Article by Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye
Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary defines propaganda as an information which is false or which emphasizes just one part of a situation, used by a government or political group to make people agree with them.
Simply put, propaganda means all forms of half-truth, cant, hypocrisy, lingo, humbug, false piety, lip service, mumbo jumbo, gobbledygook and insincerity commissioned, promulgated and propagated by those saddled with the positions of responsibility to cajole, fool, deceive, coax, entice, inveigle and flatter their gullible general public.
Politically, the theory/principle of propaganda could be traced to the Nazi regime of Adolf Hiltler in Germany. Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Gobies was a known propagandist who invented the theory with the aim of cajoling the PEOPLE meaning that propaganda and its apostles, apologists and advocates recognize the importance of people in society.
Nigeria, a West African country is a geographical entity blessed with abundance of human and natural resources. However, despite the enormous resources at the disposal of the people saddled with the insignia of power in the nation of Nigeria, the country, according to the 2012 World Bank report, is on the brink of collapse; life expectancy has drastically reduced from 52 to 42; vision 2020 is now a vision that can never be achieved; unemployment is on the increase; illiteracy and maternal child birth on the high. Corruption is booming like the wave of an ocean while the judiciary, the hope of common man, has turned the enemy of the common people; the legislature passes only the laws that favour them.
Nigeria, with the abundance of crude oil, countless fertile hectares of land and rational and critical thinkers, boasts of over 80million people self-pitying in abject poverty, emptiness, squalor and filth largely occasioned by the insensitivity, tactlessness and thoughtlessness of those saddled with the responsibility of managing its financial and economic lacuna.
Affirming that Nigeria has not been lucky with good leaders since it got her independence in 1960 is an understatement; the nation has been under the siege of propagandists since inception. It has been from the hands of propagandists to the hands of propagandists at the federal, state and local government levels since independent. Liars, deceivers, hypocrites, rogues, pen robbers and pseudo-democrats have governed Nigeria more than those with genuine intentions.
Who breaks the hegemony of propaganda in Nigeria? The flood gate of cant and mumbo-limbo was formally opened in Nigeria during the Murtala/Obasanjo Military administration and second republic and the trend has not ended. Nigerians were fooled and deceived with many degrees of projects that have ended up as a mirage.
The Ajaokuta Steel Company conceived during the Third National Plan from 1975 to 1980, to this writer, marks the beginning of propaganda in Nigeria. According to Nigerian Finance Minister, Okonjo Iweala’s Finance book titled- REFORMING THE UNREFORMABLE, The Ajaokuta Steel Company has gulped five billion US dollars (Seven Hundred and Fifty Billion naira) from the nation’s purse with no useful steel produced from the company till date. Ajaokuta Steel Company has been a disaster, a mirage, a delusion, and hallucination yet to be conceived in almost 40 years since it was established. Ajaokuta Steel Company has been a half-truth, fallacy of logical argumentum ad hominine. Ajaokuta Steel Company is propaganda; likewise, Propaganda is Ajaokuta Steel factory.
Next in the lineup of propaganda in Nigeria was Obasanjo/Muritala’s OPERATION FEED THE NATION and GREEN REVOLUTION programmes designed with the aim of bringing relieve to the people, eradicate poverty, hunger and abrogation of emptiness in the Nation of Nigeria. What was the result of the programme? A colossal failure! The policy ended up putting Nigeria in more poverty and starvation than the initiators met it. It was a ruse and perpetual disaster.
The Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) invented by the Babangida Military Administration was another propaganda that Nigerians would never forget. The Policy designed to redesign, reshape and reform Nigerian economy ended up ruining the economy. It was a policy Nigerians would never forget in a hurry. SAP led to inflation and devaluation of naira and the fall in price of Premium Medium Spirit (PMS). SAP was a hoax, scam, trick and practical joke propagated by the Ibrahim Babangida (IBB)’s administration with the aid of IMF and World Bank, Chidi-Odinka Kalu and Olu Falae to fool Nigerians. SAP was a propaganda conceived by propagandists. I make bold to say a big shame on those that designed the policy.
Without wasting my page, let me quickly skip the aborted third republic and the Abacha administration as nothing tangible could be said to have happened in Nigeria then. The Third Republic and Abacha regime were periods of colossal waste in Nigeria. May Nigeria never witness such occurrences again!
The well and much publicized National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS) initiated by the likes of Okonjo Iweala, Oby Ezekwesili, Charles Soludo, Nasir El Rufai et al during the second term of Obasanjo’s administration, was another policy that Nigerians have not forgotten.
NEEDs, according to its promoters, was derived from the urgent requirement for value orientation, the objective of which is to sound the message clearly, that it is not business as usual. Therefore, the bedrock of NEEDS is its vision of a Nigeria with a new set of values and principles, which will facilitate the achievements of national goals of wealth creation, employment generation and poverty reduction. NEEDs was basically planned to work in the following areas of the economy -Public sector reforms, Privatization and Liberalization, Governance, Transparency and anti-corruption, as well as service delivery by government agencies.
Alas, the administration left Nigeria more impoverished than it met it. The administration spent $16billion on power supply without giving Nigerians power. Epileptic power supply was the order of the day during the administration. Massive funds were invested on Ajaokuta Steel Company with no significant achievement recorded. Virtually all government houses and public properties were sold by the administration under the guise of privatization. The houses sold were bought by those saddled with the insignia of power.
Governors looted their states dry. Under the administration, Nigeria was rated by the Transparency International as the second most corrupt country in the world. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) set up to wage war against corruption ended up becoming a tool in the hand of the federal government to discipline perceived political enemies.
The administration is reputed for conducting the worst election ever witnessed in the history of Nigeria’s democracy, leading to the question of value orientation the administration claimed to be pursuing through NEEDs. The price of crude oil witnessed about 600% increment during Obasanjo’s reign. Many high profile political titans were gruesomely assassinated during the administration. Inflation increased and the value of naira witnessed enormous devaluation during Obasanjo’s administration.
As the Niger/Delta region was boiling like hell fire due to insecurity caused by militants’ unrest, so also unemployment was increasing with a wide margin. Sachet water replaced pipe-borne water under the Obasanjo’s administration. Maternal child birth decreased from 54% to 34%. Illiteracy increased from 45% to 61%. Agriculture was jettisoned for crude oil.
In the communication sector, the government of Obasanjo killed the Nigerian telecommunication (NITEL) and brought in GSM; though the policy has revolutionized the sector but the manner which the communication firms had been exploiting Nigerians is worrisome.
To this writer, NEEDs was a maximum disaster and experimental failure.
The vision 2020 promulgated by the Yar’adua’s administration is another propaganda the Nigerian bourgeoisies have been using to monopolize the intellectual sagacity of Nigerians. Vision 2020 is a policy designed, aiming that by 2020, Nigeria will be one of the 20 largest economies in the world, able to consolidate its leadership role in Africa and establish itself as a significant player in the global economic and political arena. Today, the story of vision 2020 has changed. It has been confirmed a mirage, delusion, and an illusion commissioned to swindle Nigerians. According to World Bank report on African economy as published by Okonjo Iweala’s REFORMING THE UNREFORMABLE, the possibility of Nigeria achieving vision 2020 is 15%, meaning that it is a confirmed failure that cannot be achieved even by year 2030.
Professor Dora Akunyili’s rebranding project has not been forgotten by Nigerians. Akunyili, the main propagandist of the Yar’adua’s administration, toured all the states of the federation to publicize and make known the sham and phony achievements of her boss to credulous Nigerians. Billions of tax payers’ money was wasted on the project with nothing being achieved. No reasonable benefit accrued to Nigerians via the programme other than merrying and dancing.
The YouWin programme designed by the incumbent Jonathan’s government seems to be in lingo. YouWin, according to its initiator, stands for Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria. It is an innovative business plan competition aimed at job creation by encouraging and supporting aspiring entrepreneurial youth in Nigeria to develop and execute business ideas. YouWin was designed to produce at least 1,200 millionaires monthly. The question I have been asking which no one has been able to answer is how many young millionaires has YouWin
produced? Youwin, to me, appears to be propaganda like Nigerians have witnessed in the past.
The Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) is the latest propaganda that those at the corridor of power have been using to loot the common patrimony of the nation of Nigeria. SURE-P is a policy designed by incumbent Jonathan’s administration to ameliorate the suffering of Nigerians following the partial removal of fuel subsidy in January 2012. About one hundred billion naira (N100billion) has gone to SURE-P with no significant achievement recorded till date. Most of the 1,600 buses said to have been purchased to ease the problem of transportation across the nation have not arrived the country in almost two years the programme was inaugurated. Media reports have it that the Christopher Kolade led SURE-P committee expended two billion naira (N2billion) on renting and furnishing of office accommodation across the nation; what a fraud! To the opposition, SURE-P was designed only for the PDP members and not all Nigerians.
Without being hypocritical and sensational, let me say that with the way the SURE-P is presently being implemented, it will be an understatement to tag it a failure because it is an affirmative fact that it has failed already.
What of the transformation agenda of Jonathan’s administration? What has the Jonathanistan government transformed since he got the mandate of the over one hundred and fifty million Nigerians? Where is the constant power supply? The more we see another day, the more the number of power generating plants increase in Nigeria. Where is the promised pipe-borne water when cholera is daily slaughtering Nigerians in their multitudes? Where is the promised qualitative education when no Nigerian University is among the first four thousand in the world? Where are the houses they promised to build? What has happened to the anti-corruption crusade in Nigeria? Where are the good roads? What is working in Nigeria under the Transformation Agenda of Jonathan? Again, I ask, what has the Jonathanistan government transformed since he got the insignia of power in February 13th, 2010?
The Labaran Maku-led controversial good governance tour bankrolled by the incumbent administration is another conduit pipe that has been used to deceive the general public. Over 20 states have so far been visited by Maku’s group. Media reports have it that about two hundred million is being expended per tour by the group. The Maku good governance tour and Akunyili’s rebranding share similar features. No major difference. The former was called REBRANDING, while the latter was called TOUR. The two programmes were jamborees designed to wheedle Nigerians.
Lastly, may I ask who breaks the Hegemony of Propaganda in Nigeria? Who‘ll deliver Nigerians from the hegemony of propaganda? Time, however, will tell!
Adeleye, a Writer, Social Critic and Public Affairs Commentator, writes from Magod-Phase 1, Isheri, Lagos;