USAfricaonline.com Designsand Hosts First Class WEB SITE(s)for yourbusiness andorganization!
Obasanjo's governmentand apologists should respect CNN and Freedom of the press inNigeria
By Nkem Ekeopara
EXCLUSIVE Commentary for
USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston
Let's look back. to Nigeria's recent history to understand thelatest diversion. Recall Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka appearance onCNN's 'Question and Answer' program, just a few days before Obasanjowas formally selected/arranged into office in Nigeria, in May 1999,through what the CNN correspondent in Nigeria at the time, JimClancy, possibly cowed by protests such as mine, poignantly called'Ballot Box Stuffing.' I had protested later and deplored CNN'slaundering of Obasanjo's image and literally helping in imposing theformer military dictator on the peoples of Nigeria. Suddenly,reporting facts have become a problem for Obasanjo, his apologistsand misguided apologists. Indeed one recalls with deep sadness thefact that they apparently announced the result of the presidentialelection before the contest took place.
CNN, like most the western media peddled and blew out ofproportion Obasanjo's 'handing over' to Shagari in 1979, touting himas the only military dictator that ever did that in Africa.
While the CNN and Western media outlets were used for thisunprecedented PR blitz for Obasanjo's interests, neither he nor hiscanvassers protested the boost. First, Murtala-Obasanjo regimeusurped power with one justification - to return Nigeria to ademocratic rule after Gowon had reneged his pledge in this directionin 1975.
The favoured North wanted that to happen. It would have amountedto suicide for Obasanjo, never a solders' soldier, to act to thecontrary even with as we later learnt, President Carter who was theUS president at the time, was prepared to back him in every way, ifhe elected to toe the path of metamorphosing into another monstrousMobutu for their interests. This carefully crafted hype didn'tconfigure into the Obasanjo image laundering campaign thepresidential election controversy (which Obasanjo acted in favor ofAlhaji Shehu Shagari) for which Obasanjo is still seen as a traitorby his Yoruba kinsmen.
Any wonder, he even lost his own party's ward election to the AD.Increasingly, the international community is seeing the fact aftertheir may 1999 pro-Obasanjo hype that he, Obasanjo, lacked thedemands of a modern society, requisite intellectual preparation,temperament and refinement to lead a democratic government in anenvironment as complex as Nigeria.
While Obasanjo's Information minister, Jerry Gana, a geographyProfessor, but better known as a having served all the post-1983military dictatorships in Nigeria, commended CNN during 1999, he hasreportedly asked that CNN's Jeff Koinange be removed from thecountry.
I am equally informed that the CNN refused to follow thelaughable blitz in which Obasanjo was to be presented and "packaged"(as has been done in the local Nigeria media, repeatedly) by Abati,and other self-declared Obasanjo apologists as a "Nelson Mandela" (!)&endash; wonders will never end with our former military dictatorObasanjo. Beyond their funny spin, please recall that South Africa'sNelson Mandela is the moral and living legend of our time, walkingfrom prison to president, with principles intact and a great visionwhich neither discriminated and favored his own ethnic interests.What a terrible insult one had to bear in those days to rerad theObasanjo-Mandela comparison! The groups and persons in Nigeria aredangerously and perniciously arrayed against the CNN correspondent inNigeria, Koinange and the rights to Freedom of Speech as enshrined inthe UN charter and in Nigeria's constitution.
It is sad that Abati in his piece, titled "No to military rule"(The Guardian, February 8, 2002), will sacrifice whatever pretensionsand claims he has to being a journalist for his laughable,unrelenting and lengthy water-carrying for Obasanjo's governmentunleash without any sense of decorum and objective reasoning, anddescend in an infantile outburst on CNN's Koinange with outrightpersonal attacks. He described Jeff Koinange as "a perfect example ofthe international correspondent as a parachutist." By this tag, Abatiwho is suppose to know in one fell swoop puts to disrepute theimpeccable track record and remarkable contributions of internationalcorrespondents, particularly those at CNN, in bringing to theinternational audience of atrocities being committed by power hungrymonsters, whether in Odi in the Niger Delta of Nigeria or Kosovo inYugoslavia.
The assault on CNN issue reflects the Abati line of unreasonedopposition to any reasoned disagreement with Obasanjo. Worse, Abatihas used the letters page of The Guardian to attack a columnist forThe Guardian, and the Ibrus continue to look the other way. Only afew days ago, I believe on February 13, 2002 on the letters page ofthe newspaper, a "letter to the editor" from someone from Obasanjo'shometown of Abeokuta, Ogun State (near Abati's own home) wrote ablatant physical and spiritual threats loaded with other ethnicrubbish against Levi Obijiofor, a Guardian contributor/columnistbased in Australia. Instructively, Obijiofor has been taken to taskrecently by some Obasanjo 'plants' in The Guardian newspaperestablishment for being too critical of the uncouth andunpresidential posturing and lack of credible performance ofpresident Obasanjo, especially, on education, economic welfare,safety, power supply, ethnic relations, and matters of security.
Perhaps, Abati needs to read his litany of lies, limited knowledgeof Nigeria's basic history, sheer falsehoods, documented facts of hisinstinctive anti-Igbo bigotry and misleading use events to fanhatreds. Incidentally, while Abati strives to demolish, withfutility, Koinange's credibility, the term "mercenary" journalist hasalso been used by reputable Nigerian commentators like BanjoArowoloju to describe Abatiand his bigotry poorly-if-ever-researched assaults on those whomerely diagree with Obasanjo on the Nigerian affairs.
Another issue we must note in the CNN distraction foisted by theObasanjo group is that from Soyinka to Obijiofor and Abati (while thearmy ruled), many have written worse things than mere interviewswhere Nigerians spoke on CNN. Nigerians have cast their country inthe recent in the worst light than most reporters. And then there areCNN bashers who are self-serving politicians in different garbs.
They will go to any length, including instigating mob action andjungle justice against the 'offending' CNN correspondent. In Nigeria,such things are quite normal in the power play that goes on theirdaily to protect every interest, but that of the traumatised andimpoverished populace. But, I am worried by the lead that Abati andIbru-owned The Guardian newspaper have taken on this issue.
I am worried that people who should know are unconsciously orotherwise helping to truncate a known and accepted freedom, thefreedom of speech. Agreed such a freedom must necessarily beexercised with caution and responsibility. But those attempting tobring the correspondent and its employers, CNN, to disrepute havenothing in terms of hard and verifiable facts to prove to anyobjective person that Nigeria at the moment is not showing everysymptom of a failing State, if not a failed State. They have nothingin terms of Nigeria's past to show that history will not repeatitself, especially with Obasanjo's 'unlawful and unconstitutional'tampering/doctoring of the 2001 Electoral Law as passed by thelegislature of Nigeria.
Why is that some of these folks are quick to defend theindefensible? I know, first hand, the brutalities of military rule.Like Jeff Koinange, I'm opposed to military rule. But he has theright to report what the people he interviewed are saying. This CNNissue raises the question, again: how many of those in power andcorridors of power in Nigeria are really democratically sincere? Arethey not either retired military men (like Obasanjo) or their lackeysin the past? The truth is that the CNN correspondent is reading andreporting events as accurately he sees them.
The other sad fact is that since Obasanjo took over almost 10,000innocent souls have been callously and criminally wasted in less thanthree years, more than the waste in 15 years of militarydictatorship; such cannot make people jump up for this kind of"democracy."
In the final analysis, the issue of CNN's reports in Nigeria is anissue about the freedom of the press. No attempt should be made bythe likes of Abatiand other Obasanjo apologists to muzzle it.
Ekeopara, until recently an engineer with the State of KuwaitPublic Authority to Agriculture Affairs and Fisheries (PAAF), is acontributing writer for USAfrica The Newspaper, USAfricaonline.comand NigeriaCentral.com
Why Bush should focusondangersfacing Nigeria'sreturn todemocracyand Obasanjo'sslippery slide. By ChidoNwangwu
CONTINENTAL AGENDA 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.' Should Africa debates begin and end at The New York Times and The Washington Post? No. By Chido Nwangwu
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."
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
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
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)
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
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.'
Should Africa debates begin and end at The New York Times and The Washington Post? No. By Chido Nwangwu