Media: What to look out for in 2017

NewspapersImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK
Image captionWhat will be the big themes in the media industry for 2017?

All the forces of change in the media industry are very likely to accelerate in 2017.

Be it the consolidation of companies, technological advances and even the future of the BBC, there will be lots happening.

Here are the 10 themes to look out for.

Pipes meet ideas

The big theme in the media business is the coming consolidation, usually between distributors and owners of content. In other words, those who own the pipes and those who tell the stories and ideas.

Why is this happening? It’s simple. When there is such ferocious competition for eyeballs, the best way to ensure you reach big audiences is to own the delivery mechanism for reaching them.

The proposed (but far from certain) merger between AT&T and Time Warner fits into this theme, as does the (also far from certain) proposed deal between 21st Century Fox and Sky. Look out for Disney bidding for Netflix or Vice, and BT or Liberty bidding for ITV.

MoneyImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK
Image captionBig bids could see consolidation in the media industry

Consolidation also happens when you get sub-sectors that are highly populated while demand for their product is falling.

British newspapers fit this category very well. Fewer people are reading newspapers, yet there is (compared for instance to the US) a huge array of newspapers.

Expect, therefore, a few of them to be bought – perhaps the Daily Telegraph or Daily Express – and expect to hear more soon about the idea of the industry coming together to form a single advertising sales team.

Advertising in the age of Facebook and Google

Facebook and Google account for an ever-growing slice of digital advertising around the globe. Companies wholly dependent on digital advertising may therefore struggle to survive unless their cost bases are low.

The advertising industry is estimated at over $540bn (£440bn) annually. But the threats to it are growing, from “cord-cutting”, whereby consumers ditch satellite and cable services for ad-free subscription services, to ad-blocking and widespread fraud, with concerns that many digital ads aren’t seen by humans.

This was compounded by Facebook’s admission that it had given advertisers false information about the videos seen on the social network.

All together, these pressures have damaged trust and confidence in this vast global industry. This year is going to be a tough one for many chief marketing officers.

The war on truth

I often wonder what philosopher AJ Ayer, who wrote the seminal Language, Truth and Logic in 1936, would have made of the phrase “post-truth politics”.

I suspect he would have said plus ca change. And then he would have reminded us that whereas falsity comes by degrees, truth is absolute.

Fake news siteImage copyrightAP
Image captionFake news became a big factor in 2016

The idea that there are concrete facts we can agree on as a basis for civilised public conversation has taken a pounding of late. The rise of social media’s echo chambers; growth in fake news; state propaganda broadcast in the West (whether Russian, Iranian, or Chinese); and the frenzied campaigns for Brexit and the White House were all threats to the truth.

In 2017 it will be incumbent on all those who believe in truths to prove both that such things exist, and that they are worth knowing.

Paying for quality

World-class media only has a future if it is financially viable, and throughout the history of commerce, asking customers to pay for products they demand has been the surest guarantee of such viability.

Specialist publications from the Spectator to the Economist and the Financial Times have grown their subscriber bases by charging for digital access. So too have general publications like the Times and the New York Times.

If consumers recognise that quality costs and are willing to pay – which the growth of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime suggests is the case in television – 2017 could provide fresh cheer.

Leveson Two

We should know in the coming weeks whether the second phase of the Leveson Inquiry will go ahead, and also whether Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act – which requires papers to bear the costs of legal action brought against them, even if they win – will become law.

Whatever happens, Britain’s newspaper industry won’t accede to what it sees as state regulation of the press without one hell of a fight.

Reporting from danger zones

It should never be forgotten that in many parts of the world, being a journalist is still a subversive act.

I reported recently that, according to Reporters sans Frontiers, 74 journalists died doing their jobs in 2016.

This year, whether that number goes up or down, journalists are certain to be murdered, taken hostage, and used as blackmail.

Pictures of murdered journalistsImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionA number of journalists were murdered in Mexico last year

The sheer danger of reporting from some parts of the world will make those areas information vacuums.

Social media abhors an information vacuum, so our knowledge of places such as Raqqa will continue, unfortunately, to depend on the use of social media by militant groups.

Pressure on the First Amendment

One of the most remarkable stories of 2016 was Peter Thiel’s war on Gawker. The Silicon Valley entrepreneur was outed as gay by the gossip and news website.

In response, he funded a legal action brought by former wrestling champion Hulk Hogan (real name Terrence Bollea), who was furious about the site publishing a sex-tape in which he starred.

The action was successful, in so far as Thiel and Bollea won, rendering Gawker bankrupt. Gawker Media, the parent company, was bought by Univision but gawker.com, the flagship site, was shut down.

In a piece for the New York Times, Thiel said he would do it again. Which raises the question: will other rich individuals who can finance such legal actions be encouraged to take on media organisations?

Perhaps encouraged by Donald Trump’s disdain for the “mainstream media” (Thiel was a Trump supporter), and the rise of the “alt-right”, it’s just possible that free speech will come under attack in America as never before.

Snapchat’s IPO

Already threatening to overtake Twitter in many key measures, from its user base to market value, the video messaging app’s much anticipated Initial Public Offering (IPO), scheduled for the spring, could value it between $20bn and $25bn.

Snapchat logoImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionSnapchat could be valued for as much as $25bn

There are thought to be well more than 10 million users in the UK already, and while Snapchat’s growth among the under-30s gives it a unique appeal to advertisers, the really fascinating thing is how new forms of social media are changing our behaviour.

Teenagers across the country are sending each other videos – or “snaps” – several times a day. What is this doing to our sense of privacy, attention spans, and friendship circles? In 2017, we may begin to find out.

The BBC’s next chapter

A new BBC chairman (or chairwoman) will be announced in the coming days. Whoever gets the role will need to lead a new governance structure, with the BBC Trust having been scrapped and regulatory oversight being passed to Ofcom.

With a new 11-year charter having come into force from 1 January, the BBC needs to find substantial savings, focus on “distinctive content” and compete with the new predators stalking the media jungle such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Aside from those challenges, managing the “Compete and Compare” strategy announced by director general Tony Hall in 2014, whereby many more programmes will be put out to tender rather than made in house, amounts to a radical rethink of the BBC’s place within the industry and our culture more broadly.

Who owns Channel 4?

The future of Channel 4 remains unclear. There has been talk of privatisation, moving to Birmingham or further north, and selling the Channel 4 offices on Horseferry Road in London. A private equity fund could soon offer to buy the broadcaster. But there have been few decisions, as yet.

The anxiety this has induced in staff at Channel 4 is considerable. Chief executive David Abraham and chief creative officer Jay Hunt showed, with their purchase of Great British Bake Off, that they have immense editorial ambition.

With over £1bn in revenues for the sixth year in a row, the channel’s unique model, as a public broadcaster that is commercially funded, has worked well.

In 2017, the broadcaster should – finally – discover what, and where, it’s future will be.

More to come

Aside from all of the above, there are countless other media trends, themes and stories that will flare up in 2017.

Will Adam Crozier move on from ITV, having achieved a turnaround? How many more Chinese people will spend most of their waking hours on WeChat, the remarkable app that has few equivalents in the West? And will digital technology help create a flourishing media sector across Africa, South America and Asia?

So 2017 will be very exciting across media. Watch this space.

Nigeria’s stars mourn Stephen Keshi’s death

Goal.com 14 hours ago

EgyptAir: Crashed flight MS804 ‘did not swerve’

Media captionFootage of items found by the Egyptian military and the search (no sound on this video)

An EgyptAir flight that crashed in the Mediterranean did not swerve and change direction before disappearing, an Egyptian official says.

The Airbus A320 was en route from Paris to Cairo with 66 people aboard when it vanished from radar early on Thursday.

Greece’s defence minister said the plane turned 90 degrees left and then did a 360-degree turn towards the right before plummeting.

But a senior Egyptian aviation official said there was no unusual movement.

Ehab Azmy, the head of Egypt’s state-run provider of air navigation services, told the Associated Press that the plane had been flying at its normal height of 37,000ft (11,280m) before dropping off the radar. Some debris has since been found.

“That fact degrades what the Greeks are saying about the aircraft suddenly losing altitude before it vanished from radar,” he said.

EgyptAir has not yet officially commented on the plane’s final movements, and the reason for the discrepancy between the Greek and Egyptian official’s accounts of the plane crash is not clear.

Greece’s defence minister Panos Kammenos had said the radar showed the Airbus A320 making two sharp turns and dropping more than 25,000ft (7,620m) before plunging into the sea.

Mr Azmy added that there were no problems with the plane as it entered Egyptian airspace, where it was tracked for “nearly a minute or two before it disappeared”.

Greek aviation officials had said air traffic controllers spoke to the pilot when he entered Greek airspace and everything appeared normal.

They tried to contact him again at 02:27 Cairo time, as the plane was set to enter Egyptian airspace, but “despite repeated calls, the aircraft did not respond”.

Last week, the Aviation Herald reported that smoke detectors went off in the plane’s toilet and the aircraft’s electrics three minutes before it disappeared.

Flight MS804's possibly final movements
Media captionBBC transport correspondent Richard Westcott looks at the possible meaning of EgyptAir’s smoke alerts

In a statement to Egypt’s al-Ahram newspaper, Mr Azmy also denied a report there had been contact between the pilot of the plane and Egyptian air traffic control.

Mr Azmy did not elaborate on his denial to al-Ahram in further interviews with AP and Reuters.

On Sunday, Egypt deployed a robot submarine to search for the flight data recorders of the missing EgyptAir plane.

President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi said there was “no particular theory we can affirm right now” for what caused flight MS804 to crash.

Egypt’s civil aviation minister has said the possibility of a terror attack was stronger than technical failure, but Mr Sisi said establishing the cause could take a long time, adding “all scenarios are possible”.

Black box flight recorders
Media captionRichard Westcott reports from a ‘black box’ investigation centre in the UK

The Egyptian military released images on Saturday of life vests, personal items and debris showing the EgyptAir logo which were found during the search in the Mediterranean Sea.

The search has also reportedly found body parts and luggage. The main body of the plane and the two “black boxes” which record flight data and cockpit transmissions have not yet been located.

Air accident investigator Hani Galal told Reuters that, when found, the flight recorders would be analysed in Egypt, unless they were badly damaged. They are believed to be in waters between 2,500m and 3,000m deep.

map

Greece begins moving migrants from Idomeni camp

  • 1 hour ago
  • From the sectionEurope
Police inspect tents at makeshift refugee camp at the Greek-Macedonian border near Idomeni, Tuesday, May 24, 2016Image copyrightAP
Image captionPolice could be seen moving among tents in the camp early on Tuesday

Greece has begun evacuating thousands of stranded migrants from the makeshift Idomeni camp on its northern border with Macedonia.

The operation began at dawn and witnesses reported police vehicles and buses standing by to transfer people to better organised facilities.

Hundreds of riot police have been deployed but officials say force will not be used.

At least 8,400 people – many of them women and children – are at the camp.

Most of them had been on their way to northern Europe when they became stranded after Macedonia closed its border with Greece.

They have been promised much better facilities at newly-created asylum processing centres near Greece’s second city Thessaloniki.

At least four bus loads of migrants were seen leaving the camp on Tuesday morning, with others leaving on foot or by taxi.

The migrants, mostly from conflict zones in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, had been reluctant to move away from the border – despite having to sleep in tents in very difficult conditions.

Media captionSamih came to the Idomeni camp in February and wasn’t able to continue his journey north. He showed the BBC what daily life is like.

But the mood among migrants was one of resignation in recent days, reports the BBC’s Yolande Knell from the scene.

One Syrian, Rezan, who has been living in the camp since early March, told the BBC he did not want to leave, but would if he had to.

“I prepared my bags. If they didn’t use force, I will stay for a while, but if they use force, I didn’t come here to fight anybody. I will just go. I escaped from Syria because I don’t want to fight anybody,” he said.

Migrants seen getting on coaches to leave Idomeni, on 24 May 2016Image copyrightAP
Image captionMigrants were seen getting on to buses at Idomeni…
A woman and her children on a bus leaving Idomeni, on 24 May 2016Image copyrightAP
Image captionMany are being taken to specially-created facilities near Thessaloniki

Police prevented journalists entering the camp on Tuesday morning but at least 20 police vans were seen going in while a police helicopter monitored the operation.

Giorgos Christides, a journalist at the camp for the German magazine Der Spiegel, told the BBC that police were determined to clear one part of the camp on Tuesday.

They are planning to complete the operation within 10 days, he added.

Speaking on Monday, government spokesman Giorgos Kyritsis told Greek television all migrants would be moved.

“A thing like Idomeni cannot be maintained. It only serves the interests of smugglers,” he said.

Migrants walk through mud at the migrant camp in Idomeni, Greece, Sunday 22 May 2016.Image copyrightAP
Image captionDespite miserable conditions, migrants have wanted to stay near the border
Migrants wait for the distribution of aid at Idomeni, Greece, Monday, May 23, 2016Image copyrightAP
Image captionAid agencies have struggled to help people in the squalid camp

Also on Monday, police were reported to have started removing about 2,000 people who have been blocking the rail track on the border.

The tracks have been blocked by the migrants for more than a month, forcing trains to re-route through Bulgaria further to the east.

Mr Kyritsis said that while the government did plan to reopen the railway, it was not planning a police sweep operation at the camp.

“Removing all the refugees from the disgrace which is Idomeni is in their own interest,” he said. “The rail track will open for the train to pass through normally but the fundamental thing is for the people to be transferred to where the conditions are humane.”

Macedonia’s decision to stop migrants crossing the border from Greece followed an announcement by Austria, further north, that it was tightening its own border controls.

Since then other Balkan countries have closed their own borders.

More than a million undocumented refugees and other migrants have entered the EU by boat from Turkey to Greece since early last year, generating an unprecedented crisis for the EU’s 28 member-states.

The European Commission told journalists on Monday it welcomed any initiative by Greece to evacuate migrants and move them to organised reception facilities.


A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.

Australian Craig Wright claims to be Bitcoin creator

  • 2 May 2016
  • From the section Technology
  • 674 comments
Media caption Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright says he is Mr Bitcoin

Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright has publicly identified himself as Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto.

His admission follows years of speculation about who came up with the original ideas underlying the digital cash system.

Mr Wright has provided technical proof to back up his claim using coins known to be owned by Bitcoin’s creator.

Prominent members of the Bitcoin community and its core development team say they have confirmed his claims.

But many others in the Bitcoin world are asking for more proof.

Signed blocks

Mr Wright has revealed his identity to three media organisations – the BBC, the Economist and GQ.

At the meeting with the BBC, Mr Wright digitally signed messages using cryptographic keys created during the early days of Bitcoin’s development. The keys are inextricably linked to blocks of bitcoins known to have been created or “mined” by Satoshi Nakamoto.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto was wrongly identified as the inventor of Bitcoin in 2014

“These are the blocks used to send 10 bitcoins to Hal Finney in January [2009] as the first bitcoin transaction,” said Mr Wright during his demonstration.

Renowned cryptographer Hal Finney was one of the engineers who helped turn Mr Wright’s ideas into the Bitcoin protocol, he said.

“I was the main part of it, but other people helped me,” he said.

Soon after Mr Wright went public, Gavin Andresen, chief scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation, published a blog backing his claim.

“I believe Craig Steven Wright is the person who invented Bitcoin,” he wrote.

Jon Matonis, an economist and one of the founding directors of the Bitcoin Foundation, said he was convinced that Mr Wright was who he claimed to be.

“During the London proof sessions, I had the opportunity to review the relevant data along three distinct lines: cryptographic, social, and technical,” he said.

“It is my firm belief that Craig Wright satisfies all three categories.”

Mr Wright said he planned to release information that would allow others to cryptographically verify that he is Satoshi Nakamoto.

Not everyone has been convinced by Mr Wright’s claims and the technical proof he put in his blog. Some cryptographers and developers who worked through the information provided said they had trouble getting verifiable information out of it.

Security expert Dan Kaminsky said the procedure was almost “maliciously resistant” to validation.

Many people have called on Mr Wright to go further in proving his identify.


How Bitcoin works

Bitcoin is often referred to as a new kind of currency.

But it may be best to think of its units being virtual tokens rather than physical coins or notes.

However, like all currencies its value is determined by how much people are willing to exchange it for.

To process Bitcoin transactions, a procedure called “mining” must take place, which involves a computer solving a difficult mathematical problem with a 64-digit solution.

For each problem solved, one block of Bitcoins is processed. In addition the miner is rewarded with new Bitcoins.

Image copyright Eyewire
Image caption Verifying bitcoin transactions takes a lot of computer power

This provides an incentive for people to provide computer processing power to solve the problems.

To compensate for the growing power of computer chips, the difficulty of the puzzles is adjusted to ensure a steady stream of new Bitcoins are produced each day.

There are currently about 15 million Bitcoins in existence.

To receive a Bitcoin, a user must have a Bitcoin address – a string of 27-34 letters and numbers – which acts as a kind of virtual post-box to and from which the Bitcoins are sent.

Since there is no registry of these addresses, people can use them to protect their anonymity when making a transaction.

These addresses are in turn stored in Bitcoin wallets, which are used to manage savings.

They operate like privately run bank accounts – with the proviso that if the data is lost, so are the Bitcoins owned.


‘I want to work’

By going public, Mr Wright hopes to put an end to press speculation about the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto. The New Yorker, Fast Company, Newsweek and many other media organisations have all conducted long investigations seeking Bitcoin’s creator and named many different people as candidates.

In December 2015, two magazines, Wired and Gizmodo, named Mr Wright as a candidate after receiving documents believed to be stolen from him that revealed his involvement with the project.

Soon after these stories were published, authorities in Australia raided the home of Mr Wright. The Australian Taxation Office said the raid was linked to a long-running investigation into tax payments rather than Bitcoin.

Questioned about this raid, Mr Wright said he was cooperating fully with the ATO.

“We have lawyers negotiating with them over how much I have to pay,” he said.

The stories in December have led to many more journalists and others pursuing him and people he knows, he said.

“There are lots of stories out there that have been made up and I don’t like it hurting those people I care about,” he said. “I don’t want any of them to be impacted by this.”

Image copyright Valve Software
Image caption Game network Steam is one of many sites that now accept Bitcoins as payment

“I have not done this because it is what I wanted. It’s not because of my choice,” he said, adding that he had no plans to become the figurehead for bitcoins.

“I really do not want to be the public face of anything,” he said, expressing regret that he had been forced to reveal his identity.

“I would rather not do it,” he said. “I want to work, I want to keep doing what I want to do. I don’t want money. I don’t want fame. I don’t want adoration. I just want to be left alone.”

Bitcoins are now accepted as payment for a vast variety of goods and services – everything from international money transfers to ransoms for data encrypted by computer viruses. There are currently about 15.5 million bitcoins in circulation. Each one is worth about $449 (£306).

Satoshi Nakamoto is believed to have amassed about one million Bitcoins which would give him a net worth, if all were converted to cash, of about $450m.

5 May 2016: Clarification

The original headline and text of this story was changed on the day of publication (2 May 2016).

The headline “Bitcoin creator reveals his identity” was amended to read “Australian Craig Wright claims to be Bitcoin creator”.

The text of the article was also changed to recognise there was still doubt about Craig Wright’s claim.

Calls for More Aid for Japan Quake Zone as Toll Rises to 42 Dead

Mari Yamaguchi / AP April 18, 2016

Japan Earthquake

Japan Earthquake
Takuya Inaba—AP
Members of Japan’s Self-Defense Force search for missing persons at the site of a landslide in Minamiaso, Kumamoto prefecture, Japan Monday, April 18, 2016.
10 people remain missing and access to many areas has been cut off

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU
Michael Strahan’s Departure Has Made Kelly Ripa’s Live! the Next Daytime Soap
Michael Strahan’s Departure Has Made Kelly Ripa’s Live! the Next…
Day of ‘Purple Rain’ in Minnesota Marks Prince’s Death
Day of ‘Purple Rain’ in Minnesota Marks Prince’s Death
Fire Destroys Indian Museum of Natural History
Fire Destroys Indian Museum of Natural History
These Celebrity Pets Are Almost As Famous As Their Owners Promoted
These Celebrity Pets Are Almost As Famous As Their Owners
Recommended by
(MINAMIASO, Japan) — The U.S. military prepared to join relief efforts Monday in disaster-stricken areas of southern Japan as authorities struggled to feed and care for tens of thousands of people who sought shelter after two powerful earthquakes that killed at least 42 people.

Ten people remained missing, and rescuers were redoubling search efforts on the southern island of Kyushu, where many areas were cut off by landslides and road and bridge damage. Forecasts for heavy rains, which would make land and collapsed buildings even more unstable, added to the urgency of the searches.

Toyota Motor Corp. said it would shut down most of its vehicle production in Japan over the course of this week because of parts shortages stemming from the earthquakes. Nissan Motor Co. also halted production at some facilities.

With 180,000 people seeking shelter, some evacuees said that food distribution was a meager two rice balls for dinner.

“We are doing our best,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told lawmakers when challenged by the opposition over the government’s handling of the relief effort. “We are striving to improve living conditions for the people who have sought refuge.”

“Today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, we will be working toward a full recovery,” Abe said.

Gradually some roads were being reopened, and older men in security guard uniforms were helping to direct traffic in the drizzly weather.

U.S. Forces, Japan, said troops were preparing to provide aerial support for Japan’s relief efforts. The U.S. has major Air Force, Navy and Marine bases in Japan, and stations about 50,000 troops in the country.

Many whose homes were not seriously damaged sought shelter as the area was rocked by more than 500 aftershocks from two big quakes that struck late Thursday night and in the early hours of Saturday.

“Without water and electricity, we can’t do anything. Without the TV on, we can’t even get information about disaster relief operations,” said Megumi Kudo, 51, standing in a line for water outside a community center in Aso city. “We can’t take a bath, not even a shower.”

Kudo came with his wife and a 12-year-old daughter, carrying several empty gallon-size plastic containers to get water while his 80-year-old mother waited at home. “It’s better to be prepared than sorry, as we learned the hard way,” he said.

His house survived, despite major roof damage, but like many, the family was sleeping in their cars.

A few blocks away, 75-year-old Tokio Miyamoto said he was wary of sleeping alone in his house, so he was lugging his futon bedding every evening to an evacuation center. “It’s a hassle, but it’s too scary to be alone,” he said.

Miyamoto said the evacuation center was short of food, with only a couple of rice balls per meal for each person.

Japanese media said most of those missing were in Minamiaso, a mountain village southwest of 1,592-meter (5,223-foot) Mount Aso, the largest active volcano in Japan. There, dozens of troops, police and other rescue workers were shoveling debris and searching through places where they may have been buried.

A few stretchers were on hand in case anyone was found alive.

Earthquakes on successive nights struck Kumamoto city and the surrounding region late last week. Nine people died in the first earthquake, and 33 in the second. Kumamoto, a city of 740,000, is on Kyushu island.

About 80,000 homes in Kumamoto prefecture still didn’t have electricity Sunday, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said. Japanese media reported earlier that an estimated 400,000 households were without running water.

The areas of Kyushu affected by the quake include technology hubs and other manufacturing, and the disruptions to transport and logistics were expected to ripple through the economy.

Toyota’s shutdown began Monday at a factory in Kyushu and was to progress to other plants in Japan through Friday. The company said resumption of operations would depend on the availability of parts.

Other companies, including Sony, have announced stoppages of some of their factories in Kyushu.

Buhari’s Fulani herdsmen are a standing army,The Sons of Futa Jalon, By Fani-Kayode

0
130
Share on Facebook
Tweet on Twitter

 

I HAVE WRITTEN THIS ESSAY WITH EVERY SENSE OF CAUTION AND RESPONSIBILITY. I HAVE BEEN TOLD THAT MY PEN IS LIKE A TIME-BOMB SO PERMIT ME TO SETTLE A COUPLE OF ISSUES AND SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT… I DO NOT SEEK TO INSULT ANYONE OR ANY GROUP OF PEOPLE OR TO SEEK THE BREAK-UP OF NIGERIA THROUGH ARMED STRUGGLE WITH THIS WRITE UP OR ANY OTHER WRITE-UP. I DEPLORE VIOLENCE AND I AM A MAN OF PEACE. I AM AN ESSAYIST, AN INTELLECTUAL AND A HISTORIAN AND THIS TWO-PART ESSAY IS SIMPLY MY CONTRIBUTION TO MY UNDERSTANDING OF OUR HISTORY, NATIONAL DISCOURSE AND OUR LITERARY ARCHIVES.

On October 2nd, 2014, Alhaji Aliyu Gwarzo, a prominent Fulani leader from Kano, said the following words toPointblanknews magazine. He said, “when I say that the presidency must come to the North next year, I am referring to the Hausa-Fulani core North and not any Northern Christian or Muslim minority tribe.

The Christians in the North, such as the Berom, the Tiv, the Kataf, the Jaba, the Zuru, the Sayyawa, the Bachama, the Jukun, the Idoma and all the others are nothing and the muslim minorities in the North, including the Kanuri, the Nupe, the Igbira, the Babur, the Shuwa Arabs, the Marghur and all the others know that when we are talking about leadership in the North and in Nigeria, Allah has given it to us, the Hausa-Fulani.

They can grumble, moan and groan as much as they want but each time they go into their bedrooms to meet their wives and each time they get on their prayer mats to begin their prayers, it is we the Fulani that they think of, that they fear, that they bow to and that they pray for.

Some of them are even ready to give us their wives and daughters for one night’s sport and pleasure. They owe us everything. This is because we gave them Islam through the great Jihad waged by our father, the great Usuman Dan Fodio.

We also captured Ilorin, killed their local King and installed our Fulani Emir. We took that ancient town away from the barbarian Yoruba and their filthy pagan gods. We liberated all these places and all these people by imposing Islam on them by force.

It was either the Koran or the sword, and most of them chose the Koran. In return for the good works of our forefathers, Allah, through the British, gave us Nigeria to rule and to do with as we please. Since 1960 we have been doing that and we intend to continue.

No Goodluck or anyone else will stop us from taking back our power next year. We will kill, maim, destroy and turn this country into Africa’s biggest war zone and refugee camp if they try it.

Many say we are behind Boko Haram. My answer is what do you expect? We do not have economic power or intellectual power. All we have is political power and they want to take even that from us.

We must fight and we will fight back in order to keep it. They have brought in the infidels from America and the pigs from Israel to help them but they will fail. The war has just begun, the Mujahedeen are more than ready and by Allah we shall win.

If they don’t want an ISIS in Nigeria then they must give us back the presidency and our political power. Their soldiers are killing our warriors and our people every day but mark this: even if it takes one hundred years, we will have our revenge.

Every Fulani man that they kill is a debt that will be repaid, even if it takes 100 years. The Fulani have very long memories”.

THE TRUTH IS THAT WE ARE UNDER OCCUPATION. IF IT IS NOT THE FULANI HERDSMEN THAT ARE TORMENTING US, THEN IT IS BOKO HARAM. IF IT IS NOT BOKO HARAM, THEN IT IS OUR VERY OWN ARMED FORCES WHO ARE UNDER ORDERS FROM OUR OPPRESSORS.

Men like Alhaji Aliyu Gwarzo have clearly become prisoners of their own vain fantasies and dark delusions. They represent the “Chief Whip” or “the heavy muscle” within the Fulani ruling class. They are direct, crude, threatening and vulgar, and they come across like boastful bullies and motor-park touts. Yet despite this, they must be taken very seriously because they represent an increasingly powerful and strong-willed tendency within the circles of caliphate power and the Fulani ruling elite.

A slightly more refined yet equally eloquent testimony of their battle-ready temperement and mindset was provided by none other than President Muhammadu Buhari himself in 2013 when he said that if what happened in 2011 during the presidential elections happens again in 2015 and he ends up losing to President Goodluck Jonathan, who happens to be a southern christian, “the dog and the baboon will both be soaked in blood”. His words are few yet his point was well understood.

Finally, let us consider the contribution of the respected elder statesman, Alhaji Lawal Kaita, to the discourse when he said, before the presidential election in 2011, that “power must return to the North otherwise we (meaning northerners) would make the country ungovernable”. Jonathan went ahead to win the election and Lawal Kaita and co. went ahead to honour their word: from 2011 till 2015, making the country ungovernable they certainly did.

These are shocking and deeply troubling contributions from these Fulani leaders and the import of their insidious threats are self-evident. They need no further analysis or explanation here.

In the light of all this one thing remains clear: it is time for us to do whatever it is that we must do to save our country, and if those that believe that they own it refuse to be reasonable and fair to the rest of us, perhaps we should consider the possibility of redefining her.

We warned the Nigerian people but they would not listen. Sadly things are bound to get far worse before they get any better. The sons and daughters of Futa Jalon will not rest until they have completely conquered and subjugated the whole of our country.

The Fulani herdsmen are a standing army. They are protected by the state and there is nothing anyone can do about it. That is the new Nigeria for you.

The truth is that we are under occupation. If it is not the Fulani herdsmen that are tormenting us, then it is Boko Haram. If it is not Boko Haram, then it is our very own Armed Forces who are under orders from our oppressors.

Most Nigerians are in denial of what is going on and some are just too intimidated and cowardly to acknowledge the problem, let alone to speak out against or attempt to resist it.

WHY NIGERIA SHOULD BE BROUGHT INTO THE IRAN/SAUDI CONFLICT IN THIS WAY AND TURNED INTO A POTENTIAL THEATRE FOR A MIDDLE EASTERN PROXY WAR IS BEYOND THE COMPREHENSION OF MOST COMMENTATORS, GIVEN THE OBVIOUS DANGERS ATTACHED TO IT.

We are in a mess and our collective enemies and tormentors are evil and relentless.

When it comes to the field of foreign policy, our president has jettisoned our traditional policy of non-alignment when it comes to the politics of the Middle East.

He just came back from Qatar and Saudi Arabia where he declared his total and complete support for the Palestinians and literally turned his back on the State of Israel. This was a fatal mistake.

Hearing him say it broke my heart, just as it did the hearts of millions of other Nigerians who are friends of Israel and who are committed to her cause.

In this respect, if only President Buhari understood the spiritual implications of what he has done perhaps he would have reconsidered his decision.

Whatever the case, Israel is here to stay forever with Jerusalem as her eternal and undivided capital. Nothing can change that: not even a million Saudi Arabias and Qatars or all the kings and princes of the world.

On March 5th, in an interview aired on Al Jazeera television and which was conducted whilst he was in Qatar, President Buhari dropped another bombshell by saying that Nigeria would indeed join the Saudi Arabian-led coalition of 34 muslim countries which is known as ISMAT.

This represented a departure from his earlier position when he had categorically ruled this course of action out. Naturally many christians and Shia muslims in our country were astonished by this u-turn, given the fact that Nigeria is a multi-religious secular state with at least 50 percent of her population being christian.

They are also apprehensive because ISMAT is essentially a Sunni Muslim military alliance whose main purpose is to stand as a counter balance to the growing military power and influence of Shia Muslim Iran.

Why Nigeria should be brought into the Iran/Saudi conflict in this way and turned into a potential theatre for a Middle Eastern proxy war is beyond the comprehension of most commentators, given the obvious dangers attached to it.

THE NIGERIA OF TODAY REMINDS ME OF YUGOSLAVIA BEFORE ITS CIVIL WAR AND BEFORE IT BROKE UP INTO FIVE SEPARATE COUNTRIES. I SEE AND SMELL BLOOD IN THE LAND AND WE ARE LIVING IN VERY DANGEROUS TIMES.

When Al Jazeera questioned him about the fact that this move has caused immense anxiety and apprehension to the Christian Association of Nigeria and to the massive christian population in our country, President Buhari responded by asking why he should be concerned about the views of those “religious bigots” and that instead of complaining “the christians should organise themselves and go and fight against terrorism and the militants in the south”.

Such an insulting, abysmal and bellicose attitude and aggressive response confirms the fears of many that our government is not only interested in establishing an ethnic Fulani hegemony in our country but that they also wish to islamise our nation and put into effect the stated intention, dream and objective of the late Saurdana of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, of “dipping the Koran in the Atlantic ocean”.

They wish to continue the Saurdana’s avowed march, and to islamise and conquer Southern Nigeria, much in the same way that his great grandfather, Usman Dan Fodio, had conquered and islamised the North two hundred and six years ago.

Such a reckless and dangerous course of action will undoubtedly be resisted, and consequently the truth is that we are really in trouble in this country.

The Nigeria of today reminds me of Yugoslavia before its civil war and before it broke up into five separate countries. I see and smell blood in the land and we are living in very dangerous times.

The Fulanis are like the Serbs of old in Yugoslavia: dominating, cunning and relentless. They have their own ethnic and religious militias and they are also fully in power. The only difference is that the Serbs were christians whilst the Fulani are muslims.

They both used their religious faiths to muster support and effect their purpose. One day though their yoke shall be broken and we shall be set free.

Until then, we must muster our strength and courage and stand firm against violence, hate, religious intolerance, injustice, oppression, tyranny and evil.

We must ensure that we do not resort to violence under any circumstances but at the same time we must be firm in our resolve that we shall never be turned into slaves in our own land.

We must reach out to all those who share our vision and we must work together with all ethnic groups in this country who share our values and who seek unity and peace.

MAY THE SOULS OF ALL THOSE THAT WERE CUT SHORT BY THE TERRORISTS AND ETHNIC SUPREMACISTS FROM 1960 UP UNTIL TODAY, INCLUDING ALL THOSE INNOCENT SOULS AND LITTLE CHILDREN THAT WERE MURDERED DURING OUR CIVIL WAR, REST IN PEACE. GOD BLESS NIGERIA.

As we contend with the enemy, we must be courageous and firm in our resolve. We must shed all our fears and we must be ready to suffer persecution and to lose our lives or liberty if that is what is required to effect our purpose and to advance our cause.

We must be prepared to pay any price in order to secure and protect our liberty and to ensure a greater and better future for our loved ones and our children.

Finally, as we confront our collective enemies we must do so with confidence and strength. We must invoke the words and memory of David, the greatest of all of the Kings of Israel, when he met Goliath in the field of battle.

As the giant issued his famous challenge, boasted loudly and poured insults and scorn on the Jewish army and their God, young David looked him in the eye and defiantly asked “who is this uncircumcised Philistine that has chosen to defy the armies of the Living God?”

He said, “thy servant slew the lion and the bear. And so it shall be for this uncircumcised Philistine who has chosen to defy the army of the Living God”.

He said, “you come against me with shield and spear but I come against you in the name of the Lord God of Hosts, the God of the Armies of Israel. Today He shall hand you over to me and I shall slay you and feed your flesh to the birds of the air”.

And so it shall be for the Goliaths in our land.

May the souls of all those that were cut short by the terrorists and ethnic supremacists from 1960 up until today, including all those innocent souls and little children that were murdered during our civil war, rest in peace. God bless Nigeria.

ADDENDUM: I have written this essay with every sense of caution and responsibility. I have been told that my pen is like a time-bomb so permit me to settle a couple of issues and set the record straight.

I am not a racist, a tribalist or a religious bigot. I have nothing against Muslims and I have many Muslim friends and family members whom I have immense respect and affection for. I do not hate members of the Fulani tribe because one eight of the blood that flows through my veins is Fulani.

I do not seek to incite anyone to violence or to hatred against any ethnic group, against any individual, against any political party or against President Mohammadu Buhari or his government with this write up.

I do not seek to insult anyone or any group of people or to seek the break-up of Nigeria through armed struggle with this write up or any other write-up. I deplore violence and I am a man of peace. I am an essayist, an intellectual and a historian and this two-part essay is simply my contribution to my understanding of our history, national discourse and our literary archives.

HOW WILL HISTORY, POSTERITY AND JUSTICE JUDGE US AND BE SERVED IF WE ALL KEEP QUIET AND ACT AS IF WE DO NOT RECOGNISE THE FACT THAT THERE IS EVIL IN THE LAND?

I believe that we live in a country that free speech is guaranteed by the constitution and this write-up is simply the expression of my opinion on a burning national issue that has become the subject of much public and private discussion in Nigeria. I have no apology to anyone for the contents of this essay though it is regrettable if anyone feels offended by it. My intention is not to offend but to state the facts and put the case.

Finally the question is often asked, “FFK, why do you write things like this?” The answer is simple and clear and it is as follows. I am a servant of truth and this is my calling. If I don’t write and expose these things, who will speak out for the voiceless victims of these terrible atrocities and injustices and who will tell their story? Equally importantly who will challenge and expose the perpetrators? If I don’t do it, who will speak truth to power?

How will history, posterity and justice judge us and be served if we all keep quiet and act as if we do not recognise the fact that there is evil in the land?

HOW CAN WE SLEEP WELL AT NIGHT AND FACE OUR GOD IN PRAYER WHEN WE KNOW THAT OUR COMPLICIT AND CONSPIRATORIAL SILENCE IS BORNE OUT OF NOTHING BUT COWARDICE AND FEAR? THAT IS WHY I WRITE THE SORT OF THINGS THAT I HAVE WRITTEN IN THIS ESSAY AND AS LONG AS INJUSTICE AND EVIL REIGNS IN THE LAND I SHALL CONTINUE TO DO SO.

How can we claim to be righteous and good men and women when we close our eyes, bury the truth and pretend that we cannot see the evil?

How can we sleep well at night and face our God in prayer when we know that our complicit and conspiratorial silence is borne out of nothing but cowardice and fear? That is why I write the sort of things that I have written in this essay and as long as injustice and evil reigns in the land I shall continue to do so.

I look forward to rejoinders from those who do not share my views with as much joy as I look forward to reading essays from those who do. Thank you.