I was a guest of postgraduate students of the University of Ibadan’s Department of Communication and Language Arts last Thursday. Desirous of marrying the various theories they had received about media and communication, I had been asked to give a talk to the students on handling government’s media portfolio, given my experience in Enugu and Oyo States and perhaps, my doctoral in political communication.
If any one of the students wanted to subsequently follow the thorny path of being a political person’s publicist, my talk must have dampened their morale. The job of publicists to politically exposed persons is a thankless job and one where you have to bite bullets repeatedly. They asked me such questions as the effect of sycophancy of governmental aides in policies and escalation of crises, among others. What took the largest chunk of our time was however dwellings on the recent tiff between gospel crooner, Yinka Ayefele and the Oyo State government. If I were the handler of the government’s media, what would I have done differently in the process that led to the eventual demolition of the musician’s broadcasting outfit, they asked and what would I have done in the mitigation of the image of government which had suffered colossal salvoes from all over the world?
I referred them to my piece last week. No government can ever win any war with the media. In all governments I served, that was my preachment, no matter how cowardly I was perceived. In dealing with the media, I was a student of Antonio Francesco Gramsci, Italian Marxist philosopher and communist politician jailed in 1926 by fascist Mussolini and who in prison wrote the famous Prison Notebook wherein he espoused the theory of hegemony.
You could seize the heart of a people without firing a single shot of gun, so says Gramsci. I gave instances that are in the public domain about my strides in government in time past which confirmed my firm belief that bellicosity isn’t the path to tread by government. My conclusion: what is lawful may not be expedient and what is expedient may not be lawful and that laws are made for man and not man for law.
Not only did the state government put the cart before the horse, sealing up Music House would have been more logical while it waits for compliance with rules. Government’s name has suffered immense bashes all over the world via the bad press generated by the demolition and this slur on its name may never be redeemed, in spite of its spirited attempt to mend it by having a rapprochement with Ayefele. A potent power is one that is held in abeyance and not the one that is wielded like an encore. One who canvasses a handshake with Gramsci isn’t necessarily a pacifist.
Ending my over 3-hour talk with the students and lecturers who found my yaks fascinating, I told them that eventually, the same government that had been mouthing law and order as reason for the demolition would soon tread the path of expediency due to this global bash of its name. The next day, it did by simulating a Fela Anikulapo-Kuti/Justice Okoro-Idogwu he don beg me scenario. Jailed for having in his possession the sum of ‘£1600 and tried by Okoro -Idogwu, Fela sought public sympathy by saying the judge had shown he was contrite for sentencing him.
Adedayo, a member of the editorial board of Nigerian Tribune, was media adviser to Governor Abiola Ajimobi between 2011 and 2015.