By: Philip Agbese
The instinctive reaction to the story by Douglas Murray in the Spectator, which prides itself as the world’s oldest Magazine published in English, is to dismiss it as the product of someone who wrote about a subject in which he is inadequately schooled. Yet, this reaction would be falling into a trap since the hallmark of propaganda include a sublimity that engenders indifference to lies being told by making excuses for the peddlers of lies by imbuing them with ignorance.
It is therefore imperative that the lies, mischiefs and intent of Murray and his employers are exposed to make sure they stop serving up lies to world and to their readers. In this particular instance, the story is replete with enough inaccuracies to raise suspicions as to whether the journalist as much as bothered to rouse from his bed before concocting the story.
The first indication that gave Murray away as being out of his depth was his feeble attempt in creating a distinction that does not exist for Nigerians. He wrote of Christians of northern Nigeria as if they belong to a different faith from Nigerians in other parts of the country. This is an irresponsible move at creating a new division when the country is striving to unite the diversities of its population.
The report stopped short of claiming that the unfortunate killings by herdsmen was an hourly occurrence. It also continued the uninformed tradition of singling out victims of such attacks as only Christians. Had Murray as much as done some online research, he would have seen that the killer herdsmen have also killed people in predominantly Muslim Zamfara state when they clashed with farmers or are on reprisal over cattle rustling. Even the picture that accompanied the story on the Spectator’s site sufficiently depicted the ignorance of the magazine and it’s staff because several girls were wearing hijabs in the Christian dominated image.
This experienced reporter also managed to ignore the magnitude of problem that transhumance constitute for the West African sub region where itinerant herdsmen from Burkina Faso spread their reign of terror across the entire region. This is a problem that has been identified as having environmental and climatic dimensions as the herders increasingly foray further south and under pressure to claim land amid urban sprawl that has altered their way of life.
As unbelievable as it sounds, this report actually canvassed, albeit covertly, for “Christians” to be armed as if no lesson has been learnt from the anomie in Libya where there are four firearms per citizen or in the United States where gun violence has killed more people than the rampaging herders ever killed in a year.
This further make the inclusion of last month’s erroneous bombardment of an IDPs’ camp in the story regrettable. Even with the more advanced gadgetory deployed by the US and other western nations, cases of green-on-green remain are not uncommon with coalition forces sometimes bombing hospitals or schools.
Once he ignored issues as fundamental as these, the other serial fallacies were no longer surprising. For instance he attributed the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps filled with persons that fled the Boko Haram crisis as the product of the herders/farmers clashes. Possibly because Murray is one of their neocon journalists that helped propagate lies used as cover for certain countries to airdrop weapons to so called Libyan rebels in the Gaddafi era, hallucinated and saw military aircrafts dropping supplies to Fulani herdsmen and to Boko Haram. He will do well to find out what country’s aircraft were caught by Cameroonian authorities dropping supplies to terrorists.
In the same delirious tone, he concluded that the military was never willing to protect the civilian population of Nigerian villages. Not less ridiculous is the insinuation that troops are not protecting civilians because the soldiers are Muslims and the civilians Christians. A timely cure of this ignorance is to point out that enlistment into the military if fully representative of all ethnicities and religion so the concept of “Muslim soldiers” and “Christian victims” is dead on arrival before the article can even introduce it into the world’s consciousness.
Aside for building up for its key mission, which shall come later, the entire report focused on disparaging the Nigerian military while also attacking President Muhammadu Buhari.
Yet we know and are aware that the Nigerian military under the current administration of President Buhari remains the guardian of the country’s democracy. They have been very professional in their engagements especially in the demonstrated ability to get result in the absence of global support.
One is thus tempted to believe that the aim of Murray’s story is to instigate officers of a particular religion in the military to plot a coup against the democratically elected government or worse still to pitch adherents of one religion against the other and cause a war or provoke people in north central Nigeria into an uprising.
It is either these set of sick outcomes or the totally misplaced call on the international community to use the United Nation’s “responsibility to protect” doctrine. The desperation with which he blackmailed governments of some countries to consider invoking this doctrine is the final indication as to the entrenched interests that handed him the story he reproduced verbatim.
The kind of “cowboy” incursion Murray and the Spectator are canvassing is not new to the world. The UN’s responsibility to protect has been abused to give the world Libya, Iraq and Syria, which makes it supremely irresponsible that anyone can again try to take humanity down this path.
As already demonstrated against Boko Haram even when foreign aircrafts were airdropping weapons to its terrorists under the cover of darkness, the Nigerian military remains capable of defeating the any type of threat that Murray’s sponsors can send the way of Nigeria, and they will do it professionally.
Finally, I write this as a Christian from north central Nigeria, which is why I strongly believe these lies should not be allow to go unchallenged. Just as I was writing this rejoinder, I read on the site of Daily Trust, a reputable Nigerian newspaper, about Christian youths of my ethnic extraction teaming up with Muslim Fulani youths to search for cattle that some miscreants had scared into the bush during a rustling. This is the Nigeria that Murray and the Spectator pretend do not exist. The Murrays and their local agents who are desperately looking for the best opportunity to label us a failed state have once again failed woefully.
Agbese is a United Kingdom based human rights activist and publisher of The Nigerian Online Newspapers.