It is not an exaggeration to say that in this interactive age of the social media that most opinion writers and journalists who are ethically disposed, and know their onions are by each passing day finding it difficult to write or comment on news that was broken by any online medium; irrespective of the credibility of the source of such news item.
The reason why most opinion writers and journalists, in most cases, become wary of using stories sourced from online and social media platforms cannot be farfetched as some professionals and those that may in this context be described as gate-crashers into the field of journalism have messed up the system. As I type this piece, I literarily heard them in my subconscious yelling in unison: “We can report and post anything. We don’t give a shit!”
Still in the same nexus, it may not be unfair to compare the social media platform with some fast food restaurants where foods, no matter how poorly cooked, are served in neat packages with catchy labels; an impatient customer may erroneously think that he or she has gotten quality service but little nourishment. A good example exists in a video which has gone viral on the internet. The video exposes the sexual indiscretion of a former governor of Yobe State, Senator Bukar Ibrahim, who is a lawmaker in the present political dispensation.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the last few days have not been the best of times for the former governor as he was allegedly captured in a scandalous video that showed him dressing up in the presence of two women in a room, ostensibly after sex. Questions are already being asked on what could have influenced such a highly placed personality in the society to have descended to such an abysmal level of sexual indiscretion even in a hotel that have a semblance of an untidy bukateria. However, the senator has owned up to the scandalous video that showed him dressing up in the presence of two women in a room, presumably after sex.
But the concerned politician, Senator Bukar Ibrahim, representing Yobe East Senatorial District, told a popular online medium, PREMIUM TIMES, in his first interview since the scandal broke that he had not committed any official wrongdoing and that the video was only made public after attempts to blackmail him failed.
He was quoted to have said“, This is a personal, private matter”, and asked “What does my having been with a girl have to do with the public?”
He continued, “You know the normal thing: people ask for unreasonable things, and if you deny them, they try to blackmail you if they have a way.”
Ordinarily, one would not have bothered writing this opinion when there are other pressing issues that are of national relevance. However, Ibrahim as a politician, senator and a former governor is by no means in the position to make contributions to decisions that would no doubt shape the destinies of the people who fall under the constituency he represents, and to a large extent the entire Nigerian people.
As a communicator, what I fathomed out from the senator’s response is: “What is it about having an associating with women outside one’s matrimonial home?”, “Did I take money from the government purse to engage in the affair?” As if his responses were not offensive enough, those I would in this context call “Facebookers” have been making comments that have fair shares of the insinuations that are inherent in his sarcastic response to public opinion on the issue.
To my view, the senator’s response suggests that he was attempting to give what he has allegedly done a moral legitimacy, and had by that passed a wrong message to a generation of adolescents that are grappling with appropriate sexual preference.
In fact, one of the most fundamental principles of ethics, which in this context equally applies in politics, is that moral responsibility in the small things of life is the only reliable preparation for larger tasks. Far from being trivial, minor tests of character are the best basis on which to predict future behaviour. A line of Jesus’ parable about this principle captures the point: “You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things (Matt. 25:21 NIV).
More worrisome as to the release or leakage of the video on the internet is that the Senator is still in service where he is no doubt in charge of assignments that have direct bearings on the lives of the people. Against the foregoing backdrop, he is bound, at all times, to be of good public conduct. Still in the same nexus, it should be noted in this context that a politician that lacks self-discipline and judgement in public conducts will lack it in handling the affairs of the constituency he is voted or appointed to represents. It is a matter of character!
To those who say there is nothing wrong for a public official to associate with two women in a secluded place, they should have it at the back of their that politicians that are in leadership positions are expected, at all times, to have enviable reputations.
It is not an exaggeration to say that reputation is defined as the “beliefs or opinions that are generally held about someone or something.” It is further defined as “a widespread belief that someone or something has a particular characteristic”. It can also be defined as the beliefs or opinions that are generally held about a social entity (a group of people or an organization).
A good reputation, no doubt is an asset and it is the most favourable goodwill which any man ought to have. Jesus Christ at a point in his redemptive mission on earth asked his disciples in Matthew 16 verse 13, “Who do people say the son of man is?”
In the light of the foregoing, one is compelled to ask if our politicians carry out opinion survey from time to time in their constituencies to ask, “Who do people say I am?” Left to me, the answer to the foregoing question would be “No, they do not”. If they do, the trust which the people reposed in them would not have been betrayed as it is today. They would have at all times be conscious of their reputations by exhibiting responsible behaviours. Since the beginning of the on-going democratic government, hardly a day passes without a politician getting into one controversy or the other thereby bringing himself into ignominy.
To me, the scandal is of national consequence. It should not be treated with kid gloves. One is beginning to wonder with the responses of the senator and his supporters if they are not toeing the line of the former President of United States of America, Bill Clinton. Recalled that Clinton break seven months of near silence, and admitted that he had an inappropriate and “wrong” relationship with ex-White House intern Monica Lewinsky, but insisted he did nothing illegal.
To my view, no matter how fervently anyone may want to endorse “sexual indiscretion” that involves a political leader, by adopting his “It-is-nobody’s-business” posture, one may not be wrong to say that any leader that enmeshed himself or herself the labyrinth of sex scandal has literally poured gasoline on a fire that threatens to incinerate millions of gullible youths that are invariably our future leaders. In light of this, can anyone conscionably say “It is nobody’s business?” to the now trending scandalous video that questions the private morality of a political leader?
Isaac Asabor, a Journalist, writes from Lagos