Reality Check: What we found out about Bayo Onanuga’s infamous claim

Managing Director of the  News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Bayo Onanuga shared a Facebook post where he explicitly opined that the “hardship” that is widely circulated in Nigeria by the media is “mere propaganda to make the Buhari regime look bad”.

According to Onanuga, the Nigerian media is “over-sensationalising the so-called hardship”.

Nigerians heavily criticised him for this seemingly insensitive, apathetic and elitist opinion.

We did a breakdown of Onanuga’s post to decipher who really needs to do that reality-check he suggests for the media.

“My daughter was on the Virgin Atlantic flight that took off from Lagos to London today”.

From our research, the cheapest Virgin Atlantic flight from Lagos to Heathrow is about N431,000.

This, more or less, equals two years’ salary of a minimum wage earner. That’s not the problem here, Bayo Onanuga has been in the public service since the early 80s so we expect that he has made so much for himself financially to afford a Virgin Atlantic flight for his daughter.

As the head of NAN, we assume that Onanuga is aware of the ongoing aviation crisis in the country. Not many Nigerians are financially capable of making foreign travels. So, we’ll leave it at that.

“I asked her to find out whether the plane was filled up or going to London near empty judging by the noisy campaign of a section from the country about the “hardship” in our country. My daughter sent back this one-line text after boarding: “daddy the flight was filled up o””.

Virgin Atlantic airlines operate with different aircraft, including the Boeing 747, Boeing 787, Airbus A330 and Airbus A340. These aircraft have the capacity to lift between 300-600 passengers.

Bayo Onanuga’s daughter is on a flight of about 400 other passengers who can afford a foreign trip. However, Onanuga wants us to believe that these 400 people represent the remaining over 170 million of us. Judging by his deductions.

Who is to say that some of the people on that Virgin Atlantic flight aren’t fleeing from the hardship in Nigeria to seek for “greener pastures” abroad?

“I was in Bauchi and Jos at the weekend, I also found that food was cheap everywhere. In our hotel, we paid about N700 for a plate of semovita or eba with a choice of catfish or chicken “.

Bauchi is one of the Northern states that are recovering from the ill effects of insurgency, though it was one of the least attacked in the region.

About two million victims of Boko Haram from neighbouring states have been forced to take refuge in Bauchi and they are definitely not lodged in hotel rooms.

These people are struggling to settle in camps provided by the state government so we doubt if they can testify that food is cheap everywhere.

“On the roadside, I found to my surprise that with just N1000, I bought over 50 oranges, two giant water melon and 10 pieces of sweet potato”

Farming is the mainstay of the Northern region.

Farm produce are incredibly cheap in the area and even an average secondary school Agricultural Science student is aware of this.

The cost of transporting these farm produce to other parts of the country explains the exorbitant prices they are put up for.

Judging the economic situation in the entire country by a one-time fruit purchase in the North, is illogical.

“I had experienced a similar thing in the market at Abuja, where I found that with N1400, I could make a big vegetable soup, with tomato, pepper and roasted Titus fish”

We doubt if ordinary citizens residing in the state and who make up majority of the Nigerian population can say the same.

“This makes me to wonder whether all the seeming orchestrated campaign in the media was not mere propaganda to make the Buhari regime look bad”

This can be misconstrued as a shallow attempt at currying the favour of the president for a future political appointment.

Whatever his motives are, Onanuga clearly is blind to the current reality of Nigeria and should tender an apology to Nigerians, especially the hardship ridden region of the country.

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