The campaigns of damaging propaganda
Now that the electioneering campaigns for the 2019 elections have been officially declared open by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); I am inclined to use this medium to wish all political parties and their candidates the best of luck as they take advantage of the window to sell their manifestos to the electorate.
My advice to them is to ensure that their campaigns are instructive and issues-oriented where diverse opinions and strategies are showcased on how to tackle the numerous problems bedeviling the country and bringing dividends of democracy to the people.
Essentially, the electorates would have been well informed and adequately prepared to making their preferred choice(s) even before the polls.
It could also pave way for some candidates to voluntarily dump their aspirations and align with those that have better and workable agenda/plans for the masses. This is the beauty of democracy which electioneering campaigns are majorly meant to achieve.
However, it is very disheartening that what is attainable in our clime is entirely different from those of successful democracies of the world.
Political parties and their supporters believe that the most effective way to campaign and win the votes of the electorates is to destroy the images, reputations, values and integrities of other opposing parties/candidates.
Thus, the trending style is what could be conveniently described as the `damaging propaganda` or `campaign of calumny`.
These campaigns which cut across all human strata, cover wide range of areas and they are carried out through the electronic and print media such as the social media, rallies, debates/discussions, commentaries, and posters to mention but a few.
At present, the social media is buzzing with such stories as of a certain `Jubril`, Atikulooter, Gandollar, APShits, PDThieves, Sarakigate, Oshiodollar, Obigotry, Biafraud, Buharideens, Fulani Jihadists, and others too numerous to mention.
On every sides of the divide where the damaging missile is targeted, the sympathizers also fire their own counter missile(s) to complete the dangerous circle.
A closer look at the basis of most of these propaganda show that they have political undertone and are being championed by enemies of democracy.
If at all there are substantial facts in issue, such should have been directed to the appropriate quarters rather than heating up the polity and constituting threats to our democracy.
It would therefore not be out of place to say that the propagandists are using such damaging information or allegations to do the biddings of their `pay masters`.
Unfortunately, their entourages and fans on social media are ridiculously naïve and ever ready to `Like` and give `supporting comments` to these malicious and damaging posts without reasonable second thought.
Their stock in trade is postingnegative inferences to poison the minds of the people and tear them apart on sentimental lines for the purpose to justifying their supports for particular candidate(s)/party to the detriments of the unity and progress of the citizenry and the country.
So bad is the situation that while the propagandists` accounts and profiles are soaring (for causing confusion and disaffection in the society); most of their followers remained in state of abject poverty, and some even skipped a meal or two to buy data used for the dirty jobs.
Sadly, our leaders and the elites who ought to condemn these acts and forge a common front to eradicate them are tacitly supporting the evil because of the perceived political undertone and destructive (dis)advantages.
Thus, when the salvo is coming from one part of the divide, the leaders and elites on that side see it as being in order and justifiable; but, when same is coming from the other side of the line, it becomes bad and condemnable.
Consequent upon the aforementioned, it is not surprising that numerous unimaginable stories, posts, video and audio clips are being circulated unrestrained on daily basis.
However, this review will be restricted to that of `JUBRIL`, and `atikulooter` forexigency purpose.
The story of `Jubril` is so bad because it is an affront on the sensibilities and integrity of the citizenry as well as the image of the country.
Ordinarily, one would have expected our leaders to jettison political, tribal, and religious affiliations and sentiments to join forces together to condemn such evil conception and put the records straight; but, the body languages, utterances, and in some cases, the silence of some of these leaders have made the situation to be more complicated.
As a result, those that are opposed to the present administration see it as a good storyline to destabilize and de-market the government and the ruling party without minding that the image of the country and the integrities of the citizenry are also in serious danger in the eyes of the global world.
To the international communities, it will tacitly mean that our leaders and the people are not trustworthy and are capable of doing unimaginable things.
The situation is further compounded by a purported death certificate and statements revolving around information that would make Nigerians to burn down Aso Rock within 24 hours; and, another that will expose what was cooked that led to the burning of the house.
You will agree with me that such outbursts and the complete silence from some powerful quarters in the society have not help matters.
Worst still, is the frightening google result of` A Minute Silence`.
It is disheartening that the relevant governmental departments have not deemed it necessary to ensuring that the Google post is pulled down without any delay and or put a `disclaimer` or issue a `rejoinder`.
Nigerians are human and they are not impervious to believing such information especially when it is not properly and tactically handled by the authorities that are expected to defuse and clarify same.
It is also surprising that the so called Social Media Activists and Commentators have not been able to use their platforms to call out on GOOGLE to do the needful; rather, they are flooding internet with more campaigns of calumny such as the one tagged` Atikulooter`.
To discerning minds, if the concept of ‘Atikulooter’ is meant to discredit the presidential candidate of another party by opposing supporters; then, the proponents need to re-examine their brains because they are impliedly discrediting the present administration and the ruling party as well.
Or how do one explain the fact that the so called looter was screened and cleared for the present ruling party`s primaries in 2014 and would have been the presidential candidate if he had succeeded.
The same person was said to have immensely contributed financially and materially to the success of the party at the polls; and he was one of the respected elders in the party before his defection to another party.
The question is, when did he become a looter? If he has been one since his time in the ruling party; why was he accommodated and shielded from prosecution by the party and government whose cardinal focus is to kill corruption? If on the other hand, it was after he defected from the party; why has he not been prosecuted if there are overwhelming evidences to prove the facts in issue? Whichever ways you tend to look at it; it means the government and the ruling party are also culpable of being corrupt; not sincere with the anti corruption war; and, or not competent to fighting corruption.
Be that as it may, a stone thrown at the `Supposedly Looter` is impliedly also thrown at the government and the ruling party. In this case, who is de-marketing who? The truth is that those behind that concept are indirectly bastardizing the image and integrity of the country and its citizenry to the world.
Perturbingly, those who ought to know the negative implications of such campaign and put in efforts to dissuade and curtail its spread are the same elements that are neck deep in its propagation when the `SMEAR CAMPAIGN` seems to favour their political calculations.
It is so sad that some of these people are being hailed and applauded for indulging in acts that are capable of spelling doom for the country; while the patriotic ones who stand for truth, unity and progress are seen as not having political values because their patriotic tendencies are not `SELLABLE` for election purposes.
In view of the foregoing, it is obvious that regardless of whichever camp you belong; any campaign of calumny against the other is an indirect `damaging propaganda` against the country and its citizenry. Therefore, this is a clarion call to the propagandist to desist from this time bomb waiting to explode and destroy our beloved country.
The Information Ministry, National Orientation Agency, INEC, All Political Parties and their leaders, and relevant security agencies should step up their games towards ensuring that the menace is brought to a halt.
It will be much more beneficial for all and sundry to embrace issues-based campaigns that are capable of finding lasting solutions to the country`s mountain of problems.
A word is enough for the wise.
Oise-Oghaede, is a public policy analyst/commentator.