I was having a conversation with a journalist colleague yesterday morning over the trending report on the alleged involvement of the Vice President in Ibrahim Magu’s alleged corruption largesse. I was asking his opinion on why the sudden surge in such kinds of baseless allegations especially following the just past one on Dr. Isa Ali Pantami the penultimate week. We both wondered about it along with a few people present and concluded it to resemble blackmail on the duo and certainly for political reasons.
Just today, again same people have turned on the Attorney General on a baseless allegation over the purchase of a house for his son who had just gotten married; the Attorney General had since debunked the allegations as had the duo of Osinbajo and Dr. Pantami.
The journalist colleague of mine was then lamenting over how he was becoming discouraged about the profession and such could lead to him quitting for other ventures. His reason was anchored on the infiltration of the profession by quacks who are daily not agreeing to understand how journalism must contain a lot of investigative additives. Fake news and slander had taken over the industry and were capable of discouraging serious professionals from increasing their appetite for the profession.
I, however, brought him to speed about the realities of the current times where not only the journalism profession was experiencing such kinds of challenges. Take a look at the political class were for a long time the supposed intellectuals and credible people have refrained from participating.
Such has left us with albeit opportunistic nobodies and street touts taking over the sector. Till today, majority of the youth see participation in politics as a disadvantaged or less privileged venture wouldn’t it then be fair for us to continue to manage those we have left with the monopoly of the ownership of the venture?
So I informed him that having an impression of leaving the profession because of the prevalence of fake news and what not’s was akin to the political scenario I painted in the paragraph above. I informed him that the sector needs their likes now more than ever assuming that he is as credible and capable as he is portraying himself to be.
You know in Nigeria, people who complain become even worse when given opportunities to serve. Even if the National Assembly were to embark on a journey to control the social media, there was going be needs for professionals with the appropriate know-how to help arrive at a workable legislation. Therefore, there was a need for more thoroughbred professionals as against quitters.
But to even break down the issue of Fake News further, it was very needful for all to recognize that the only functional sector of the economy of Nigeria was the political sector and they are in control of all other sectors who must act in their whims and caprices.
However, these sectors are tilted to as much knowledge as the political class was thus the seeming bastardization of so many sectors including journalism. It was a long time some of us have been shouting about the need to embrace intellect and strategy in politics, however, the greed of the politicians coupled with the fear of involving intellectuals by the largely dull political class has resulted in very less strategic politics and a very much myopic one.
Take a look at what happened to the Judiciary lately when in the build-up to the governorship primaries of Edo State there were barrages of court cases been churned out like the hilarious Mike Asukwo portrayed in his cartoon to appear like an auctioning of injunctions where the highest bidder goes home with the juiciest judgment. This is what the largely myopic Nigeria’s political class can do to an institution.
In view of the foregoing, it was very important for Nigeria to note that Nigeria’s democracy is indeed growing albeit at a slower rate and the need for strategy in politics is increasing due to the increased interest.
However, the veterans in the political game who have amassed enormous wealth but lack strategy or strategists prefer to use the funds to compromise institutions as against the employment of critical strategists. This has resulted in fake news and blackmail becoming a political strategy for such people especially in bringing down intellects who have chosen to join the political space. They are at least wise enough to know that majority of the voting population are gullible.
Don’t even assume that all those who spew these stories are quacks in the industry; some of them are just not strong enough to resist the inducements that come from the clients. And the earlier we understand how long we will live with such the better because until the political class has been sanitized through the infiltration of sane and intellectual individuals, the current political class will continue to utilize their heavy chest to influence all sectors to their advantage.
As for the new entrants into politics, those who come in with integrity and intellectual capital, they should recognize that the fake news and blackmail strategy will not stop against them, if they are seriously interested in remaining in the game, they must invest heavily in a robust strategic communication team who can beat the spreaders of fake news at their game!
God bless Nigeria.
Hashim Suleiman can be reached via email@example.com