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CNN, Obasanjo and Nigeria's struggles withdemocracy

By JONATHAN ELENDU


I was appalled by Jeff Koinange's report on CNN, but I cannotclaim, in good conscience, that he invented those people heinterviewed. They are Nigerians who see increased insecurity, hunger,poverty, and thuggery as the only fruits that have been borne bydemocracy since 1999. CNN did not causeour problems. Obasanjo and Tinubu should get serious and stop lookingfor scapegoats in the media. The Obasanjo administration and indeedNigerian politicians should not use this single episode as an excuseto step on freedom of the press. Every individual has a right to askfor whatever type of government he or she wants. This is not illegal.Obasanjo should counter negative reports in the media by doing thepeople's business as he promised he would. Nigerians need jobs,security, a conducive atmosphere for business to grow, and efficientbasic amenities.

The self-acclaimed world's news leader, Cable News Network (CNN)is, again, drawn into a heated controversy in Nigeria. This followeda recent report by its Nigeria correspondent, Jeff Koinange, whichsparked off government-managed/inspired protests across some citiesNigeria. In the said CNN report, Jeff interviewed ssome Nigerians,showed pictures of some Nigerians with placards calling for the armyto returnto power as a mechanism to to sort through the murderous conflicts indifferent parts of the country. Some of the placards were shownbesides the Gov. of Lagos State Bola Tinubu. Somehow, Jeff's reportleft some people with the conclusion that he was championing the viewfor a return to military rule.

While we admit that some Nigerians in expressing their frustrationwith the ineptitude of the Obasanjo administration, had suggestedthat things were better under military rule, that does not in anywaysuggest that the majority of Nigerians were asking for a return tomilitary rule. It is a well-known and accepted fact that CNN is lovedby Nigerians, especially the elite. The global media giant howeverhas continued to cover Africa like an afterthought. One can count onone hand the number of times our continent has been given positivecoverage. We cannot deny that Africa has had its share of problems;Africa has some of the poorest people in the world. Diseases,inter-and intra-tribal wars are commonplace in this part of theworld. Yet, there are some positive things that occur daily inAfrica, but all the world sees is our ugly side. One would be naiveto expect the Western media to give us equal coverage as they do forcountries in Europe and the Americas, although all we ask is thatthey give our continent fair coverage.

Before now, most of the news about Nigeria concentrated oncorruption and fraud. The advance fee fraud, also kinown as '419',was treated as a design by the entire Nigerian citizenry to fleecerich Europeans and Americans. What these reporters and analysts failto tell the world is that, like any other business, it is a two waystreet. I am not aware that any European or American went on trialfor trying to defraud Nigeria. While we cannot excuse the activitiesof criminal elements in Nigeria, we can say, without fear ofcontradiction, that those who have fallen prey to the advance feefraud are greedy individuals with criminal tendencies.

People are told that there are millions of dollars belonging tothe Nigerian government waiting in bank accounts all over the world.These Europeans and Americans are asked to supply their bank accountnumbers for this money to be paid into them. After a while, they areasked to provide money for the bribing of government officials. Oncethe money is paid, the story changes as the criminals at the Nigerianend disappear. Their counterparts across the Atlantic raise hell andthe Western media picks up this story and runs with it. The level ofcorruption and fraudulent activities in Nigeria and Africa are nomore than we find in Europe and America. If truth be told, one canclaim that these are part of the lessons we learned from the Westernworld. The fraud and corruption in Africa cannot equal what is goingon with the Enron Corporation in Texas.

More people are killed in violence and crime on the streets ofAmerica than die, yearly, either in ethnic clashes or religious riotsin Nigeria. Yet, reporters still show the good things that happen inAmerica. Nobody in the Western media highlights the milestones thathappen in business, commerce, arts, sports, and technology in Africa.Nobody reports on inventions by Africans that have positivelyaffected humanity. How many people in America know that the fastestcomputer for oil exploration was invented by a Nigerian? How manynews organizations reported that a Nigerian company now manufacturescomputers in Lagos?

Yet the story of alleged fraudulent exporting of computers toNigeria made headlines even when there is no concrete evidence tosupport such a claim. Western journalists don't report thatinvestments in African businesses yield higher and faster returnsthan anywhere else in the world. No, such stories are not salaciousenough. Positive stories don't fit the African profile. Instead,hunger, poverty, diseases, destruction and fraud ignite the media.That, in the mind of Western journalists, is our story, our wholebeing.

CNN claims to be the news leader and I agree. Since January of2001, the American media has lost all claims to objectivity. Someargue that the media succumbed to the bullying of the right wing ofthe Republican party. I don't think so.

I think they are now showing their true colors. I have beenreading Marvin Kalb's One Scandalous Story. The book has confirmed mybelief that the American media is mostly peopled by opportunists whowill get into bed with anyone, including Lucianne Goldberg, just tobyline a front page story. If people's lives are destroyed in theprocess, too bad. I also know that there are hard working andconscientious practitioners of this trade. Just like in Nigeria, thebad ones give all of them a bad name.

George W. Bush has not taken interest in Africa until justrecently. Even at that, his interest is knowing if there are remnantsof Al Qaeda in remote parts of Africa so that he can add those areasto his "Axis of Evil." Hence, CNN's reports on Africa since afterSeptember 11, has been about terrorism, destruction, and violence.After a long absence, America has renewed its interest in Somalia.The documentary, Blackhawk Down, has aired on CNN more than fivetimes in the last three weeks. Christianne Amanpour and JeffKoinanage have reported live from various parts of Africa since thebeginning of the New Year. Jeeze, I wonder why! America prides itselfon being the strongest democracy in the world. That is notsurprising. America claims superiority in everything it engagesin.

Despite the fact that the last Presidential election wasdetermined by the Supreme Court and the man with fewer votes wasjudged the winner, America still claims that their democracy is thebest in the world. It does not matter that an American President wasdisgraced, harassed by the press and an out of control prosecutor,ridiculed before the whole world, and finally impeached. Yet, Americastill wants to tutor other countries in the art of democracy. Thereare Americans, like the late Timothy McVeigh, who do not believe intheir government. Yet, the media does not report that majority of thepeople want a change to another kind of government.

A few people in Idi-Araba expressed their discontent with thecivilian government in Nigeria and CNN translates that to mean thatNigerians want a return to military rule. Had the CNN reporter donehis homework, he would have known that Idi-Araba is less than tenpercent of Lagos State. Lagos State is less than five percent ofNigeria. Therefore, even if the whole of Idi-Araba were to demand areturn to military rule, it would still be wrong to say thatNigerians are clamoring for military rule. Is this an honest mistakeby Jeff Koinange?

Is he an African who has been blinded by the lure of Westernvalues and benefits? Is this a deliberate attempt by CNN to confuseNigerians? Or is it part of a wider agenda by the Western Press? Ibelieve CNN does not stand for a return to military rule in Nigeria.Military rule or dictatorship of any kind goes against the principleswe have come to cherish in CNN.

Thisday newspaper of Wednesday February 13, reported that theNigerian Minister for Information, Jerry Gana, has asked CNN towithdraw Jeff Koinange from the country. Another report in adifferent newspaper states that the governor of Lagos State, BolaTinubu, has directed the State Attorney General to look into thepossibility of suing CNN and asking for damages. The said report alsoindicates that a protest letter is being sent to CNN headquarters inAtlanta. Gana and Tinubu are being ridiculous and laughable. This isa typical approach of the military era. We believe it is a wrongdecision. Government or its officials should not pick and choose whoworks in a media house. It is counterproductive and trivializes theissue at stake.
Elendu is acontributing editor of USAfrica The Newspaper, USAfricaonline.com andNigeriaCentral.com.February 17, 2002



Obasanjo's government andapologistsshould respect CNNand Freedom of the press in Nigeria. ByNkem Ekeopara.
There is no doubt that the news and current affairs managers of theglobal information network at the CNN are reasonably concerned abouttheir undeserving bashing in Nigeria. Sadly, the Nigerian governmentorchestratedanti-freedom of the press chant and demonstrations was spearhead byretired Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo's cronies following the reporting ofthe facts, I repeat the acts of the violence unleashed by Obasanjo'sgovernment on Nigerians, inter-ethnic conflicts and killings, violentexplosions in Ikeja; all of which have led to the deaths of almost10, 000 or more Nigerians. The foolish anti-CNN campaign continues tobe fuelled by the government and its propagandists spearheaded by aself-proclaimed Gen. Obasanjo partisan and apologist, kinsman and"journalist" Reuben Abati of The Guardian newspaper of Lagos. In thefinal analysis, the issue of Jeff Koinange and CNN in Nigeria is anissue about the freedom of the press. No attempt should be made bythe likes of Abati and other Obasanjo apologists to muzzleit. February 14, 2002


Why Bush should focusondangersfacing Nigeria'sreturn todemocracyand Obasanjo'sslippery slide. By ChidoNwangwu
Since 1958, Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" set a standard ofartistic excellence,and more. By Douglas Killam.
STEALS and DEALS:InvestigatingMarcRichand his deals with Nigeria'sOil.
By ChidoNwangwu

CONTINENTAL AGENDA
Bush's position on Africa is "ill-advised." The position stated by Republican presidential aspirant and Governor of Texas, George Bush where he said that "Africa will not be an area of priority" in his presidency has been questioned by USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu. He added that Bush's "pre-election position was neither validated by the economic exchanges nor geo-strategic interests of our two continents."

These views were stated during an interview CNN's anchor Bernard Shaw and senior analyst Jeff Greenfield had with Mr. Nwangwu on Saturday November 18, 2000 during a special edition of 'Inside Politics 2000.'
Nwangwu, adviser to the Mayor of Houston (the 4th largest city in the U.S., and immigrant home to thousands of Africans) argued further that "the issues of the heritage interests of 35 million African-Americans in Africa, the volume and value of oil business between between the U.S and Nigeria and the horrendous AIDS crisis in Africa do not lend any basis for Governor Bush's ill-advised position which removes Africa from fair consideration" were he to be elected president.
By Al Johnson


Nelson Mandela, Tribute to the world's political superstar and Lion of Africa  
TRIBUTE
A KING FOR ALL TIMES: Why Martin Luther King's legacy and vision are relevant into 21st 21st century.





How Obasanjo handles Ige's murder will be telling.  By Dr. Acho Emeruwa.
'We've killed
Uncle Bola.' By Jonathan Elendu. Elendu is USAfricaonline.com contributing editor.

Why
Ige's assassination demands better security for all. By Rev. Augustine Ogbunugwu.  

HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY
How far, how deep will Nigeria's human rights commission go?
Rtd. Gen. Babangida trip as emissary for Nigeria's Obasanjo to Sudan raises curiosity, questions about what next in power play?
110 minutes with Hakeem Olajuwon
Nigerian stabbed to death in his bathroom in Houston.

Cheryl Mills' first class defense of Clinton and her detractors' game 
It's wrong to stereotype Nigerians as Drug Dealers

Should Africa debates begin and end at The New York Times and The Washington Post? No. By Chido Nwangwu


DIPLOMACY Walter Carrington: African-American diplomat who put principles above self for Nigeria (USAfrica's founder Chido Nwangwu with Ambassador Carrington at the U.S. embassy, Nigeria)
DEMOCRACY'S WARRIOR
Out of Africa. The cock that crows in the morning belongs to one household but his voice is the property of the neighborhood. -- Chinua Achebe, Anthills of the Savannah. An editor carries on his crusade against public corruption and press censorship in his native Nigeria and other African countries. By John Suval.

Ige's murder is another danger signal for Nigeria's nascent democracy.  
Johnnie Cochran will soon learn that defending Abacha's loot is not as simple as his O.J Simpson's case. By Chido Nwangwu
Obasanjo's outburst at Ikeja Bomb scene is wrong and unpresidential. By Emmy Ekjekam
AFRICA AND THE U.S. ELECTIONS
Beyond U.S. electoral shenanigans, rewards and dynamics of a democratic republic hold lessons for African politics.
Africa suffers the scourge of the virus. This life and pain of Kgomotso Mahlangu, a five-month-old AIDS patient (above) in a hospital in the Kalafong township near Pretoria, South Africa, on October 26, 1999, brings a certain, frightening reality to the sweeping and devastating destruction of human beings who form the core of any definition of a country's future, its national security, actual and potential economic development and internal markets.
22 million Africans HIV-infected, ill with AIDS while African leaders ignore disaster-in-waiting


Investigating Marc Rich and his deals with Nigeria's Oil
Through an elaborate network of carrots and sticks and a willing army of Nigeria's soldiers and some civilians, controversial global dealer and billionaire Marc Rich, literally and practically, made deals and steals; yes, laughed his way to the banks from crude oil contracts, unpaid millions in oil royalties and false declarations of quantities of crude lifted and exported from Nigeria for almost 25 years. Worse, he lifted Nigeria's oil and shipped same to then embargoed apartheid regime in South Africa. Read Chido Nwangwu's NEWS INVESTIGATION REPORT for PetroGasWorks.com
In a special report a few hours after the history-making nomination, USAfricaonline.com Founder and Publisher Chido Nwangwu places Powell within the trajectory of history and into his unfolding clout and relevance in an essay titled 'Why Colin Powell brings gravitas, credibility and star power to Bush presidency.'

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's burden mounts with murder charges, trials

Private initiative, free market forces, and more democratization are Keys to prosperity in Africa


Apple announces Titanium, "killer apps" and other ground-breaking products for 2001. iTunes makes a record 500,000 downloads.
Steve Jobs extends
digital magic