Nigeria’s presidency has expressed disgust over an article in Foreign Affairs magazine that described the West African country as a failed state, with the federal government accusing the US-based magazine of spreading fake news.
Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu in a statement late Thursday said the “latest article on Nigeria in Foreign Affairs titled ‘The Giant of Africa is Failing’ is unfair both to a magazine with such an esteemed pedigree and to its readers.”
The Nigerian government’s stance comes barely 24 hours after the federal government accused Twitter of having a hidden agenda about Nigeria after the social media giant deleted a “civil war” post by President Muhammadu Buhari.
That tweet by the Nigerian leader had been heavily criticised by citizens who were of the opinion that the posts were targeted at Igbos in the southeastern region of the country.
“Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand,” the president wrote.
The article by Foreign affairs was co-authored by a former American ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, and another researcher, Robert Rotberg.
They had written that “Nigeria is in big trouble. If a state’s first obligation to those it governs is to provide for their security and maintain a monopoly on the use of violence, then Nigeria has failed, even if some other aspects of the state still function.”
But in a swift reaction, Mr Shehu, President Buhari’s spokesman in the statement said, “Ambassador Campbell has been predicting the collapse of Nigeria for several years. He is of course entitled to his opinions, even where events consistently prove him wrong.”
Mr Shehu questioned the motive of the article when he claimed that the authors expressed distorted opinions by “bending facts”
He said: “But facts should not be bent to support distorted opinions.”
“Let me give you one example.
The authors write:
‘At an April meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Buhari reportedly requested that the headquarters of the U.S. Africa Command be moved from Germany to Nigeria so that it would be closer to the fight against jihadi groups in the country’s north.’
“President Buhari did not request that AFRICOM move to Nigeria. The transcript of the call with Secretary Blinken is available on the State Department’s own website.
“It’s not just a question of the invented addition of ‘to Nigeria’ with regard to AFRICOM. It sums up a piece that attempts – subtly but revealingly – to shift facts to suit an argument.
“Nigeria faces multiple challenges, not least of which is the dissemination of fake news and prejudiced opinion.
“This is something we have come to expect from partisan blogs and politically motivated lobbies. It is still a surprise, and a disappointment, to see them joined by Foreign Affairs.”
By Abel Ejikeme