Reflecting on how the CNN coverage of the 2016 US presidential elections had woefully projected Hillary Clinton as the winner; I was forced to tread with caution, what the network’s speculations and analysis was, in the just concluded US presidential elections. It wa so palpable that their analysts and news anchors were quite apprehensive and skeptical about their positions, with Joe Biden as a projected clear winner. The declaration of the results had ‘sleepy Joe’ bracing up to the marathon election, in the last lap of the race to the White House, that was badly in need of a ‘re-awakening’.
At some point i was about genuflecting for the political machinations of Donald Trump, as he proved that he wasn’t going to be ‘Trumped’ easily by Joe Biden as widely speculated; especially by CNN and co. Just so we are clear, I rooted for Hillary then, and also for Joe Biden recently. Suffice it to say that if you are a supporter of the democratic party, CNN is the perfect coven of anti-republican or anti-Trump propagandists. In 2016, I was hopeful of the idea of the first female American President, after the audacious years of the first African-American US president. In 2020, by no particular fault of CNN, Trump made it difficult for me to support him, by what can be summarised as his very ‘unpresidential’ conduct in office – putting it lightly and decorously.
Two years into the Trump administration, I was put off by CNN as they clobbered him every day, and every hour; to a point where I felt pity for him and thought it a bit too partisan, and quite underwhelming. I got their point and enough of it, and I went off their air/ radar for a good one year or so. I only came back to the vibrant and positve democratic party nomination/ primaries debates’ which was worth the time. And then ofcourse intermittently, for their coverage of the covid19 crises that the US was plunged into, and continues to struggle with, as a second wave is raging even far worse than the first.
I must confess that I was at crossroads with who I wanted as the winner of the elections, as I analysed what the two different outcomes would portend for Nigeria and its immediate future. The Trump administration’s foreign policy has had a thrust that has whittled down American intervention and American military presence in foreign countries; which is such a sweet omen for our own country. The Obama led democratic party’s governance policies had escalated America’s military interventions globally, and so by extension – a Biden administration or a Hillary administration would more than likely go the same route.
The PMB government in 2015, was supported by the Obama administration but their working relationship was shortlived as the US elections held in 2016. So ofcourse it was easy for anti-PMB elements in the country to support Trump in 2016, and also for the 2020 elections. A huge parade was held in Nigeria in support of Trump, not to mention the very many prayers and other efforts to seek God’s intervention for him. This should ordinarily mean that a Trump government going forward, would be more hostile to a PMB government, than a Biden administration; all things being equal. Hillary tweeted a few words of caution during the lekki ‘massacre’/ killing/ event. From then on she maintained a distance. Joe Biden didn’t tweet but there was a statement from an official in his campaign office that also advised caution. So when PMB ‘subbed’ foreign allies, asking for proper investigation before passing judgement, we heard less from foreign countries. Anti PMB elements were sure of a Trump win and I guess pro PMB elements were hopeful of a Biden win.
When the very bullish CNN ran their story about the lekki incident, I felt my fears over the outcome of the US elections consume me. If it was going to be a one sided narrative which was pieced up by overzealous, unpatriotic, and fake news peddling online and offline hoodlums, then we are in for it. Ethiopia is on the brink now and more than 200,000 rufugees are on their way to Sudan, as violence and warfare brews, and threatens to burn the country. With our endsars ‘uprising’, we have witnessed how supposed civil disobedience can within minutes, metamorphose into an uncontrollable and destructive monster. Lives lost, properties both private and public burnt, infrastructure defaced, and an already ailing economy run comatose. This is not to mention a pandemic with a shark-smile gliding joyously. Over 250,000 lives and counting have been lost in the US, with a projected 471,000 should it persist. We are not only lucky, but hugely blessed to be safe from the jaws of this global evil. So we want to give our gratitude to God by burning down our house? For what? Some don’t believe in a deity, so what about logic? Does it make sense or meaning?
The endsars point has been driven beyond home. The excesses and the attendant violence have already reared their heads and we are all witnesses to what this entails and what its details are. The question is: do we want to keep driving on and wreck the car and the house? Really? Is that the youthful revolution talking, or is that the unpatriotic rotten scoundrel desire? Is it the new democratic norm or is it just 2020 and its vileness still raving on? A movement has leaders and followers; whether we like it or not and if the followers are hoodlums and jobless youths with bad upbringing, then surely the leaders should be patriotic in the very least. CNN is a business outfit and global businesses mostly have no scruples.
After their coverage of lekki, which they have by the way since degraded the size of the massacre as we have seen with other media, I saw a coverage of ‘traditional banking’ in Nigeria on the same CNN just last night. A panel of inquiry is sitting and victims and families of victims should be able to come forward so we can actually get to the bottom of this. Endsars is fading and lekki is the highly contentious and volatile matter as of today. We must unravel the ‘real truth’ of what happened that fateful night. A parent or a sibling losing his child or sister/ brother, cannot be afraid of coming forward after losing the most loved person in their lives. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind now, that the chaos of recent, is all about 2023. It is here before we know it so I say, all right thinking Nigerians should wait and strategize for what we all want eventually; especially all the agitators, gladiators and ‘generators’ of scenarios and events . We can choose to either count our blessings or count our losses. The choice is ours. If we come out strong, CNN will cover it, if we burn, CNN will cover the smoke rising above the ashes from afar.
–Tahir is Talban Bauchi