Official misrepresentation of Nigeria
Nigeria and most of the third world countries are not properly represented in global news media dominated by Western organisations. But what is the first step of eliminating this imbalance? The first step is for the Nigerian Government to provide all the necessary information and facts about Nigeria. Hence since independence the Ministry of Information has always existed at various levels of government. The various tiers of government also established radio, television and newspapers, during the First Republic and thereafter. The Federal Government has since divested from newspapers but maintained radio and television because they are the easiest means of propaganda. However, Nigeria’s government agencies are not performing their basic duties of even providing information on Nigeria what more of the highly sophisticated good image projection responsibility. In fact, they are aggressive towards patriotic citizens who want good image for Nigeria. The World has progressed with several developments in the media. It has been revolutionised by the Internet, which provides the platform for social interactions. This is now known as the social media. In closed societies, which are not democratic or where State officials are lazy like some of Nigeria’s foreign missions the State continues to blame the social media for disseminating “fake news” and “corrupting” the minds of the innocent citizens. This is largely because they lack any ideas of how to utilise this platform for the good of their society but only for political campaign to aggrandise power since it is an efficient means of political communication.
There is much criticism of the social media because of its perceived manipulation. The liberals on the other hand, consider it, as an opportunity for the voiceless. State agents, especially in Nigeria also use it to boost the images of their principals and generate public sympathy, but not to promote their country and its good image. Nigerian State officials always complain of bad press, especially from the Western media. But what has been the contribution of State officials and ordinary citizens? It is the responsibility of State officials to provide accurate information about Nigeria. But has this been the case? In a liberalised world, information is increasingly becoming accessible and civilised societies define themselves, they do not wait for others using Wikipedia to define them. Some of Nigeria’s missions’ websites direct readers to Wikipedia for more information. This is unfortunate and self-indictment. By doing this, the Nigerian State accepts any trash written in Wikipedia as its official narrative. What is the function of the Federal Ministry of Information? Where are all the official twitter handles that have not been able to notice this official misrepresentation of Nigeria by those who are paid to serve the country?
The official media personnel are only after those who criticise their principals and are not interested in the potential soft power of their country. There are several opportunities in the social media not lazily directing people to Wikipedia. One of the major reasons for establishing diplomatic mission is to disseminate correct information. It is an abomination for foreign missions to disseminate wrong information about their country. Many of Nigeria’s Foreign Missions or Embassies have little or no information about Nigeria. Some of the most important missions post false information. This is inexcusable because some people are employed to discharge this responsibility, they are paid salaries and they enjoy privileges posing as diplomats.
Even ordinary citizens should not peddle wrong information about their country that is lack of patriotism. Nigerian State officials misuse its official channels, largely because of the incompetent people who handle them. Many official websites are out of date and some, for example, those of key foreign missions even contain false information and misrepresentation of Nigeria. Two examples will be used to illustrate this bizarre negligence, disgraceful portrayal of incompetence and unpatriotic disposition. The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the USA on July 6, 2020 does not have the list of names of Nigeria’s current Federal Executive Council (see http://www.nigeriaembassyusa.org/index.php?page=federal-executive-council). President Muhammadu Buhari is over a year in his second tenure so why should the Embassy continue to post names of Ministers of the first tenure? Someone is certainly not doing his or her work.
The Nigeria High Commission in London is still posting the Seven Point Agenda of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua 10 years after his demise. (see http://www.nigeriahc.org.uk/about-nigeria). The list of Honourable Ministers was that of 2011 (on July 6, 2020 see http://www.nigeriahc.org.uk/government-politics). Does it mean the High Commission cannot obtain the updated list of Honourable Ministers in 2020? So, they will just post list of Honourable Ministers of another administration. This is a disgrace. The official posting of this embassy’s website does not even recognise President Muhammadu Buhari. The last sentence of the section on History and People of Nigeria is “President Yar’Adua has committed (sic) himself to electoral reforms and has introduced a Seven-point Agenda for the transformation of Nigeria into the league of the world top twenty economies by the year 2020” (see http://www.nigeriahc.org.uk/history-people). No mention of his successors when it was accessed on July 6, 2020. It is unfortunate that for the period of three years the High Commission did not post the National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017-2020 widely circulated by the Buhari Administration’s Ministry of Budget and National Planning. But on the other hand, it is still promoting the stale Seven-point Agenda of President Umar Yar’Adua. Efficient foreign mission would have even posted the recent Economic Sustainability Plan of the Buhari Administration. London is Nigeria’s number one mission and it is the most visited by Nigerian State officials yet the mission cannot simply post the most important economic documents of the Administration but that of another Administration that was terminated a decade ago. What do the officials of this mission mean? Perhaps, they believe that the Federal Government is so negligent not bother about their negligence this is because since 2017 when the Economic Recovery Programme was unveiled nobody has taken any action. In other countries almanacs, yearbooks and blue books by private organisations are supported by both public and private organisations. It is during the course of our research for the publication of NIGERIA YEAR BOOK AND WHO IS WHO, Nigeria’s most comprehensive compendium with little or no support from the State that we came across this gross misrepresentation. It is a patriotic duty to properly represent Nigeria that has been misrepresented by some of its most important public institutions.
Ado-Kurawa is Editor, Nigeria Year Book and Who Is Who
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