|Presidential Spokesman Femi Adesina....Dazed that a blogger linked his name to a phony scheme.|
It seemed a perfect copy. The "t" was nearly crossed, the "i" boldly dotted. The headline spoke directly to the burning issue of the day over which not a few Nigerians had understandably been losing sleep - the money-doubling scheme called MMM.
Before its shadowy promoters abruptly suspended their operation in November, thousands - if not millions - of Nigerians already had billions of naira trapped in the scheme whose attractions include a promise of phantasmagorical returns on investments within weeks.
So seductive was the bait that even the General Overseer of a leading Pentecostal church in Lagos admitted that the London branch of his flock earlier lost a staggering $5m £5m to the money-doublers.
|Pastor Mathew Ashimolowo.....The man whose church lost £5 million Pounds to MMM?|
As reported by the blog late on Monday, ahead of the scheduled return of the Ponzi scheme, the presidency had had a change of mind.
Based on fresh advisory from the EFCC, according to the blogger, the presidency had not only quashed its earlier damning disclaimer but now considered MMM as a true partners in poverty alleviation, particularly at this time of recession.
And something quite unprecedented, if not revolutionary, the followed that with a profuse apologies the miracle workers toiling tirelessly, day and night, behind MMM.
All interested Nigerians were therefore urged to take advantage of MMM's return to better their financial condition.
Just as the perennially adversarial media institutions were enjoined
to, for once, sheathe their swords and halt opposing progress.
|President Muhammadu Buhari....MMM blogger tied his name to the ponzy scheme and other fake news|
What further proof of authenticity of could anyone have thought or expected to believe this evidently "good news" than its direct attribution to the president's own media adviser, Femi Adesina, as the author, his designation painstakingly spelt out under his names fully capitalized, for effect.
My first instinct after reading the bulletin which I imagined must have trended on the social media Monday evening was outrage, wondering whether the Buhari administration had indeed become so bereft of sanity to volunteer itself to be implicated in such sordid matters.
So, my next reaction was to call Yomi Odunuga, The Nation's Aso Rock correspondent, an Abuja insider, to verify the release.
It was news to him: "To the best of my knowledge, no such statement came from the Villa today."
|Louis Odion the Author... Very Mad with fake and senseless bloggers who tries to drag journalism ethics to the mud|
I decided to call Femi, my old colleague and brother. He screamed in incredulity at my inquiry, asking rhetorically: "Me, issue a statement endorsing the Ponzi scheme ke?!"
Coincidentally, hours before Femi's purported "Ponzi statement" began to trend that Monday evening another "breaking news" was being retailed by a different blog declaring categorically that "Tension grips Delta Community ahead of Osinbajo's visit".
As usual, without fear of God or respect for facts, the blogger disclosed that all was set for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo's visit as part of President Buhari's commitment to contain renewed militancy in oil-rich Niger Delta. His port of call was listed as the restive Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State.
Stretching creativity to an unbelievable limit, the blogger then linked reported arrest and invasion of some ex-militant leaders' homes by soldiers to the concert of precautionary steps being taken by the authorities ahead of the arrival of the august visitor.
To garnish the picture, a local leader was quoted in the report as confirming the impending visit.
|Chief Edwin Clarke....His name was mentioned in connection with Vice President Osinbajo's fake Gbaramatu visit|
But it was an agitated Laolu Akande, media adviser to the Vice President, who issued a frantic disclaimer later that Monday evening categorically denying Delta even featured in his boss' itinerary for the day, let alone a scheduled trip to Gbaramatu.
Surely, journalism, our noble calling is under attack. Once, the written word - in cold print - was taken as gospel. But not any more as quacks, hustlers and just any mischief-maker with access to the laptop besiege the cyber space seeking to redefine truth not as fact but as fantasy. E-rats, millipedes (apologies to Wole Soyinka), cowards and such monstrous creatures now hide in the anonymity of the cyber space to peddle falsehood and foment libel.
|VP Yemi Osinbajo, did his Principal, President Buhari sent him to Gbaramatu on the speculated date? NO|
It is high time all stakeholders were alerted to this clear and present danger to our collective social health.