Let Nigeria Be !!

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May I humbly request to use this medium to react to some aspects of headline news titled “Opposition Stuck in the Sand” in the New Era newspaper of Wednesday, October 11, 2006. The headlined news report conveyed highlights of a presentation supposedly by some “leading Namibian political analysts”, who reportedly made comparison between democracy in Namibia and other African countries. In that context it was reported that Nigeria, unlike other countries, does not enjoy free press, coupled with intimidation and violence during elections. While it is normal for Analysts to exercise freedom of expression to say what they think, it borders on deceptive analysis to convey misrepresentation of fact about other countries without regard for the sensitivities of those affected. Indeed, the basic tenet of Social Science analysis requires that Researchers refrain from making sweeping generalizations and unbridled castigations. This is because there is no absolute state of affairs when issues of social, political, religious and human endeavours are in contention. Moreover, these are culture-relative and geo-specific matters which analysts would anywise rather not compare under varying circumstances. Furthermore, the practice of democracy around the world is a culture-specific social phenomenon that can not be placed on the same analytical yardstick as natural science. In fact, governance in general, can not be cast iron as to its operation from one culture to another. Thus, it is grossly misplaced for any armchair Analysts to sit in the comfort of their offices and base their analysis of events in other geographical locations on adulterated news culled from unreliable sources. For information purposes, Nigeria has more than 40 newspapers, excluding local bulletins in the 778 Local Government Authorities across the country. The Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) has the largest network in Africa with presence in each of the 36 states of the Federation. These are in addition to the radio and television stations owned by State Governments and Private Investors, and so on. The Nigerian Press is perhaps the freest in Africa as they have been publishing without self-censorship or restrictions from any quarters since the return of democracy in 1999. As a matter of fact, it is the competition within the industry that defines and determines the survival of newspapers or television stations in the country. With regard to the electoral violence to which the Analysts alluded, it is a known adage that “teeth and tongue do quarrel, but no third party knows how they resolve their problem.” Thus Nigeria, with an estimated population of 130 million, is a conglomeration of nationalities with varying cultures. It is also pertinent to educate the analyst that, for instance, Nigeria has over 250 ethnic groups who speak different languages and dialects, and with some of the most unique cultures anywhere in the world. Since the introduction of multiparty democracy during the second republic in 1979, the aggregate aspirations of the various groups have been consolidated for national unity. In order to achieve this objective, the succeeding Federal Governments of Nigeria have successfully evolved unique Nigerian ways of resolving conflicts, particularly those related to elections. Nigeria, having some of the best brains in the area of election management, has actively participated in International Conflict resolutions. Therefore, it is an exercise in ignorance for any Analysts to paint a negative picture of the state of affairs in Nigeria. With the above reactions and correction of misinformation and myopic analyses in perspective, it is hoped that armchair analysts, who apparently have not done their homework properly before making an analysis of events, would refrain from making incorrect statements, aimed at deceiving the public. Thank you. Gbenga Akinbo Windhoek