By John Mayaki
It was with immense sadness and genuine pity that I witnessed a deliberate misuse of the cyberspace by a malicious mind. This abuse of the internet assumed the form of a libelous story directed to the public, but negatively aiming to repute the person of the First Lady of Edo State, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki as a greedy woman. My pity was not directed at Mrs. Obaseki however, but at the originators of the story in question.
The author is a reflection, you see, of a number of things not right with Nigeria. In that singularly perfidious composition, which bore the title, “Dilemma of Edo First Lady… Intrigues as Governor Obaseki’s wife, Betsy, battles to save her Bank of Industry job”, the gates were opened to the reader to stroll through the mind of an individual smitten by unhappiness and malice. Attention was equally drawn to the prevalence of Nigerian sites that have quite mastered the art of mongering ruinous journalism as news to the public.
From all indications, the story has suffered the ignominy of publication on at least two little known habitants of the webosphere is Mrs. Obaseki’s job at the Bank of Industry and duty as the First Lady of Edo state. They are, ‘The Octopus News’, (theoctopusnews.com) and ‘The Capital’ (thecapital.ng).
This ill-conceived, uninformed, and all together misleading article therefore requires some reply that the public may be warned against libelous publication.
That the article suggests avarice as a major stakeholder in Mrs. Obaseki’s choices is an indication of the blissfully ignorant reality in which its writer lives, moves and has his or her being. If the obnoxious publication is properly understood, being married to a man, who afterwards becomes a governor, translates to eating your cake and simultaneously having a job means having your cake too.
While I am sore tempted to school the anonymous writer on the philosophy of that idiom, I will instead remind them of how even freedom of expression has limits and its abuse can translate to libel.
How can a status conferred on an individual by virtue of marriage and marriage alone be a job let alone a lucrative one? Although it is generally agreed that Nigeria’s standard of education has suffered some depletion, but it should not have been lost on the writer that there is a difference between a status and a job.
The title of ‘First Lady’ is attained through marriage and is therefore not recognized by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria either as a position into which you elect people, or a political appointment to which any wages or allowances are attached.
I will also overlook the writer’s overbearing use of the English language even though this quite renders the story nebulous and difficult to understand. Let me instead reveal the Achilles Heel of the publication.
The writer agrees with his quoted ‘source’ within the bank that “had it been she is serving in Lagos as the First Lady, the management of the bank would not have bothered because she can still make it to the office regularly but not in this case where she is in Benin. The long and short of the story is that her job in BOITC is suffering”.
Apart from criminally and unofficially speaking authoritatively on behalf of a bank whose management he has not proven he knows nothing about, the writer forgot that serving in Lagos as First lady, while at the same time holding her Job in BOITC in Lagos would still have amounted to holding ‘two’ lucrative jobs.
So against what imaginary law and moral persuasion is he basing his argument? He seems to suggest that the moral justification of holding two ‘jobs’ is inversely proportional to the distance between the individual and one of the jobs.
Put in other words, the writer seems to have propounded an hypothesis that “The physically closer a person is to a job he doesn’t deserve to have, the more deserving of it he becomes”. If it would not have mattered if she had been serving in Lagos, not minding even if she lives in the outskirts of the city; then it as well should not have mattered if she lived in Shagamu, a stone throw from the outskirts of Lagos. It should also not have mattered too if she lived in Ijebu-Ode – a 17 minute drive from Shagamu; and on and on until we arrive Benin.
So where exactly does he demarcate between the moral proximity of an individual’s place of residence to his office. The fact however remains that a corporate organization can be flexible with an employee especially if the employee in question is of high intellectual value to it as long as the employee and the company can reach an accord.
In all these things, the people of Edo State and Nigeria in general should appreciate Mrs. Obaseki, not sit in the dark and wait for her to stumble. Neither should they castigate her for being the First Lady, for she was a normal wife with a job before her husband won the election to become Edo state.
She is a source of encouragement and motivation to young girls and women to be something for themselves and build a name that transcends the titular accompaniments of whatever positions their spouses may hold.
Her devotion to Edo State and Nigeria is not, as implied by charlatanism pretending to be journalism, born out of greed or inordinate ambitions, but out of a genuine desire to serve people. This is a desire that should be fed and assisted, not put down and maligned.
Mayaki is Chief Press Secretary to Edo State Governor