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FALANA BLASTS MEDIA FOR FOCUSING ON NON ISSUES

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Respected Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana, has berated the media in Nigeria for what he called a diversion of public attention from the nation’s problem of youth unemployment, infrastructural decay, insecurity, corruption, currency devaluation by giving undue coverage to the campaign of calumny and character assassination prevalent amongst Nigerian politicians.

Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, who spoke at the Life Theological Seminary, Ikorodu, on Sunday, wondered why the media which is the public’s watchdog would concern and obsess itself with the antics of politicians who are more interested in trading abuses than the art of governance.

“The media have thrown caution to the winds by colluding with certain politicians to divert attention from the crises of youth unemployment, infrastructural decay, insecurity, corruption, currency devaluation etc,” he said.

Falana said also that by giving undue prominence to the campaign of calumny and character assassination embarked upon by politicians, the media had denied the Nigerian people the opportunity to make informed decisions on the candidates of their choice.

The renowned human rights activist also warned that anti-democratic forces are still at work seeking to truncate the re-scheduled elections by way of a military coup which is intended to usher in an interim government.

“There is no indication that the election will hold,” he said, adding that “If the INEC goes ahead with the conduct of the elections there are fears that the exercise may be sabotaged by anti-democratic forces.

“If the election holds the results may be rejected, leading to a post-election violence which may threaten the corporate existence of the nation,” Falana stated.

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He warned further:  “In the circumstance, an interim government may be established and be saddled with the task of preparing the country for another political transition. In the alternative, a coup d’etat that may be staged by the top echelon of the armed forces under the pretext of restoring law and order and fighting the menace of insurgency.

Falana, who asked Nigerians to prepare “for a long drawn out battle for the liberation of the country from political and economic predators”, alleged that the special intervention funds designed by the Goodluck Jonathan administration were largely designed for the rich and not the teeming masses.

Such funds, according to Falana, includes Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (N69billion), Commercial Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (N200billion), the Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (N200billion), Small and Medium Enterprises Credit Guarantee Scheme (N200billion), the SMEs Restructuring and Refinancing Scheme (N200billion) and Power and Airlines Intervention Fund (N300billion).

The lawyer, who is regarded by many as a strident critic of anti-masses policies, alleged that all of these intervention funds are yet to have effect on the economy.

“Sequel to the crash in the price of crude oil the federal government announced that austerity measures would be imposed on the hapless Nigerian people. Because of the gross mismanagement of the economy by the government and its allies workers are now owed salaries for months.

“After the elections the people are going to be made to bear the brunt of the looting of the treasury and costs of running the government,” he stated.

Falana also lamented the fact that in spite of the grinding poverty in the land, Nigerian legislators are said to be the highest paid in the world.

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“Nigeria’s legislators are said to be the highest paid in the world. The country’s public officers equally receive the highest estacodes in the world. With over 10 aircraft Nigeria has the largest presidential fleet among the developing nations in the world,” he said.

Falana also accused the Central Bank of Nigeria of “dollarization of the economy”.

“In a bid to dollarize the economy and destroys the Nigerian economy, the CBN supplies millions of dollars to the foreign exchange market on a weekly basis,” he said.

“Although Nigeria has become the largest importer of the United States dollars in the world neither the International Monetary Fund, IMF, nor the World Bank has ever questioned the reckless devaluation of the economy.

Even, the National Assembly which is debating the 2015 Appropriation Bill has not deemed it to consider the deleterious effects of the increasing devaluation of the national currency on the implementation of the Budget,” he stated.

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