How free should the African press be? Ndibe’s calls for radicalism

Helen Thomas
It is no news that Okey Ndibe was briefly detained in Nigeria this weekend. What is news is the outrage at the Government and the reflection of the hate right at the presidency for this minor arrest.

Are journalists immune? Do we really believe and live by the standards we expect and accuse our Governments of? In our little circles and squares do we encourage such freedoms of speech and unlimited expression? Do we or don’t we clamp down, ban, and remove from discussions those who freely express expressions we do not freely like.

I am want to say that hypocrisy is the greatest challenge of the twentieth century. The screaming and demanding standards that are ridiculous, impossible to keep and actually unhealthy and insane, standards we ourselves do not offer.

The United States, a Nation many Nigerians envy with all their hearts, does lock up journalists and sack them regularly. The minute veteran journalists make statements the US does not like, they are embarrassed and sacked.


Helen Thomas, 89, dean of the White House press corps fired for telling Jews to get the hell out of Palestine

US homeland security detains then deports Aussie journalist

Bush Radio Journalist Bumrushed Off Airplane and detained by US Homeland Security

If journalists are above the law they become ever so dangerous and cause harm. Indeed journalists must be protected but protected only as humans and not as angels who can do no evil and be not detained. And indeed, nowhere in the world are journalists immune.

But now looking more closely at the ongoing Okey Ndibe case. What we do know is that he was briefly detained, had his passports seized and is requested return for questioning.

Is this extreme action by Nigeria’s security services? In a world where a war is increasingly being fought via the media, where we are all aware of confessions of foreign nations on their use of and sponsorship of the media to cause strife and wars in other nations.
War, Propaganda and the Media
One World Media For ‘Global Citizens’- 2009 World Economic Forum; Are You Ready?

We then understand that unlike the rest of us, the media can be some of the most dangerous subjects with lethal potential and consequence of their actions and also they are most precious, and subject to highest bidding, bribe and control by enemy Governments in an increasing time of oppression, manipulation and neo-control and colonization.

So let’s look closely at Okey Ndibe. A simple search of his posts reveals, in his apology for Wole Soyinka, this statement:…by-okey-ndibe/

Okey Ndibe>

Soyinka’s example is, first and foremost, a deeply moral one. His effort to combat the reactionary forces that sought to subjugate the Western region in the mid-1960s is as instructive today as it was then. His act of derring-do in sabotaging a radio broadcast resonates with Nigeria’s persisting political malaise. If anything, Nigeria is in a far worse political condition today than it did in the 1960s.

Therein, I propose, lies a painful paradox. If a youthful Soyinka was moved in the 1960s to resort to extraordinary means of political resistance, how much more radical might our tools be today when, by most criteria, Nigeria is nothing short of a failed state?

This can be read as a clear call for the intellectual of the society to engage in more radical means, to use more radical tools to save Nigeria from failure. What tools? Are these statements he made from personal conviction or may they possibly be statements he is progressively being fed to make to encourage certain results in Nigeria. Indeed such statements made by American journalists referring to radical acts and encouraging the use of radical ‘tools’, will likely not go unchecked by the security services.

Indeed, these statements may be simply benign or they may be part of a greater program to invoke the use of tools to destabilize Nigeria. We are free to speak, but in Africa like the rest of the world, we are also free to face the consequences of the suspicion that things we say and ways we behave invoke.

We hope Okey Ndibe is cleared of any wrong doing soon and returned his seized documents. We also support sensible freedom of speech and freedom of interrogation.

Long live Nigeria!