Mr. Bayo Onanuga, the Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria, recently received severe backlash for dismissing media reports about hardship in Nigeria.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Mr. Onanuga accused the media of “over-sensationalization”, and said reports about hardship appeared to be a “mere propaganda”, inflamed by those who lost the 2015 election.
He said his findings showed that the cost of food items had not gone up, contrary to reports in the media.
“In our hotel, we paid about N700 for a plate of semovita, or eba with a choice of cat fish or chicken.
“On the roadside, I found to my surprise that with just N1000, I bought over 50 oranges, two giant water melon and 10 pieces of sweet potato.
His words drew the ire of many Nigerians.
“Mr. Onanuga certainly does not belong here in the world of Nigerians who daily toil and yet groan under excruciating hardship,” Adeyemi Adeniyi wrote.
Victor Ojelabi suggested his account has been hacked. “Someone should please inform him,” he said.
However, Mr. Onanuga according to Premium Times confirmed that he wrote the post but said he merely posed a question, and had not taken a definite position on the issue.
“I am not saying there’s no problem in our country, but some of the things are exaggerated. I just raised a kind of intervention to ask are these things really true,” Mr. Onanuga said. “I have seen photographs of children suffering from kwashiorkor and they are passing them off as what’s happening in Nigeria.”
Mr. Onanuga is a respected journalist. He was among those who confronted the tyranny of military rule in Nigeria in the 1980s and 1990s. He was persecuted during the Sani Abacha dictatorship and fled the country in December 1997.
Before his appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari as head of NAN, Mr. Onanuga, was the chief executive officer of The News/PM News.