Monday, 17 October 2016

SOCIAL MEDIA ACTIVISTS AND THE BURDEN OF TRUTH, by Isah Ahmed


We have recently been confronted with a seemingly minor conflict between the Katsina state government and a cross section of social media activists. I think the source of the conflict could be attributed largely to the way and manner these activists run their commentaries in respect of government policies and programmes. More often than not, these commentaries are either from the point of mischief or ignorance. Whichever, it puts the government in a most awkward position to the extent of going to the courts to seek for retribution against those the Government feels have crossed the line.

Jamil Mabai’s posts on some Katsina state’s policies that run on both his blog and the online cliqq media magazine are veritable and ideal examples to be discussed for this essay but for the fact that there is an impending court case between him and the Government I will have to hold on. However, there are many write ups posted by some activists with regards to Katsina State Government’s policies that can be used to facilitate this discourse, in fact, they are so ubiquitous on the virtual media that when ever you peruse through you will immediately see their deficiency both in facts and logicality.
For the sake of time and space I will use some write ups by one of our most prominent Social Media activist in the person of Dr. Aminu Mahmud to drive my argument home. Mahmud has been around and much in the struggle to remove the People’s Democratic Party from our lives. He is not known for spouting drivel but always adamantine in his refusal to change his mind when facts are brought before him. This can be verified from some of the comments and arguments that trail his various articles. Most of his write ups on Katsina state Government are fraught with errors and inadequacies that usually allow a discerning mind to arrive at a safe conclusion that the import of his write ups is either out of mischief or ignorance. Take for instance, his piece that hit the screens on the 17/6/16 with the title ‘What an embarrassing Media Outing for Governor Masari’, which in a lengthy rejoinder Maiwada Danmallam described as a ‘friendly fire’ caused by desire to improve. This friendly disposition by Danmallam was probably due to the fact that ‘Dr. Mahmud was a supporter of PMB/GABM and an active advocate of the ‘CHANGE’ crusade’. That notwithstanding, he added ‘I find it imperative to correct some erroneous impressions he made in the mentioned piece posted on his wall…’ In my judgement, these erroneous impressions as deduced by Danmallam are either done out of mischief or ignorance and either way they are responsible for igniting the flames of conflict with the government.
I had cause to write a rejoinder on another Dr. Mahmud’s piece with the title ‘Katsina educational system does not need a make-up artist’. My riposte written on the 29th August 2015 was aimed at correcting another erroneous impression created by Mahmud on the state’s educational system. Just about a month ago, to be precise the 13th September, 2016, Dr. Mahmud was at it again with his post ‘SAD DEVELOPMENT IN KATSINA’, this is the post that exposed him as an activist who writes with mischievous intent. What really gave him up was the second paragraph of the post where he said inter alia ‘A relative of mine, who played a significant role in Gov. Masari’s campaign, was arrested…’ but anybody who knows that his relative knows that he has never been an APC stalwart, he was a staunch PDP apologist who was in fact on its payroll as such he couldn’t have helped Masari in any way. It is very clear that Dr. Aminu Mahmud wrote totally from an off - side position, clearly beyond the defense line and that made the whole write –up impugnable. What is even more poignant about Dr. Aminu’s post is the way the present security situation of the state is twisted and painted to suit certain interests and caprices. But it smacks of insincerity to even suggest that the security situation in Katsina has not positively changed since the APC took over the mantle of leadership in the state.
The point made here is that, we should endeavour to write from the point of knowledge because when we do that no matter how hard our words are we can never stand accused but when you write from the point of ignorance or mischief you will always stand to be accused. Moreover, when you write from the point of knowledge it will saves you the trauma of having to depend your self in the court of law or the court of public opinion. This is almost the only way we can avert friction or unnecessary confrontation with the government. On the part of government, its superintendents on information should endeavor to be at our beck and call by prompt dissemination of information on government’s policies and programmes. They should understand that freedom of expression and unhindered access to information are basic human rights protected by the Nigerian constitution.

Isah Ahmed 
Twitter: @NigeriaNorth
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