Quite the buzz has trailed the recent actions of Nigerian president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari with regards to press, AIT in particular. Vincent, in the piece below, shares with us his views on the matter. ‘Haba Baba’ as a title surely leaves no doubt as to which side he leans; as for me and my family, we hold reservations. We will watch and wait…
No matter how rat-poisonous or iiiice-waterous your thoughts be, don’t fail to share them with us in the comments. Enjoy.
Since his emergence as Nigeria’s president- elect General Muhammadu Buhari has comported himself as a man deserving of his new role. Like he did in the months preceding that historic election, he has continued to win admirers from all corners.
Having realised that this is the man who will hold the proverbial yam and knife after May 29, political jobbers, business moguls, technocrats and even some officials in the present government have turned Buhari’s house into a ‘Mecca’. Under the guise of courtesy visits, they are falling over themselves and holding vigils at his gate to register their loyalty before he is sworn in and becomes too busy to see them.
As the Buhari crowd home and abroad wait for May 29 with bated breath, it appears the man himself can’t wait for that long before acting like the commander-in- chief.
Two developments in the last few days have proved to be the writing on the wall as regards the direction the Buhari government may take.
First was the statement about the allegedly missing $20 billion from the coffers of the Nigerian National Petroleum Cooperation, NNPC. While hosting guests from the Adamawa State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who paid him a courtesy visit, the president-in-waiting promised to revisit the issue.
“I heard that some people have started returning money; I will not believe it until I go and see for myself”, Buhari was reported to have told his guests.
Barely a day after expressing his determination to institute a fresh probe into the affairs of the state-owned oil company under the outgoing administration, Buhari gave another hint of what is to come when he eventually takes over the reins. The president-elect barred, African Independent Television, AIT, from covering and reporting his affairs until further notice.
Confirming the development, Buhari’s media aide, Mallam Garba Shehu said “AIT has been asked to stay aside based on security and family concerns. In addition, Buhari has decided that they will have to resolve some issues relating to issues of standard and ethics.”
‘Standards and ethics’ may sound like reasonable excuses but even the most politically naïve observer knows the real reasons for Buhari’s action. Having aired series of damaging documentaries against him weeks before the election, Buhari is only taking his pound of flesh from AIT.
Whatever explanations his supporters may offer, it is certain Buhari will spend the first months and maybe years of his administration probing the affairs of the past government and settling political scores.
That implies that the change many Nigerians sought when they elected him in April may not come to fruition anytime soon. It means rather than facing the task ahead, Buhari’s government may focus on making scapegoats out of past leaders.
There is no gainsaying the fact that NNPC and other government parastatals have become Aegean stables that must be cleared. Yet, probing past misdeeds in those organisations may just be another exercise in futility. If Buhari truly means business, dismantling the existing structures in NNPC and re-organising it for a fresh start may be his best bet. The probes may be politically correct and boost his popularity but it could also be a distraction for a government that has promised to hit the ground running.
As regards the ban on AIT, it is proof that the president-elect is not ready to begin the healing process that the country urgently needs at this critical time. Having been so vilified in the course of the campaign, Buhari’s anger is justified but he must also be aware of the dangers such moves portend. Banning an opposition station from reporting his affairs opens a leeway for those who have always described Buhari as an intolerant and vindictive man to return to business. Moreover, the campaigns were ‘bloody’ at all levels. The politicians and their lackeys, including those in Buhari’s camp threw salvos at each other on a daily basis across various media platforms. As they say, all is fair in love and war.
Thankfully, Buhari’s party APC has said AIT and other media outfits are free to cover Buhari’s activities. But if Buhari still feels offended, he should seek redress the right way by dragging AIT to court. He has sufficient evidences to win a case of defamation. It is even more politically expedient for him to punish the company using state institutions such as the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission when he is sworn in than this hare-brained directive. The president-elect should show some maturity. After all, it is not for nothing that they call him BABA.
Vincent Nzemeke is a Nigerian currently studying in Germany.
He is @vincentnzemeke on twitter.