Two friends of mine asked me why they rarely see my opinions placed on newspaper columns in this era of political turmoil, hullabaloos and brouhaha. I am very glad that some people think that my opinion matters in this time of deceit, lies, post-truth, alternative facts, cognitive biases and irrationalities. Even though I decided not to write as I used to, but I promised them that I would send my opinion not because I believe that I can change the Nigerian political maxim: “I believe, therefore, I’m right”, but because I want to make my readers be conscious of how political class and their agents manipulate our minds by exploiting many loopholes in our semi-conscious minds. I know my opinions may hurt, but for what use is a writer who doesn’t hurt feelings?
In the era of post-truth everything is judged based on personal whims. Truth has no value unless if it can work for, not against, vested interests. Fake news are only “fake” when they come to destroy religious dogma and political fanaticism. But when they come to aid the movement of blinds on their way to hell they would have lots of shares on social media. This is the enigma of Nigerian political sphere where intellectuals don’t know where to start with and philosophers are becoming confused. In this time of political turmoil what my humble opinion can change? Everything is going upside down. Criticism is regarded as hate speech and facts labelled as dangerous.
Let me start with a quote from one of the contemporary philosophers, Lee Maclyntyre, who says: “In a world in which politicians can challenge the facts and pay no political price whatsoever, post-truth is bigger than any one person”. Political class can change facts and go scot-free since the facts have no value in their eyes. Politics has no moral as Machiavelli said. The tragedy of it, as Voltaire once wrote, is that the good ones don’t join it for the fear of losing their good reputations by becoming insincere office-seeking-maniacs.
Remember Kano state governor and the corruption video saga. It shows not only how selective the fight against corruption is, but how peacefully a politician can challenge facts and go scot-free. Governor Ganduje’s supporters are the most shameless people in the world. They no longer deny that the governor appeared in a video collecting kickbacks and putting them in his “babbar riga”. They also kept saying that the video was cloned to damage the image of the Kano state governor. The most surprising is hearing them in local radio stations and in campaign rallies saying they are going to vote for him even if caught red-handed in public, “ko ka ci dala sai ka yi takwas”!
The recent vice presidential debate vividly showed how facts can be manipulated easily. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said Buhari administration created more jobs when we all know that unemployment level rose to a zenith point under their watch! Isn’t this an attempt to deliberately deceive Nigerians who are receiving the hard grip of Buhari-nomic policies? By the way, who are we to agree with between VP and Mr. Obi who said that millions of Nigerians loss their jobs every day? It seems political parties build their own Orwellian 1984 Ministry of Truth where they can create false statistics to delude and deceive Nigerians into voting them. I became surprised when I heard Peter Obi saying that inequality in Nigeria is getting wider! Here is a man working for the person known throughout Nigeria for creating a very wide gap between the rich and the poor accusing another government for creating inequality. Astonishing, isn’t it?
Neither my opinions nor political debates can change the mind of voters who have already decided who to vote in the 2019 elections. Hours of speech, days of lectures and volumes of intellectual masterpieces don’t change the mind of a political fanatic who doesn’t think beyond partisan politics. The worst part of democracy is its total dependence on numbers. Most voters, especially the hungry ones, don’t think. They are waiting for history to teach them a bitter lesson. They repeat mistake hoping that repetition of wrong methods can lead to right solutions. Vote buying is beyond giving money or other mundane things. It is in driving people crazy in Machiavellian style and raining them some amounts of money that would unconsciously force them into supporting corruption.
The greatest danger is when post-truth get a living home in newspapers. There you find cherry-picking in sourcing and publishing news, misleading titles, wrong dissemination of information, bringing subjective opinions and spreading fake news. Freedom of expression is useless in a news media where interests of a particular political or religious movement are promoted and objective truth has no value. Giving opinion that will change nothing is a waste of time and energy in the time when everything is judged through the narrow prism of partisan politics, religious sectarianism, regionalism and tribalism.