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At the crossroads

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By Chioma Gabriel

Everything is going haywire. Fair is foul and foul is fair. Politicians are speaking from different sides of the mouth. They say one thing today and a different thing tomorrow. Political allies are betraying each other. Wives are quarrelling with their husbands and vice versa over which candidates to support. Social media friends are discarding each other because of their different political views and candidates.

Nigeria is once again at crossroads.

It happened in 2015.Many husbands divorced their wives and many wives divorced their husbands. Somewhere in Lagos, a woman stabbed her husband to death over divergent political views.

Saints are becoming sinners and sinners are becoming saints. It depends on which part of the divide one is coming from.

A serious damage is being done to the country and the fragile things holding the people together. Again, political views are dividing Nigerians. The social media have run mad, spreading hate, love and disgust. You will suddenly discover you don’t really know that person you thought you knew. People who hitherto didn’t seem to have any political leaning are finding their voices, speaking loud on social media.

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But what Nigerians don’t know is if these have PVCs and can vote during elections.

The truth is that many of these don’t vote and can’t vote. Social media is a free market. It brings the news faster to Nigerians on campaigns and 2019 elections.

The use of social media in politics including Twitter, Facebook, and others has dramatically changed the way campaigns are run and how Nigerians interact with their candidates.

But there is the good part.

Social media in politics is making candidates for public office more accountable and accessible to voters. And the ability to publish content and broadcast it to millions of people instantaneously allows campaigns to carefully manage their candidates’ images based on rich sets of analytics in real time and at almost no cost.

Everybody now goes on social media to know how the candidates are fairing. Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms have become instrumental in organizing campaigns. They allow like-minded voters to easily share news and information such as campaign events with each other.

But heavy abuses, insults and throwing of sour grapes at hitherto imagined sacred cows have become prevalent. Many Nigerians don’t seem have respect for any of the candidates including the President because of divergent views. People who comment against the candidates use the foulest of languages and display extreme lack of regard for those they don’t support.

In a similar vein, they remain blind to the bad news about the candidates they are supporting even as they spread lies and half-truths against the others. You marvel at how truths are being twisted or what propaganda can do.

Practically all the candidates have been taken to the cleaners by the opponents. Dirts are being dug out from politicians’ past and spewed on their faces. Some allegations against candidates remain unsubstantiated and could not  be proven. Some allegations are completely false.

Then you get shocked when someone who supported Candidate A yesterday wakes up tomorrow to begin to support Candidate B. You now realise that the abuses, insults, wash-downs are ‘all about the Benjamin’.

The ‘pepper’ is pushing people to do or say what ordinarily they would not do or say with clear eyes. Hunger and greed have indeed damaged the psyche of many who will sell their birthright for a mesh of porridge.

People no longer understand the culture of chewing words before saying them because of greed.

Indeed, political parties have not helped matters.

Party officials are hell-bent on spreading half-truths, wild conspiracy theories and fabricated news articles. Fake news is everywhere, spreading far and wide.

Nigerians have heard and seen it all: of a Jubril in Aso Rock instead of Buhari;of Atiku Abubakar publicly romancing a woman who later turned out to be one of his wives and the mother of his children. Nigerians and social media commentators don’t seem to give a damn about damages being done to their victims.

This phenomenon has a new dimension ahead of 2019 elections. Fake news about almost every candidate abound. President Muhammadu Buhari and his main opponent, former vice-president Atiku Abubakar have been dry-cleaned on Whats-app, Facebook and Twitter and the lies and half-truths about them are being shared by campaign officials and thousands of unsuspecting voters.

Politicians are fighting dirty through the social media. Propaganda videos, made-up quotes, and fabricated articles are made to look like they are from the BBC or Al-Jazeera and spread on WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media platforms.

It is becoming increasing difficult to contain the hate Nigerians have towards each other. Ethnic issues, religious differences and gender issues are all coming to the fore.

Nigerians seem to be entering a ‘one chance’ vehicle with their eyes wide open. They know but they don’t care because they are under influence. Stomach infrastructure is holding many bound.

 

 

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