Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s information minister, has deflected blame for the poor image the country endures internationally on activities of the media.
The minister asserted “whatever image problem Nigeria is suffering from today is mostly due to the unflattering portrayal of the country by the country’s media”.
“If one picks up most newspapers, watches most television stations or listens to most radio stations in Nigeria today, he or she will be right to think Nigeria is a country at war,” Mr Mohammed said at the headquarters of the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari has often drawn criticism for demarketing the country and its people before international media.
In 2018, Mr Buhari, during an appearance with world leaders at a Commonwealth Business Forum in London, said the majority of Nigerian youth are lazy and uneducated.
In a recent interview with local broadcaster Arise News TV, Mr Buhari doubled down on his belief that Nigerians are to be blamed for the country’s economic woes.
He told Arise interviewers that the youths should ‘behave themselves’ if they wanted jobs, as their criticism of his regime scares investors away from the country. He cited the #EndSARS protests which rocked the country in October 2020 as one of those activities that cast his regime in bad light.
In making the assertion, the president took no cognisance of his regime’s low human rights ratings and incoherent economic policy.
Mr Mohammed said the media only gave perfunctory attention to the successes of the military in quelling separatist agitations in the South-East and South-West, and the current campaign against bandits in the North-West.
“Our security agencies have also successfully tackled the separatists in the South-East and South-West and the militants in the South-South.
“Unfortunately, these efforts have only been perfunctorily reflected in the reportage of the security challenges that we face.
“This is not only unfair, especially to those who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe, it is unpatriotic,’’ he said.
Many of the military campaigns against self-determination groups have, however, been criticised by local and international rights bodies for blatant abuses.
Mr Mohammed emphasised that the media must be fair in its reportage.
“We are not saying the media should not report on the security challenges we face.
“All we are saying is, be fair and report accurately the efforts being made by the state and federal governments to tackle the challenges,” he said.