Since President Donald Trump made his catch phrase a universal currency for leaders, rulers and autocrats around the world, the best way to dismiss any story in the media these days is to label it as “fake news”.
Around the world, many leaders are using the same phrase to discredit reports in the media. And Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is no exception.
On Friday, the Buhari Media Organization dismissed a report suggesting that 75 percent of Nigerians who voted for President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 had no Permanent Voters Cards as required by the electoral body.
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The group described the report as fake news, and said it was skewed and lacking in credibility.
It urged Nigerians to regard it as “yet another in a series of misinformation couched as well-researched reports by pseudo-intellectual groups linked to the Peoples Democratic Party”.
BMO said in a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke that it is a misrepresentation of facts aimed at giving a false impression of the President’s support base, especially in Northern Nigeria.
“It is interesting to note that the report by the faceless group was released at a time PDP elements were selling the false impression that President Buhari does not want the smartcard readers used in 2019.
“Here’s a man that was previously denied victory until technology- in form of PVCs and smartcard readers- were introduced to reduce the possibility of manipulation of the electoral process”, it said.
The group said it was shocked that “the purveyors of the damaging report attributed it to data from the Independent National Electoral Commission shows the extent they can go to attach credibility to their evil mission”.
“If indeed there was any data from INEC that shows that about 13 million Nigerians were allowed to vote in 2015 without PVC, how is it possible for anyone to determine who an individual cast his ballot for when it was not an open ballot system?
“So on what basis would anyone conclude that 75 percent of voters without PVCs were Buhari’s supporters in a region that gave the then incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan surprisingly far more votes than he got in Southern Nigeria”.
On another note, BMO says it finds it worrisome that INEC did not deem it fit to issue a statement dissociating itself from the report as soon as it was issued before it went viral.
The group then urged INEC, as well as other Federal Government agencies, to be fast in countering disinformation, misinformation and false narratives that are capable of eroding their credibility.