Fake news debacle: Who is after VP Yemi Osinbajo again?
By Oluwafemi Popoola
The uncertainties of 2023 elections keep raging. The debate of President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor and 2023 politics have thrown the current Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo into turbulent political waters and oceans of smear campaigns.
The campaign is a strategic one deployed by some faceless powerful people with the intention to smear the former lecturer of law, a forthright man, who is only determined to serve his country, ahead of the 2023 presidential elections. He wants to do his work as the people’s servant with all his heart. He doesn’t not deserve all these needless unpatriotic actions launched against him by agents provocateurs.
The reason being that, Osinbajo is not only an asset for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), he has become a national treasure and a rallying point for national development.
The 2023 politicking has made the Vice President become a cheap target of smear campaigns and fake news due to his intimidating credentials that many traditional politicians seldom enjoy.
Going by Nigeria’s chequered political history, many traditional politicians are generally viewed with distrust because they are sometimes seen as simply occupying public offices for occupying sake, rather than truly serving the people in their exalted position. This general assumption makes political offices in the country a no go area for persons with high moral value and decency.
It has not entirely been a bed of roses for the sprightly 64-year-old because of the amoral politics of the Nigerian landscape. This has made some people to stick to the saying that ” Politics is a dirty game”.
Let’s go down memory lane
• TUNDE FOWLER’S CORRUPTION CASE WAS LINKED TO OSINBAJO
Osinbajo’s reputation and longstanding integrity was firstly put to the fire in a virulent manner at the backdrop of Tunde Fowler’s exit from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) due to corruption cases.
A letter from the late President’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, had surfaced on the Internet querying the FIRS boss on the discrepancy in their figures. The following day, the story came up that the VP allegedly took N90 billion from that same FIRS to fund the 2019 elections. It was the most confusing story of the year in 2019. There were a lot of insinuations and gossips. While some believed it was a knife fight in the APC party politics by some cabals who wanted to reduce Osinbajo growing influence, others posited that the purveyors of such malicious lie had planned it well by dragging Osinbajo to the Fowler’s corruption story due to their similar backgrounds and chummy relationship. Fowler was a childhood friend and a former classmate of the VP.
The apocrypha story trended in beer parlors and on various social media platforms for some days but the purveyors were having difficulty explaining to us how such huge amount of money was delivered.
• 5.8 BILLION NEMA RUSE
With another intent to puncture the integrity of the former Law Professor, the Vice President was also dragged into the issue of the N5.8 billion National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) scandal this time by the opposition PDP.
The main opposition party had claimed that the Vice President had “failed to provide a cogent response to the report of the House of Representatives on the N33 billion NEMA fraud in addition to allegations that the N5.8 billion was withdrawn from the national coffers, while he was Acting President, without legislative consent and expended without recourse to extant due process, procurement and contract rules.”
Osinbajo’s only administrative iniquity was the immediate action he took when he approved funds for the emergency operations in the North East at the time the entire region was facing a severe humanitarian crisis. They claimed that the funds were from the consolidated Revenue Fund not budgeted funds. Although, it was later discovered that the funds approved were actually from budgeted funds, specifically the Rice Levy.
Babafemi Ojudu, the presidential political adviser while responding to the claim said, “Nowhere in the House of Representative Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness report was there an allegation of corruption against the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, and this is why claims against him from some quarters regarding the report are mere political contrivances intended to distract him.
“It is evident that the opposition are in search of company for their acts of grand corruption which brought Nigeria to its knees as of May 2015. They cannot find that company in the Vice President.
“First, there is nowhere in the politicised House of Reps report where the VP was accused of corruption or embezzlement of funds. I challenge them to quote any word or sentence that makes such an accusation.”
• JACKSON UDE’S INFAMOUS FAKE NEWS STORY
Again, the Vice President found himself enmeshed in another campaign of calumny. A renowned merchant of fake news, Jackson Ude, on July 8, 2020 through his media platform Pointblank News published a story with a headline that says “How Magu Embezzled N39 billion, Gave Osinbajo N4 billion, Begs for Soft Landing.”
For those who are not familiar with the fake news monger, here is a man who once worked with the former President Goodluck Jonathan government. He has a clear history of blackmail and false publications. The Mrs Oyindamola Amuka fraudulent story and the former Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala blackmail he orchestrated are still fresh in our memory.
Jackson is a notorious fraudulent publisher, whose illegal activities have denied him a stay in the country. So, such publications against the person of the VP holds no water as none of the reputable news media published similar story.
Not only did the Vice President through his lawyer requested the Inspector General of Police to investigate Jackson and his malicious story, but it also defies human reasoning to imagine how Magu or the EFCC that doesn’t have a vault in its office or has a total control over the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), will dole out such fortune to the Vice President (that by law he is not answerable to).
ALSO READ: Osinbajo’s integrity and the rest of them
Although the allegation would later disappear into thin air not only the report could not be substantiated but because there are some Nigerians who refused to be gullible. Those that can tell between facts and fictions and won’t mistake a monkey for a gorilla have since trashed the malicious fake news.
• THE DIVISIVE NARRATIVE BETWEEN OSINBAJO AND TINUBU PEDDLED BY THE MEDIA
The Nigerian political space was agog with curiosity and bewilderment following a news report from THISDAY of October 24, 2021 under the headline, “Snubbed by Tinubu in London, Osinbajo Ready for Presidential Fight of His Life
The story had insinuated a fictitious clash of interest between the Vice PresidentOsinbajo and the former Lagos State governor and national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The Nigerian media, afterwards, latched on to the narrative and projections that Osinbajo may part ways with his political mentor over their alleged 2023 presidential ambitions, and it became a hot topic for political debates and discussions.
It is in the midst of all these speculations and conjectures that the two notable personalities in the ruling APC finally had a show down on Friday, October 29, 2021 in a closed-door meeting in Abuja, putting an end to the alleged conflict of interests in their 2023 presidential bid.
To the surprise of many, both of them posed for photographs before heading into a closed-door session in what looked like both the political godfather and son were just playing politics with the psyche of the poeple. The media charade on the alleged crack between them became more of an illusion than reality.
• OSINBAJO AGAIN LINKED TO THE COLLAPSED 21 STOREYED BUILDING IN IKOYI
Tragedy had struck in Lagos, on Monday 1st of November, 2021 after which at least 15 persons were initially reported dead following a collapse of 21-storey building at Gerard Road in the Ikoyi area of Lagos State.
The day was a tragic day not only in Lagos but in the entire country as the death toll has risen to 35 as of the time of writing this report. The owner of the building, who is also its developer, Mr Femi Osibona, is said to be trapped in the rubble as rescuing efforts are still ongoing. His whereabouts is still unknown according to reports. This is a tragic thing that has thrown the entire nation into mourning. There is no need playing over the graves of these late Nigerians.
As Nigerians still struggling to cope with the sad reality of the unfortunate incident then, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, again got dragged into the tragedy with an unverified and unconfirmed publication from Sahara Reporters under the headline, “EXCLUSIVE: Vice President Osinbajo Linked To Lagos Collapsed Building With Current Death Toll Of 36 Persons.”
However, no matter the denials and efforts made by the Vice President and his publicists, what is unfolding, before our very eyes is more than a storm in a teacup.
The coordination and the barrage at which most of these smear campaigns against the VP always hit the media space has raised a suspicion that someone or an organised network of people are pushing a against Prof Osinbajo, a cerebral technocrat, thoroughbred professional, a teacher who is an accomplished Professor of Law and a preacher of values and morals and Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).
Members of the public, however, should be wary of all these pranks, schemings, permutations, shenanigans and demand for the truth. Osinbajo’s personality and integrity at his best solicitor. He always wins.
• Popoola is a political analyst, content analyser and news aggregator