Let me start by extending my compliments of the season to my readers. May the year 2021, which starts today, bring peace and prosperity to the entire human race, from Africa to the rest of the world.
I monitored a very interesting debate on a private television station last week, and the topic was predictably Nigeria’s national security. Two persons, each representing the two dominant political parties in Nigeria (APC and PDP) were slugging it out, working hard to gain the upper hand, and the one representing APC averred that PDP has no reason whatsoever to criticize President Buhari the way it has been doing, since even its national leader, former President Goodluck Jonathan, has come strongly in defence of the government of the day, saying unequivocally that insecurity is a global phenomenon that is not peculiar to Nigeria.
The fellow representing the opposition PDP countered by agreeing that insecurity is indeed a global phenomenon, but that nowhere else in the world is blood spilled in such a high scale as in Nigeria. Then comes the sledgehammer from the APC fellow: he averred, in his response, that nowhere else in the world is opposition as dirty as in Nigeria, adding that in the whole world, only in this country do you see fellow countrymen celebrating when a soldier of the national Army is killed be enemies of the nation.
Perhaps justifying the maxim that the enemy of your friend is one’s friend, some Nigerians who see the Buhari Administration in that light make the fundamental mistake of somewhat taking the terrorists and bandits as their friends, or in other words those who do the work of damaging the image of the current administration, for them.
In his words: “in this country, there are politicians of the opposition stock who get disappointed when at the end of each day, there is no attack by bandits or terrorists somewhere.. They think of security in abstract terms. Someone sitting comfortably in his home or office in Lagos or Enugu thinks he cannot be a victim and can therefore afford to play the ostrich. And so, he or she does not appreciate the fact that several thousands of our troops are putting their precious lives on the line defending this country.”
Certainly the APC fellow could well be accused of over-generalization. Surely among those in the opposition, or to put it in a more proper context those opposed to the government’s handling of security matters, there are those who mean well, even if majority are doing so for one mischievous reason or the other, with many knowingly or otherwise even helping spread the propaganda of the terrorists, who have a whole unit dedicated to creating the false impression that they are invincible, and the armed forces are consistently portrayed as weak.
Nigeria has a huge active population, with a whopping 72 percent within the age range of 35 years and below. Sadly, most of those youths are being denied opportunities to grow owing to the penchant by our politicians to appropriate everything for themselves. When there are job offers at the federal level, our senators and reps will almost always ensure they grab a large chunk of it, leaving those born with no silver spoon in their mouths with no chance to get employed. The same thing happens at the state level. A few months ago some National Assembly members fought a serving minister because of his open refusal to conspire with them to deny ordinary Nigerians opportunity for small jobs created by the Federal Government for all the local government areas in the country.
To make matters worse, our state governors have conspired to kill the third tier of government, our local government councils, by dubiously appropriating all funds meant for them from the Federation Account, in the name of joint account. A few states that allow the local governments to function ensure only lackeys of the governor get elected (or is it imposed?) on the people. Attempts by the government of the day to deepen our democracy by saving the local government system from total collapse is being rejected by the governors, who audaciously and shamelessly took the Federal Government to court, insisting in a status quo that satisfies only the 36 of them. They are not only averse to an independent local government system, but also an independent judiciary that would dispense justice without fear or favour.
And now, to make matters worse, the National Assembly has gone far in considering a bill that will extinguish life from the local government system. None of those in a rush to consider that bill is concerned that passing it into law will automatically deepen our insecurity situation, as more youths would be rendered hopeless. Our politicians keep creating terrible situations that make matters worse for the country, and shamelessly turn back to accuse the security services of inefficiency.
When some youths decided, three months ago, to protest against police brutality and misgovernance, one wonders why none of them thought that the best way to free themselves from the stranglehold of our governors and create opportunities for themselves was to occupy state government houses, except perhaps one or two that are in real sense allowing the judiciary and the third tier of government to thrive.
There is no administration in Nigeria’s history that has done as much as the current one in providing for our teeming youths. As if to give life to the Chinese maxim of teaching one how to catch a fish, rather than giving him fish, this government has rolled out so many noble programmes; so many waivers and so many interventions to reduce the huge number of our unemployed youths. But it keeps looking as if the government is doing nothing, as very few of those opportunities are reaching those the policies and programmes are meant for.
Yet, you hear our federal legislators, who are the biggest culprits in creating and deepening an atmosphere of hopelessness by snatching almost every good thing meant for ordinary Nigerians, blaming the executive arm of government of failure to provide adequate security. The same legislators have ensured only a third of our police force are in operations, as almost every one of them has a retinue of policemen guarding them, or carrying the handbags of their wives, mistresses and/or girlfriends.
Instead of engaging our youths constructively, there are opposition politicians who hire them for one negative cause or the other. A senator, for example, opposed to the government at the centre would purchase hundreds of smartphones and give some educated youths with the task of turning every positive achievement of the federal government to negative. Of course there are thousands of youths who deploy the social media on their own volition, without being sponsored, just to reduce tension by abusing top functionaries of government and blaming every bad thing under the sun on the doorsteps of these officials.
That informs why Nigeria has since become the largest breeding ground for fake news. Everybody is now also an expert on security matters, with opinions ranging from the reasonable (very few) to the ridiculous and the absurd. Our radio and television stations are most guilty in this regard, featuring charlatans to make comments on matters like security that require practical and deeper knowledge of the sensitive issue at hand.
Some days back, some youths traveling from Abuja to Kano had an accident before reaching Kaduna. Sixteen of them sadly died on the spot, but the report out there, shockingly published even by some of our respected newspapers, was that those people were kidnapped by bandits on that route.
Passengers traveling from Sokoto to Gusau had their vehicle stop in the middle of nowhere, owing to a technical fault. But our “expert commentators on security” went to town with stories all over the social and even traditional media that some Katsina bound passengers in a commercial bus have all been kidnapped. It was later when the security services got wind of what happened that they rushed to the scene, only to discover that the passengers actually hid in the bush, afraid that they could be attacked by bandits.
Almost everyday, Nigerians get regaled with pictures of dead bodies lying on some streets; or troops manhandling some citizens, when in reality most of these pictures and videos are deliberately taken from things that happened somewhere in Africa or some other distant country. We will rather create horrible stories just to create the impression that the government has failed in its duty of securing its citizens.
The kind of negative narrative we spew out everyday in the name of opposition has made so many citizens to see it as the wrong thing to report crimes happening right at their backyard.
Almost everyday especially in the north, we watch videos of people engaging in acts that inadvertently aggregate to supporting terrorism or banditry. In an audio recording that has gone viral recently, a Kaduna based woman was being interviewed by somebody, and she narrated how she, in concert with tens of her friends, some of who are married, take motorcycles to the forests around Kaduna, to the enclaves of the bandits, just to have sexual intercourse with them for a fee. She said that each time those bandits were carrying out a kidnap attack, they inform them (the women) to ensure they are not in the scene.
The woman cited examples of kidnap cases that had taken place, which she and her cohorts in crime knew about beforehand, but which they did nothing to by way of reporting the bandits to the security services. To make matters worse, many Nigerians who heard the audio recording knew who this woman is, but they have not done anything to bring her to book by reporting her to law enforcement agents. And yet, we will be the first to report it on social media anytime attacks are carried out as a result of our failure to do as simple a thing as reporting criminals living right at our backyard, to the security services. Yet, we expect these same men and women toiling everyday to ensure we are safe, to perform overnight magic. Check it out: no security service anywhere in the world has ever succeeded without the locals driving intelligence.
The CIA is a successful intelligence service only because Americans feed it with the right kind of information. Here, we are more concerned about taking pictures of bandits and splashing them on our Facebook pages, just to create the perception of failure or inadequacy on the part of the government and the armed forces.
The time one spends taking pictures is enough to call the soldiers or the police. But that is not what the people want. They are more interested, in most cases, in playing to the gallery to score cheap political points.
(To be continued next week)
Yes’ some foreign media organisations are out to destroy Nigeria
From the Wall Street Journal (a year ago) to the Cable News Network (recently), to the Financial Times (last week) and several others, it has been the airing or publication of one false negative story after the other, against Nigeria, in a manner that leaves no one with any doubt as to their clear intention, which is to sow the seed of discord and destroy Nigeria.
There is a motive to every action taken by a man (or woman), and so, one wonders if there is any other way to decipher the skewed reports published by these otherwise respected organisations, with no iota of professionalism in any them.
The Financial Times, in its latest mischief, sensationally described Nigeria as a failed state. Yet, this foreign newspaper is in the best position to know that inspite of its imperfections (no country in the whole world is perfect), Nigeria is very much working, still retaining the enviable position of the strongest and largest economy in Africa.
Earlier this week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) rated Nigeria’s economy as the best in Africa, leveraging on its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In its World Economic Outlook for 2020, the IMF places Nigeria’s economy among the top 26 in the world, with an average GDP of US$442,976 million. One must therefore be suffering from glaucoma of the worst type to describe a society thriving inspite of the global economic meltdown and insecurity occasioned by Covid-19 as a failed one. It is worse when this is done by a medium that falsely styles itself as the best in terms of analyzing the global economy.
My brother and friend, Mr. Philip Agbese, has done justice to this matter by looking at the infamous report published by the Financial Times and analyzing it as follows:
It is obvious the Financial Times of London has been conscripted into the gang of fake news merchants. In its editorial titled “ Nigeria at risk of becoming a failed state and published on the 22nd of December 2020 is at best a pernicious propaganda aimed at the heart of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. It was apparent that FT was acting the script of a greater interest and not necessarily based on facts or any verifiable indices that lends credence to their editorial position.
It is remarkable to know that the level of insecurity in Nigeria has drastically reduced over time. The alarming Boko Haram insurgents have been dealt with in a pragmatic approach taken by President Muhammadu Buhari. Many successes have been recorded under his leadership. He has been steadfast in the discharge of his duty and providing aid to civil authority. I can bet FT relied on folklores in its analysis on Nigeria to miss some of the key happenings in Nigeria.
I firmly admit that any government that cannot discharge this fundamental obligation of protecting lives and property loses any iota of legitimacy. President Muhammadu Buhari has been fervent in his handling of security issues in Nigeria. This is a statement of the fact and the promoters of Financial Times must do well to admit.
It was sightlessly stated that Nigeria was at risk of becoming a failed state. A failed state was described as “one where the government is no longer in control”. This is a blatant lie as the Nigerian government under President Muhammadu Buhari’s leadership has maintained stable control and good governance of the country.
In contrast to what was stated, the country is going backwards economically, and security issues have worsened. In truth, Nigeria’s economy has steadily advanced under the current President’s leadership. A blind man can also tell how much Nigeria’s insecurity situation had reduced compared to over six years ago before the current President assumed office.
Regrettably, many notorious detractors remained blinded to every progressive effort being taken but have resorted to launching slander campaigns and giving poor reports about the President’s achievements because of their selfish aggrandizement.
The Financial Times also stated that Nigeria has more people than any other country in the world without providing any real facts or evidence to support their bashful claim. It is crystal clear that the Financial Times is working ‘behind the scenes’ with unscrupulous individuals who are ardent critics of President Muhammadu Buhari led administration. This is against the ethics and principle of fair journalism, which requires non-partisan news and information distribution.
Most of the baseless points outlined in the editorial were the results of the past administration’s failures and poor governance. The present administration has been cumbered with a load of struggling to correct these failures.
The newspaper failed to mention that most of the current challenges the country is facing are due to the shortcomings of the past administration, which the current administration is tirelessly working hard to correct.
I am not surprised as FT is a UK-based news agency and will lack accurate knowledge and facts of what is happening in Nigeria. It will be much more liable to produce faltered information and point of views. The Financial Times should strictly steer clear off matters concerning the Nigerian government if all they can do is produce ‘Fake News’ regarding the current stage of Nigeria’s economy, development and security challenges. The whole board of the Financial Times should ‘restrategize’ and comply with journalism’s ethics if they plan to continue to produce any more pieces regarding the Nigerian government to prevent breeding animosity towards the government and internal division.
It is unfortunate that Financial Time has lost its credibility, and has become a peddler of political engineered news gotten from a politically paid journalist that does not have the country’s interests at heart, but only about their monetary gains. These actions, therefore, put all their citations and writings under questionable test.
I believed it is misleading and unfair for Financial Times to infer that the recent success in the subsequent rescue of over 300 schoolboys in Kankara, Katsina State can be termed a “Scam”.
Same was said of the success in rescuing the Dapchi girls that were abducted. I’m not surprised that the opposition party felt defeated by these recorded successes because the last PDP administration never recorded such fast feat in tackling security matters. The traumatized parents of the Daptchi girls and Kankara boys explained what their wards went through in the hands of their abductors, and they can’t imagine what would have happened if they had stayed longer in their hands.
We are not oblivious of the fact that journalism has continued to lose its virtues in the hands of Newspapers like Financial Times and unpatriotic citizens. The light of truth will always shine through every darkness of false claims. President Muhammadu Buhari is unperturbed and very focused in discharging his duty as he has pledged to the Nation. Financial Times has failed, and not Nigeria. Nigerians remain unmoved