Nigeria Matters

Between Dr. Abati, CNN, Nigerians & Nigeria

I read Dr. Reuben Abati’s article, Between CNN & Nigeria. I was deeply disturbed by it. Dr. Abati is a journalist with legal education as well. He is therefore as informed as any journalist anywhere gets! I consider Dr. Abati an intellectual’s intellectual, he writes concisely and in a precise manner.

In writing Between CNN and Nigeria, he misapplied his skills, his education, his talents and his advocacy skills and worse he did all these in support of CNN, a media organization that has created a cottage industry excoriating Nigeria! Is Dr. Abati seeking some sort of award from the Americans, a Pulitzer perhaps?

Do Nigeria’s national interest and national security considerations matter to Dr. Abati and some other Nigerians? Abati denigrated Nigeria with his article and particular choice of words such as, blackmail and intimidation, to describe our government’s reactions to CNN repeated and unrelenting attacks against Nigerians and Nigeria

The Niger Delta is in Nigeria, members of MEND are Nigerians, why did it take Jeff Koinage to score the journalistic coup de grace while Dr. Reuben Abati specializes in fixations on President Obasanjo and what he may have for breakfast tomorrow? Does Nigeria’s national interests and national security considerations matter Dr. Abati and some other Nigerians? How does CNN get unfettered access in Nigeria? When are Nigerian journalists, especially at The Guardian, when are they going to do a journalistic scoop on Osama Bin Ladin or Al Queida in Afghanistan or the insurgents in Iraq so that Nigerian journalists could put their American journalists to shame? Would the American military permit Dr. Abati and Nigerian journalists to indulge themselves?

American and European journalists are embedded, have to be embedded! Free press and all! The American establishment, the American military industrial complex would tell you about American national security considerations!

Niger Delta and MEND are in Nigeria, why does it take CNN, National Geographic, Vogue Magazine to present the issues in Niger Delta to the world as have been the case recently?

The Niger Delta and MEND are local challenges with global impact, the owners of The Guardian in Nigeria, an outfit for which Dr. Reuben Abati works, are Nigerians from the Niger Delta, why is the world not learning about Niger Delta and MEND from Nigerian journalists of Abati’s caliber?

This is certainly not because of the current government in Nigeria, which is every lazy person’s excuse for everything these days!  Why do as a Nigerian living abroad, and for that matter, why do Nigerians in Nigeria always have to rely on foreign media for detail coverage on matters Nigerian and African? BBC, VOA, CNN. Why does the world have to rely on Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times to learn about the genocidal horrors and persisting barbarities in Darfur Sudan? When in fact, Darfur Sudan is closer to Nigeria than New York, United States? Where is Dr. Abati’s reporting from Darfur or Iraq or even Chad and Niger?

In recent times, I have read from the pages of The New York Times that the activities of the Arab militias known as Janjaweed(s) has spread to Nigeria’s neighboring countries of Niger and Chad, why is Dr. Abati not on the ground before The New York Times?

Are Nigerian journalists no longer as good as their American and European counterparts? Even as we focus on the quality of Nigerian or African governments, it is equally important that we examine the quality of our Nigerian nay, African journalists and journalism.

There was a British journalist once, Alistar Cooke, he wrote and reported to England from America for the best part of a hundred years while based on the American soil. And now, The New York Times has Alan Cowell, also British, he writes from England for this American newspaper. His reporting is not focused on what Prime Minister Tony Blair does while in America or how Tony Blair is best friend or lapdog to President Bush and Bush’s foreign policy toward the Middle East and Iraq in particular. Now, compare that to Mr. Laolu Akande’s reporting about President Obasanjo and his government from Mr. Akande’s perspective in New York in the pages of The Guardian and you will notice a difference in journalistic attitudes, between Nigerian journalists, and their American and European counterparts! Mr. Akande’s latest article is titled: “How Obasanjo is losing respect abroad” This represents, quite possibly, Mr. Akande perception of fair and balanced journalistic reporting?

There seem to be a pattern, at least an emerging pattern. It is as if Nigerian journalists at The Guardian (at least Abati and Akande) are of the belief that there is a pecking order, by war of a New World Order, in which existence by strata of superiority, Nigeria ought to bow to the America and American institutions? After all, America is strong economically and militarily. And as such, you would frequently read articles written by Mr. Akande in The Guardian in which he announces American government Warnings to Nigeria (Never recommendations or Suggestions) but always Warnings or Demands, always! You would think that Nigeria is a colonial province, district or protectorate of America. As some in Nigerian press often report as if unthinkingly, what America wants of Nigeria. The Demands by America and or Warnings to Nigeria by America! Wow!

America is comprised of 50 federating states, the American federal government rarely engages in warning its states and other political subdivisions. But frequently, you would find Nigerian journalists reporting that the American federal government has warned President Obasanjo and Nigeria about one thing or another! What nerve, that educated Nigerians, journalists no less, would find such words as appropriate to refer to any, and I mean, any President of Nigeria? Or such references as warnings or command-demand of Nigeria, a republic, independent, sovereign and with it territorial integrity still intact.

It would seem that Iraqis have more respect of an occupied Iraq, than Nigerians have for an unoccupied nation of Nigeria! Bush does not command-demand-warn Iraqi leaders!

Between CNN and Nigeria written by Dr. Abati has been hotly debated online and there has been a paragraph of that article that is often quoted or excerpted by most Nigerians responding to Dr. Abati’s opinion and it is, where he intoned that the folks at CNN would be having a field day in hilarities, as they will be laughing Nigeria and especially the current political leaders scornfully for canceling the contract with CNN to air the “Heart of Africa” Projectconcerning Nigeria’s international image.

First of all, I did not know that Dr. Abati is a mind-reader and that he engages in clairvoyance! I do not understand how he could arrive at such conclusion about CNN reaction in scornful laughter? What manner of idle conjectures by Dr. Abati? Secondly, Nigeria paid for a service, and the essence and core of that service entails portrayals of Nigeria in the best lights. CNN accepted that deal and payments to carry such contract into effect.

The same CNN, in the past year and more importantly, after signing the contract with Nigeria which required CNN to portray Nigeria in best lights, CNN nevertheless proceeded to portray Nigeria in the worst of lights! CNN took actions that are inconsistent with and made nonsense of its subsisting obligations to and with Nigeria and Nigeria was supposed to bury her head in shame and, throw hands in the air helplessly, and continue to pay CNN, at least going by Dr. Abati’s logic? How can that make any sense to any reasonable person? How could that possibly make sense to any Nigerian at home or abroad? How could that make any se

nse to a journalist cum lawyer of Dr. Abati’s stature? It sure does not make any sense to me!

The policy and strategy of the current federal government of Nigeria appears to be, to avoid full-frontal military assault on MEND and other militants in the Niger Delta. This is informed by the fact that negotiations and political solutions are infinitely better than military solutions. Jeff Koinage of CNN and by extension, Dr. Abati of The Guardian Newspapers, has taken this attitude on the part of our government, to treat MEND and other militants, rather gingerly to avoid needless bloodshed. After all, members of MEND and other militants are our people, Nigerians! Our government did not want to escalate or exacerbate the challenges on the ground, by focusing on use of military force

That well informed avoidance of bloodshed, is now taken by Abati and Koinage, as fear on the part of Nigeria’s military? Our military that has been to the toughest of peace-keeping missions in Burma, Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan just to name a few, our military could not go when a braided-hair city boy Koinage could go? Haba! Abati wrote as if whatever says wants are sacrosanct! Hear Abati, “What the Federal Government has done is to question the integrity of the CNN and that of its reports, reporters and editors. It has taken the additional step of blackmailing CNN by asking state governments in Nigeria to withdraw adverts from the station” Dr. Abati felt obligated to describe the actions of our federal government as blackmail! Dr. Abati sounded as if he is a mouthpiece and megaphone for CNN and MEND! Hear him again, “Those hood-wearing boys on CNN mean business. It is the Nigerian government that is joking with danger. The CNN report conveyed an impression of the danger that Nigeria is joking with, and if the truth must be told, Koinange and his crew deserve praise for courage in the face of danger”

Why is Dr. Abati giddily ridiculing Nigerians and Nigeria on behalf of CNN?

Someone should inform Abati that it is not only Nigeria’s federal government that is offended by CNN’s unfair, unethical, unbalanced and offensive attacks against Nigerians and Nigeria. Millions of Nigerians are offended and I am one of them!

10 Comments

  1. well what i can say is that all these problems and issues are leading us to somewhere.whether you are for or against any in the issue be prepare for the time is short that verysoon that long-waited savior will come.And all these issues will be vanity.No amount of suggestion will bring solution unless we only want to display our intellects.

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  2. reuben abati is only man enough to expoused his views.i think it is okay to think in his way and not bad to think otherwise

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  3. Speak for yourselves not for Nigeria and nigerians.Birds of the same feathers flock together. A word is enough for the wise.

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  4. well,i don't buy the writer's line of thought or argument.Ironically,vanguard also carried the fierce looking militants and it wasn't the first time i might add…why didnt anybody crucify them.You are just an Obasanjo apologist,as far as i'm concerned!Come to the niger delta and see for yourself,CNN was spot on and did you watch the right of reply that was aired? Frank Nweke Jnr(minister for information/misinformation),was just unable to justify his accusations with hard core facts.Thumbs up to Jeff Koinage for saying it as it is!

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  5. I have often thought I was the only one who have got reservations about Dr. Abatis articles. I have considered some of his aritcles as the work of an enslaved mind. His fixation on Obasanjo has become his enjoyment derived.

    He is no different from others who have noosed those organisations they presided on. Look at the Guardian today and tell me whats so special about it. The Guardian has gone backward rather than forward. Obasanjo is not the only one presiding over failure, Dr. Abati has not done much either at the Guardian.

    We dont need his education or knowledge to know that there are serious problems facing our country. We need answers to those serious ills not criticisms. He would be of more value to us if decides to proffer solutions to our ills.

    Yomi Dawotola.

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  6. Back in the day, "resident" newspaper columnists – those who were hired as journalists – also doubled as "reporters." They did not just sit in their offices to crank pages and pages of articles. They went out to the field, investigated stories, verified their information from two or more sources, then returned to write their column. Today, columnists read other newspapers, steal other people's ideas and then write their column.

    I have wondered over and over if Nuhu Ribadu has been doing such an awful job, because Abati and others have not deemed it fit to devote a paragraph to his job performance. The fixation on OBJ has blinded our media from encouraging those who have been doing a good job.

    I am yet to find a newspaper editorial that would advise VP Atiku to resign in honor and in defiance of EFCC. Are all these people on Atiku's payroll?

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  7. I found this article to be very very well written. Thank you for writing this on behalf of Nigerians like myself. When outsiders are beating us up we should not revel in the thought the we deserve it. I have often wondered why our journalists insist on stating that "Bush warns Obj", "UK demands that Nigeria….". Do they think they are putting Obj to shame….no they are putting Nigeria to shame. Such illiteracy.

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  8. This article is VERY annoying to say the least.

    For your information, I am a Nigerian and I am not a fan of Dr Abati. But I am not offended by his write-up and by the CNN report. So speak for yourself and NOT for all of us. It's funny that you would accuse Abati of playing a mind-reader, only to end up speculating that millions of Nigerians are offended at nothing.

    I will tell you what I am offended at:

    1. That your government (it stopped being mine a long time ago) went ahead to waste our money on CNN and the heart of Africa project, despite the widespread opposition. They went to CNN first. Now see what they got.

    2. That your minister of information is still insisting on hosting American Football in Abuja, despite all the wise counsel about the stupidity of the exercise. How do you think that NFL, football fans or whoever would be involved in this project at the U.S. end would see Nigerians? I have the answerIDIOTS! Things like these encourage people all over the worldincluding small African countriesto disrespect Nigeria. It has nothing to do with the CNN report nor the report of our local journalists. In fact, the international media do not report enough the rubbish going on in that country.

    3. That Nigeria imports more fuel than it was doing in 1999.

    4. That Lagos-Ore-Benin road is a death trap. I understand that your government has spent over 300 billion naira? on roads.

    5. That we generate less power now than we did in 1999. And these idiots spent billions of naira and all of the past 7 years talking about generating enough and not having the means to distribute……such NONSENSE!

    6. That we have nothing like national interest but rather the interest of the various garrison commanders (in their words, not mine), namely: OBJ, Adedibu, Uba brothers, Ali of the Ali-must-go debacle, Olabode George, etc.

    I could go on forever, but I would only be repeating what many honest, reasonable Nigerians have said in the past.

    I want to end with an advice for you. Whenever you feel like acting out publicly your blind and misinformed patriotism, stop and think of Odumegwu of Nigerian Breweries.

    Long live Nigeria of our dreams and not that of Paul Adujie and Baba-Iyabo's dream.

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