Journalism in the service of society

War has no respect for telecoms or broadcasting

“War is not good. President Putin of Russia is becoming increasingly insular. For declaring a war on another country, businesses including communications and broadcast companies are taking a bolt out of Russia by way of protest”.

WAR is no war game. It is not reality TV or the world of make-believe. It is no time for make-up, pyrotechnics or stunting. What you see is what it is. Reality. Death. Disaster. And destruction in the extreme and very extensive.

The weapons of death find a grotesque means of expression. And the after-effects and the body counts can be inaccurate because some are interred in the debris for eternity.

War is not a good thing. It destroys life. Destroys civilization. And takes humanity back to the age of barbarism. At least what is left of humanity. Life carries no meaning and hopelessness becomes even more nourishing than summarised finality.

War is worse when there is a little bit of psychotic mix, some dolorous hubris wrapped in phantasy. Those who instigate wars become villains forever and history reserves for them a foretaste of damning hell. Condemnation for them is in perpetuity.

As I watch live television of the Russian army raining down bombs on Ukraine cities, I am pained to observe that this is not reality TV; this is comprehensive disaster unfolding before humanity. The immediate and after-effects will be very overwhelming and may serve as a lasting condemnable hold on the conscience of those who, in their powerful positions, prevaricated or totally refused to do something when daring actions were exigent.

So innocence and helplessness are traumatised when not completely mangled, and those who thought they had earned a right to peaceful life have been bombed out of their homes and into a life that may remain strange to them forever.

War is not good. In Ukraine, telecommunications and broadcast facilities were targeted and bombed. TV and phones have become a luxury to people on the run who are now unable to connect with their loved ones trapped in the country because of martial law declaration, and may not be able to connect with them ever again. War is not good.

War is not good. President Putin of Russia is becoming increasingly insular. For declaring a war on another country, businesses including communications and broadcast companies are taking a bolt out of Russia by way of protest. And the government is doing even more by making it impossible for their people to connect to the rest of the world. The world is against Russia, they say. What an irreverent myopia.

Ordinarily, the country lives in a world of its own, some kind of bubble that is very surreal. It’s worse even now. Last week Putin signed the ‘fake news’ law which criminalises the ventilation of news in dissonance with the authorities of Russia and could send journalists to prison for up to ten years. For instance, it may be fake news to even suggest that Russia is losing soldiers in the war with Ukraine or that some of her fighter jets have been shot down. No. You must have the permission of the authorities to ever traverse that route. These are desperate times and more desperate measures may be on the way.

Fake news is not strange to us in this part of the world. Methinks fake news provides a lot of blanket cover for any government that is failing in its responsibilities to its people. Otherwise why would one be afraid of alternative views and suggestions or even of any information that is discomforting to the few but salubrious to the majority in the main.

When people were shot at the Lekki Toll Gate during the #EndSARS protest on October 20, 2020, they said it was fake news. When the power generating authorities in Nigeria cannot give power to the people and businesses, they say it is fake news, when bad fuel is imported into the country and helpless motorists have to spend days and nights at the filling stations, they say it is fake news. In fact the reality of the pain we carry in Nigeria is fake news. Everything is on a roll, and el dorado is the smallest of realities that we enjoy.

Watching Russia and Ukraine brings my attention to my country. Just another look at the two countries, I realise how much damage politicians can cause without ever pausing to think that Armageddon which their actions instigate most of the time spares nobody. Why will they not ever moderate their greed, excesses and lousiness?

The Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) have fought assiduously to make telecommunications facilities critical infrastructure, thus making it an offence for anybody to go on a wilful damage of such infrastructure.

Oftentimes, the actions of politicians lay no expediency to such critical thinking. They make appointments without thinking of the consequences. They make laws and boast they can do anything and nothing will happen. So, they threw away every suggestion to comfort the Nigerian woman in the just amended constitution. Oh, nothing will happen. And the cauldron boils within, with some fragments of discontents, waiting to find an expression one day. Perhaps, a very violent one.

I look at Russia and Ukraine fighting each other, one powerful nation against an easy going one. I also look at our nation and the contradictions within, the crevices that are getting wider everyday, soaking in a lot of blood. And the politicians have hardly taken any serious measures to restore peace and confidence back to the land. But such lethargy and ignoble inaction would always come to an end, not always a pleasant one.

This is why I make this appeal, for the politicians and our lawmakers to make laws that protect the people, laws that guarantee life and offer tomorrow as a better alternative. Without equivocation, war is war, whether it is between nations or among the nationalities within a nation. In the eventuality of a war, everybody suffers, everything suffers. It doesn’t matter whether telecommunications have been declared critical infrastructure or not, war burns everything, war takes everything down, including telecommunications and broadcasting. Telecoms and broadcasting are the first to be attacked in order to keep the people in the dark. War is not good and can hardly be a preferred alternative for dispute resolution.

*Okoh Aihe writes from Abuja

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