MAJ-GEN Muhammadu Buhari’s orders barring the crew of the Africa Independent Television, AIT, from the courtesy visit of the Cuban Ambassador to him at Defence House, Abuja, has set off an uproar that connects to Buhari’s first administration 31 years ago.
AIT and the public-owned Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, were accused of airing “hate” documentaries during the heady campaigns.
According to Buhari’s media aide, Mallam Garba Shehu, AIT was asked to“stay aside” due to what the Buhari camp described, as “security and family concerns” until matters of “standards and ethics” were resolved.
It is very worrisome that matters relating to the campaigns are still rankling the president-elect to the point of taking a step that could mar the euphoria that enveloped the country after the peaceful and pleasant conclusion of the presidential election. President Goodluck Jonathan displayed uncommon patriotism by conceding the election to Buhari even before the announcement of the results.
The tone Jonathan set ought to guide the conduct of our leaders.Buhari should not be vindictive. It is a low point for the office he is about to occupy. It would be sad if the in-coming administration relates with persons or groups based on their conduct during the campaigns. It would be contrary to the “fair to all” principle enunciated in the presidential oath of office.
More importantly, the president-elect, who styled himself as a born-again democrat at Chatham House, London, to counter his draconian media policies, as a military Head of State, should know the media have a constitutional duty to hold public officers accountable.
Section 22 of the Constitution states, “The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this Chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.”
Buhari cannot amend the Constitution.
We find the “security concerns” the Buhari camp referred to ominous. There are legal provisions to resolve any threat to the president-elect or anyone else. We would not subscribe to “family” sentiments as bases for decision-making, especially on national issues.
The belated attempt by All Progressives Congress, APC, to “unban” AIT, merely begs the issue. APC did not issue the order. Buhari did.