For sometimes now the traditional and the social Media have devoted a significant percentage of their news space with leaked materials. Some of the leaked material were government sponsored while others are politically motivated to serve personal interests and political agenda.
In fact the leaks have now become a vogue and the best way to speak to this government.
The executive and all the other tiers of government now have their pages on Facebook and Twitter, some are managed by their Media Staff, others by faceless individuals and groups masquerading behind banners that depict state symbols , but in the actual sense they are fake.
Ministries, Ministers, Heads of Extra Ministerial Departments have also joined the band wagon.
Ordinarily one would welcome the pluralism in sources of information, but to what extent the pluralism assist in governance is what is of concern us.
The danger of these leakages are that you don’t know which to believe or trust. I am sure the Honourable Minister of Information is having a sleepless night how to deal with the situation.
To put this discourse into perspective it necessary to understand what is a leak and why do we have leak information ?
Leak is defined as “a way (usually an opening) for fluid to escape a container or fluid-containing system, such as a tank or a ship’s hull, through which the contents of the container can escape or outside matter can enter the container. Leaks are usually unintended and therefore undesired. The word leak usually refers to a gradual loss; a sudden loss is usually called a spill.”
“A news leak is the unsanctioned release of confidential information to news media. It can also be the premature publication of information by a news outlet, of information that it has agreed not to release before a specified time, in violation of a news embargo “.
Coming back to our question, why do we leak information? We leak information for some of the following reasons :
1. Politicians and Policy makers may leak information because they wish to judge the reaction of the public to their plans before committing a social programme (a trial balloon). Leaked information may be plausibly denied without blame for proposed unpopular measures affecting their perpetrators.
2. People with access to confidential information may find it to their advantage to make it public, without themselves appearing to be responsible for publishing the information. For example, information which will embarrass political opponents, or cause damage to national security, may be leaked.
3. People privy to secret information about matters which they consider to be morally wrong or against the public interest — often referred to as “whistle blowers” — may leak the information to correct certain distasteful events or check the excess of the rulers .
4. People may be enticed to expose secret information for other self-serving motives, such as financial gain.
5. Government also uses leaks to manage the press in order to maintains its own popularity.
6. Leaks can also be used as signal to foreign terrorists or governments that you know what they are up to, this is done to deter contemplated actions .
7. Sometimes governments trade leaked information to reporters, to curry favour.
8. In some cases leaks are used to hurt rivals within the public sphere,
9. Leak can serve as a “trial balloon” to test the popularity of an idea or policy .
10. Leaks also may help President’s cabinet members build up their own internal empires, which can boost the president’s agenda.
Leak as un instrument of propaganda if used wisely by the Government can assist in governance but where it is used unwisely it can have a damaging consequences on the leaker, be it individual, group or state. Simply put leaks can be positive and negative.
The worrying aspect of the leaks that are going the round in our political space is that they are centred around individuals seeking for favours .
Consider the following leaks that had been in the headlines, you would notice they have similar kind of trends.
You can recall the Maina saga, I mean the fugitive Ex Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, if you peruse all the leaked materials that are in the public domain on the Maina saga, you can see the hands of the executive or apparatus of the state in the leaks.
The leak by the Minister of State of Petroleum Ibe kachukwu against the Group Managing Director NNPC Mai kanti Baru, was deliberately released to the media to achieve some personal gains .
El Rufai’s leak of his personal letter to Mr President, was perhaps due the frustration the letter did not get to Mr President.
The Leak by the NHIS boss on frosty relationship between him and the Minister Health, was possibly done to buy in sympathy from the public .
The most recent Leak was the one by the Head of Service of the Federation denying she reinstated the Ex Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team Abdulrasheed Maina. She did this to protect herself from the blame game when it became apparent to her some people are trying to rope her.
In all these instances the reasons for the leaks are self serving.
The most disturbing aspects about the leaks are, they all came from officials who are highly placed in the corridors of power and they must have known the leaks had the potentials to embarrass Mr President and Government that appointed them to serve.
Given the calibre and hierarchy of people involved in the leakages something must be fundamentally wrong with the government. Why should we be having these discordant views from members appointed by the same administration fighting themselves on pages of news papers and social media?
Curiously all the leaks seem to have the same objectives lack of “access”. Does this confirm the insinuations going round that Mr. President has been shielded by some cabals as they are popular being referred to?
The many embarrassing leaks from the big and mighty in the cabinet makes nonsense of the oath of secrecy public officers, have sworn to protect in the act of governance.
The manner and the way government businesses are being conducted is laughable and it begs to question, if the authority is really in control. The ridicule and crass abuse of practice and procedures are so phenomenal that it makes us look stupid and uncultured as a people and a nation.
What is going on can only happen in a dictatorship where citizens have to buy favours to have un fettered access to the king.
My second worry about the developing scenarios is how are we sure Mr. President is getting the information about what is going on in our political space?
The silence and the slow response by the President to issues of national significance also gives us some sense of worry especially in the light of the hardship prevalent in the society, the break down of our infrastructure, the decay in our educational and health facilities and the hydra headed corruption that permeates the fabric of our society. The failure of the agencies created to provide social services.
These are issues that require the urgent attention of the President. But in the light of the unfolding events that even the high and low hardly have access to their leader in a democracy, then we must engage in a National prayer just like we all did when Mr. President was sick. We must seek for the intervention of Allah swt to open the eyes of Mr President to separate the bad and the good in his administration so that we can “enjoy the dividends of democracy”.
As we continue praying for increased good health of Mr President. We must not also forget to pray he reciprocate our goodwill with good governance by eliminating or reducing our underdevelopment issues that are begging for attention.
We also call on Mr President to direct the public officers to end the unnecessary leaks that are injurious to the administration and damaging to our collective image as a people and Nation.