Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Rising Issues on Ayade's Apology: What are Facts?

EDITORIAL|18 February 2020

'I want to make the facts very clear —very, very clear that there was never a time the wife of a former governor was ever detained. There was never a time the blackmail of Agba Jalingo became a thing from where he was getting monthly payment for. And I want to put it on records with strong apologies that I didn't intend any hurt or harm. I think I got my facts totally wrong, and I have to correct it because nobody fell to the blackmail.'
—Sen. Prof. Benedict Ayade
February, 2020. 

While apologising to Agba Jalingo the embattled Nigerian journalist standing trial for four count charges and clearing the air over statements affecting former governor Liyel Imoke and Obioma Imoke Esq (the wife to Mr Imoke), His Excellency the Governor of Cross River State made a grave error though not deliberately. In a 36 second video footage, part of what His Excellency said was 'I WANT TO MAKE THE FACTS VERY CLEAR... I GOT MY FACTS TOTALLY WRONG' (emphasis is mine). 

The first observation is that the first phrase —'I want to make the facts very clear... ' contradicts the second —'... I got my facts totally wrong': agreed that one can make a 'fact', 'clear' and/or 'very clear', but come to think of it, can fact(s) be wrong? One Simon Okwori seem to respond already, before hand and this is what he said: "Ayade with his incomprehensible grammar, 'I got my fact wrong'. Facts can never be wrong, it is only information that can be wrong..." Okwori made the statement below the #NegroidHaven editorial titled 'Rising Issues on Ayade's Apology: Who Advised His Excellency?'

What is a fact? Can a fact be wrong? Lexically, (a) fact has to do with 'the quality of being actual', it is 'a piece of information presented as having actual reality', 'an actual occurrence', etc. Actuality runs as a common thread in all these definitions. And actuality concerns itself with reality, and precision not possibility, imagination, falsehood or apparentness. Fact is a thing underscored by objective reality, that is, something that is out there irrespective of the perceiving observer. So, to the question: can it be wrong? Obviously, and strictly inferring —no! But the observer can be wrong in his/her observation probably due to faulty instruments of observation, or inability to adequately appreciate the evidence presented before him/her, or through the deliberate manipulation of the information conveying the status of actuality. But fact in itself, by itself and/or for itself —considered in isolation, cannot be wrong. 

So, to the statements 'the wife of a former governor was... detained' and 'the blackmail of Agba Jalingo became a thing from where he was getting monthly payment for' —these are not statements of facts —the governor himself said so. Again, the governor did not get his facts wrong. No, he didn't, in fact, he could not. Rather, the reporting observer did not sufficiently appreciate the evidence presented before him/her or s/he outrightly manipulated the governor with wrong piece of information; or don't we usually say: 'the question of fact hinges on evidence'? 

Can we legitimately say that not all aides of the governor are keenly suited for the job they draw salary for as public officers —some if not all lack the moral integrity and/or the competencies ideally germane to their jobs? Can we stretch to say that the considerations for selecting them, the process of engaging them and approving their appointment are faulty? 

Again, which of the aide(s) of the Governor supplied the above wrong piece of information? Has that aide(s) being punished? Shouldn't incompetent aides and/or morally reprobate aides to the Governor be shown the way out? Should they continue drawing taxpayers money while being of disservice the public? 

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