Opinion: Buhari’s Ban On AIT: A Draconian Action?

By Olalekan Waheed ADIGUN

The media has come under scrutiny once more. The most recent is the recent “ban” on the African Independent Television (AIT) a private television station, from covering the activities of Nigerian President-elect General Muhammadu Buhari. Ever since this was made public, our “experts” have begun analysing the issues.

Our question in this matter is: What is new(s) in Buhari’s action. Did Buhari ban the AIT? Did he say they should not operate anymore? Did he withdraw their licence? To all these questions the answer is NO. Buhari as a private citizen, being just a president-elect, has the right to his privacy as a private citizen at least till May 29.

Even if Buhari were THE substantive president, I dare ask, “What is wrong in such action?” To me, it is like me organising a party and I told you in specific terms that you are not invited, courtesy demands that an unwanted guest stay back rather than suffer the embarrassment of gate-crashing to an event you are sure to be embarrassed. This is the AIT’s case today!

I still dare to ask, did Buhari break any written law? I know of no law that is broken by “do not cover my event” order. Freedom of the press must be interpreted in the right contest. A lot of people tend to forget that President Barrack Obama “banned” at least two media stations from the White House during his administration. The pro-Republican Fox News and Boston Herald had their fair share of the White House blacklisting for their unprofessional reportage of political news. Many of those condemning Buhari now finds no fault in Obama’s .

This is specifically where AIT fits in. the media station’s role during the election can be classified as ignoble. They were more of a candidate even their principal. They sponsored hate campaigns against General Buhari including broad day lies. They even went as far as insulting Buhari’s family accusing him of been responsible for the death of his first daughter, Zulai who died of sickle cell anaemia about two years ago and his late wife. After doing all these, the media station’s owners didn’t even bother to even apologise for their below morally par role during the presidential campaign.

Some have opined, quite intelligently, that the General is on a mission of vengeance. They argue that he is out to take his pound of flesh on those who campaigned against him during the election. I fully agree that a leader must be in reconciliatory mood in peace time. But let us look at it this way. Dr. Reuben Abati, President Goodluck Jonathan’s Media assistant, has since apologised to the General for his abusive remarks on him during the election. The General is on record to have forgiven him even for his lousy statement in his article FOR THE ATTENTION OF GENERAL BUHARI publish in The Guardian in 2011 where he accused him of threatening to make Nigeria ungovernable for president Jonathan. Buhari sued Abati for libel after which President Jonathan prevailed on the General to settle the matter out of court in other not to embarrass the administration. On 12 June, 2012 The Guardian and Reuben Abati issued a public apology to the General. No one has heard any bitterness whatsoever from the General on the matter ever since!

We need to also add that one of those who personally insulted Buhari during the campaign is the Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Adewunmi. It is on record today that Buhari has forgotten about all pre-election issues and has become his chief campaigner for the African Development Bank (AfDB) presidency. What more can someone ask for. The two characters above have shown remorse and therefore told to go and sin no more. Has AIT ever shown or even apologised to the General for even insulting his family?

With impunity, the AIT flaunted all known rules in the books, instigating hate campaigns and speeches against him. The station stopped at nothing to discredit the General. For limited economic and political gains, professionalism, ethics, and national security were sold by the station at giveaway prices yet the regulation body the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) looked the other way. He who comes equity, remember, must come with clean hands. AIT did all these and they moved on as though nothing has happened. If this is what some of us call democracy, this must be Democracy-made-in-Nigeria. Apart from this, I know not what to call this!

For me since Obama broke no law in banning some media stations from the White House; since those criticising Buhari found nothing wrong in President Jonathan ordering the interception of newspapers for their reportage of the military’s fight against Boko Haram; if all these broke no written law, Buhari’s action “banning” AIT from his personal activities is within acceptable limits!

For those who are now crying wolf on the AIT’s ban calling the action draconian. I wish to ask where they when the AIT displayed a broad day madness. Like the Yorubas say when the fly was disturbing the madman’s wound, no one was concerned, but when the mad man began disturbing the fly, everyone became more concerned! When the station was busy demonstrating its madness, no one called them to order, in fact many applauded it. Now just a “don’t-cover-my-activities” order they say that is draconian!

If I were one of General Buhari’s media aides, I would have generally ignored AIT. The unnecessary “popularity” they now have is rather too cheap. It is never good to interfere in a dying man willing to commit sucide.

This is my opinion.

Olalekan Waheed ADIGUN

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