Anyone who pays any attention to the Nigerian media would have noticed the recent coordinated attacks and smear campaigns directed at the person of Governor Seyi Makinde. Apparently, his strides in governance and determination to distinguish himself from the usual run-of-the-mill politicians have attracted the attention of persons with the wherewithal to use their influence to push false narratives.
The attacks are coming from all fronts. One can excuse the internal party squabbles. There will always be people within a political party who feel that a person should not be receiving the type of recognition he is getting. Navigating this type of attack shows the quality of one’s leadership. And I believe His Excellency is up to the task.
The attacks from the All Progressives Congress is also expected. After all, they are the opposition party and so should be ready to jump on and amplify any real or perceived failings. Their attacks do not even need to have rhyme or reason, the people will be left at the end of the day to decide whether they agree or disagree on a case-by-case basis.
What is totally unacceptable and absolutely condemnable is recruiting a “mafia press” made up of a section of the press and Civil Society Organisations to push lies and disinformation.
The plot aims to make it appear that Governor Seyi Makinde is just like the rest of the political class. And some media outlets are being used to push this narrative. They have resorted to spreading lies and half-truths to poison people’s hearts against the people’s governor.
For example, in a recent news item, Sahara Reporters used a file photo from the May 2020 distribution of palliatives by the Oyo State Government to push the claim that Governor Seyi Makinde was distributing palliatives as “Christmas Gifts.” The insinuation is that he hoarded palliatives supplied by the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) at the heat of the pandemic and decided to share them now to score political points.
Whilst that was being debunked, Civil Society Organisation Tracka Nigeria ran the same story on their social media handle using grainy videos and a voice-over of someone with a clear agenda. Interestingly, Tracka, a company affiliated with Seun Onigbinde’s BudgIT tagged Sahara Reporters in their campaign. I have had cause to call out Mr Onigbindein the past for his false presentation of facts regarding the Oyo State Government.
It is a shame that organisations such as TrackaNigeria and Sahara Reporters who pose as objective rapporteurs, ran this unconfirmed report. They have refused to retract their stories even though multiple sources have confirmed that the state government only just received these materials in November and December. They have not reached out to CACOVID to verify their story. They have neither used the FOI bill to seek confirmation from the Oyo State Government nor sent out their field workers to verify the government’s claim that distribution was done across all 33 local government areas between December 23 and 25. They have shown themselves in this instance to be partisan hacks and must be called out as such.
For the avoidance of doubt, the Oyo State Government has already embarked on four palliative distributions and reached 120,000 households madeup of the poorest of the poor, persons living with disabilities, civil servants, teachers and students. During the EndSARS protests, Governor Makinde spoke about a fifth distribution which was delayed because CACOVID staggered the sending of palliatives. When the final batch was sent in December, the authorities embarked on repackaging and distribution. The distribution was done between December 23 and 25 to 50,000 households. The facts are available for anyone who wishes to verify.
This further calls into question, the recent efforts which appear aimed at discrediting Oyo State Amotekun. Even before the corps had the time to kick off operations, a statement allegedly made by the Osun State Commandant was attributed to Oyo State’s. Also, the Oyo Amotekun has been accused of multiple shootings. Even though it is just one event which is still under investigation.
No doubt, as 2023 draws closer, fiercer battles will be fought. This battle will be led by people who want to maintain the status quo. And it will be waged against anyone who remotely resembles real change. You only need to scroll through non-partisan social media timelines to realise that Governor Seyi Makinde represents the average Nigerian aspirations in empathetic governance. This is why the people of Oyo State and indeed Nigerians as a whole should be interested in the current assault on Governor Makinde.
His antecedents demand that he be given the benefit of the doubt when accusations are made against him. He has always been forthcoming with explanations. And so I am convinced that once investigations are completed regarding the Amotekun incidence, he will speak on it.
In the meantime, the people deserve to hear clear, unadulterated truths from media outlets and civil society groups to make the right judgement calls. People who are into the business of informing people should not descend to the realm of fifth columnists either because they have been paid to do so, or because they are looking for any other type of attention,