Jumoke Ayayi-Omene: Between Dapo Abiodun and social media falsehood

SOCIAL media, a vital part of contemporary societal communication network, can be quite useful as a means of social engagement, gauging public opinion, and promoting social integration. Unfortunately, however, as in other forms of media, it can be hijacked for partisan purposes.

Given the terrible turn that social media has taken in recent times as all sorts of characters chalartans of different hues seek to build fame and recognition through sensationalism and patent mischief, the proprietors must be very firm about maintaining lofty standards. They must sanction those who abuse their platforms.

Platforms that should naturally promote social interactions,quality and impactful engagements and discussions are being used to score cheap political goals. People who know next to nothing about the media assume the role of advocates, craving recognition and mileage: they want to trend by all means, acquire a large following, and build an economic base not withstanding the incalculable damage they are doing to the social fabric of the society. They post unverified information and very unfortunately, gullible people fall prey to their dirty and self seeking antics.

These hatchet jobbers and nothing- do gooders can burn the whole country through falsehood. A prime case of social media mendacity and craziness is provided by one Hauwa Allahbura, who has been seeking to orchestrate chaos in Ogun State by posting salacious, patently false information in a rabid bid to incite the public against the Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun.

To be sure, criticism, especially the constructive variety, is a vital democratic tool. Insofar as those in government are not infallible, there is nothing wrong in taking them to task, even in strong language. The fact is that sometimes, government officials need to be jolted into reality and to change course. What should not be tolerated, however, is mischief robed in the garb of social criticism; the promotion of fake news to actualize character assassination and manufacture chaos. Naturally, a character whose self-constructed bio brands her the “aspiring richest woman in Africa,” and “girlfriend to a billionaire” does not deserve any attention. Going by her self assigned appellation and nomenclature,she projects the image of a mendacious merchandiser.

For all intents and purposes, and this is a fact, Africa’s richest women did not acquire their current enviable status by flaunting romantic dalliances, and the apparent lack of proper upbringing (home training) in social conduct For a fact too,Africa’s richest women dont engage in bestiality and unmerited self -ululation and exaltation. However, because of the tension in the Nigerian society, especially at these austere times when feeding has become a titanic battle for most Nigerians, allowing the continued dissemination of falsehood by mischief-makers,never do wells , masquerading as public opinion moulders is the greatest harm that can befall a nation in the throes of self – recovery and re- discovery. Allowing the antics of shoddy and shady characters and clowns like Allahbura,with nomenclature cloaked in dubiety can only be a recipe for anarchy.

On July 2, Hauwa Allahbura (@HauwaAllahbura), wrote on X: “Ministry of Works Budget in 2024 N480mn. Governor STEEZE Budget is about N103bn. How will Ogun State roads be fixed? We beg you steeze governor, remove some budget from your steeze and fix the roads. #Dapofixogunroads.” She then followed up with another tweet: “We call on you Dapo Abiodun to take some money from your office budget of about N103 billion and make these sorts of roads motorable or even less hazardous.” Since these kinds of tweets call the sanity of their authors into question, there is clearly no need to be surprised about the terrible mindset behind them. N450 million for a Ministry of Works in 2024? The claim is patently insane, but Ms. Allahbura, who apparently has no fear of Allah, got her five minutes of fame with re-tweets and likes. This is profoundly sad, because a look at the Ogun budget under reference shows that N64bn was budgeted for the Governor’s Office while the Ministry of Works got N170.524 billion. The sum of N103 billion was earmarked for the Governor’s Office, the Deputy Governor’s Office and agencies under the Governor’s Office, including the Ogun State Road Safety Advisory Council, Bureau of Public Procurement, Bureau of Pension and office of the Economic Adviser, among others. So how is the budget for the Governor’s Office less than that of the Ministry of Works?

Betraying utter ignorance, Ms. Allahbura called on Governor Abiodun to “take some money” from his “office budget” and fix Ogun roads: in other words, to break the law by upending the budget. How would a Governor “take some money” from his office budget? Because of blind rage, the critic completely missed the import of “office” as distinct from the Governor as an individual. Don’t be surprised ,clowns like this would albeit claim that a budget for the “Presidency” means a budget for Bola Ahmed Tinubu. They are too lost in choreographed rage and market place mentality to notice the emptiness of their claims ,and the shallowness of their thoughts This lady capitalized on the volatility of the present circumstances of economic hardship in the country, which naturally forces many people to see those in government as oppressors, to peddle fake news about Governor Abiodun and his administration. By repeatedly claiming that all Ogun roads are in a bad shape and that Governor Abiodun is using Ogun money to do “steeze”, she aims to pitch the governor against the people and create chaos in the state, and it is so sad that many people took her garbage hook, line and sinker. Indeed, this individual even posted videos of bad roads from other places, claiming they are Ogun roads, just to validate premeditated evil agenda. A so-called critic that cannot distinguish between state and federal roads, and is neither resident in nor from Ogun State, cannot justifiably make magisterial pronouncements on Ogun roads. And even when her error was pointed out by many Ogun residents, she stuck to her guns.

As an Ogun indigene and resident, I think that Governor Abiodun needs to sue this individual for defamation and cyberbullying. The falsehood she actively promotes is capable of setting entire communities on fire. The critic must show, with concrete evidence, not Twitter braggadocio, exactly how Governor Abiodun wasted Ogun funds on frivolities. In the ethics of journalism, you must adhere to minimum standards; you must get your facts right. If you don’t have facts, you keep quiet,because facts are sacred while opinions are free. You can’t manufacture figures; it is a crime under our laws. Such rules also apply on social media. It does not matter if Ms Allahbura claims ignorance of the fact that the Abiodun administration has constructed/rehabilitated over 600km of roads to date; the fact is that she made inciting claims on social media, and has the responsibility to justify them.

Are there bad roads in Ogun State? There are, because, as in every state of the country, the deficit in road construction is huge. There are endless street roads that are in a terrible shape in Borno where Allahbura comes from, but that is no evidence that her state government hasn’t built roads. Go to Ibadan, go to Lagos, Aba, etc, and see such roads everywhere. If social media loudmouths are being used by political adversaries of the governor for public incitement, then they should have their day in court, lest other people follow in their pernicious footsteps. But for the evidence of quality roads constructed by the Abiodun administration that has so far surfaced, many people would have been utterly misled by Ms. Allahbura. Social media mischief-makers must be stopped in their tracks.Characters like her should be taught to tread the path of reason than committing incalculable damage to the social fabric of the society.

Mrs Omene, a media practitioner, contributes this via jummy05@gmail.com.

Jumoke Ayayi-Omene: Between Dapo Abiodun and social media falsehood

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