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Notes from Ahmed Musa Hussaini

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Ever since Daily Nigerian broke the heart-wrenching account of a crime syndicate in Kano that specialized in abducting local kids and selling them off in the Southeast for adoption, changing their names and religion in the process, there has been some discussion on the general coverage of northern Nigeria by the southern press, with Simon Kolawole the latest in a growing list of pundits acknowledging the media’s anti-northern bias.

This is not a new thing. Institutionalised anti-north (and by extension, anti-Muslim) bias is the default editorial policy and we are not even expected to talk or complain about it. It is difficult for the average southerner to acknowledge this given Nigeria’s ethnic and sectarian dichotomy. That’s why some southern commentators are more outraged by genuine complaints of media bias by northerners than the actual crime committed against those innocent kids in Kano.

As the case drags on throughout last week, there’s a predictable media blackout against the whole issue. The press hardly mention it. Because their default culprit is now the victim. It doesn’t fit into the editorial narrative of the Hausa-Fulani aggressor. Crimes involving northern victims and southern perpetrators are hardly ever reported, and when reported, they are framed in a way that the perpetrators appear blameless.

Down here on social media, the reaction is similar. There wasn’t the usual outrage that will accompany a crime of that proportion if the story is reversed, if it were actually some Hausa-Fulani syndicate abducting igbo kids in Enugu and selling them off in Kano, hausanizing them and forcefully converting them to Islam.

No long-trending hashtags, no calls for protests, no press conferences, no gutless northern governors traveling across the Niger to offer collective apology on behalf of all of us, no tough press releases from the presidency and other government officials. Some lives are undoubtedly more equal than others.

Some even said we should focus on the crime and forget about the insignificant fact of their conversion to igbo or Christians.

No! Even in the absence of abduction, forcefully giving those kids igbo names and changing their religion is also a crime, making the whole experience doubly despicable. The first crime of abducting them is pure evil, the second crime of changing their identity is a clear case of dehumanization and should be equally and separately condemned.

And no, that doesn’t implicate christianity or the igbo culture and no igbo or Christian person should feel personally apologetic over a crime perpetrated by those that share his/her identity/faith. The criminals should be held to account as individuals and not as representatives of any faith or culture. This should be our default perspective towards every crime irrespective of the identity of the victim or perpetrator.

But if you pursue a relentless campaign of ethnic and sectarian victimhood when ‘your own’ is the victim, you have relinquished the moral right to preach against that when ‘your own’ becomes the perpetrator. It is this blundering hypocrisy that we should all rise against and this hypocrisy can be found on all sides.

Interestingly, this has been the case since independence. In his speech at the opening of the New Nigerian newspaper, Sir Ahmadu Bello lamented thus: ‘this region has in the past been a frequent victim of prejudice, distortion and downright falsehood on the part of certain organs in the newspaper world. I hope this newspaper will not descend to such levels against anybody anywhere.’ The fact that this practice only becomes worse speaks volumes about how far we have fallen behind as a nation.

Some argue that the north should also invest in the media to be able to adequately tell its stories or confront the campaign of misinformation against it. Granted that this is important, but it risks reducing the journalism profession to a propaganda contest, to a disinformation tit-for-tat. Journalism is a serious business, far from the fake news and hate speech industry it is sadly becoming in some places.

What we need is education and genuine dialogue, one that’s founded on mutual respect and trust. It is through education that we will equip our people with the right tool to fight disinformation. It is through genuine dialogue that we can dismantle those ethnic and sectarian barriers and deconstruct the lazy stereotypes that legitimize them.

Therefore, it is impossible to discuss the media’s coverage of the Kano abduction without discussing the greater media coverage of northern Nigeria. I hope one day the southern press will come to terms with its anti-north bias. But even if it does, it will have a hard time de-educating and deradicalizing the millions of southern masses that are fed on a steady diet of fear, suspicions and conspiracy theories about an imaginary Hausa-Fulani Muslim hegemon that is seeking to islamize the country and take their lands.

By Ahmed Musa Hussani

Opinion

DOGARA TO APC: A Homecoming From The Other Home By Adamu Bello

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To Dogara and his likes, every political party is a home. PDP and APC are like maternal and paternal grandfather’s Household. To them, like in a perfectly competitive market, there are no barriers for entry or exit.

Rt. Honorable Yakubu Dogara was a PDP stalwart who later crossed over to APC during the merger formation, where he contested and won the 2015 election.

After a serious tug-of-war between the executive and legislative arms of government, while he was the Speaker of the House of Reps coupled with the series of disagreement with the then Bauchi State governor, Dogara dumped APC for the opposition PDP, where he also contested and won the 2019 election.

Not far in the journey, the romance between Dogara and PDP hit the rocks again, owing to the purported disharmony with Kauran Bauchi and 2023 political calculations. Speculations thicken that the ruling APC tempted him with the Vice Presidential slot in the forthcoming election, hence the reason for his defection.

Whatever may be his reason, cross carpeting is not atipycal in Nigerian politics. Professor Jonah Onuoha, aptly described Nigerian politicians as a crop of people, who have no sense of shame and are only out to seek personal gains above serving the people. Our politicians are synonymous to scavengers.

In a country where defection is a norm, Nigerians were not perplexed by Dogara’s decision to stage a homecoming from his other home. Even more so, Nigerians are expecting other self centered politicians to follow suit, because it happens more than one can shake a stick at.

Before 2019 elections for instance, no fewer than 14 senators, 37 members, triplet of Sokoto, Benue and Kwara state governors alongside many APC heavyweights like Atiku, kwankwaso, Saraki, and Dogara himself defected to PDP in pursuit of their selfish interests. Neither for patriotism nor for the compatriots. Masses are always secondary in their equations.

Whether or not Dogara accomplish his mission in this precedented homecoming, Nigerian democracy is further relegated to the ridicule. The practice of free entry and exit into our political parties like a market square not only embarresses Nigeria’s democracy in the international community but also casts a huge shadow of doubt over the country’s future.

I wish Honourable Dogara returned home for good.

Adamu Bello Mai-bödi
Writes from Gidado Bombiyo residence
K/kaji Azare

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Social Media: It Has Now Become Attention Media By Yusuf Abba-Kyari

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Social media has now become almost the direct opposite of what it used to be. We used to login to a social network to interact, share ideas and find lost acquaintances on social media (remember Yahoo messenger chat rooms?) with people from other parts of the world.

Lately it has become more of attention seeking media. We travel to a nice place, post on social media. Attend an online training, post it on social media. Graduate from school, post it. Any minor detail, post it. It has also turned into an advertisement tool for products and services and big companies are making a fortune on us.

As human beings, we like to show others the little accomplishments we’ve had at any moment just to draw attention to ourselves and the funniest thing (to me) is, we’re hardly who we say we are on social media. While I am in no position to tell people what to post or not to, we should do it (in my opinion) for the right reasons.

According to some psychologist, the more hours we put on social media, the higher our anxieties and insecurities become. So we become lonely and depressed by the day. This is due to the amount of people’s lives we feed ourselves everyday.

My advice; check your phone’s usage of social media apps. If you are active for more than two to three hours a day combined, then you are using too much.

Try to reduce your screen time. It’s good for your eyes, it relaxes your brain, it frees your soul and you will become more focused on the most important things in your life.

If it helps promote you or your business, then convert your account to a business account. That way you don’t have to be checking up on others (unless if they are your competition). You can also work for someone as their social media managers. That way your skills set is put to good use.

Currently, I’m only active on LinkedIn and I connect with my loved ones on WhatsApp. I don’t have Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or any other social media account. My screen time is now less than two hours a day and it keeps reducing. On LinkedIn, thanks to A.I. it filters out the posts from my connections that actually post educative or relevant information that relates to my interests.

According to a survey by “We Are Social”, 63% of the global population are not active on social media. There are prominent people who do not use it. This does not affect their lives in any way and they are arguably happier than most of us. Most of the celebrities, public figures do not directly handle their accounts. They hire social media handlers. So if you can afford to, hire a social media handler.

A wise man was asked; “Why are social media platforms free?” He answered; “If you are not paying for a product, then be rest assured that you are the product.”

By Yusuf Abba-Kyari

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Opinion

The Cobra-Effect of Achaba Ban In Bauchi State By Adamu Bello

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The Cobra Effect is a term in Economics. It refers to a situation when an attempted solution to a problem makes the problem worse.

The decision to ban Achaba by Bauchi state government in an attempt to improve the security of lives and properties was well-intentioned. As Governor Bala fears, the proliferation of Yan-Achaba who are banned from other states into Bauchi State is a very big threat to our security, hence, the need for governments’ decisive action. No sane government will allow an open security threat to emanate and escalate without taking necessary measures. However, certain unintended consequences that may lead to making the problem worst must be considered before rushing into action to avoid falling into the ditch of Cobra-Effect.

The term Cobra-Effect was coined based on an incident in old colonial India. By some reasons, there were too many venomous cobra snakes in Delhi. People were dying due to snake-bites and it became scary for almost everyone to step out of their houses. The government of the day had to get into action to stop this menace and it offered a silver coin for every dead cobra. The results were great, a large number of snakes were killed for the reward.

Eventually, however, it led to some serious unwanted consequences. After a short-term decrease in cobra population, it started going up again. This was because few people began to breed cobras for the income. When the news reached the government, the reward program was scrapped, causing the cobra breeders to set the now-worthless snakes free. As a result, the cobra population further increased. The solution for the problem made the situation even worse.

This is exactly what would happen to Bauchi State if the government sticks to its decision on Achaba ban. The Achaba will eventually disappear, but the security situation would be worse in the near future, because most of the Yan-Achaba are youths with no other means to make ends meet than Achaba. They have no certificates for white-collar-job, no capital for investment and no skill for craftsmanship. Taking Achaba away from them makes them completely hopeless and idle. What do they say about idle mine? Many of them will see no option than to join criminal rackets such as stealing, burglary, banditry, kidnapping, fraud, terrorism, kidnapping, and thuggery, etc.

Many businesses such as vulcanizers, mechanics, engine oil vendors, motorcycle and spare-parts suppliers tend to suffer huge loss. When Yan-Achaba lose their jobs, the already skyrocketed unemployment in the state would increase geometrically. The ugly labor market would get fatter and uglier, and the dependency ratio on the inconsistent salary would also multiply, hence, shooting the state’s poverty rate up. This depicts the potential insecurity the state is heading into.

There are also serious unwanted consequences of Achaba ban to the governor politically. The ban is tantamount to hatching thousands of enemies amongst citizens comprising Yan-Achaba and their sympathizers. Especially with the way police officers are maltreating and extorting Yan-achaba financially under his watch. It is a sophisticated political weapon for the oppositions to use against the governor and his political party. Pundits in the state view the decision as an anti-masses and widely unpopular policy. Many are saying government should not block peoples’ source of income without providing alternative.

Talking about alternative, Bauchi state governor promised to provide 500 Keke Napep (tricycles) for Yan-Achaba as substitute to their motorcycles, meanwhile only three-fifty keke Napep are provided, whereas there are more than five thousand Yan-Achaba in the state. This shows that Bauchi state has no resources or the governor has no political-will to provide substitute for even the registered Yan-Achaba talk less of those without register.

I recommend the reversal of this unpopular decision of total ban on Achaba across Bauchi state, because the Cobra-Effect would be devastating. His Excellency should put emphasis on compulsory registration and consistent tax payment by Yan-Achaba. This would secure the state from unwanted proliferation and would create additional income for the state and at the same time keep thousands of youths occupied.

The ban should be successive, starting from the state capital with the provision of enough substitute tricycles at an affordable soft loan. After successful abolishing of the practice in the capital, the ban could then be extended to the remaining parts of the state using similar substitution procedures to avoid unwanted consequences.

This may save Bauchi state from the mysterious Cobra-Effect of Achaba ban.

By Adamu Bello Mai-bödi
Wrote from Gidado Bombiyo residence
K/kaji Azare.

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