November 19, 2023

The British Broadcasting -Confusion (BBC) - Obi Nwakanma

I still do remember growing up, my father waking, and shaving with the BBC. Against a background of the bleep-bleep-bleep signal of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s World Service, he would do his private chores, and prepare for work. The BBC Foreign Service having fortified his appetite for “real news,” he would then switch to the Local Radio for Morning News. This was an unwavering ritual. For that generation, there was some naΓ―ve sense that the BBC carried real news and was committed to pietist truth. I did too for many years. Until I began to see the underbelly of the British Broadcasting Corporation. The small chinks in its armor became in large part, wide cracks that left me both puzzled and annoyed.
Many of us chose to enter the profession of journalism on the key faith in the power of journalism, not to right wrongs, but to tell the truth, and offer people the opportunity to right wrongs. I do not think the BBC is committed to truth. It became clear that the BBC perfected the subtle dance between what it has always avowed as its independence and neutrality, its stakes within the establishment, and the protection of the key interests of the British Empire.
The BBC was never truthful or neutral. It was always embedded with the establishment. For instance, it was the outlet for top British propaganda and a vehicle for Imperial disinformation. As the sociologist Tom Mills wrote in his very revealing book, The BBC: Myth of a Public Service, the BBC World Service is “deeply embedded in the foreign policy, Security and Intelligence apparatus of the British state.” It is largely funded by the Foreign Office. The BBC was for instance in close partnership with the British Information and Research Department (IRD) which used it wittingly as an outlet for unattributable propaganda.
The IRD was a very intriguing part of the British Foreign Office. In one of the intriguing exposes of the IRD in the British press, the Guardian of London revealed that the IRD’s Special Education Unit (SEU) crafted the IRD's “most sensitive operations,” ran its propaganda missions around the world against organizations or people deemed to be threats to British interests, and worked closely with the British M16. See a link to the story here: <> The BBC was its conduit in these operations. A very important example of these operations that the Guardian gives was the June 7, 1976, BBC hack job on its Current Affairs program, Panorama, against the Italian Communist Party the Partito Communista Italiano (PCI), the largest Communist Party in Europe which it reported was “on the threshold of power” in Italy. The problem was that the British government and its allies did not want the Communists to come to power in Italy, so they deployed the IRD and the BBC to subvert the credibility of the party and to delegitimize its leader, Enrico Berlinguer, through well-crafted messaging and public disinformation tactics. Its conduit was the BBC. According to the Guardian of London, using the BBC and its tactics of disinformation, the IRD incited mass murder in Indonesia in the 1960s and ran a secret and effective smear campaign against the Kenya leftist politician, Odinga Odinga.
In fact, one of the very important examples that the Guardian unsurprisingly omitted was the use of the IRD by the Foreign Office between 1947 right up to the declaration of the Republic in 1963, to attack and subvert the leader of the Nigerian Nationalist Movement, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, and the Nationalist party, the NCNC. It did not end there: in 1966, the IRD in a most virulent campaign of disinformation launched against the January 15, 1966 coup delegitimized it by calling it “an Ibo(sic) coup.” Again, using the BBC, it launched a campaign of calumny that instigated the pogrom of the Igbo in the North. But many Nigerians however, still cotton on to the BBC, and have been stuck with the impression it gave, of providing the “real news.” The unvarnished truth. But increasingly, with a more critical and discerning population, the status of the BBC as the to-go place for public truth is now under serious scrutiny, and therefore in rapid decline.
We now know that the history of the BBC is quite dark. It is the first purveyor and practitioner of what we now generally call “fake news.” This fact was driven home for me this week, as the “Global Disinformation” desk of the BBC World Service circulated what some Nigerians say can only be the fakest of “fake news:” that there is no evidence that Mr. Tinubu forged his Chicago State University records submitted to Nigeria’s INEC. Institutions like the BBC no longer have monopolies of access to vital sources of public information. Transcripts of the court deposition on the Tinubu case are now publicly available on various social media platforms, and the evidence is there: the CSU certificate which Mr. Bola Ahmed (or is it Adekunle now?) submitted to INEC was forged, and as the registrar of the Chicago State University averred, was not issued to Tinubu by the University. This fact is clear and established.
Whatever else the Supreme Court to which this evidence has been submitted does with it, is now a different matter. But the BBC was not wrong it was brazenly dishonest in making claims about Tinubu and the veracity of his certificate. Mr. Atiku Abubakar, the Presidential candidate of the PDP did not waste his time. He secured a clear declaration by the CSU over the authenticity of the Tinubu certificates. He pursued this matter to the US courts in Chicago.
Nigerians are already familiar with the drama leading to the court's order to the Chicago State University to release Tinubu’s academic records to Atiku Abubakar. CSU hedged, and dawdled, but it ultimately was deposed, and the questions before it include: Did Bola Ahmed Tinubu attend the Chicago State University in Illinois? Did he graduate from the Chicago State University? What credentials did he use in getting admission into CSU? At the core of these questions are the concerns about Tinubu’s dodgy identity.
Who is Bola Tinubu? It is both intriguing and problematic that the identity of the man who now sits at the desk of the President of the Federation of Nigeria is in doubt and it is foggy. It continues to shift. Tinubu is like the wall gecko. When you catch it by the tail, it leaves its tail behind. He is a national security nightmare. However, the problem with state capture is that those who capture the state dismantle or corrupt its strategic institutions. This is precisely what has happened to Nigeria’s National Security and Information Services: they have been so strategically degraded, that not a single agency the Police Intelligence and Criminal Investigations Directorate, the Department of Military Intelligence; the Nigerian Foreign Intelligence Services, or the Department of State Security, the key secret service agencies charged with protecting the strategic soul of the nation, and specifically prevent the capture of the state by deleterious forces domestic or foreign, ever did their jobs.
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