an editor of such a premium publication, that’s pretty dangerous.
If mr Akor had any experience, like other editors such as Simon Kolawole, CEO of TheCable online/columnist with Thisday newspaper columnist and the venerable personality that l would like to refer to as media grand dad, Patrick Dele Cole, who had contrary views about the lbori saga, but expressed such without name calling or being bellicose , he won’t be faffing around by shooting craps and claiming to be admonishing his superiors.
I took the pain of checking out the online profile of Chris Akor who studied political science in the university of Ibadan(2004-8); worked in lginedion university as a graduate assistant (2008-10) and had a stint as research personnel at Lagos business school, LBS (2011-12) and then proceeded to study in the UK , probably on one of the British aid agency DFID sponsored programs in Oxford university.
Thereafter he landed the job in Businessday that is intoxicating him.
From his profile above, mr Akor is still a babe in the pantheon of journalism and obviously he is bereft of the ethos of the profession hence he is proselytizing about the idealism of a corruption free society as theorized by Ricardo Haussmann and Francis Fukuyama and the essential realities of today.
Pitiably, he feels he is a superstar, hence he is opting to abuse the privilege of occupying a strategic office to assail the character of his elders instead of humbling himself by thanking God for compassion and favor for promoting him beyond his capacity.
He threatened thunderously “Onyibe and the other legion Ibori goons trying to re write history can not and will not be allowed to succeed. We will always be there to thwart their ignoble attempts”.
You can imagine the degree of arrogance and exaggerated sense of importance being exhibited by the conceited young man.
His bloated self image has compelled me to ask : What or who are you mr Chris Akor? Chairman of NPAN; president of Guild of Editors or chairman of NUJ to be so boastful of your intentions to be a sentinel waiting at the door to kill lbori’s joy by stopping his story from being told ?
Thank God people like Akor, who insist on their way or the high way, don’t play more critical roles in media management.
So weather Akor and his co traducers like it or not,lbori will be welcomed with great aplomb by his people (which by the way are more than the haters like Akor) sooner than later.
In conclusion, either mr Akor’s mind is opaque; he suffers from selective amnesia; he hallucinates or suffers from all the three maladies because his utopian view of the world makes him look like life is passing through him without him passing through life.
In the final analysis, he is undermining BUSSINESDAY’s credibility by engaging in catfights over matters that are beyond him and of which he is patently ignorant thus unwittingly advertising his lack of capacity to function in the office he now occupies.
In the meantime, let me address his allegation that l’m not busy hence l write long essays.
Is he suggesting that the very awe inspiring pieces written by sharp witted intellectuals and Titans of business published in Businessday regularly by columnist like Obadiah Mailafia, Sam Ohabunwan, JK Randle etc are products of idleness and therefore thankless job?
In fact, what is public intellectualism, if not to contribute enlightening views through articles that could be useful to policy makers in the corridors of power or those engaged in nation building?
Notably, the erudite scholar,Ben Nwabueze is renown for his long scholarly and intellectual essays published regularly in the newspapers.
My essays are long because l lend local issues global flavors through worldwide references and comparisons.It is called issues creation and framing which should be a no brainer for any good editor to comprehend.
ln any case, l will not indulge mr Akor by trying to cure him of his apparently deep ignorance as he has proven to be too lazy to check out my profile which is available online, otherwise he might not learn to do simple research.
Besides , it would appear indecent to folks,if l descend to the level of blowing my trumpet on the pages of newspapers, but suffice it to say that l have been writing and publishing articles even after being a broadcaster from 1982-9 and l started keeping day jobs in the financial services sector(both in the insurance and banking sub sectors) from 1989 to 2003 including when l served as a Commissoner in delta state up till 2007, before l became an entrepreneur thereafter.
So , mr Akor, do your homework as an editor and get your facts right.
And by the way, l’m accomplished, so l don’t need lbori to be back to Nigeria to give me a job as you cheekily alleged in your article.
In any case, if lbori could be in prison and influence political appointments in delta state and national assembly as he alleges, why do l need him to be out to help me?
My advise to mr Akor is to stop engaging in journalistic chicanery and go hone his skill in order to awaken his mind to investigative journalism so that he can be looking beneath the veneer, because I believe, like all right thinking people, that an inquisitive mind is a perfect cure for ignorance.
Magnus Onyibe, a development strategist, futurologist and former member of delta state Govt cabinet is an alumnus of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts university, Medford, Massachusetts, USA.