Kashim Shettima: Abati’s response and Rufai’s reactions to hunger in the land

By: Dr. James Bwala

The Arise News TV morning show of Wednesday, February 21, 2024, like others before it, is a butchers table where thoroughbred professionals are supposed to be speaking to Nigerians on matters that affect them. However, while a professional like Dr. Reuben Abati would tailor his responses to journalistic professionalism, his colleague in the studio (speaking of TV host Rufai Oseni) would always react to issues as one seeking to take a pound of flesh on persons he may not have agreed with in an exchange of denomination on issues so worrying to all Nigerians.

Nigerians are angry. Yes, we all deserve better deals from our leaders. But do we really love the truth? If we do as many who are chanting in the streets blaming the Tinubu Administration for the sins of the past regime or what he did or did not do as president, we must understand that the trouble we faced today is the result of the corruption we overlooked or waved with the hand when it was happening.

The unrepentant evil doers in the political circles, which continued to dictate to leaders in power, have for all reasons to be blamed for Nigeria’s current crash in the naira free fall, skyrocketing prices of food items as well as building materials, which shoot to unimaginable heights within weeks of the new year, if we take it closer. Most of them are not in the corridors of power, but they are those steering the economy, banditry, and other terrorism acts from their sitting positions across the country.

These ungrateful citizens, who pile up food and other needs in the name of hoarding, are living among the people and are joining in blaming the government when they actually know that they are the ones to blame for sabotaging the nation.

The Vice President Kashim Shettima, while commenting on an occasion recently, said that some trucks loaded with food items were arrested for trying to smuggle out food to other countries while their countrymen were in need of such commodities. Many Nigerians who are on top of their voices are not blaming these evil men for their woes; instead, they form alliances and go to the streets to satisfy their paymasters, who are bent on making the country ungovernable.

When I saw some of these paid scripts and rented voices in Abuja on Tuesday, I realized that the real issue in Nigeria is not about fighting for the masses who cannot afford a meal. It was not about fighting for hundreds and thousands whose voices ebb as would a lantern go out of fuel. But it was a game stage played by individuals who lack integrity and are actively trying to sabotage President Bola Tinubu’s administration’s initiatives to improve the Nigerian economy. They are peching everywhere, from the dollar rate to food items in the market.

These forces are hell-bent on undermining our nation, and rather than supporting the government to fight these evil men, Nigerians, blinded by false witnesses, have turned their blond eyes to reality and focused their attention and energy on helping these evil men achieve their purpose. Nigerians ought to start looking inward. We must begin to tell these individuals to stop their evil doings in the interest of our nation. This is the time for us to coalesce into a singular entity, and indeed, as Vice President Kashim Shettima has said, we have to make this country work. We have to move beyond politics.

We have to understand that we are now in the face of governance. Persons like Rufai Oseni of Arise TV should not wake up to a morning show as a TV host on the wrong side of the bed with such rage in speech and countenance. I have studied mass communication, and that is not what we have been taught in the classroom.

Rufai Oseni’s reactions to Vice President Kashim Shettima put him in a different class of journalism. But sitting with professionals like Dr. Reuben Abati, he needs to learn journalism again. I think he needed to replay the Wednesday morning show and watch it for himself again and make a comparison of his reactions to the responses given by Dr. Reuben Abati on Shettima’s statemanship comments, standing as one and not as the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

If you know Kashim Shettima very well, you know when he is speaking from the heart and when he is playing politics with words. While Dr. Reuben Abati understands the pains of Shettima’s response to the hardships and actions of saboteurs, Rufai’s reactions betrayed his commitment to national interest, and I hope Arise TV could organize tutorials for such staff appearing on a national TV, whether as journalists or TV hosts, which I will recommend for Rufai Oseni to go for those lessons.

“It is so sad that some of our countrymen are still in political mode. They are the practitioners of violence, advocating that Nigeria should go the Lebanon way. But Nigeria is greater than any of us here. Nigeria will weather the storm.” Indeed, Vice President Kashim Shettima was right. These men are living with us; we all know them and know their moves. It is time to begin to look them in the eyes and tell them the neckade truth. The Tinubu and Shettima administrations are not sleeping over the many issues confronting the nation at this time. This government has been battling many fronts, some of which are living under our nose. We must fight them to release our country from the shackles of destruction by these saboteurs.

As of January 18, 2024, a bag of cement was selling for N5,500. Iron rod by 12 was selling for N4,600, and by 10, it was selling for N3,600. Cement is now going for N10,200, and the iron rod was selling for N9,700 and N8,700, respectively. This was barely one month from the known price in the market. The explanations being given by traders, marketers, and companies over the increase in their products were not realistic.

For example, I heard one of the executives of a cement company attribute the souring price to demand over short supply and also point at the price of diesel for production. But I ran my eyes over some level of development, at least in comparison to what I saw last year when the price of cement was under N6,000 to what is obtained now, and I could not convince myself to believe that demand was low last year in comparison to this year’s demand since the year itself is young and the first quarter of the year, as we know, is not time for such high demands of products like cement. So what are the true reasons?

Perhaps Arise TV should begin to think of calling these traders, marketers, and company owners to tell Nigerians in point blank why they are subjecting Nigerians to untold hardship and also give us what they think the government needs to do if they feel that the government is not doing enough so that Nigerians can know where the problem is coming from and stop the blame game or conducting and sponsoring protests to add salt to injury.

Some producers of cement have attributed their claims to a hike in the price of diesel, but still, was the price of diesel the same as it was last year and the year before? If these protesters want to help Nigerians overcome the piling problems, why can’t they show support by approaching these conglomerates about the changes that come to us in a tsunami-style manner? No matter how situations may turn with government handlings, it cannot turn overnight as we are experiencing unless there are attempts to bring the government to it’s knees by certain elements and that is what the VP saw.

If Rufai Oseni could react to Shettima’s comment as he did on the morning show today, I would ask where he left his professionalism. If the Arise TV morning show is a place of butchering ideas, comments, and statements made by politicians or persons of profiling, in journalism, I believe we still hold to the creed of respecting people’s opinions and never allowing our own opinions about people to becloud our reasonings.

  • James Bwala, PhD, writes from Abuja.


News Reporter
Blank NEWS Online founding Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, Albert Eruorhe Ograka, is a Graduate of Mass Communication. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) in Journalism from the International Institute of Journalism (IIJ).

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