The audio making the rounds purportedly of Amaechi yabbing Mr President is a new low in politicking in Nigeria. It is a cut and paste audio job that can be produced with any cheap audio editing app, some of which can be purchased with as little as N500 at any of Nigeria’s computer markets.
Sure, much of it is Amaechi’s voice. That fact can be verified easily with a digital voice analysis software. However, there is also digital evidence of cutting, splicing and even voice cloning.
Everyone who understands these things knows that there are digital footprints on any recording and the software apps used leaves a digital signature. By the way, I know what I am talking about. I was an electronic media reporter and editor for a while having worked in news and current affairs at NTA. I have kept up my interest in editing software developments and I can say a thing or two about the rapidity and the accuracy of voice cloning and voice creating techniques that are available in the open market.
Having established that it is technically possible to create, clone or seamlessly edit anyone’s speech so that the person can speak what he never spoke, let us now go into the psychological probability of the matter.
I cannot for the life of me imagine Amaechi roasting his boss in a room full of journalists. Journalists that he knows are armed with all kinds of digital cameras and audio recorders. I do not think that Amaechi is as foolish as that, and no one has accused him of indulging in drugs yet. It is only a drug user that can be that stupid.
How could a sane person assemble journalists, then begin to yab, disparage and roast his boss, his party and his political associates in that manner? The probability is that Amaechi did not do so unless he is suicidal, frustrated, cursed or both.
Granted, Rotimi Amaechi is not a saint by any definition. He certainly has a lot of enemies and this is political season when anything is possible. He is no friend of mine but I am not one to stand by and see a man lynched when I know clearly that in this Nigerian power game a goat can be accused of being a snake!
The Matter of the military and The Media
I start this clearly by stating that I am a journalist, I trained as a journalist and that I chose to be a journalist. I chose journalism and media work because of our capacity to influence and inform society. I am a veteran of the media having started as a reporter since 1983, after NYSC.
But I am also a patriot, I am also Nigerian and I am aghast at the carnage going on in the Northeast. Every Nigerian, every right thinking Nigerian cannot be happy with our loss of territory and our collective loss of face due to the undue reportage given to the activities of Boko Haram. Such reportage undermines the morale of both the military and the citizenry. When insurgents are cast as practically invincible, it weakens the resolve of the soldiers in the battle lines.
Furthermore, such reportage emboldens and boosts the confidence of a ragtag Boko Haram. It is in that context that any right thinking Nigerian should seek to understand the action of the military against the reporter and workers at Daily Trust.
It is not right, it is not acceptable, even in the most tolerant democracy, for the media to publish military plans. Such information is damaging to any planned attacks. Indeed, such exposure jeopardizes the sanctity and secrecy of military operations. Military works with the element of surprise; what kind of victory would there be if the enemy was apprised of plans of attacks even before the attacks? No sane army will go ahead with attack plans that the enemy has become already aware of because the element of surprise is already lost. To go ahead will be foolhardy and disastrous. It is for this reason that attack plans are considered classified, and publication of it without authorisation is considered treasonable and rightly so.
However, the military did not exactly use the best tactics available to it in handling that indiscretion of Daily Trust. One hopes that the military top brass will understand that the media is its partner and not its enemy. Reporters report information available to them; that is why good PR practices involve providing reliable and truthful information to the media. It is when information is withheld unduly that rumour begins to circulate as truths.
The Nigerian military is going through trying times and it is the duty of every Nigerian to contribute to the nation’s victory over Boko Haram. Going forward, the media and the military should sign a bond of solidarity and patriotism, not of antagonism. This is not only desirable but also necessary so that collectively, our nation can vanquish this Boko Haram insurgency.
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