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Blaggers’ paradise

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Kemi Omololu-Olunloyo


Most Nigerians are gullible. There, I’ve said it. Most Nigerians don’t like to do their research either.How do I know this? Because I come from a land of gullible folk, too. 60% of the Turkish folk, with their minds dumbed down by the rubbish they’re fed daily by the national media, their intellect too numbed with a multitude of TV series and the game show Survivor to question what’s really going on in the world.

When one’s gullible or too lazy to do any research, the chances are they take the information they’re given at face value. Much like many on social media who have jumped, eyes wide shut, into the latest feud between Dr. Kemi Omololu-Olunloyo and Stephanie Busari in the latest segment of the Dakolos vs. Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo saga.

As many of you by now know, Dr. Olunloyo has sprung out of the clutches of post-traumatic stress disorder recently to come to the pastor’s defense with the fury of a tigress over rape allegations against him by Busola Dokolo – so much so that it made me question whether she had a personal vendetta against the Dakolos.

Dr. Olunloyo then went after CNN Africa’s own Stephanie Busari whom she labelled a Dakolo sympathiser after Busari challenged the journalist’s claim of a 20-year history with CNN.

I don’t want to discredit Dr. Kemi; however a quick Google search sadly doesn’t give a sound work history with the network, as opposed to, say Googling Stephanie Busari and getting pages of research results with links to her work for CNN and other news including the official Warner Media press release dating back to 2016 announcing Busari as the supervising producer of the new, multi-platform operation in Lagos, Nigeria.

Dr. Olunloyo has already appealed to the CNN PR office since she accepted the challenge to provide her CNN work history – although in the 21st century, I’ve never heard of anyone asking for PR office involvement when there are social platforms like LinkedIn where one can upload a lifetime’s worth of working portfolios rather than demand an apology from a TV network for a question one of their producers rightfully raised. I’d like to think Stephanie Busari, a seasoned journalist, is an intelligent woman who wouldn’t have thrown the gauntlet without the preliminary Google search.

I stand hopeful, for Dr. Olunloyo’s sake, that her claim to a long working history with CNN is valid. Yet, this incident is a reminder of how so many in Nigeria get ahead, simply on manufactured work histories, plagiarized portfolios and imaginary degrees. Working in the media and entertainment industries for years I’ve had my fair share of make up artists with no trace of the work they claimed to have done for international publications and third-rate photographers invited as guest of honour to fashion events because they once assisted the assistant photographer in a shoot for Vogue – nevermind that the tear sheets from the shoot are nowhere to be found and the assistant photographer has no recollection of ever working with them.

The more internationally recognized the brand name, the better of course; names like Vogue or CNN get these people more leverage. A tenuous link is better than no link at all. Hence, if a single event photo was published in Arise Magazine, one can claim they had a working history with Arise, or if they interned at Goldman and Sachs one summer, that can lay the foundations of a CV with Goldman Sachs written in gold with a couple of years on their resume – just about long enough time ago not to have to seek out a reference, but not that long that it loses its shine. Of course, any fabricated work history delivered with an American or British accent is better – never underestimate the ‘phone’ factor. Look the part, speak with ‘phone’ and tell an average Nigerian you’re on first names basis with Elon Musk or cousins twice removed with Femi Otedola, and they’ll most likely believe you.

The amount of times I had calls back in the day from business associates or even friends who call me to reference check a CV of some upstart who’d mentioned being a contributing editor or columnist to FAB Magazine while in fact they had barely survived a week internship made me realise just how easy it is to fall for the charms of a blagger if you’re not one for due diligence.

I am not immune. I too have fallen for con artists – most memorably for women of a certain age who blag their way into events claiming they are social entrepreneurs or international speakers the majority of awards they claim to have been rewarded given by their friends, or those who’ve sold their sob story as one of interest based on their international beauty expert credentials which were nowhere to be found who later scammed their way into Ghana, having failed in Nigeria. Or journalists who claimed to have worked for the BBC after a six-week internship as a runner. The scams are endless.

The world is full of scammers and blaggers, and it is naïve, even foolish, to take someone’s credentials at face value without any due diligence. While I have no issues with Dr. Olunloyo’s claim, I also see no wrongdoing in Stephanie Busari doing her research and perhaps finding the answers unsatisfactory challenging Dr. Olunloyo.
The lesson for the naïve amongst us: due diligence.


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