Recently, General Buhari ordered African Independent Television (AIT) not to cover his activities ‘based on security and family concerns’ and other ethical issues that he needs to resolve with the media house.
Apparently, Buhari is still unhappy because of the unfavourable media coverage that he received from AIT during the presidential campaigns.
Granted that AIT may have been harsh on him, but if he feels aggrieved, then, he should seek redress from the courts and not taking laws into his own hands.
As President-elect, Buhari’s activities are no longer his private activities but Nigeria’s. And since those activities are performed from Defence House, a government building, Nigerians ought to know what happens there. And it’s only the media that can inform the people.
Therefore, Buhari cannot prevent any media house from covering him and performing its constitutional duties.
But, where were Buhari’s media aids when he was committing this monumental error? Surprisingly, the announcement came from Shehu Garba, Buhari’s media chief. Even when he was asked by the media houses if they can quote him; he boastfully acknowledged same.
It is appalling that Shehu allowed this blunder to occur; knowing that freedom of the press is an area that Buhari has been uncomfortable with considering his antecedent with the media.
Nevertheless, everyone knows that Buhari will be relying on a lot of assistants to function well as the President of Nigeria. A particular area that he needs a strong presence is the MEDIA.
For allowing Gen. Buhari, the President-elect to make a false start to his presidency, especially in the area of press freedom where Buhari is deficient, Shehu is definitely not the man to manage Buhari’s media requirements.
Moreover, Buhari shouldn’t be under any illusion that the press will be kind to him once he’s sworn in as the President of Nigeria on the 29th May. He should expect the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to engage media houses to provoke him in order to bring out the intolerance in him.
And unfortunately for Buhari, Pres. Jonathan encouraged press freedom in Nigeria to the extent that everyone believes that it’s normal to insult the president in the name criticising him.
That belief will be extended to Buhari and it may be too late before Nigerians realise that they are not dealing with Jonathan. By then, it’s either Buhari has sealed all the media houses or the media houses would have tamed him.
Whatever the outcome, there are social media such as Facebook and twitter etc. that cannot be tamed except the APC government decides to shut-down internet in Nigeria.
Overall, Buhari’s weakest link is his intolerance for the press and considering his early skirmishes with AIT, he may not have fully grasps the difference between democracy and military rule.
Finally, depending on how quickly Buhari realises that he’s not under military rule, the media may turn out to be his albatross.