The spate of deliberate and mischief-intended lies in the Nigerian polity is alarming. The worst of it all is that everybody seems to be involved one way or the other. If one does not originate it, one will either disregard it or spread it, sometimes in the guise of finding out the truth of the matter, or even wallow in the euphoria therein.
Only few people seem perturbed about the development. But even then, there’s really little such set of people could do to change the trend. The reason is that it is so deep-rooted in the polity that doing so is widely viewed as an anomaly, hence only a lesser percentage of those who truly feel bothered about the development can do anything meaningful. But, again, that is another kettle of fish.
The benefit of hindsight has revealed that even when this relative few people know what to do about it, they would rather exploit the situation, tagging it exigencies of the moment usually for personal gains, which could be individualistic or group-oriented.
Take the lies and counter lies that preceded and heralded the death of Nigeria’s first ever civilian President to die on seat, Umaru Musa Yar ‘Adua, for instance. Even when it was obvious that he had passed on, family members in connivance with top government functionaries continued to lie about it.
Within this period, we were told that a lot of political and fraudulent shenanigans took place to the detriment of the populace and nation at large. When the dust finally settled, and these lies became undeniable, it became business as usual. Nobody was made to answer for sending the entire nation on such ridiculously unpadonable foolery.
For all most Nigerians care, the same scenario may be playing out in the present case with President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB). Everybody worth his salt can tell that our President is ill. In fact, he had not been too sound in health even before he was elected President. So the question of whether he is healthy may not arise.
The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, on Saturday was on air lamenting the level of misinformation going on in Nigeria through the social media. According to him, it is capable of crippling the country.
This is quite true. Unfortunately, it is also true that nothing with life grows on air. There must be a base. This base, in this case, could be formed either by commission or omission.
It is easy to relate what the minister said to the ongoing postings in the social media implying that PMB is dead. But the question is, what gave the basis to such posts? It would amount to chasing shadows, just for the heck of it, if emphasis is first laid on the truthfulness of the posts, rather than what gave reason to it.
As a politician of no mean feat, the Minister would truly have been seen to be making genuine efforts to check the trend of deliberate misinformation of the Nigerian populace if he had come up with concrete information on the state of the health of PMB.
There is no wrong in PMB making a live broadcast from wherever he is, if the claim that he is hale and hearty is true, for instance.
It is the seeming few in power deliberate intent by the authorities to withhold, information on the state of health of our President that forms the basis of all the hullabaloo over his death.
To, therefore, complain about the reactions of concerned citizens about the health of their President without addressing the action of the relevant authorities that warranted the reactions, amounts to on the intelligence of the populace.
The bitter truth is that there’s no better way to check misinformation in a society than providing necessary information at the right time. But, of course, this may remain a mirage as long as the privileged OR continue to see the country as theirs, instead of seeing it as everybody’s.
It thus becomes a cause for concern to know that a negligible number of persons who are privileged to have access to the President, will ignore the fact that the health of the President is the concern of every Nigerian. And that from the moment Buhari became President, he owes every Nigerian a responsibility to inform of his whereabouts.
In the same way, if he is incapacitated, those whose responsibility it is to watch over him owe Nigerians an explanation of the whereabouts of their number one citizen.
This is what the civilised world we claim to emulate do. When this is not done, every right-thinking person is bound to interpret events from their own perspective as they unfold.