24 February 2017

African Press Review 24 February 2017


To Kenya first where the papers have been frothing at the mouth, as it were, over the use by a US TV network of authentic footage of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall.

The Fox channel drama 24: Legacy is a popular series following the

adventures of an ex-US Army Ranger.

The latest episode aired on Monday included graphic news footage shot during the Westgate attack in September 2013 in which al-Shabaab Islamist gunmen killed at least 69 people and left many more wounded in a four-day siege.

In the episode it is represented as an attack in Alexandria, Egypt with more than 200 people killed - "including 18 Americans".

It triggered outrage in Kenya. Many Kenyans took to Twitter, using the hashtags #SomeOneTellFox and #Westgate, saying it was insensitive of Fox to use the footage.

The Kenya Film Classification Board went further, says the Daily Nation, describing the episode as a "repulsive, insensitive and reckless piece of art that heartlessly evokes the painful memories of the tragic terror attack". This morning's paper quotes Fox producers as saying, "We apologise for any pain caused to the victims and their families and are deeply sorry." The paper reports the series' producers have promised that the offending footage will be removed from all future broadcasts and versions of the show.

In Nigeria, the papers continue their coverage of the long-running soap opera featuring President Muhammadu Buhari's continued absence in London.

The Guardian declares that "the lack of openness about President Buhari's condition has been costly."

"Perhaps no other piece of news has arrested the attention of the nation or captivated our collective consciousness these three weeks past than the poorly-managed vacation of President Muhammadu Buhari," the paper says.

"For some inordinately inexplicable reasons, an advertised holiday retreat of the nation's chief executive has turned into an eerie tale of banal official inconsistencies, half truths and downright fabrications."

The Senate president told the press after his visit that the president was "his normal funny self", the paper reminds us. "But Nigerians can legitimately suspect that this is not a normal situation. Visits by multiple government figures, in person, to a president who is 'not ill', who is 'hale and hearty' and 'only on vacation', does not seem normal."

The Guardian goes on to say that "President Buhari's trip has been extended, officially because of a need for more rest. But if as it seems that the President, who is 74 years old, is ill, Nigerians deserve to know the full extent of his health condition."

The Daily Trust online meanwhile screens a three-minute video of Kano State governor Abdullahi Ganduje in conversation with Buhari. It's the governor who is pictured, you understand, not Buhari. Fairly weird stuff.

The Lagos-based paper Vanguard has a story headlined "Buhari's health and the groundless call for resignation."

In Vanguard's opinion, Nigeria, like any democratic state around the world, is a republic with her affairs governed by rule of law as against cacophony of opinions, mob rule and rule of whims and caprices of some individuals or groups.

In this light, the paper declares, there is no vacuum and neither has the country plunged into any constitutional crises to warrant calls for the removal or resignation of the president.

The popular daily This Day finds an original angle on the story in a piece headlined "Buhari's Vacation: The Hurdles to Curbing Medical Tourism."

"While President Buhari's government has tried to curb medical tourism by discouraging its officials from accessing health care abroad, his own trip to London for medical reasons has undermined Nigeria's health care system," the paper says.

This Day notes that current funding for the country's health care sector is not enough to tackle even 25 percent of the needs of an average Nigerian for the year.

For Nigeria to attain its goal of being a medical hub for its citizens and neighbouring countries, the sector must be adequately funded.

Top marks to This Day for widening the story beyond the political toadying and sniping and addressing the concerns of ordinary Nigerians.


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