For the followers of my write-ups and comments regarding societal issues especially as related to Nigeria, you would notice that one of my cardinal beliefs is the seeking of knowledge by the populace because I believe strongly that such is the only way to get society active enough to be functional towards being a developed nation. Do not, however, mistake knowledge to mean attending schools, but it could stem from simple instilling of family values and mentorship, inculcating a listening culture as well as reading culture.
I had in one of my columns gave a story of a millennial I met who clearly said he couldn’t read anything over 3 lines, a little wonder why tweets and fleets are made to not more than 280 characters and 30 seconds respectively.
This and more is why my article of last week affirmed that social media and fake news had come to stay, the only thing that can be done was for any right-thinking policymaker to invest in strategic communication strategy, this can actually best work for politicians and business enterprises but the major solution to effects of fake news is awareness and knowledge on the part of the citizenry.
My research and understanding have shown that even on social media, those people who are properly knowledgeable are quick to identify a fake post and would simpler swipe past it. You would hardly hear any rancor resulting from fake news in countries that are intellectually developed even though all of the social media platforms are active. Their awareness level has literally made them impermeable to fake news.
Further check on the fake news shenanigans will expose three major areas that are utilized as most potent for its being effective. These areas are religion, ethnicity and slander, and their quick acceptance by the gullible individuals only goes to tell you how negatively inclined an average illiterate mind can be. Some will tell you never to engage in an argument with an illiterate, they will defeat you with negativity and attempt to bring you down to their levels. The question now is, the rate at which fake news takes effect in Nigeria is perhaps a pointer to the fact that the majority of the people including the graduates are not knowledgeable and aware enough? It is a yes for me.
Who has ever told anyone that you can’t learn about the other faith even when you’re not one? How much do people know about the politics of oil, religion, America and the Middle East and how controversial they were around the world and differently to different races and regions? How many of the millennials care to read to know about such so they can decipher through political statements they hear relating to certain situations of the past.
How much do people know about the history of Nigeria’s politics to know that Pastor Poju was only inviting Elrufai to ‘The Platform’ because of his intellect as well as effort to complete a national character on the program. How many people also know drinking alcohol and a certain level of socialism is a way of life for so many that must be respected. What has stopped us as a people from seeking knowledge, are we not seeing how our illiteracy is inching us closer to perdition?
For me, programs like ‘The Platform’ by pastor Poju Oyemade are the way to go for us as a nation so that conversations can be held which could at least make some who don’t know to perhaps see the reason to see things differently. For example, those who jump into secession and restructuring debate without having depth knowledge of what can be obtainable would have obtained a different view from the submissions of Dr Charles Omole and Segun Adeniyi over the fact that we will be worse as molecular units.
It is the likes of the above and more that spurs us to keep writing about topical national issues as well as pointing out progressive tendencies with a view to getting those that get the opportunity to read to have a different view regarding nation-building and the complexities therein as well as what and what not to expect and tolerate while we are at it. Such critical information could make a society immune to fake news and misinformation that is capable of creating chaos and slowing development.
May God bless Nigeria
Hashim Suleiman can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org