Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Love Them By Guest Blogger, Marcus Madueke
The rumour mill has been spinning vigorously for some time now. Since the postponement of the election, which falls within the ambit of the law, the mill has gone on an overdrive spewing the most outlandish rumours, propaganda, conspiracy theories and outright lies.
One of the favoured slogans adopted by pretend intellectuals and opposition-employed social media pundits is "Anything but Jonathan". From what I've seen in the past days that may soon change to "Nigeria can burn as long as APC wins."
True, this has been perhaps the most toxic campaign in the history of the country. The fault lines that separate us are more pronounced than ever. The prognosis of the election and after is bleak and the threat of violence and bloodshed hangs over us like a rickety ceiling fan. But it seems this does not worry the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In fact, they are obviously relishing in the tense atmosphere that pervades the country and, it seems, are deliberately doing whatever it takes to add petrol to the burning embers. After all, if it all comes crashing down the buck stops with the president and he would naturally be blamed.
All over the world, politicians use all kind of strategies to accumulate support but a line is often drawn if their strategies become too toxic and threaten to cause mayhem. The country is dangling on the edge of a destructive cliff and the leadership of the APC doesn't give a hoot. All that matters to them is votes.
"Oh, let's act like a maltreated child and people would look upon us with pity and vote for us. No. That's not enough. Let's say the president is a bully and his hounding us with the army for opposing him and he would lose the support of moderates who will swing over to our side."
"Meanwhile, the country can go up in flames while we are at it. But we just want to win."
And they have a pattern spreading this pollution. First, they get their hired social media activists to make it trend. Soon lazy journalists from opposition leaning newspapers and website will make it their leading news without fact checking. Later television and radio call-in shows will invite "analysts" to come yap about it. Meanwhile, the tension in the country is rising like the temperature of a man with acute malaria.
Last week they exhumed the corpse of the unsubstantiated plan by the President Goodluck Jonathan and ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo to set up an interim government that would ultimately hand power over to the military. But they conveniently dropped the name of Obasanjo after it became clear that he wasn't even supporting President Jonathan.
Knowing the country's history with interim government, this is indeed a devious propaganda by the APC to whip up unnecessary sympathy. Their ultimate goal here is to cast Jonathan in the same mould as the infamous ex-dictator, Ibrahim Babangida. I think the APC should be condemned for trying to recreate one of the darkest events in Nigeria's history.
All of this, while we were still trying to douse the tension created by that malicious rumour Senator Babafemi Ojodu, a former journalist, who apparently woke up from a terrible nightmare and declared that president Jonathan is planning to extend his tenure for another two years!
"If anybody thinks there is going to be elections on March 28, the person is deceiving himself. All the people that are close to me, especially my friends, I told them a year ago that there would not be election and that they are just deceiving us," he told members of the Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG).
"Some of us who are perceptive have seen this in the body language of our colleagues; the body language of the Senate President himself, David Mark. When we came back from the summer recess last year, he said that for him, it's not time for election. We should not be thinking of elections now, rather we should be thinking of fighting Boko Haram. The moment we took him up on that, he reversed himself," he added.
How can Senator Ojodu make such a grave allegation based on his perception of somebody's body language? In fact, he should have gone ahead to declare that he now possesses clairvoyant powers that enable him read not only body languages but minds as well. At this critical stage, respected members of the society like Senator Ojodu, who seem to have forgotten the basic ethics of his journalism training, cannot be making incendiary comments on mere conjecture.
As if we have not had enough of prominent politicians behaving badly, this week, leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu, released a statement claiming soldiers were laying siege on his residence. Tinubu did not provide any proof. No pictures. No video. Nothing. Newspapers like the Punch, and the Nation made it their headlines without even trying to send a report there to verify.
The army has come out to deny it and challenge him to provide evidence. One reporter who rushed to the scene couldn't find soldiers there. From the pictures he took one could only see a police van guarding the house.
Tinubu didn't claim the army broke into his house. He could have stayed in one of his room and taken pictures of the soldiers outside. No, he didn't. But he was quick to draft an alarmist press statement that threatened to throw the country in turmoil.
My candid advice to all is to stay calm let the rule of law take its course and allow the election to hold and let Nigerians decide who they want as leaders. Propaganda don't put people in power, votes do.