Punch Newspaper – When A Pen Becomes A Piper

 By Temisan Jackson

The saying goes that the pen is mightier than the sword; but those must be pens that scribble in alignment with the ethos of pen-pushing and the principles of truth and justice. Some pens have lost their soul, having traded their lead for pecuniary ends. Those are the pens that distort the facts, write out of context, or turn the truth upside down. They are no longer pen, they have become a piper.

When a pen becomes a piper, it starts to play to the premeditated tune of its sponsors instead of writing for the enlightenment of the readers. A pen that has transmuted into a piper shifts its focus from serving a wide, heterogeneous audience and stops writing about the various socio-political issues that keep coming up in our ever-evolving society, but instead caters to the preferred tune of a few whose interests are not as diverse as that of the bigger society. This is the story of the once respected Punch Newspaper. It is fast becoming a mouthpiece of a few rather than the voice of the populace.

Over the years, the Punch newspaper has adopted a sustained anti-Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala approach in its reportage. A search on the medium’s own search bar will reveal an alarming number of negative coverage. But because of the volume of its features per day, it is not so obvious to the average eye the covert media onslaught that Punch keeps launching against the persona of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

It is worthy of note, though, that Punch is not the only medium embarking on this ‘writ of shame’ campaign. For several years, Sowore and his infamous Sahara Reporters were willing allies for individuals with vested interests to use in their attempt to destabilise the woman all through her two stints as finance minister.

Isn’t it interesting that years after she left office, having done a generally acknowledged sterling job in managing the nation’s economy, some powerbrokers and their media cronies cannot get over their fixation on Okonjo Wahala, as they dubbed her then? Even though there are different people running the government now, it is pathetic to see how often the name of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala keeps popping up on news pages.

The ludicrous side to this whole media trial is that while the likes of Punch keep inserting her name in one negative slant or the another, the woman only keeps rising higher than their mercantile hands could reach to drag down, while they and their sponsors inadvertently serve to make her more popular by the day.

Well, it’s true that some of the media who have made Okonjo-Iweala a daily feature in their medium do so to generate traffic to their site or sell their medium. It is also true that others do it as part of a hatchet man’s job, bankrolled by individuals and party leaders who are still smarting from the way she blocked those intent on “chopping” as it is our political custom while she held sway as finance minister.

The ironic twist to it all is that the media attacks only seem to be making her more renowned and celebrated locally and internationally. Or, how does one explain that despite the smear campaigns, top institutions all over the world are either bequeathing this same Okonjo-Iweala with different awards or seeking her involvement in their causes? It can only be because this woman, whose name is Ngozi (meaning Blessing) is truly blessed.

Temisan Jackson writes from Warri, Delta State.

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