By James Ogunjimi
It was Greek Dramatist, Aeschylus that said that in any war, truth is always the first casualty. Nowhere has this proved truer than in Nigeria. Over the years, in the battle for the soul of Nigeria, truth has always fallen first, slaughtered brutally by foot soldiers and e-rats hired by political gladiators to call black, white and white, black.
In 2003, as President Obasanjo began to seek a reelection, foot soldiers were released into the pages of newspapers to masquerade as political commentators whose only interest was to dispel lies. It worked. They wrote brilliantly and convincingly until any and every allegation ever brought against the then President was disproved. When the Late Yar’Adua declared his intention or was roped by President Obasanjo into contesting the Presidential election in 2007 inspite of his glaring health challenges, the foot soldiers were once again hired. Their jobs? To convince the country that there was nothing wrong with electing a man who spent half his life in the hospital. To convince people that it was okay to vote for a man who was so sick he couldn’t even attend his own campaign rallies. And they did their jobs well. The nation rallied behind the sick aspirant and ensured he won resoundingly. He would fall sick so many times as President and die eventually but it didn’t matter as long as the foot soldiers paid to murder the truth did their work well.
In 2011 when inexperienced Goodluck Jonathan contested, the foot soldiers played a big role. They had to convince the people that experience didn’t matter, that being handpicked by a godfather was better. They had to convince people that electing a man because his name had ‘luck’ in it was better than competence. They had to sell the “I once had no shoes” story to the people to prove that he was just like them. Of course, he won.
In 2015, the truth suffered it’s worst beat-down ever in Nigeria when a dictator and a man regarded as an extremist was repackaged by foot soldiers and e-rats as a gap-toothed angel who could do no wrong. They ascribed to him every positive thing achieved under his military dictatorship and cleared him of every wrong. They convinced the people that it was okay to accept NEPA bills as certificate. The outcome? Well, it’s still ongoing.
2019 is coming and the truth is going to suffer a worse fate than it has ever suffered in Nigeria. Already, hatchet writers masquerading as public commentators and political analysts have already been put to work and released into the nooks and crannies of the Nigerian social media space. They have started asking: “Is Atiku really corrupt?” “What exactly is Atiku’s crime?” “Is there any verdict from court indicting Atiku in any corruption case?”
That is how it always starts. When truth is about to be murdered, those are the questions that precedes the eventual slaughter. When 2019 comes, Atiku would be so clean and spotless that he would almost become Saint Abubakar and the mercenaries hired to murder the truth would be a few thousands richer.
Every citizen owes it to himself/herself to stay vigilant. The internet is there. There is no longer any need to wait for the mainstream media and corrupt bloggers to tell who is clean and who is not. When 2019 comes, in spite of the determined efforts of the foot soldiers and e-rats to distort the truth, those who stay vigilant will not fall prey to these hatchetmen and their antics.