“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” – George Orwell.
Nigerians were destroyed, the understanding of their history denied and completely obliterated by the deft political manipulations of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in 2015. Propaganda was the potent political weapon unleashed on the populace by the party to clinch electoral victory and gain relevance over other parties and its major contender the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015 general elections. It was a well-calculated political move to deflate the ego of the then incumbent PDP. The stone precisely landed on the forehead of Goliath. It was a well-articulated job.
Nothing was working in Nigeria said the then opposition APC despite the fact that fuel was sold at N89 per litre, a bag of rice sold at N8000 and most importantly Nigeria was the biggest economy in Africa to mention but a few. In fact, available statistics showed that; the overall living condition and well-being of Nigerians were much better before the emergence of APC. At least Nigeria was not the poverty capital of the world. They reeled out the sins of the then ruling PDP and promised change. A saint was turned into a villain; while a villain became a saint. The government and personality of former President Goodluck Jonathan was dubbed clueless. His family was not spared of the insults either.
Media executives were hired, politically motivated musics were released, the social media space were flooded with despicable innuendos against him. He moved on unperturbed and promised that; “nobody’s ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian. Unity, stability, and progress of our dear country is more important than anything else.” But he warned; “the choice before Nigerians in the coming elections is simple: a choice between going forward or going backward; between the new ways and old ways; between freedom and repression; between records of visible achievements and beneficial reforms – and desperate power-seekers with empty promises.”
The Peoples Democratic Party and anything associated to it was demonised. Politicians like dis-satisfied GSM users ported to protect their relevance. The abduction of 276 Chibok girls and the insecurity in the northeast were hot campaign issues. Unfortunately, the government of that time did not seem to have done much to secure the release of the girls or contain the security challenges.
With the endorsement of APC by Obasanjo, flag bearers like Wole Soyinka, Fr. Ejike Mbaka, Tunde Bakare, Joe Obiajulu Okei-Odumakin, Oby Ezekwesili etc, the party was hailed as the messainic party. It was hallehluya! Unsuspecting Nigerians poured out in their numbers in support of APC and to demonstrate against what they were told was a clueless government. The change was its mantra and selling point. The young and old, rich and mostly the poor, educated and the uneducated, Christians and muslims joined the movement for change. It was more of a bandwagon effect. APC then like religion became the opium of Nigerians. Sai Baba were the buzz words. People were ready and willing to die for change for a better Nigeria as they were told by politicians. In fact, many died. I do not blame them. They believed what they were told in the face of the prevailing national challenges and circumstances.
President Buhari who had lost the presidential elections on three consecutive occasions was presented as a progressive who has the magic wand to addressing myriads of Nigerian problems. He cried for Nigeria and took sachets of Milo beverage as a way of passing his message of “I am one of you and understood what you go through” to the common man. He was packaged as a cosmopolitan and a converted democrat. Nigerians embraced him and APC for what they heard. You know faith cometh by hearing. We will rescue the kidnapped Chibok girls, end insurgency and Boko Haram menace. The price of fuel will be reduced. There will be no payment of fuel subsidy by the government. Education will be free. Unemployed Nigerians will be paid N5000 monthly. Power supply will be fixed in six months. And many other promises likened to the one made to a woman in the middle of the night. The scales have fallen off the eyes of Nigerians and we could now clearly see what exactly it was. Propaganda!
According to Adolf Hitler, “the receptivity of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.” The full weight of the concepts of big-lie, propaganda and repetition were effectively deployed by APC. They came out victorious.
This was made possible by the press who Hunter S. Thompson, in his piece Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas described as ” … a gang of cruel faggots. Journalism is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for fuck-offs and misfits—a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage.”
After inauguration, the unprecedented happened. No government was formed after six months. When it was eventually formed, it was nothing novel. The unpreparedness of this government begun to manifest. Policies and programmes lack the desired direction. They blame the woes of their incompetence on the previous administration, especially on the PDP. The promises they made were blatantly denied. There was no well prepared blueprint for governance.
Noam Chomsky, in his piece “Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda” gave an insightful proposition on the events that led to the enthronement of President Buhari’s led APC government.
He said, ” propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.” Since the advent of APC in 2015, job loss run into millions, inflation rate has climbed to 12.56%, prices of foods and essential commodities have skyrocketed, cost of living is gradually getting beyond the reach of ordinary man. Despite these challenges, the excruciating pain and agony daily passed by Nigerians as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to take its toll, the government took two repressive anti-people decisions. The fuel pump price and electricity tariff were increased at a time nations are worried about how to provide palliatives for their citizens. The government has already given us notice to prepare for hard times ahead. Vice president Yemi Osinbajo made the position of government known yesterday at a ministerial retreat in Abuja. Their apologists have justified the increases voting what is obtainable elsewhere, but they never mentioned the obtainable minimum wage in those countries.
The ripple effect of the decision has already manifested in the increase in the prices of essential commodities. The irony of change we voted for is starring all of us in the face. Nigerians are highly educated, wise and intelligent. But politics, religion and ethnicity have a way of ripping us off these gains when it is time to elect leaders. Now, the nation groans under the heavy burden of warped judgment and wrong decision. Do we truly deserve what we got? Yes! Nigerians, behold the irony of change you voted for.