Re: China Set To Sponsor Ameachi For President

Re: China Set To Sponsor Ameachi For President

By Dr. Austin Maho

In the weekend edition of aljazeera newspaper of 15th April 2022, the cover story had a banner headline titled: “China set to sponsor Ameachi for President”

This piece is a response to the article, because it falls within the growing spat of misinformation about China and the Chinese which is fuelled mostly by ignorance, foreign -sponsored media misinformation and propaganda.

A response is appropriate to the convoluted and one sided article to correct the gross misrepresentation of facts.

The entire article is a well-worn out rehash of conjectures, hearsays and tittle-tattle. The central thesis of the article is that the Chinese government is sponsoring the Honourable Minister of Information Rotimi Ameachi in his bid to contest for the Presidency of the country.

The narrative in the story is built around a single source whose name was not mentioned.

The Statement by Spokesperson of the Embassy of China Nigeria on April 16th 2022, promptly discribed the report as ” misleading” and “fake news” and advised Nigerians to ignore it and be vigilant.

The full statement as captured below highlights the offensive publication:

“The attention of the Embassy of China has been drawn to a misleading report on an online news portal, alleging that Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, Hon. Minister of Transport of Nigeria and one of the aspirants to the 2023 Presidential Election, “has secured the backing of the Chinese Government”, and “…several meetings were held between Amaechi’s allies and the Chinese Government”, even claiming that “China needs to … install its dominance in Africa”. The general public is kindly reminded to ignore it and keep vigilant on this kind of fake news, which is fabricated with ulterior motives.

Mutual respect and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs is the basic principle and long-term commitment of China’s diplomacy. With respect to Nigeria’ democratic political system, we are confident on the capacity of the Nigerian Government and people of organizing and conducting a successful general election”

rt rotimi amaechi

End of statement.

Evidebtly, to build a narrative around a nebulous and single “source” does not equate to fact.

Attribution remains the heart and soul of journalism because it gives credibility and perspective to a story, where this is missing what we are left with is mere speculation and conjecture.

Truthfulness and Verification are key components of the ethics of Journalism. “Aljazeera” made no attempt to verify its source through other layers neither did it explore the option of seeking the views of the Honourable Minister nor of the Chinese Embassy before going to press with its story!

This betrays a lack of objectivity and fairness, which further leads one to believe that it was a sponsored story by mischief makers.

How ridiculous does it sound that the minister would need the support and endorsement of China to contest for the highest office in Nigeria.

In any case, the Honourable Minister is as at today an aspirant and has not even won the ticket of his party to contest for the position of president.

As the political tempo in the country hots up, the media should be circumspect and not allow itself to be used by paid agents and distractors that are out to undermine Nigeria’s democracy by all means.

No where in the world has China ever been accused of interfering in the internal affairs of any country.

The Chinese government foreign policy as everyone knows has always been based on the policy of non interference in the internal affairs of other nations.

This policy of non-interference and policy thrust of China in Africa was captured by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2018 during the FOCAC Beijing Summit 2018

“We respect Africa, love Africa and support Africa. We follow a “five-no” approach in our relations with Africa:

  1. No interference in African countries’ pursuit of development paths that fit their national conditions;
  2. No interference in African countries’ internal affairs;
  3. No imposition of our will on African countries;
  4. No attachment of political strings to assistance to Africa; and
  5. No seeking of selfish political gains in investment and financing cooperation with Africa.”

The world is in the cusps of anti-intellectualism. Intellectuals who ought to bear the torch of enlightenment have themselves become hired pens, spin doctors of misinformation and fake news. Nigeria is going through many challenges and the media has a great role to play for the country to get right and must not allow itself to be used otherwise.

The media must be at the forefront at promoting and protecting our democratic ethoes and giving Nigerians the right information they need to be active participants in the democratic process.

Since establishment of diplomatic relations between Nigeria and China in 1971 the relationship has grown steadily.

China is today considered as one of Nigeria’s closest allies and bilateral partner. China is also one of Nigeria’s important trading and export partners.

According to a 2014 BBC World Service Poll, 80% of Nigerians view China’s influence positively, making Nigeria one of the most pro-Chinese nation in the world.

It is important that journalists and Nigerians in general should desist from allowing themselves to be used to propagate the virulent hatred currently being exhibited against China as a result of the global geopolitical struggle for supremacy between the East and the West.

That some Nigerians and worst still journalists are ready to believe the very worst of allegations against China without seeking or obtaining verifiable evidence, should be deprecated and condemned by all well-meaning people.

Opinion is free but facts are sacred. “Aljazera” should have done more investigative journalism rather than allow its space to be used to publish wild allegations and misinformation.

The writer, Dr. Austin Maho is a lecturer at the International Institute of Journalism, and publisher Daybreak newspaper. A weekly newspaper based in Abuja

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