Federal government has taken a swipe at a London-based news magazine, The Economist, over its continuous stereotypical story on Nigeria.
This is even as the government also charged the Nigerian press on its watchdog role assigned to it by the framers of our constitution and not be an echo chamber of the foreign media.
Addressing a press briefing in Abuja yesterday, the minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed decried the idea of the Nigerian media, especially the traditional media, regurgitating anything and everything published or reported by foreign counterparts.
The minister noted that Economist Group, of which The Economist magazine is an integral part, has been wrong about Nigeria before, just as it is wrong about Nigeria this time around in its article crafted to denigrate, demonise and destabilise the country.
Mohammed said it is totally antithetical to its reputation of independence and vibrancy.
The minister noted that the Nigerian media does itself a great disservice by turning itself into an echo chamber of the foreign media.
Mohammed recalled that shortly before the 2019 general elections, The Economist Intelligence Unit, also from the stable of The Economist Group, predicted that the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, would win the election.
The minister said The Economist was wrong, saying that President Muhammadu Buhari won re-election by over three million votes. He stressed that The Economist and other arms of the group are not infallible.
He said, “When The Economist reported its patently-wrong and badly-researched story, it was immediately amplified by the local media, without even interrogating its content? This is totally unconscionable! For example, The Economist reported that the Jihadist threat in the North-east has ‘metastasized’, and everyone knows that this is totally inaccurate.
“Prior to the time it was dislodged, which was before Dec. 2015 when I led a team of local and international journalists to Bama in Borno State, Boko Haram established the headquarters of its so-called Caliphate in that town (Bama), where it hoisted its flag, collected taxes as well as installed and removed Emirs at will.
“Today, Boko Haram has no Caliphate anywhere in Nigeria. Yet, the Nigerian press regurgitated that report by The Economist.”
He said at a time that Boko Haram and ISWAP are taking on each other in a mutually-destructive lockstep, and at a time that the terrorists are surrendering in droves as a result of heavy pounding by the military, it is wrong to say that Jihadists are carving out a Caliphate in the North-East, as the Economist reported.