Fake news: The new diabolical campaign tool




 

In an attempt to defend plagiarism by one of the PDP presidential candidate’s media aides, he ended up confirming sheer incompetence by ascribing ‘sorogates’ to those he referred to as his surrogates; pointing the plagiarism of Donald Trump’s speech to them, hanging them out to dry. This ‘sorogates’ term inadvertently unearths his incompetence and goes further to cast doubt as to whether he wasn’t the one that tweeted the plagiarised comments on the said Twitter handle. Errors, mischief, concocted news otherwise coined as ‘fake’ news has plagued 2019 election campaigns, making it filthy and regrettable, belittling our collective intelligence.

Amina Zakari was in the news, perhaps even much more than she was when she was Acting Chairperson of INEC; this time for all the wrong reasons. Hajiya Amina was nominated into her current position by the previous PDP government. All of a sudden she is Buhari’s niece and unfit to do her work? Besides she is not even related by blood to Buhari; it turns out that Buhari was once an in law to Amina’s family and supposedly that ‘in-lawship’ died its own natural death. Yet many print and new media outlets ran the Buhari’s niece story and went with it hook line and sinker, and was eventually swept under the carpet as one of those thrilling but fake news entertainment that we are now unfortunately accustomed to.

The Amina ‘gate’ palaver lost momentum and before we could say blistering barnacles, Amaechi was supposedly in leaked audio recordings dissing Buhari; without establishing any particular insults or accusations or even humiliating revelations by Amaechi; diminishing President Buhari, or demystifying him (after all it’s no mystery why he is outstandingly popular with ordinary Nigerians). Eventually, Amaechi was inaugurated as PMB’s campaign DG and images of Amaechi and Buhari holding conversation, strolling down the banquet hall at Aso Villa, rubbishing the ‘tapes’ and waxing stronger, were all over numerous print and social media channels. It was another unwholesome and unintelligent jab at Buhari’s very ribbed and muscular political heavy – weight!

Again we were inundated by another round of fake news releases, detailing that Tinubu, the Jagaban of Nigeria ( well you know Jagaban of Borgu was just a kick start to present day Tinubu), had slumped and was rushed to the hospital shortly after being inaugurated as Chairman of the presidential campaign council. Vanguard had to apologise again for running a not only fake and concocted story, but a malicious attempt to disrupt the President’s campaign council’s gusto which is seemingly swallowing up the rather clueless and thinned out PDP machinery faster than a toddler can swallow SMA!

Slowly we are degenerating into a venomous and gullible press audience that not only wallows in the ridicule and denigration of individuals and government officials, but in tarnishing the image and reputation of institutions and ideologies without even a single pensive thought as to the repercussions, damages and what not; even if the purported ‘gist’ is correct or accurate. This trend makes plausible, the attempt to fashion out laws and legislation to censor and punish purveyors of fake news. Vanguard in the print media looks in the vanguard of this practice, having to retract 3 or more stories in the space of 3 to 5 months. Is it deliberate? So many other social media handles especially on Twitter & Facebook are neck deep in sin – guilty of this.

PDPs media strategy is mightily guilty of this too and the earlier it is corrected, the better; otherwise we are grooming a generation of keyboard happy youths who will be advanced in these concocted and convoluted fake news practice that will totally bring down the essence and fabric of journalism as a whole and go further to cause mayhem and havoc all over our polity. One would have expected better results and motion from a Dubai oriented and packaged campaign /media strategy summit. As it turns out, nothing has come off it aside the jamboree it was, alas only to the benefit of its participants, and hardly to the convener. It’s little wonder, that we end up with Trump like tweets which have been characterised by fake news gist and other dramatic proclamations which have endlessly plunged Americans into avoidable ridicule and scorn. In Nigeria, we are told it’s the ‘sorogates’. Well, so be it but I definitely feel sorry for such ‘sorogates’ and for us all.

Tahir writes from Bauchi




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