By Jason Muhire
Nigerian writer Festus Adebayo argues that his country’s president, Muhammadu Buhari “is morphing into Kagame”, in article last Sunday. In doing this Adebayo – who writes for some website called pmparrotng.com – displays insufferable ignorance. Examples of this in Adebayo’s piece are too many to count but one would start with the most glaring. This is someone who attempts commentary on Rwanda and doesn’t seem to know who to blame between those who committed the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi, and those who put an end to the horror.
“Kagame started as commander of the Rwanda Patriotic Front, a Uganda-based rebel force that was the core of the blood spillage in the infamous Rwandan genocide that held from April 7 and July 15, 1994 where Hutu extremists killed in cold blood about one million people within a hundred days,” Adebayo writes, mixing genocide denialism and revisionism in a single sentence.
In Adebayo’s revisionist view, which is also evidence of the aforementioned ignorance, it is as if the Hutu extremists, the real core of the blood spillage, who killed in cold blood more than one million people within a hundred days, were part of the RPF! That Adebayo seems unaware that in fact it was the RPF that stopped the Genocide, even as the international community looked on, is a real problem.
If Adebayo had done his research, how hard would it be for him to know that extremists of the genocidal regime were attempting to exterminate a section of the population? Could the Nigerian writer be deliberately engaging in denialism?
Second, it is not coincidental that Adebayo’s main reference as he attempted to vilify Rwanda’s leadership happened to be none other than the corrupt Human Rights Watch (HRW). For years this organization has been waging a relentless campaign to discredit the Rwandan administration. It reached the extent a knowledgeable observer like Richard Johnson, who served as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State, wrote about HRW’s anti-Rwanda crusade as: “a political advocacy which had become profoundly unscrupulous in both its means and its ends.” Yet, Adebayo thinks that HRW “acquitted itself well” in its anti-Rwanda campaign.
But in fact examples abide of HRW’s shoddiness, such as its claims that “Rwanda executed thieves as part of a coordinated campaign.” These were debunked one by one as the very people that HRW claimed had been executed appeared on TV and were shocked to find out that HRW had declared them dead.
But then, even if one were to acquiesce to the absurd claim that Rwanda’s security services killed suspect thieves, Adebayo would still need to tell his audience what such claims have to do with the alleged killings of protesters in his own country, Nigeria. If he brings up Rwanda to prove that “Kagame is a dictator”, then he chose the wrong example to support his case; if he couldn’t find people who are not thieves as proof that Kagame oppresses them, then he should find another example if he wants to write about dictators. Moreover, if he wanted to prove that Buhari is morphing into a dictator, then Nigeria’s past is rich with examples of dictators and coups d’état which should serve as more relevant examples for whatever Adebayo wants to say.
The writer is only describing a sequence of violence in his country Nigeria – protests and repression – and as a better contribution to his society, he should expose the reasons behind this violence: the youth who have given up hope and are now confronting the state. One wonders how Kagame is to solve Nigeria’s problems and bring hope to the youth.
Is the issue of extreme inequalities in Nigeria, illustrated by Oxfam’s disclosure that “the combined wealth of Nigeria’s five richest men – $29.9 billion – could end extreme poverty at a national level, yet 5 million face hunger” not exciting enough for Adebayo to explore?
Adebayo’s time could be put to better use.