It would have been okay to dismiss reported happenings around the Buhari Presidency as part of political blackmail and negative agenda setting of partisan press but for the publicly manifested interplay of the antics of the gods and demons at the seat of power.
Without doubt now, the inordinate ambition of this regime to entrench itself even against the popular will of the Nigerian voters has unfortunately made the political space in this country a place of extremes. Strange things are now afoot in our country and our democratic experiment is now floundering needing our urgent attention to either fix it or lose it.
The report that an American think tank that analyzes misinformation online said Friday May 17 that an Israel-based influence campaign busted by Facebook had stumped for the All Progressive Congress Party’s candidate at the February 2019 presidential elections, President Mohammadu Buhari, should actually be a source of serious concern to any genuine Nigeria as it majorly relates to whatever is left as our national security.
Facebook banned Archimedes from the platform Thursday 16 May 2019 for its “coordinated and deceptive behavior” and conducted a sweeping takedown of dozens of accounts and hundreds of pages primarily aimed at disrupting elections in African countries, with some scattered activity in Southeast Asia and Latin America.
As disclosed in a new report from the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, many of the pages and accounts were discovered to be linked to a Tel Aviv-based political consulting and lobbying firm named Archimedes which on its sparse website of African stock images, proudly acknowledges that its only service to its clients is in its “deliberate efforts to conduct disinformation campaigns, taking every advantage available in order to change reality according to our client’s wishes through unlimited online accounts operation.”
One of the pages that Facebook pulled down appeared filled with viral misinformation attacking the former Vice-President. The accounts, before their closure, were used purposely for disseminating smear campaigns against Atiku Abubakar, Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and eulogizing President Muhammadu Buhari, the APC flag bearer.
The Forensic report identified the page as a covert attempt to infiltrate Atiku’s audience of potential voters and manipulate their views, gradually spamming them with antithetical content and diverting them to the ‘Make Nigeria Worse’ page.” According to the report, several of the removed pages attempted to defame candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party.
The worrisome aspect of this show of shame by the Buhari Presidency is that as reported, most of the pages claimed to be run by local Nigerian users, but in fact were managed from Tel Aviv, Israel and this has very serious national security implications if only the people in government care for the wellbeing of this country.
How do you explain that a government that acknowledged that fake news could be deadly in this country with multiple ethnic and religious fault lines would be the one to secretly recruit a fake news consulting firm to smear the major opposition candidate who was perceive to sure do better than the incumbent at the February presidential poll?
As said by a concerned Nigerian in his comment, “you can’t successfully campaign against fake news in the country and at the same time be engaged in it secretly against your political rivals. You can’t sell your message without credibility. Wilfully spreading lies against your political opponents is disgraceful and ignoble.
“The weaponisation of falsehoods ultimately harms your own credibility rather than the perceived political opponents you seek to destroy”.
There is no colouring the fact that the Facebook revelation detailing the devious manipulations and engineering of disinformation in the 2019 general election by President Buhari’s handlers and All Progressives Congress (APC) further exposes them as schemers and real enemies of our democracy and national cohesion.
The Facebook revelation exposes how President Buhari, in his claimed integrity, allowed the enlisting of criminals, hackers and internet fraudsters in the desperate attempt to manipulate the views of Nigerians against Atiku Abubakar; a scheme which failed as Nigerians had already made up their minds to do away with the incompetent, deceptive, vindictive and corrupt Buhari administration.
Indeed, the Buhari Presidency and the APC should hide their faces in shame as Nigerians have seen that their professed sanctimony and ‘holier-than-thou’ claims are mere masquerading.
To say the least, it is despicable that in their desperation to hold on to power at all costs, President Buhari’s handlers and the APC engaged in this sneaky disinformation, internet lies and smear campaigns against PDP Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar. It is very unfortunate that the APC, which engaged in manipulation to foist itself, will do anything, no matter how vile, to sustain itself in office, not minding the social, economic and collateral damages such could cause our dear nation.
Is it not interesting that since the Facebook revelation, the Federal Government and the Presidency have suddenly gone dumb, having been exposed and shown in their true colours.
And rather than owning up, the Presidency and the APC, through the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, are seeking to cover their tracks and divert public attention from their devious acts by making unsubstantiated security allegations against the PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
The APC has now commenced a renewed plot to engage in fabricated security accusations against the PDP and its Presidential candidate in another desperate stunt to play the victim and divert attention from its endless election manipulations, all in the ill-fated attempt to demonize the PDP, hoodwink Nigerians and confer legitimacy on the outcome of the rigged election. This is vile to say the least!
*** Ifeanyi Izeze is @ firstname.lastname@example.org; 234-8033043009.