Reuben Abati: Lai Mohammed’s Public Disinformation Tactics

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Lai Mohammed’s Public Disinformation Tactics

In a previous press statement, we had pointed out that a well organized campaign by the opposition designed to mislead the public, discredit the person and office of President Goodluck Jonathan, and cause disaffection within the polity appears to be well afoot. That there is an emerging pattern of disinformation and politics by trickery, orchestrated by Lai Mohammed and his ilk which is unsuitable to our democratic experience is now no longer in doubt.

We have been proven right, once more, with the deliberate disinformation engaged in today by the National Publicity Secretary of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

Recall that last week, we were regaled with the publication of a fictitious “Presidential Directive” on Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, APC and other matters which turned out to be a dubious bromide containing nothing more than “a mishmash of carefully arranged and concocted lies, presented to the public as evidence of a document emanating from the presidency.”

A press conference in Lagos, this Thanksgiving Sunday, addressed by Alhaji Lai Mohammed continued this pattern when he alleged that the Federal Government was deliberately promoting policies that will plunge the nation into crisis with the objective of scuttling the 2015 elections. He tried to exploit real challenges confronting the nation by instilling fear in the populace through the use of unrelated events; hoping to use such patterns and trends to build a conspiratorial case. Like all conspiracies, the case made fell quickly like a pack of cards when confronted with the facts.

It is a fact that President Goodluck Jonathan has presided over major elections since his assumption of office – the 2011 general elections, the 2012 state gubernatorial elections in Edo, Kogi, Adamawa, Sokoto, Cross River and Bayelsa as well as other elections in different parts of the country; which were all adjudged by local and international observers as free, fair and peaceful. Indeed, President Jonathan’s commitment to electoral reforms which is founded on the ‘one man-one vote’ ethos underscores the administration’ ­s belief and commitment to an emerging political culture that is inclusive, participatory and transparent.

When juxtaposed against Lai Mohammed’s allegations, it would appear to any discerning citizen that Alhaji Mohammed is engaged in disinformation, the likes of which we heard ahead of the elections referenced above, thus suggesting a well worn tactic.

The integrity of elections is without doubt one of the major achievements of this administration. ­It remains a legacy issue for President Jonathan. Lai Mohammed’s allegations of tenure elongation, instigation of violence, likely emergency rule, and a sinister plan that will make free and fair elections impossible in 2015 are entirely hollow and a figment of his imagination.

More specifically and to buttress his conspiratorial claim, the ACN spokesman alleged that the Federal Government has awarded an oil pipeline protection contract to serve as a smokescreen to fund activities that would create chaos in the South-West. Fact is, no such contract was ever awarded by this administration.

The more alarming aspect of the disingenuous press conference was the deliberate attempt to exploit religious and ethnic differences amongst citizens to create a state of siege and fear ahead of the 2015 elections. This was clear in the use of the national Boko Haram crisis and the ‘terror-baiting ­’ of the populace. Is the ACN hatching a plot of electoral violence through auto-suggestion ­?

While it is legitimate to seek political power, the ACN has an obligation to be responsible with facts and remain truthful with the evidence at all times; and to engage the government of the day constructively on issues of national importance; and not negatively Consistently stitching together a tissue of lies, extracted from a fantastic imagination, with the intention to scare and mislead the public belongs to the realm of jungle politics we are all happy to be rid of.

We urge the public to pay careful attention to the tactics of those who believe that by crying wolf where none exists, they can create doubt about the efforts of the Jonathan administration. ­These allegations are blatantly false and grossly misleading.

Reuben Abati

Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to the President

April 07, 2013

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