Tinubu’s Needless Attack on the New York Times

Chido Nwangwu describes as unnecessary the recent attack by The Nigerian Presidency on The New York Times over its report on the telling effect of nation’s economy on the average Nigerian citizen.

A few days ago in mid-June 2024, Nigeria’s presidency unleashed an attack on The New York Times, regarding its piece on the crushing condition of Nigeria’s political economy. It exposed, very much, the devastating consequences of the failures of the incumbent President Bola Tinubu to move Nigeria forward. 

The influential newspaper’s report of June 11, 2024, captioned “Nigeria Confronts Its Worst Economic Crisis in a Generation”, highlighted some of the problems facing the country. 

The report stated what every Nigerian has been witnessing and suffering almost every day, namely that:  “Nigeria is facing its worst economic crisis in decades, with skyrocketing inflation, a national currency in free-fall and millions of people struggling to buy food. Only two years ago Africa’s biggest economy, Nigeria is projected to drop to fourth place this year….. The pain is widespread. Unions strike to protest salaries of around $20 a month. People die in stampedes, desperate for free sacks of rice. Hospitals are overrun with women wracked by spasms from calcium deficiencies.”

It’s reported/written by Ruth Maclean (the West African Biureau Chief for the Times) and freelance Ismail Auwal; the photographs by Taiwo Aina. 

The task to attack uncontested facts and accurate descriptions of hunger and poverty and violence and insecurities across Nigeria was taken by Special Adviser to President Tinubu on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga. He characterized the accurate report as “jaundiced” and claimed that it “reflected the typical predetermined, reductionist, derogatory, and denigrating way foreign media establishments reported African countries for several decades…. Most significant about the report was that it painted the dire experiences of some Nigerians amid the inflationary spiral of the last year and blamed it all on the policies of the new administration. The report, based on several interviews, is at best jaundiced, all gloom and doom, as it never mentioned the positive aspects in the same economy….” 

He argued that “Nigeria is not the only country in the world facing a rising cost of living crisis. The USA, too, is contending with a similar crisis, with families finding it hard to make ends meet….” 

But The New York Times factually reported that: “A nation of entrepreneurs, Nigeria’s more than 200 million citizens are skilled at managing in tough circumstances, without the services states usually provide. They generate their own electricity and source their own water. They take up arms and defend their communities when the armed forces cannot. They negotiate with kidnappers when family members are abducted. But right now, their resourcefulness is being stretched to the limit.”

Onanuga’s main point is that “President Tinubu did not create the economic problems Nigeria faces today. He inherited them.”

The truth is that Nigerians and their friends are tired of that worn and repeated argument! 

Essentially, the Tinubu Presidency has since taken a position which the Yoruba-speaking folks generally refer to as ‘bolekaja.’ Roughly translated, it means “come down, let’s fight.” 

Nigerians have been seeking and asking for the basic infrastructural needs of any society/country/community. 

Or is that to much to expect, these days? 

• Dr. Nwangwu is Founder of the first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper on the internet, USAfricaonline.com, and established USAfrica in 1992 in Houston.  

Follow him on Twitter @Chido247

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