After Nigerians criticised the National Broadcasting Commission for trying to strong-arm the television station, Channels TV, over their interview with the spokesperson for the Independent People of Biafra, Emma Powerful, a more contrite version of them addressed the public to clarify that they merely warned Channels TV to “check their excesses.” They said since the IPOB organisation had been proscribed, the television station should not have given “credence” to Emma Powerful, their spokesperson.
Interestingly, they also noted that “the (IPOB) spokesman made lots of allusion that were not true, that are inciting and inimical to the peace of the society that could cause unrest.” Since they did not precisely substantiate what Powerful said that was “not true,” we are merely left to wonder who gave NBC the job of determining the “truth” and whose version of “truth” is deemed acceptable for public broadcast. I do not think they weighed the implications of refuting an interview based on its truth value carefully enough before justifying themselves to the public.
They also claimed that Powerful made certain comments about the Nigerian Army that were “derogatory, false and misleading statements.” Again, why should they be contesting the details of the interview on behalf of the Nigerian Army? At what point did anyone appoint the NBC as the Army’s mouthpiece? Where were they when the same news anchor interviewed the self-appointed bandit negotiator, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi? He claimed he had the “evidence” (and which included names of serving officers) that the army was “killing communities of Fulanis,” and that “more than 300 women and children” have been killed already. Why did they not complain then? What did Powerful say that was any more egregious than what Gumi said some months ago? Why did they let that slide and pick on this one?
Besides, when will organisations like the NBC learn to recalibrate their tactics? In the age of modern technology, when such interviews can be easily circulated on multiple devices, what is the point of asking the TV station to suspend its further broadcast? The interview is not only archived on YouTube already, but it has also made rounds on multiple personal devices and social media Apps. People who would have ignored its contents have now paid attention to it in detail. What has the NBC achieved now other than give themselves away as a partisan wing of the government that is looking for relevance in a world leaving them behind?
That said, it is almost amusing watching them claim the motive of their action as public peace. Well, what presently plagues Nigeria is far more complicated than what a television host failed to do. Blaming the TV anchor for not checking an interviewee is a cowardly deflection from the many problems actually causing insecurity. This same attitude of reaching for low-hanging fruits by the NBC played out in the wake of the October #EndSARS protest. A coterie of politicians and religious leaders gathered in Kaduna to moan about social media and how the phenomenon of fake news would combust the country. They pointedly ignored all the rationale behind the restiveness and agitation in the country, only to hold on to social media as their whipping boy.
Each time reality overwhelms the lies of this regime, they typically deflect either by running in an opposite direction or heaping the blame of their perennial leadership failures on matters that are more of symptoms than actual causes. Just lately, when Garba Shehu had to comment on the scandal dogging the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Sheikh Isa Ali Pantami, he screeched both “cancel culture” and “McCarthyism.” Shehu likely knows that those terms are a gross misapplication in Pantami’s case. He had to have chosen them to not have to confront the legitimacy of the calls for the minister’s resignation.
To link the criticism of Pantami’s refusal to leave the government even after it had become overly obvious that he had a moral baggage that will affect citizens’ relations and trust in their government to “McCarthyism” is sheer dishonesty. But who exactly is surprised about such moral blindness? If you scratch Shehu’s past enough, you may find that he too has believed and said the same thing as Pantami. That is why his fly has no other choice than to take sides with the man with putrid sores.
That cowardly deflection from the truth of what is truly wrong is the same way they used to blame corruption in Nigeria on indiscipline until their anti-corruption charade collapsed. There was a time too when they also blamed the instability of the Nigerian economy on our inordinate consumption of foreign goods. They ignored the whole architecture of problems that made local production impossible and focused on policies that have left us no better than where we started. After all those years, what has Nigeria gained? They still persist in the same manner.
A while ago, they said they had discerned that the whole problem of Nigeria was its open borders. Once shut, things would magically straighten themselves because hungry people would be driven to innovate. They shut down borders but eventually allowed their privileged friends some access. By the time they reopened them, the problems they claimed they wanted to solve had not changed in any meaningful way. Even worse, Nigerians’ lives had been severely diminished in the process.
The rate at which violence is happening in Nigeria is intolerable, and pursuing a TV anchor for platforming those who harbour secessionist sentiments is another one of the simplistic games this regime plays. If anyone needs warning about attitudes that can incite public unrest, it is the lethargic regime of Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.). It needs to be aroused to urgently outline concrete security plans that will cease the country’s gradual slide into anarchy.
This week alone, we have had the news of the deaths of five of the students of Greenfield University in Kaduna who have been brutally killed by their abductors. That is a horrid development, and I cannot even begin to wrap my head around the kind of anguish their families -and those of the rest of the abducted students- must be feeling at the moment. Merely thinking about that unfortunate case fills one with rage and frustration. When you read another set of reports of the deaths of Nigerian troops in Borno State, the circumstances in which it happened further enrage your rage. This regime needs to come up with measures that address the insecurity problem.
There is virtually no corner of Nigeria spared from the attacks and restlessness in the polity. None! From abductions of virtually anyone to mowing down of innocent villagers and security personnel to violent attacks for all kinds of unstated reasons, Nigeria is presently a chamber of horrors. Add to all of these the rising cost of consumer goods and the aggravated decline of Nigeria’s quality of life, and the preposterousness of administrators living behind glass bubbles in the FCT from where they bark at the media gets clearer. We are presently at a sad juncture where people could be incited to violence because our leaders are a massive failure, not because an anchor did not “check the excesses” of an agitator.
Our leaders have frightened us enough with what would befall Nigeria if the country should break up. By now, given the nightmare we live through, it should be clear that the dystopia they say will become of us if the country fractures is already happening. We are now witnessing pockets of civil wars in different parts of the country. Nigeria’s perennial security issues require a firm resolve from its leaders, not nit-picking. Nobody needs an IPOB member to make incendiary comments to ignite a war. We are at war already. Nigeria itself has always been at war with its own citizens. Our daily life has always been a war zone. To be a Nigerian itself is war! Our social conditions are asphyxiating us, and we need to look at the problem right in the face. Looking for sources of unrest anywhere outside leadership failure and the rapid disintegration of quality of life is a mere cowardly deflection from the issues that need addressing.
Culled from Punch