Editor’s note: In this piece, investment banker and political analyst, Joseph Edgar focuses on the contributions of publisher and columnist, Dele Momodu’s contribution to public discourse.
Edgar says Momodu has not maximized his influence and connection to the general good of Nigeria
Ever since this actor forced himself unto national consciousness, his has been a long journey of self adulation, forceful entrenchment of his position and wanton stature on a very reluctant national stage. His exaggerated role in the unfortunate incidences of the ill-fated June 12 debacle is well documented.
Uncle Dele as he is fondly called has remained a very influential part of the system doling out systematic opinion on the direction of the country and the role or misrule depending on his mood of whatever government is in power. Recently he has been on overdrive with his continued push against the policies and even on some players of this present administration.
The role he played in bringing about this particular, ‘change’ in his usual manner has been well self enlightened. At some point there were strong rumors alluding to a possible cabinet appointment but this did not materialize. Ever since, he has returned to his very familiar column from where he has been dishing out homilies and to be fair strong opinions on the performance or otherwise of this government.
And here lies the problem to me. I have religiously read uncle Dele’s opinion almost every Saturday ever since this government came on board. He has oscillated between an almost fanatical support to a virulent critic and back. Sometimes wallowing somewhere in between while waiting for the next occurrence to either launch for or against the administration.
That he remains highly influential cannot be debated as this is evidenced in the earlier invite to meet the president which in his usual manner was well documented and trumpeted on his page and also with the copious quoting of his positions by very key members of the system. This sometimes leads in my minds eye to a frenzy of illusion which possibly leads to a loss of focus on issues.
The question then is , do I think the platform and sphere of influence that he has so laboriously built over the years is being properly utilized for the national good?. This is a question most people in media circles are afraid for whatever reason to tackle head on. They have their opinion but would rather keep it close to their chest. Yes, that is the fear for uncle Dele and even for this piece I spoke to some very senior media practitioners and they all seemed to have communicated together enforcing a kind of code of silence.
Well, I will try to answer the question on a platform of rigorous academic intellectualism with an eye towards history. Personally, I think his platform and sphere of influence built over an impressive period of careful courting of national recognition has really not been maximized to the general good of the Nation. I see a platform being used for purposes not very far from personal aggrandizement although in the process and in a desire to achieve the later some public good is being attained in the process.
His articles are beautiful works of literature, the prose exciting to read as it flows suavely through your mind, reminding you of what Chinua Achebe said about beautiful words being the palm oil in which Kola nut is being chewed but at the same time hitting you with the rough stones of self adulation, self importance and a sometime myopic sense of self worth. Even as you enjoy the article and see the very strong criticisms of the goings on and failure of the Government you cannot help but feel the seeming begging for recognition and the need to be taken seriously.
This in my tiny mind, shaves off the effectiveness of an otherwise very brilliant write up, which in essence may lead to the target audience generally ignoring the very strong positions conveyed in the piece. The recent quoting of Uncle Dele’s piece by the presidential spokesperson is a case in point. This shows that his positions are reaching the desired audience, but are they being taken seriously, are they getting the intended effect that response does not show that. But instead it immediately as is usually the case deteriorated down to a personal exchange with the declaration of ‘true brotherly love’ and a desire not to ‘fight my brother’. At this point forgetting the issues that must have led to this public confession of brotherly love.
This as always the case leads to the dissipation of public hope in a messenger we all expect to keep the pressure on. For him, once the target has been hit and he responds, the matter always almost certainly devolves down to the personal, an invite to wine and dine and a thorough record of the visit for the ‘public good’ leading to a convenient muting of the issues.
For me, Uncle Dele remains an enigma. His energetic life, his network of ‘friends’ and the circle of influence that he has built over the years continue to be a source of envy to the writer and other young protégés even as we look forward to a more focus based utilization of this influence for the public good with clear and decisive attainment of ‘good’ for all.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Naij.com.
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