Monday, October 15, 2007

Between Dr. Abati, CNN, Nigerians & Nigeria

Between Dr. Abati, CNN, Nigerians & Nigeria

By Paul Adujie
Monday, 19 February 2007
Between Dr. Abati, CNN, Nigerians & Nigeria

By Paul I. Adujie New York , United States

I read Dr. Reuben Abati’s article, Between CNN & Nigeria; I was deeply disturbed by it. Dr. Abati is a journalist with legal education as well. He is therefore as informed as any journalist anywhere gets! I consider Dr. Abati an intellectual’s intellectual, he writes concisely and in precise manner. In writing Between CNN and Nigeria , he misapplied his skills, his education, his talents and his advocacy skills and worse he did all these in support of CNN, a media organization that has created a cottage industry excoriating Nigeria !

Is Dr. Abati seeking some sorts of award from the Americans, a Pulitzer perhaps? Does Nigeria ’s national interests and national security considerations matter to Dr. Abati and some other Nigerians? Abati denigrated Nigeria with his article and particular choice of words such as, blackmail and intimidation, to describe our government reactions to CNN repeated and unrelenting attacks against Nigerians and Nigeria.

The Niger Delta is in Nigeria, members of MEND are Nigerians, why did it take Jeff Koinage to score the journalist coup de grace and scoop? While Dr. Reuben Abati, specializes in fixations on President Obasanjo and what he may have for breakfast tomorrow? Does Nigeria ’s national interests and national security considerations matter to Dr. Abati and some other Nigerians? Why does CNN with unfettered access in Nigeria ?

When are Nigerian journalists, especially at The Guardian, when are they going to do a journalistic scoop on Osama Bin Ladin or Al Queida in Afghanistan or the insurgents in Iraq so that Nigerian journalists could put their American journalists to shame? Would the American military permit Dr. Abati and Nigerian journalists to indulge themselves in pursuit of "truth"? American and European journalists are embedded, have to be embedded! Free press and all! The American establishment, the American military industrial complex would tell you about American national security considerations!

Niger Delta and MEND are in Nigeria

Why does it take CNN, National Geographic, Vogue Magazine to present the issues in Niger Delta to the world as have been the case recently? The Niger Delta and MEND are local challenges with global impact, the owners of The Guardian in Nigeria, an outfit for which Dr. Reuben Abati works, are Nigerians from the Niger Delta, why is the world not learning about Niger Delta and MEND from Nigerian journalists of Abati’s caliber? This is certainly not because of the current government in Nigeria, which is every lazy person’s excuse for everything these days! Why do I, as a Nigerian living abroad, and for that matter, why do Nigerians in Nigeriaalways have to rely on foreign media for detail coverage on matters Nigerian and African? BBC, VOA, CNN. Why does the world have to rely on Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times to learn about the genocidal horrors and persisting barbarities in Darfur Sudan? When in fact, Darfur Sudanis closer to Nigeriathan New York, United States? Where is Dr. Abati’s reporting from Darfuror Iraqor even Chadand Niger?

In recent times, I have read from the pages of The New York Times that the activities of the Arab militias known as Janjaweed(s) has spread to Nigeria’s neighboring countries of Niger and Chad, why is Dr. Abati not on the ground before The New York Times? Are Nigerian journalists no longer as good as their American and European counterparts? Even as we focus on the quality of Nigerian or African governments, it is equally important that we examine the quality of our Nigerian nay, African journalists and journalism. There was a British journalist once, Alistar Cooke, he wrote and reported to Englandfrom Americafor the best part of a hundred years while based on the American soil. And now, The New York Times has Alan Cowell, also British, he writes from Englandfor this American newspaper. His reporting is not focused on what Prime Minister Tony Blair does while in Americaor how Tony Blair is best friend or lapdog to President Bush and Bush’s foreign policy toward the Middle Eastand Iraqin particular. Now, compare that to Mr. Laolu Akande’s reporting about President Obasanjo and his government from Mr. Akande’s perspective in New York

In the pages of The Guardian and you will notice a difference in journalistic attitudes, between Nigerian journalists, and their American and European counterparts! Mr. Akande’s latest article is titled: “How Obasanjo is losing respect abroad” This represents, quite possibly, Mr. Akande perception of fair and balanced journalistic reporting? There seem to be a pattern, at least an emerging pattern. It is as if Nigerian journalists at The Guardian (at least Abati and Akande) are of the belief that there is a pecking order, by way of a New World Order, in which existence by strata of superiority, Nigeriaought to bow to the Americaand American institutions? After all, Americais strong economically and militarily. And as such, you would frequently read articles written by Mr. Akande in The Guardian in which he announces American government Warnings to Nigeria(Never recommendations or Suggestions) but always Warnings or Demands, always! You would think that Nigeriais a colonial province, district or protectorate of America. As some in Nigerian press often report as if unthinkingly, what Americawants of Nigeria. The Demands by Americaand or Warnings to Nigeriaby America! Wow!

America is comprised of 50 federating states, the American federal government rarely engages in warning its states and other political subdivisions. But frequently, you would find Nigerian journalists reporting that the American federal government has warned President Obasanjo and Nigeria about one thing or another! What nerve, that educated Nigerians, journalists no less, would find such words as appropriate to refer to any, and I mean, any President of Nigeria? Or such references as warnings or command-demand of Nigeria, a republic, independent, sovereign and with its territorial integrity still intact. It would seem that Iraqis have more respect of an occupied Iraq , than Nigerians have for an unoccupied nation of Nigeria ! Bush does not command-demand-warn Iraqi leaders!

Between CNN and Nigeria written by Dr. Abati has been hotly debated on and there, there have been a paragraph of that article that is often quoted or excerpted by most Nigerians responding to Dr. Abati’s opinion and it is, where he intoned that the folks at CNN would be having a field day in hilarities, as they will be laughing Nigeria and especially the current political leaders scornfully for canceling the contract with CNN to air the "Heart of Africa” Project concerning Nigeria’s international image. First of all, I did not know that Dr. Abati is a mind-reader and that he engages in clairvoyance! I do not understand how he could arrive at such conclusion about CNN reaction in scornful laughter? What manner of idle conjectures by Dr. Abati?

Why does Dr. Abati sound as if in awe of CNN and America? Secondly, Nigeria paid for a service, and the essence and core of that service entails portrayals of Nigeria in the best lights. CNN accepted that deal and payments to carry such contract into effect. The same CNN, in the past year and more importantly, after signing the contract with Nigeria which required CNN to portray Nigeria in best lights, CNN nevertheless proceeded to portray Nigeria in the worst of lights! CNN took actions that are inconsistent with and made nonsense of its subsisting obligations to and with Nigeria and Nigeria was supposed to bury her head in shame and, throw hands in the air helplessly, and continue to pay CNN, at least going by Dr. Abati’s logic? How can that make any sense to any reasonable person? How could that possibly make sense to any Nigerian at home or abroad? How could that make any sense to a journalist cum lawyer of Dr. Abati’s stature? It sure does not make any sense to me!

The policy and strategy of the current federal government of Nigeria appears to be, to avoid full-frontal military assault on MEND and other militants in the Niger Delta. This is informed by the fact that negotiations and political solutions are infinitely better than military solutions. Jeff Koinage of CNN and by extension, Dr. Abati of The Guardian Newspapers, has taken this attitude on the part of our government, to treat MEND and other militants, rather gingerly to avoid needless bloodshed to mean weakness and a lack of resolve? After all, members of MEND and other militants are our people, Nigerians! Our government did not want to escalate or exacerbate the challenges on the ground, by focusing on use of military force. That well informed avoidance of bloodshed, is now taken by Abati and Koinage, as fear on the part of Nigeria ’s military? Our military that has been to the toughest of peace-keeping missions in Burma, Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan just to name a few, our military could not go where a braided-hair city boy Koinage could go? Haba!

Abati wrote as if whatever CNN says wants are sacrosanct! Hear Abati, “What the Federal Government has done is to question the integrity of the CNN and that of its reports, reporters and editors. It has taken the additional step of blackmailing CNN by asking state governments in Nigeria to withdraw adverts from the station” Dr. Abati felt obligated to describe the actions of our federal government as blackmail! Dr. Abati sounded as if he is a mouthpiece and megaphone for CNN and MEND! Hear him again, “Those hood-wearing boys on CNN mean business. It is the Nigerian government that is joking with danger. The CNN report conveyed an impression of the danger that Nigeria is joking with, and if the truth must be told, Koinange and his crew deserve praise for courage in the face of danger”

Why is Dr. Abati giddily ridiculing Nigerians and Nigeria on behalf of CNN?

Someone should inform Abati that it is not only Nigeria ’s federal government that is offended by CNN’s unfair, unethical, unbalanced and offensive attacks against Nigerians and Nigeria . Millions of Nigerians are offended and I am one of them!

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