Osita Ebiem: Nigeria, media propaganda and governance by slogans

Osita Ebiem: Nigeria, media propaganda and governance by slogans

By Osita Ebiem

Nigeria has just transitioned into a new political regime on May 29, 2015. (Incidentally, May 29 in history marks the official date when Igbo Genocide in Nigeria began in 1966.) The new Nigerian leader Muhammadu Buhari is an Islamic fundamentalist from the northern part who took over from Goodluck Jonathan a Christian from the south. Buhari had first ruled the country about twenty years ago as a military dictator. He led a coup d’état that overthrew a civilian government.

Buhari is a Fulani whose ethnic group believes that only individuals from their ethnic and religious group are “born-to-rule” Nigeria as long as the country remains one country. Buhari as a Muslim is also a staunch believer in sharia implementation in Nigeria. This is how he expressed it; “I will continue to show openly and inside me the total commitment to the Sharia movement that is sweeping all over Nigeria”.

 Buhari thinks that the implementation of Sharia in Nigeria is ‘’a legal responsibility which God has given us [Muslims leaders], within the context of one Nigeria to continue to uphold the practice of Sharia wholeheartedly and to educate non-Muslims.” For twelve years the fight to take over the presidency of Nigeria became a do or die affair for Buhari because; “what remains for Muslims in Nigeria [to do] is for them to redouble their efforts, [and] educate Muslims on the need to promote the full implementation of Sharia law” (This and the one above are quoted from Buhari’s address in an Islamic seminar in Kaduna in 2012.)

A Nigeria that is sustained by slogans and propagandas

Over the years the Nigerian state has been sustained by propagandas and slogan-mongering political gladiators. Many critics believe that as a result of this trying to run a country’s government based on political sloganeering and gimmicks is largely responsible for the lack of any concrete political or sociological achievement in Nigeria since its independence from colonial Britain in 1960. The only visible real developments are usually those told by some unscrupulous international media people who many critics accuse that they are paid off by the northern Muslim oligarchs to doctor facts and paint hollow fantastic pictures of a united Nigeria that is not.

During the presidential campaign Buhari ran on the platform of a tough ruler who would stamp out corruption from the political and social life of the country, instill discipline and provide security for the lives and property of the populace. To successfully rout his predecessor in office, with the lobbied influence of some international politicians, Buhari’s team imputed on his opponent the unfounded image of “cluelessness and incompetence.” The slogan stuck and as a purpose-oriented political campaign creation it served the purpose for which it was manufactured: To impugn and make the opponent appear incapable for the job.

And with the deft use of these political gimmicks they successfully deflected the people’s attention from the fact that the “ungovernable political situation” in the country was created in the first place by the same creators of the “clueless” slogan. In 2011 when Buhari lost the presidency to Jonathan, record shows that he instigated so much post-election violence in which many Igbo people in the north were killed because the Muslim mob felt that the Igbo represented Christians of whom Jonathan is a part.

Creating an ungovernable state through the use of Boko Haram

Earlier, during the political parties’ primaries and nomination campaigns for the 2011 elections, an important northern politician Lawan Kaita made it very clear that it was either a northerner emerged as president in 2011 or the North would make the country ungovernable for President Goodluck Jonathan if he emerged the winner of the 2011 election. Lawan Kaita said in an interview that: “Anything short of a northern president is tantamount to stealing our presidency. Jonathan has to go and he will go. Even if he uses incumbency power to get his nomination on the platform of the PDP, he will be frustrated out.”

In conclusion to his threat Kaita said “that the North should not be blamed for the calamity that would befall Nigeria if Jonathan emerged as the president.” Read more:

Buhari on his own part never regretted the loss of lives that took place in the 2011 post-election violence. Rather in an interview when he was talking about the 2015 presidential election he declared very emphatically that “If what happened in 2011 (alleged rigging) should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood.’’

Of course Boko Haram, the Islamic terrorist group based in the northeast of Nigeria intensified its activities soon after Jonathan emerged the winner of the presidential election in 2011. Not surprisingly northern politicians defended Boko Haram’s killings, burning of Christian churches, conquering territories and declaring the conquered places sharia-compliant and the capturing of mostly Christian girls and women, selling them into slavery as well as using others as suicide bombers thus; “Boko Haram is fighting for justice. Boko Haram is another name for justice.” (Bamanga Tukur a prominent northern politician quoted by the Nigerian Punch of May 16, 2012.)

Anything short of a northern president is tantamount to stealing our presidency. Jonathan has

to go and he will go. Even if he uses incumbency power to get his nomination on the

platform of the PDP, he will be frustrated out.  – Lawan Kaita

Innocent people are falling prey to fanciful but deadly slogans.

In the 2015 elections, Buhari’s team successfully pulled off this sloganeering stunt with the help of (as rumor has it) such formidable political campaign managers like David Axelrod from the United States. The intensity of the sloganeering campaign would become so severe that even the President of the United States of America Barack Obama got carried away by the effusive political gimmickry. Unfortunately on his own part President Obama would be deceived into using the wrong slogan – a Nigerian genocidal slogan.

On March 23, 2015, in his goodwill message to Nigerians about the need to conduct a peaceful election Obama used a phrase in what appears to be an honest faux pas? “To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done“. and .

The President of the United States failed to check up on the origin of that slogan before using it in his otherwise innocent speech. The slogan originated in 1967 during the Biafra-Nigeria war when the Nigerian state carried out a genocidal campaign against the Igbo population of the country. In the process of that campaign and with the use of that slogan Nigeria successfully exterminated 3.1 million of Igbo people and others who made up Biafra which had seceded from the country. “To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done” is a genocidal cry that goaded Nigeria on till they murdered more than 3 million people. For this reason therefore no decent leader anywhere should ever use it in the context that Obama did. All Igbo people and other Biafrans abhor that slogan since it reminds them of Nigeria’s unrepentant genocide of them.

Buhari to end corruption in Nigeria

Let’s quickly look closely at Buhari’s declared intention to end corruption in Nigeria. At this point we need to remind readers that most Nigerian experts regard Sani Abacha, a former Nigerian Head of State as one of the most corrupt leaders that Nigeria has ever had. Yet it’s on record that Buhari served under Abacha’s administration with a portfolio that held billions of dollars in it budget. Buhari was the head of Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF under Abacha’s regime. Probably because he was anxious to defend his former boss or that he was actually speaking sincerely, but Buhari jointly defended Abacha’s regime with his military friend Abdulsalami Abubakar by declaring that “Abacha served Nigeria well.” (See the Nigerian Guardian of June 9, 2008.)

According to the report the two men made the statement in support of Abacha’s widow Maryam Abacha who complained that “there was no basis for accusing her husband of corruption.” In the report Buhari personally went further to say that; “All the allegations leveled against the personality of the late Sani Abacha will remain allegations.” Furthermore, and in Buhari’s opinion, because “it is 10 years now, [since Abacha’s death] things should be over by now.” So there you have it, Buhari, Nigeria’s corruption general who is leading, as the new slogan says, the “war against corruption” advises Nigerians to just move on and away from talking about Abacha’s corrupt practices since “patience and time” of ten years should be enough to create the necessary collective amnesia.

The dictatorial and genocidal tendencies of excessive use of slogans and propagandas in running governments


“Ambassador Sanders created a Buhari, who will do no wrong, has all the answers and who only

needs “patience and time” and he will “fix” all of Nigeria’s problems. She also has an “interesting

take-away” which is that “the inaugural activities . . . reflected the diversity of Nigeria.”


History shows that dictatorial genocidaires in the past had been enamoured and pathologically attracted to the use of catchy slogans and propagandas. One of the main reasons that prompted this essay is an article titled “Nigeria’s New President Lays Out “The Buhari Doctrine”’ written by Robin Renee Sanders a former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria & ECOWAS. The article appeared in the Huffington Post

What caught my attention is the slogan that MS Sanders used in her article “The Buhari Doctrine.” Here we are talking about the dangers that are inherent in maliciously trying to create political cult figures and the manufacturing of high sounding political slogans and propagandas designed to distract the people from critically appraising their leaders and their performances in governance. This writer has wondered without coming up with any satisfactory answers as to why Ambassador Sanders chose to undertake this thankless task of making a mountain out of a molehill about the new regime in Nigeria. May be she will need to stop and think for a while and remember that a people’s life and destiny depends on this path and it would be more sensible for her to tread with caution.

History teaches us as earlier said that running governments that are based on the pathological indiscriminate application of flatulent slogans and propagandas will always drive these pathetic political cult personalities that are so created into frenzies as they are pushed along this dangerous path. In most cases it drives these sick personalities to self-destruction and in the process they drag along the state which they oversee into the abyss as they begin to commit genocides against a section, sections or the entire population of their ill-fated country.

Examples abound here. We have already mentioned the Nigerian wartime slogan which the country used to kill 3 million Igbo people and the other Biafrans; “to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done.” (Conspicuously Buhari was part of that Nigerian genocidal squad that murdered the Igbo in Owerri and in other places.) The Armenian, the Greek and the other genocides committed by the dying Turkish Ottoman Empire in 1915 were also committed on slogans by the Young Turks who wanted to “Turkify” the Ottoman Empire by eliminating Christian Armenians, Greeks and others. The Three Pashas as the Young Turks were also called also had another slogan that sounds familiar a; “Committee of Unity and Progress.”

With these slogans the Young Turks exterminated 1.5 million Christian Armenians in order to cleanse the Islamic Ottoman Empire of non-believers. In the same way it seems people everywhere, starting from President Obama to Ambassador Sanders and of course Nigerian northern leaders are talking about a baseless “unity and progress” of Nigeria. We are also reminded of Hitler’s slogan of the “final solution to the Jewish question.” With that slogan the Nazis killed 6 million Jews in what is today known as the Jewish Shoah or Holocaust. The Gypsies and Roma people and several others were also killed along with the Jews.

In her article Ambassador Sanders created a Buhari who will do no wrong, has all the answers and who only needs “patience and time” and he will “fix” all of Nigeria’s problems. She also has an “interesting take-away” which is that “the inaugural activities . . . reflected the diversity of Nigeria.” And that “they were inclusive.” In this respect the Ambassador could not have taken away a more deceptive “truth” than that. The truth however is that going by Buhari’s antecedents this writer and many other concerned individuals doubt very much Buhari’s ability to tackle successfully Nigeria’s problem.

Just for emphasis alone, we must remind the readers of the fact that Buhari was a visible part of Nigeria’s genocidal squad that murdered the 3 million Igbo people and the others in Biafra. And for this reason Ambassador Sanders may need to be reminded that when she talks about “inclusiveness” that 98% Igbo people and the other people from the area formerly known as Biafra never voted for Buhari and they have expressly made it clear that they are very proud of that collective choice to reject Buhari for being a part of the team that murdered them.

Additionally, and very important to note by anyone who cares; since the 29th of May, 1966 which is the official date marking the beginning of Igbo Genocide in Nigeria, Igbo people rejected forever Nigeria’s citizenship, its Buharis and all others like him and that it’s only “patience and time” and hard work which the Igbo require and they will become free and independent of the Nigerian state forever.

Biafra Radio

June 8th, 2015

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