OPINION – Abiola: The audacity to cancel

How can a latter day “pro-democracy” activist eulogise a dictator for canceling an election whose winner was already known going by official results at the time?”

By Uche Nnadozie

Last week some politically exposed persons who pretend to be neutral analysts expressed excitement over former Military President Ibrahim Babangida’s role in the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election.

It was a shocker seeing a sudden veneration of IBB as per that ill-fated transition programme. A programme that even the most optimistic would not waste time to stuff tissue papers into the guts of IBB. But these latter day Saints cum analysts made it clear that in fact the former military ruler saved Nigeria from doom for not allowing an election won by MKO Abiola to see the light of day.

It sounded strange. How can a latter day “pro-democracy” activist eulogise a dictator for canceling an election whose winner was already known going by official results at the time?

It all came down to a fib by a young man who has redefined what “investigative journalism” is or should be. His constant crowl in an attempt to injure peoples’ reputation is stomach upsetting. The celebrities made by Twitter have understandably bypassed order and responsibility to showcase crass opportunism, depraved publicity and things like that.

Such that today, what is hawked as “investigative journalism” by folks who began to see journalism through the eyes of social media is just a weft of lies, extrapolation and defamation seeking to excite impressionable minds and incite opprobrium.

In making allegations of drug dealing against Abiola – the accountant turned businessman who ran for president, won but whose victory was circumvented – the young writer David Hundeyin appeared to provide an alibi for the next allegation the wandering investigator was up to.

Placing one queer allegation side by side the other was likely to put some credibility on the fresh allegation knowing that the newest target for a dress down who is the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, who was a close associate of the late flamboyant politician.

If they can tar Abiola, so what’s there to tar his associate who would be president?

Using innuendos to make grave allegations against people simply because they are candidates for public office should not be a pattern. It may excite the opposition, yet it doesn’t cure the moral decay. It will get worse and no one knows who’s next on the slaughter slab. After all, every political persuasion will be in government at one point or the other.

As someone who though very young at the auspicious June 12 period, but participated in the protests against the annulement – yet today witness the delusion of a venerated IBB, put the sacrifices made by the masses in order for us to have democracy in jeopardy.

Trying to prop up a pseudo candidate but using slander to meander certain pitfalls to get some traction among Nigerians is hemlock waiting ahead for those who indulged the hack-writer.

MKO has died, it was in the process to ensure his freely given mandate was retrieved. He was detained and that detention spurred the bulwark for disorder in the land. It became a movement that led to the shedding of blood across board so we may have democracy. Reducing such sacrifice to paid tantrum for the sake of online celebrity cruise is a betrayal of all that is just.

Doing so in order to enhance the electability of a morally deficient candidate is the worst form of betrayal.

Journalists and others who operate in the media space should be careful the sort of information they share. If it’s not true, then leave out – that is the traditional principle of news. Therefore, no matter how often these lies are repeated, they will never force allegiance to palpable incapability.

Abiola was a gem. He was too heavy a giant to be minimised by a minion. His sacrifice is the foundation upon which the fourth Republic is built. Those of us who participated albeit passively in his movement cannot be intimidated by the tons of lies of 2022.

The social media has handed the power to “cancel” anyone and anything to anonymity. Like hyenas, the twitter tyrants swoop on any subject or individual that irritates them to assassinate reputations. They don’t stop until their target slumps and dies.

The resort to unethical journalism to unmake past heroes and term it “investigative journalism” can only fetch momentary adulation. The referenced piece of writing or so-called video on the subject should be dumped in the dustbin where it rightly belongs. Neither Abiola or Tinubu deserves such commissioned slander. But they say in politics everything is within limits. It must not always be so.

● Nnadozie is a public communicator and current affairs analyst.

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