By Olawale Olaleye
Of all CNN reporters, its chief international correspondent and anchor of Amanpour, a nightly foreign affairs program on CNN International, Christiane Amanpour, probably has about the most impressive following amongst the Nigerian people. The reason is simple: Nigeria is a politically inclined society and often times, Amanpour’s choice topic arouses the interests of its people and this has kept them glued to Amanpour’s nightly show with as much excitement.
A fortnight ago, Amanpour featured President Goodluck Jonathan on her show in an interview that lasted about seven minutes. Jonathan, at the time, was in Davos, Switzerland, for a World Economic Forum (WEF). It was in the course of the interview that the issue of power came up in addition to other topical issues thrown up by Amanpour.
Jonathan honestly responded to the issue of power as having improved from what it used to be. He was confident enough and dared Amanpour to check with an average Nigerian on the streets of Lagos, for instance.
Aside the President’s poor carriage and loss of composure which almost marred the interview, he did not say anything out of place as far as the issue of power was concerned. And truly, power has relatively improved in many parts of the country, especially Lagos, except for the cynical. At least, not what it used to be!
But immediately she was done with the Jonathan interview, Amanpour ran an old documentary on Lagos, purportedly updating her viewers on the state of the state. It was not her first, as such, not many bothered about what more damning framing she had on the state and by extension, Nigeria. If that was the Lagos Amanpour recently captured, it is certainly not the Lagos from where this article emanated.
But an unsatisfied Amanpour who had probably expected to hear something more denigrating about Nigeria from the President has continued to see Nigeria as some kind of snafu comics. This was evident on Monday night when she likened a 35-minute blackout at the Super Bowl during a game in New Orleans to a common trait in Nigeria. Quite demeaning a comparison!
The game between Baltimore Ravens and 49ers at the Super Bowl on Sunday- the third quarter final- was stopped midway when the Superdome lost power for about 35 minutes. Ironically, it turned out the most watched game in the US with an estimated 108,400,000 viewers.
But when Amanpour was to report it, she found Nigeria as a perfect example to scorn, saying while Americans waited for the light to come on, “Nigerians just chuckled,” adding: “They know all too well the problem of power outages: Nigeria has been plagued by rolling blackouts that last hours, sometimes even days.”
She went on to present several condescending tweets, allegedly from Nigerians and later showed clips of some “foreign Nigerians” who, according to Amanpour’s report, dismissed Jonathan’s assertion about stable power.
Amanpour obviously had fun as she laughed away the Nigerian situation on her show as if she was working on a special project about the country. Unfortunately, her recent works on Nigeria have shown clear disdain, hate and conscious attempt at trampling on whatever success Nigeria may boast at this time.
Smartly, she goes about her duty, feigning a fringe of diligence and thorough effort; it is clear to the discerning that she is not acting in vacuum- Amanpour has a destination and all she is doing is go through it in such a manner that would leave no trace or anyone in doubt as to her intent.
It may not be clear yet what Amanpour’s ultimate drive is; certainly, nothing from her can be further damaging. If this is her best on Nigeria, then, the question is: where is developmental journalism/reporting?
With a career that is supposedly stellar and spans many years in journalism, it is a challenge to Amanpour to flag any positive report on Nigeria if indeed she nurses no ulterior intention in her reporting. It is basically western journalism but who cares, really?
Journalism as every reporter knows it does not entertain mischief as Amanpour has slanted her brand of reporting. She does not have to resort to outright ridicule of a sovereign nation to churn out a fascinating report or human interest story. Nigeria is not a circus neither is her president a clown that should interest Amanpour's select audience so much that she wants to make them a permanent feature on her programme.
It will be sheer naivety on Amanpour’s part to think she'd hide under the cover of "good reporting" to malign Nigeria and her people, believing no one could discern the twisted undertone.
Amanpour can catch her fun for all she likes, Nigeria is certainly not what she thinks it is and it is not in Amanpour's place to redefine the people and their government. Nigeria’s shortcoming notwithstanding, it remains one uncommon country with people spread in virtually every part of the world- doing extremely well in different human endeavour. Yet, that is one thing Amanpour's most celebrated nations can only crave but not have.