The talk that “we have not seen anything Buhari has done” started from three months after the take off of the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration of President Muhammadu Buhari that was August of 2015. It came from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) circle and some of their symapathisers in the Nigerian Press. That was at political arena.
The second time I would hear of this same claim was in October same year that was five months into the administration after 16 years of the PDP on the hold of the country. And the forum where I heard it from was a Christian ministry but which was later conferred to a pressure group demanding for change five months into entrenchment of a new change in government. Straightaway shortly after I joined the group, I discovered that as at October 2015 members had already concluded that President Muhammadu Buhari and APC had failed as, they claimed, all his campaign promises he had failed to fulfill.
As a matter of fact, about that same time in 2015 PDP’s topmost political office holder, Ike Ekweremadu, had said Boko Haram had killed in three months under Buhari more than they killed in Jonathan’s six years era. That was how it was reported in a Punch report.
That singular 2019 campaign strategy which the #CorruptionFightBack started that early period in 2015 remains the only thing that they have continued to use. So, it is not new. What is new and surprising is that, the media that owe the constitutional responsibility to inform even the cynics about what they know but are pretending not to know are themselves claiming that they do not see what the Muhammadu Buhari Administration has done in three years. It is worse that Nigerians who want to know about what is going on in government today only stay tune to the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Radio Nigeria and Voice of Nigeria (VON) and some of the online media whose publishers or editors are known to be trustworthy. They also get news from social media posts of such trustworthy people. That’s all.
An average Nigerian newspaper readers, when they get to newsstand only pick Sports Newspaper to read about Premier League because they have been so weakened in interest in their country that they are angry that there is nothing positive they can read in the papers that the government is doing or has done for them. But that is what they too wished for themselves because hitherto they did not believe in the capacity of NTA, Radio Nigeria to feed them information they need as they claim “those are government media” but the non-government media they want to believe have not helped them either as it is one news of horror about government today, denied tomorrow and there rest of that.
NTA, Radio Nigeria and VON of today are no longer as compromised under PDP governments of the past. They tell the news even when it contradicts the APC and President Buhari. But all of these qualities of the current government and party in power are not being told to Nigerians by other media either for political, ethnic or religious, economic interest of their respective owners.
It therefore means that the battle line that has been drawn now ahead of 2019 election is between APC government of President Muhammadu Buhari and PDP with others including the private media on their side.
Simply put, battle for 2019 is between APC/Buhari and PDP/Corruption.
Furthermore, the question is, what kind of professional is a journalist who, reporting the government’s achievements as listed in the President’s democracy day’s broadcast speech, said for instance, “These are the achievements President Buhari believes he has achieved.” That is a television. Another one, print, says, “Nigerians say they have not seen what the President has done. Only the President and his aides have seen what the government has done”. What manner of journalism is that?
It means the media themselves are already in conflict with the government. That is a good story to be told. But it has implications. And this will be in the ability of this ongoing professional misdoings to rub off on the integrity of the Nigerian Media in the eyes of the world.
Recall how foreign media distanced themselves from the Nigerian Media when they, influenced by Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), chose to misrepresent the killings in Benue to incite government against an entire ethnic group, Hausa/Fulani and a particular religion, Islam, as killers whereas, the foreign media knew what was truly going on, they chose to turn their eyes away when over 700 innocent Fulani men, women and kids were killed on Mambila plateau in Taraba.
Recall also that while the Nigerian Media were hyping the Benue killing of 75 even as they continued to even, against their professional ethics, join CAN in denying that nothing like 700 Fulani killed in Taraba, 24 Christians were killed in Rivers on same crossover night 75 were killed in Benue. The foreign media are not cynics. They saw how Nigerian Media failed to look at the Rivers killing of Christians because they were killed not by people they could call “Fulani or Muslims”. Rather, they also observed that Nigerian Media still jumped over all of those mischievous reportage and moved to misrepresent facts about cultism attacking both Muslim Mosque and Christian Church in Ilorin only for the world to read Nigerian journalists at work saying “Muslim fundamentalists attack Christian Church in Ilorin”. It took the efforts of conscious Muslims and governor of Kwara State, Alhaji AbdulFattah Ahmed to refute the media report instigated by CAN of Kwara State.
What that means is that, Nigerian Media are a thing to be worried about except something fast is done. Yet there are bodies like Nigerian Press Council, Nigerian Union of Journalists and Nigeria Guide of Editors, capable of checking these unethical behaviours on the part of the Nigerian Media. Why those checks are not being done remains a thing to be investigated. If television, radio, print media that are physical and can easily been reached can be compromised, how then should we not be worried about the safety of news processing by the online media?
The slogan of “Buhari has done nothing” is PDP slogan now scattered into the Third Force coalition political party ADC of Olusegun Obasanjo and the rest. And they know why they make it a slogan: most Nigerians have no capacity for deciphering authentic information from fake. The authors and sponsors of that slogan also know that Nigerians, when fed with single lie for a long time, take it to be true. And some semi-pure minds would say “It is the failure of the President’s media aides to feed the public with the correct information”. But that is not true.
The question is, in a country where the media know well about divergence in matter of political leanings of the people, when one group produces the government and the other claims the government has done nothing, what should be the role of the media? In the meantime, the role of the media should be to engage the government to tell them what they have done, are doing currently and intend to do and collect proofs of those achievements for onward transmission to the masses of the people to enable them see beyond the lies they are being told by the opposition.
Has the media done this? Yet they, particularly Channels TV, are now the ones saying, “The President believes he has done this and done that…” and “Nigerian say they have not seen what the government has done but only the President and his aides have seen what has been done…” Is this the role media is expected to play, taking sides with opposition especially as globally recognized as having dragged Nigerian country to disrespect and near ruin through officially encouraged corruption of their past administration?
And they say Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, Femi Adesina, the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity do not project the President’s achievements well enough for the media.
I say no. You all got it wrong. If you want to know the best of Lai Mohammed, go to NTA, Radio Nigeria and Voice of Nigeria. What can a minister do to please the privately owned media that have made up their mind to work against the government?
Let me tell you, there is a catalogue of Buhari’s achievements published since the mid-term report period by the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity and copies of the catalogue have since been distributed to every editor that matters.
Go and ask them if it is Lai Mohammed that stopped them from publishing and serializing those achievements to the knowledge and understanding of the Nigerian people. Even with Lai Mohammed taking journalists round the country showcasing the achievements of this government, these media still claim they have seen nothing.
Just imagine, I repeat it again, how ChannelsTV reports the 19 achievements in the President’s broadcast: “The President believes he has done well” for instance. Another Sunday said: “Only the President and his aides believe he has done something”…
It was Akran of Badagry, who told me something about media of his journalism days what they were doing negatively for political interest of their owners, similar to what these media are doing against Buhari today and how they ended in doom.
Finally, because I now have to rest my case here, I make bold to announce through this piece that it will be the first time in the history of Nigeria that Media will lost a battle against the government and it will be so because the ongoing compromise of the Nigerian Media by the corruption has no long life span. Even those who allow themselves to be on the vanguard are aware they will not last longer with at it. It is mischievous, naïve and unpatriotic to be part of such struggle to blackmail and deliberately undermine the person of the President or blackmail his government to the promotion of people who were voted out of office on account of their unforgiveable corruption, impunity and instigated insecurity of the past. How will Nigerian media and masses justify that those elements of corruption will be celebrated and, God forbid, returned to power? It means the entire country will have morality issue hung on its neck for a long time to come. And if the media are saying they too do not see what the President has done in three years and they know that that trillions have been budget for those years and they have no justification to point accusing finger on corruption against the President, where then do they think the trillions were kept if not on projects done?
Bashir Adefaka is Lagos-based media practitioner.