Veteran journalist and Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria, Bayo Onanuga, has hit back at Nigerians using various social media platforms to condemn him for suggesting reports of hardship in the country are mere propaganda.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Mr. Onanuga had accused the media of “over-sensationalization”, and said “noisy” reports about hardship appeared to be a “mere propaganda”, “consistently and persistently” inflamed by those who lost the 2015 election.
The post angered many Nigerians who lambasted Mr. Onanuga for allegedly becoming insensitive to the plight of Nigerians after he had clinched political appointment.
Early Friday morning, Mr. Onanuga fired back at his critics, attacking “rampaging” social media users in Nigeria.
“Lynch-mob, cyber-hyenas, cyber-vandals, character assassins: this is the motley crowd that has seized Nigeria’s social media space, either on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram,” he said.
He continued, “It is a mob and functions like any other mob, pouncing on targets, remorselessly, twisting your words to achieve a preconceived end.
“The rampaging crowd in cyberspace is the opposite of what Mark Zuckerberg and co have in mind in creating communication networks to link friends or people with common interests.
“Judging by my experience in the last 72 hours, I am no longer surprised why many decent people either closed their accounts on the various platforms or have become inactive.”
He said “no sane, decent person can truly condone the vicious band of assassins always on the prowl, looking for preys to desecrate and mutilate, all because the victims’ viewpoint does not tally with their jaundiced position”.
“I am sure that Zuckerberg will be mortified about how Nigerians have fouled his platform and Twitter. They are now nests of uncouth, ill-mannered, hate-filled Nigerians.”
He stressed that right to divergent opinions be respected, and took exception to “the unwarranted attacks against my child.”
One of the premises Mr. Onanuga cited in his post Tuesday to question the prevailing hardship in the country was his daughter’s flight experience.
“My daughter was on the Virgin Atlantic Flight that took off from Lagos to London today.
“I asked her to find out whether the plane was filled up or going to London near empty judging by the noisy campaign from a section of the country about the ‘hardship’ in our country.
“My daughter sent back this one-line text, after boarding: ‘daddy, the flight was filled up o’.
“This makes me to wonder whether all the seeming orchestrated campaign in the media was not mere propaganda to make the Buhari regime look really bad.”
He also said he found food prices are cheap contrary to reports, citing his experience in Bauchi and Jos hotels where he could buy food for about N700.
“On the roadside, I found to my surprise that with just N1000, I bought over 50 oranges, two giant watermelon and 10 pieces of sweet potato.
“I had experienced a similar thing in the market at Abuja, where I found that with N1, 400, I could make a big vegetable soup, with tomato, pepper and roasted Titus fish,” he added.