Enugu State and The Herdsmen: Truth, Mischief, Responsibility and Campaign of Calumny in Onyema Uche’s Social Media Attacks.
By Ike Ezugwu
On the strength of the offerings of the Social Media platforms and the emerging campaign of calumny against the people of Enugu State and her leadership by Onyema Uche on Facebook, I wish to pen this piece.
In recent times, I have read, with surprise and unbelief, false rumours, bizarre stories, opinions and updates shared on social networks, to discredit institutions, government and public officers, private persons/businesses and political opponents. I have also come across institutionalized campaigns of calumny, based on falsehood, aimed at political opponents and parties. There is little regard for truth, decency, equity and justice. Sometimes, with all my knowledge and information at my disposal, I get cracked and confused. The Social Media evil-men/women are ubiquitous – scattered across the globe, traversing the continents- yet not limited by time and space.
We were told that Social Media represents “the democratization of information and the equalization of influence.”How true it is! With availability of Social Networks, anyone can create, publish, and distribute ideas, observations, news, and information without any hindrance, vetting or censorship from anybody. Content – true, false or malicious – can now travel wide and wild around the world through a myriad of connected channels and people. Anybody can become his or her own CNN, Fox News, NTA, whatever news network. There are no longer gatekeepers and press councils to regulate or edit anything! Anybody can abuse anybody and fly with it! You can call anybody any sort of names, peddle rumours and lies…and nobody stops it! This is the challenge in the freedom and opportunity offered by Social Media.
Invasion of privacy is now a common occurrence. Nothing is private as there is no more privacy for anybody. Whatever you are doing or saying these days are as open as anything. People sleep and wake up wondering what had been written at night about them or in response to their posts. We are all in the limelight and nobody is free! Devices are everywhere to capture the most secret of everybody and everything. Truth is no longer sacrosanct as everything now goes. Lies fly faster these days and reputation built over a lifetime can now be eroded in minutes with malicious posts on Social Media. Don’t forget…Google captures it all – the good, the bad and the ugly. Families, relationships, destinies have been ruined, quashed as a result. However, “what works against us can also work for us”. Public forums of the Social Media also represent our opportunity to tell our own stories, interact with communities, steer perception, engineer conversation and action in our favour.
The world and the Social Media have been awash, for some time now, with stories and rumours on attacks and menace of Fulani Herdsmen in various Nigerian communities. Attacks have been recorded in many states of the country with varying casualty figures. The Federal Government and States involved (potential victim-states too) are seeking proactive and palliative measures to get things right and avert further attacks and encroachment of the herdsmen on farmlands and villages.
However, Enugu State and Enugu State Governor have been the focus of may “E-Rats” and “Hate Commentators”, for reasons other than magnitude or severity of attack, laxity in proactive response cum intervention or response but based on an orchestrated campaign of calumny targeted at the Government of Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and the people of Enugu State by political opponents and haters of Wawa people. It is important to observe here that the herdsmen attacks have occurred in many states – Benue, Kaduna, Lagos, Ekiti, Enugu, Anambra, Imo, Ebonyi, among many others. It is and remains a national issue. One is tempted to ask: Why is Enugu singularly singled out for public discussion and unwarranted attacks on the Governor – especially by Igbo folks (whether in Nigeria or in Diaspora)? Why are the standards not the same? Onyema Uche has taken it upon himself to write every now and then, article on Herdsmen Attack in Nigeria with well-defined purpose to attack the Enugu State Governor. There is no comment or post from him (especially to a Facebook Group, Ndigbo in Diaspora Organization) that is not targeted at the Governor of Enugu State or Enugu people. He is not alone but appears to be the new face of the 5th Columnist exhuming falsehood from the pit of hell to smear the good people of Enugu State and her leadership. I made bold to engage him on the matter and he had nothing to offer in terms of historical and other material facts claimed in his numerous articles.
While I personally do not frown at constructive criticism and positive engagement on matters of governance and leadership of the state, it pains and touches me when other brothers and sisters from other parts of Igbo land take a derogatory stance on my people. I did tell Mr. Onyema Uche, on his thread-of-calumny that his obsession to discredit Governor Ugwuanyi and water-down the good works he is doing in Enugu has made him embark on a grievous attack on Enugu and her people– an act I strongly abhor and will fight with truthful information and communication.
- Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi
We do not have to despair and raise our hands in surrender as a people. Those of us with access to Social Media platforms must continue to present to the public truthful, decent and timely information; uphold ethics of truth and remain resolute in protecting our land and our people. We must continue to uphold our State in prayers and put everything “in the hands of God”. To fast, pray or be broken by the things that break the heart of God (Bob Pearce) cannot be a weakness but strength. Even Jesus wept….We cannot afford to fumble by given up in despair. The challenge now is how to remain calm and conversational in the face of provocation, false and dubious commentators, hostile engagement and confrontation. We must answer their hate with love. We must maintain our cool, employ civility and professionalism in every conversation and communication geared towards fighting misinformation-agents? The good news is that truth must always prevail!
Long Live Enugu State!
Long Live Wawa Land!
- Ike Ezugwu is from Enugu State and Founder “Speak Out For Wawa”.