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Otti and the bearers of false witness

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One week, one trouble.

Last week, it was the bearers of false witness in Abia. Today, the hullabaloo over the viral video from United States of America is over. That was the hype and blitz that engulfed the media space. The Abia media space was agog and the opposition went to the market arena to dance over an entirely private gathering that a mischievous element elevated into an instrument of blackmail. The Bible pronounces a stringent punishment against bearers of false witnesses.

Indeed, I have been in this fray of political brickbats for quite sometime and I know that these things fissle out as quickly as they sprout. That is the game and the fun of its all. We have woken up to a fresh week.

But, the scenario brings back to mind the dynamics of signs, graphics and pictures and how they are interpreted, misinterpreted or conferred with an entirely new and strange meaning in politics. It is on record that political actors have played on this dynamics for propaganda, blackmail and even for personal advantage.

On my first visit to Yagoua, the northern part of Cameroon in 1989, somebody told me an interesting story of former President Ahmadou Ahidjo and his friend who was a local politician in the area. When President Ahidjo was making an official tour of the north, his friend made a simple request which the President obliged: “When you are about to leave, as you step on the staircase to the aero plane, pretend that you suddenly remembered something important. Then, turn back to the crowd and call me out and wave me to come up. Then, whisper something to my ears. That’s all I need from you”. Ahidjo played out the drama before the teeming crowd who thronged out to bid him farewell.

When the President departed, all the governors and political leaders from the north started paying homage to the local man to know this very important last-minute message that the President dropped only with his friend.

The man suddenly became a political grandmaster and his local home became Mecca of a sort because of the people’s interpretation of a sign. “Before I tell you the secret that the President left with me, you will have to build the road leading to my community; to another, you will have to reconstruct the local market; to another, you will build a school and community hall”, he said. The man made his demand as governors and political leaders paid him visits. This was how the local politician became a powerful political broker because of the people’s assessment of meaning from a planned scenario of President Ahidjo and his friend.

In the same manner, pictures and signs also form a strong element of blackmail in politics as was the case with the video which was intentionally released to malign the image and reputation of Governor Alex Otti. But, a governor still has friends and family and can feel at home in his private corners with his friends and family just as was the case when the wife of his friend and host came and sat with him on a normal convivial mood.

It goes to confirm that weak political opposition thrives in manipulating signs and pictures to disseminate disinformation. It also thrives in building dummies of lies. But, these are weak strategies in engaging a personality like Governor Otti. With his high profile of performance, which has regained the pride of Abia, only a dunderhead will snigger at the truth of Abia’s rebirth and re-invention and embrace the reckless path of bearing false witnesses.

Adindu is a media/PR consultant

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