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
PRP Board of Trustees Expresses Confidence In Falalu Bello-Led Exco
The Board of Trustees (BOT) of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) has passed a vote of confidence on the party’s National Executives led by Alhaji Falalu Bello, OFR.
The members of the board made this known in a communiqué issued at the end of their meeting in Abuja on Thursday.
The communiqué, which had the signatures of former Minister of Commerce, Engr. Mustapha Bello, Dr. Segun Falope, Engr. Chris Onyeodizuchu, Alhaji Aji Mala, among others, revealed that the meeting was specifically summoned to consider urgent current developments within the party.
Part of the communiqué further reads: “After exhaustive, frank and fruitful deliberations on all the issues tabled before the meeting, the members of the BOT have resolved as follows:
“To express and convey the PRP BOT’s absolute confidence in, and satisfaction with, the leadership of the Party’s National Executive Committee [NEC] under the Chairmanship of Alh. Falalu Bello and with its strenuous and focused efforts at repositioning the PRP for greater relevance and impact in the Nigerian political space.
“To unreservedly endorse the Programmes of Action approved and rolled out by both the National Executive Committee [NEC] and National Working Committee [NWC] of the PRP covering the period August 2020 August 2021 which will culminate with the holding of the Party’s National Convention.
“To condemn in clear and unmistaken terms attempts by a few misguided and errant elements within the Party to create dissent, misunderstandings and factions within the PRP, noting in particular that this is contrary to the letter and spirit of the Party’s extant constitutional provisions and Code of Conduct for members which explicitly frown at all anti-Party activities and conduct likely to embarrass the Party or bring the Party into hatred, contempt, ridicule or disrepute.”
FGN vs Children of the common man, not ASUU By Usman Suleiman Sarki
It has been almost 8 months that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is on strike due to the failure of the Federal Government to fulfil the 2009 ASUU-FGN agreements which are necessary for the sustenance of university system and its affordability to children of the common man and up till this time, government have not shown any commitment to end the ongoing strike by university lecturers.
The question is what is the position of government on the future of Nigerian university students? What kind of future is the government planning for the upcoming generation? A lot of people including the students are bitterly criticizing ASUU for the unending strike without making an objective investigation of the reasons behind the strike so as to balance their thoughts and make appropriate judgement over the issue. It is well known that strike is the only language that Nigerian Government understand but many people will not understand either because of the little knowledge on why university lecturers are on strike or because of their personal or political reasons. It is good to remember that no reasonable government want its workers to go on strike because it weakens the legitimacy of the government and tarnish its image in the eyes of responsible people in and outside the country. However, the side of the ineffectiveness of the strike as lamented by some people lies in the students and the general public because they do not support ASUU like the way they support the compromised NLC. Many people are thinking that ASUU always go on strike for the selfish interest of its members forgetting the fact that ASUU is not demanding for anything outside its legitimate rights and that of the students because one of the cardinal issue surrounding ASUU’s problem with the FGN is Revitalization of the universities without which the universities can no longer be sustained but unfortunately both the students and the general public blindly ignore that.
I am afraid of what will happen when ASUU change its current stand and decide to fight for its own entitlement and do away with Revitalization and university autonomy. It will get to a stage where students will be made to pay tuition fee and that will stop the children of the common man from studying in the university and this is the wish of many among those in power because they want their children who study abroad to succeed them and continue to exploit the masses.
On this note, I urge the Nigerian University students and the general public to recast their thoughts and take appropriate stand on the issue. I pray that the stakeholders involved in handling this issue will take the necessary measures in resolving this lingering issue in the best interest of the Staff and Students of Nigerian Universities in particular and the educational system in general.
Usman Suleiman Sarki,
Department of Sociology, Federal University Dutse.
Independence: After the celebration, some sober reflections by Aliyu Nuhu
Independence is good when the people are not emasculated by poverty, inequality, insecurity, broken infrastructures and despair.
I know this post will not go down well with some people, but the truth is the British left too early for us to learn anything that would prepare us for the life ahead.
I look at countries that stayed long under colonial rules like India, South Africa, Hong Kong, Macau, Namibia, etc and wonder how they are doing so well.
I thought that we would probably be doing better if the British had remained as our leaders to this day.
I know for a fact that colonialism does not operate under insecurity. The British ran their colonies with law and order par excellence. Today, Nigeria is anything but secured. It is suicidal to travel in the day along Kaduna-Abuja or Birnin Gwari road. Most people in Zamfara and Katsina have become refugees due to activities of bandits. People pass through Jos at personal risk. In Kaduna, kidnappers pick their victims on the streets.
I know colonialism did not allow corruption to fester. For every project budgeted, there must be something to show for the money. In our today Nigeria, most projects that started in 1983 are still going on with money stolen year in and year out. Over 2 trillion dollars had been stolen by our leaders. No colonial master was ever accused of stealing billions of pounds.
Colonialism did not operate with poor infrastructure. It is the pillar that was used by colonial masters to move cash crops from cities to coast for export to the home country. We had few roads that time, but reasonably good. Look at the infrastructures colonialism left behind in Hong Kong and South Africa and you will understand what I mean.
Colonialism might not have favoured education but l look at our leaders of the past that were products of colonial education and wonder what system of education we are operating today with our leaders struggling to read prepared speeches. No Nigerian leader today has the diction of Tafawa Balewa or Nnamdi Azikiwe.
I also know colonialism does not encourage waste, vanity and profligacy. The colonial masters moved in convoy of three vehicles and dressed mostly in simple suits and military fatigue. They did not buy planes and helicopters to intimidate us. Today our leaders dress like emperors. A governor’s convoy will shame that of the Queen. The tragedy is we don’t even build (manufacture) cars, not even tire!
I can go on and mention more examples.
The bitter truth is if the British had remained with us we would have been better than our present economic and social situation.They would have trained our leaders to become better managers of resources.
Nigeria had no oil when the colonial masters built all our seaports and vast network of rail lines and roads that we find impossible to maintain not to talk of building new ones.
By Aliyu Nuhu