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People Read My Statement Upside Down or Ill-Digested It – NAN MD, Bayo Onanuga

Bayo Onanuga

Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, yesterday expressed doubt over the shouts of hardship many Nigerians are complaining of. According to him, this could be mere propaganda as research carried out by him shows that life is not as hard as many Nigerians say it is.‎

Mr Onanuga has now reacted to the backlash he received over his position on the state of things in the country, stating that the observation he shared was ill digested by Nigerians. Read his statement after the cut…

I need to make myself crystal clear to all those who have responded, some with vulgar abuse, some with disparaging remarks, to my statement on Facebook on the situation in my country.

First is that many people demonstrated in their reactions that they did not understand what I wrote. They simply read my statement upside down or ill-digested it. Several points I raised were mere hypotheses, mere suppositions, not conclusions. I asked: is it true? Have we been exaggerating our economic conditions? Can the media conduct some reality check?

In saying so, I remember a photograph of kwashiorkored kids published recently by one of our respected newspapers to illustrate ‘the hardship’ in the land. Of course, the photograph does not reflect any true reality about Nigeria, it was lifted from a foreign publication.

I thank all those who responded by countering my hypothesis with their own propositions about our condition.

I agree we all live in different parts of the country and I fully accept we see things in different light.

Second, no where in my statement did I suggest that our country is not going through a difficult time and that our people are not going through some hardship. The President himself has admitted this on several occasions.

As the economic crisis rages on, everyone has been affected one way or the other, including those in government at all levels. Even Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote has had his wealth vastly reduced by the economic crisis.

As Nigerians we need to understand very quickly that we are going through the worst economic crisis in our history. Wailing, apportioning blames are not, in my view, the appropriate reactions to the crisis. We need to begin to change the way we live. If you are used to consuming imported things such as Thailand Rice, American Long Grain rice, the times dictate we jettison the idea and go for local Abakaliki or Ofada rice. If you like foreign dresses, it’s time to switch to the locally made fabrics. If you have a vehicle that guzzles petrol, it’s time to switch to fuel efficient ones.

And the latter reminds me of the American reaction when crude was trading at $140 a few years ago. Many Americans dumped their SUVs. Many of the rejected vehicles were shipped to Nigeria. Now that petrol price is high in our country, as a result of the Avengers crisis and the unfavourable forex regime, is it not time also we copied the Americans, dumped the SUVs and jumped on public transport or shared transport?

My takeaway from my experience today is that Nigerians seldom read critically any post. We read superficially and make comments, most often trivialising serious issues.

And finally, I have spent the past 36 years post-graduation defending the cause of the Nigerian people. Contrary to some opinions, my view is not influenced by my official position. Those who peddle such lies do not know me. I pray God to forgive them.

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