The African Independent Television (AIT) on 1st March at 11PM aired a documentary entitled: ‘Unmasking the Real Tinubu.’ The one-hour documentary was aimed at showcasing the various properties and companies across Lagos and other parts of the country owned by Tinubu whom it described as “Nigeria’s biggest landlord.” It also said that Tinubu was “charged with narcotics” in 1993 in the United States. Tinubu is a former governor of Lagos State and the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Tinubu is seriously angry with the documentary. His lawyer, Tunji Abayomi in a letter dated March 2, 2015 and addressed to the management of Daar Communications Limited, owners of AIT, gave the organization 24 hours to apologize and retract the publication or face a N20 billion litigation. The letter stated in part that “We are surprised that your media house – and we hold you responsible for the documentary – lacks simple ability to know what is justifiable for publication or understand that freedom of expression does not include deliberate defamation of character.” Abayomi went on to say that since Tinubu was not running for political office, he found the publication about his life “utterly absurd, disrespectful of media responsibility, ethically abusive, malicious and unbecoming of a public institution raised into prominence by shareholders’ funds.”
Although AIT indicated that the documentary on Tinubu was sponsored without saying who the sponsor is, most pundits are speculating that it originated from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Organisation., just as was the earlier documentary on Major Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, the Presidential candidate of the APC where he was depicted as an unrepentant military tyrant unfit to govern a modern democracy.
At no time in the history of Nigeria have hate-message and mudslinging taken prominence in electioneering campaigns than in the current 2015 general elections. The two leading parties, the PDP and the APC, have been making efforts to tear each other apart with some of the most biting and deeply penetrating tar-pouring both on each other as well as on their candidates at all levels but mostly on the presidential candidates.
Globally, a political campaign is a deliberate and organized effort by political parties aimed at influencing the decision-making process of individuals and interest groups for the purpose of gaining their votes. This is done through information on what and how the parties and candidates would positively affect the lives of the people if elected into public office.
Unfortunately however, some party officials tend to deviate from canvassing support based on issues to assassinating the character of their rivals through mud- pouring. And this is not unique to Nigeria.
Without taking us far too back in history, in the 2008 American presidential election, some extremists from the Republican Party highlighted the ‘Hussein’ and ‘Obama’ aspects of Barack’s name and tried to portray him as being related to Osama Bin Laden and therefore linking him to terrorism. They distributed 28 million copies of fear-mongering video to see how they could swing states.
Here in Nigeria, hate messages have been the hallmark of the leading opposition since 1999. From the time of Action Congress to when they merged with Action Congress of Democrats (ACD) to form Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) down to the current APC, the opposition has done everything to instigate Nigerians against President Goodluck Jonathan as well as belittle the dignity of his office. While APC officials try to portray their party and its leaders as saints, they have invested so much resources and time, especially using the media both conventional and the social media, to portray Jonathan and the PDP as demons. There is no derogatory name the APC and its promoters have not called the PDP and its leaders, the worst insulted and most criticised being President Jonathan.
But APC’s pouring of venom on PDP and its government and top personalities reached the peak in the build-up to the 2015 general election. For the past twelve months, the APC has taken PDP and President Jonathan to the cleaners. They have called Jonathan clueless president, kindergarten leader, treasury looter, sponsor of book haram and so much more.
The problem the APC is facing currently is that the party wasted its bullets before the real war began. While the APC was busy insulting the PDP and its leaders and candidates, especially Jonathan, the PDP kept quiet while assembling its arsenals and waiting for the last battle. Now that the final whistle is blown, the APC has exhausted its weapons and the PDP has therefore moved in and taken the APC captive.
A few weeks before the election, a combination of Gov. Ayo Fayose and Fani Kayode have unleashed unprecedented attacks on the image of Buhari, Tinubu and other APC leaders making hundreds of disclosures that have shocked even the most ardent supporters of APC. Even Olisa Metuh, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP who has continued to insist on issues-based campaigns last week called APC a party of one week one lie. Metuh said APC and its leaders are churning out lies in promises and figures deliberately aimed at misleading Nigerians, even when they know they cannot achieve what they are promising.
Now get the teeth of the matter. While Jonathan’s re-election campaign is based on his performance in the past four years, the APC is propelling Buhari on the basis of his integrity since there is not much to refer to in terms of Buhari’s past achievements.
So in churning out ‘evidences’ to show that even the so-called integrity is lacking in APC, its candidates and leaders, the PDP, if it is actually the party that is sponsoring the documentaries on Buhari, Tinubu and other APC leaders is really holding the opposition party by the jugular.