Stephanie Hegarty, the BBC reporter in Lagos, was not best pleased with Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s information minister, and she vented fully on Twitter yesterday.
Ten days after the Dapchi attack and 110 school children are still missing, meanwhile Nigeria's Minister of Information is sending out press releases about golf.
— Stephanie Hegarty (@stephhegarty) March 1, 2018
Boko Haram terrorists abducted 110 schoolgirls from the Government Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State, on 19 February.
Unlike many of Nigeria’s rulers, Hegarty has been to the scene of this atrocity that CNN’s Isha Sesay called a “national disgrace”.
On Thursday 1 March, less than two weeks later, Lai Mohammed was performing the ceremonial tee off of the Federal Capital Territory Classic on the 2018 West Africa Golf Tour at IBB International Golf and Country Club, Abuja. This is typical Nigerian ruling class insensitivity towards the plight of ordinary Nigerians. Former president Goodluck Jonathan was pictured dancing at a rally in Kano, a day or so after a Boko Haram atrocity. President Muhammadu Buhari was photographed grinning from ear to ear in Kaduna in January – a few days after Fulani herdsmen had slaughtered over 70 people in Benue State. He has been to neighbouring Nasarawa State and can’t be bothered with visiting Benue State.
Lai Mohammed is probably taking the cue from his boss in not even bothering with the pretense of empathy towards victims of Nigeria’s endless cycles of violence. He said on Thursday: “The West Africa Golf Tour speaks for the commitment that I hold, as the minister of Information and Culture, for the promotion of Nigeria’s rich tourism potentials. It showcases Nigeria to the world -our golf courses, natural surroundings and cities as well as our culture, thereby putting Nigeria, West Africa and Africa in the limelight and helping to advance the efforts to improve our image and economy.”
He seems blissfully ignorant of how insecurity helps discourage tourism and how his government’s insensitivity and inability to keep the country safe only make matters worse.