FAKE NEWS AND THE RETURN OF AISHA BUHARI
Everything that has negative effect, also has its positive side. Nothing is entirely bad, and nothing is infinitely good. The law of dialectics states that from the conflict of opposites, thesis and antithesis, comes forth a third force, a synthesis, which will in turn result to a new thesis and an antithesis, again resulting to a new synthesis, to continue the struggle.
Nigerians are good at fabricating or crafting fake news or rumours, at constructing larger than life stories, and intensely telling them to look like real truth. When they have nothing serious doing, or when the system has overwhelmed them, political and economic difficulties, they will begin to invent or formulate stories, perhaps, to keep them busy, or to divert people’s attention from the realities of life, from prevailing difficulties, to ease tension.
It did not start today. Some time in 1989, before over 30 million television viewers, they came up with a news story that the first President of Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, was dead. Many people grieved. They had no reason to doubt the story, after all, it was aired by a national network television station.
Without making efforts to authentic the story, some of Azikiwe’s personal friends and close associates, started paying tributes to the former President and sending condolence messages to his family members, for a man that was very much alive, who was hale and hearty. It was a national embarrassment.
President Muhammadu Buhari almost suffered a similar fate when he went on medical vacation in London some time in 2017. The news started flying all over the place that the man had died and was buried in Saudi Arabia. Till date, some people still do not believe that the present occupant of Aso Rock was the man who was voted by Nigerians as their President in 2015, but is one Jubril from Sudan.
Throughout last week, the news was everywhere that our President was about to wed one of his ministers, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouq. This was fueled by the alleged closeness of Hajia Umar Farouq with President Buhari, coupled with the long absence of Buhari’s wife, Aisha, from the country.
The First Lady was said to have left Nigeria for hajj to Saudi Arabia since July and for three months nothing was heard about her, nor did she feature in any public function. It was claimed that after performing the hajj, Mrs. Buhari travelled to London, but since then had remained incommunicado, fueling speculations that things might have fallen apart among members of the First Family.
It was therefore not difficult for some Nigerians to begin to invent the story that President Muhammadu Buhari was about to wed Hajia Umar Farouq. They were aware of the long standing relationship between President Buhari and Hajia Umar Farouq, which predated Buhari’s former political party, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), where Hajia Farouq was the national treasurer. So it was very easy to cook up the story.
The appointment of Hajia Umar Farouq as Minister of Humanitarian Services, Disaster and Management, a ministry, said to be very close to President Buhari’s heart, also helped to fuel the speculation. Friday, October 11, 2019, was said to be the wedding day, and everybody looked forward with great expectations.
Not many Nigerians doubted the story, particularly with the long absence of Aisha Buhari from the country, coupled with the fact that her media office had kept mum as to her whereabouts and why she was absent from the seat of power. So, since nature abhors a vacuum, and since “man no bi wood”, Hajia Umar Farouq was therefore easily drafted to fill the yawning gap.
When news of the alleged tying of the nuptial knot between Buhari and Umar Farouq began to gain currency, particularly in the social media, from her London base, Aisha Buhari suddenly surfaced.
She told us that she was already on her way back to Nigeria. And almost at the same time, Aso Rock, which had kept a deaf ear all along, issued a rebuttal, that there was no marriage arrangement between Muhammadu Buhari and Hajia Umar Farouq.
Before you know it, Aisha Buhari was airborne from London and landed to Nigeria. She told us that her long absence from the country was due to illness, and that her doctors had advised her to take some rest. Beautiful!
But some people were of the view that it was “fake news” about the alleged marriage plan between her husband and Hajia Umar Farouq, that forced Aisha Buhari back to Nigeria. Why was the First Lady just remembering to tell Nigeria about her being ill, about her holidaying with her children, etc., something her media office would have told us earlier? But they had all kept mum.
When Buhari himself was sick, we were told about it. What therefore is so special in not telling us about the First Lady falling sick, after all she is a human being, and could fall sick like any of us.
Fake news thrives in a society, in a system where there is no open government, where the government is run like a voodoo, like a secret cult. That is why it is making wave in Nigeria. The moment the government opens its doors to allow free flow of information, there will be no fake news. Otherwise, you can impose all laws and legislations, all to no avail.
At any rate, we are very much happy that fake news has brought back our dear First Lady, to Nigeria, and to the seat of power, sooner than expected.
That Is My Food For Thought