Lai Mohammed, the minister of information, wants the media and public commentators to be restrained in the way they are covering the fallout of the massacre of citizens by herdsmen.
In a statement which the minister released on Saturday, he said that unrestrained coverage of the matter could “further inflame passion and worsen the situation.”
“Lest we are misunderstood, we are neither saying the media should not cover the crisis nor asking public commentators to desist from commenting on it. All we are saying is that both must be circumspect.
“The current poisoned atmosphere of incendiary comments, unrestrained use of pictures and footages that offend human sensibilities as well as fingerpointing can only exacerbate the situation and complicate ongoing efforts to end the crisis,” he said.
Why it matters
Lai Mohammed’s statement is an attempt to shift responsibility to the media for reporting a situation which worsens daily due to the inaction of the government.
– The FG continues to be slack in its interpretation of the matter. For instance, Mohammed’s statement described the situation as “farmers-herdsmen clashes”. In reality, the incidents this year have not been clashes but attacks by herdsmen on unarmed civilians, murdering more than 200 so far.
– Yesterday, as the people of Benue mourned their dead, there was no single representative of the FG in attendance, not even the minister representing the state in the cabinet, Audu Ogbeh.
– The assurance by the government that it is investigating the matter to prevent a recurrence is the same assurance it’s been giving since it assumed power without any visible effort to resolve the issues.
According to Lai Mohammed, “the federal Government has also mapped out short and long-term solutions to the incessant clashes between farmers and herders, including a planned conference of stakeholders, and assured of the government’s strong determination to find a lasting solution to the farmers/herders’ clashes.”
The Buhari administration has been talking of organising a conference on this issue since 2016 to no avail. The government has also said since 2015 that it intended to propose a solution to state governors that would put an end to the problems. Till date, the details of such a proposal has not been made public.
It’s all these inactions that are worsening the situation and those are the topics Nigerians have been discussing in the media. Lai Mohammed is worried about the wrong things – the media conversation is not the problem; government’s inaction since 2015 is exactly the problem.