President Muhammadu Buhari’s wife, Aisha, has accused her husband’s aides and the communications minister, Isa Ibrahim, of not doing enough to fight fake news especially those targeted at her husband.
Mrs Buhari said some Nigerians were trying to use social media to “bring down the government”, and officials were soft on peddlers of fake news, allowing Mr Buhari’s personality to be mocked with “no consequences.”
“The Minister of Communications that is supposed to give an order, to bring an end to fake news, talked about it and everybody laughed and that was the end of it. No consequences for any offenders? Nothing? You say what you like and you go free.
“There is no way we will have such a society and have peace in it. When there are no consequences, everyone does what they want and almost everything is in disarray,” Mrs Buhari said on Friday.
Mrs Buhari, a supporter of the controversial move to regulate social media in the country, made her position known during a phone-in programme on Journalists’ Hangout, a programme on Television Continental on Friday evening.
She said aides had failed to act to protect Mr Buhari’s image, but were quick to respond to irrelevant matters.
“Whenever they are supposed to take action against the offenders, or to take action or to take charge or be in control, or caution people, they keep mute,” she said.
“But when it comes to unnecessary things, people will start talking of the presidency.
“A typical example is what happened after the election in Bayelsa state. When the PDP came out and said they would … suspend His Excellency, Goodluck Jonathan, the former president, for doing wrong or something like that.
“I have seen no reason why (the) presidency should come out and say that they were shocked to hear that. Is it their business? Are they PDP members? Is President Jonathan a member of our party? What does that have to do with the presidency?”
The response Mrs Buhari was referring to was made by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu.
In the November 26 remarks to journalists after last month’s Bayelsa State governorship election, Mr Shehu described as “false and irresponsible’’ reports that Mr Jonathan was blackmailed to support the governing party, APC.
“It just doesn’t make any sense,’’ he said. “Our media really must learn to verify whatever they publish. And people who make wild allegations during interviews should be made to produce the facts backing their claims by editors. A newspaper can be sued for granting space to people who belch false allegations against individuals with no proof.’’
Mr Shehu said the former president had been out of power for almost five years without any previous allegations of government blackmail cropping up.
He also said there were more than enough reasons for Mr Jonathan to work against his party, PDP, in the elections without interference by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Anyone who has been following the politics of Bayelsa State should be aware of the sour relationship between Dr Jonathan and the incumbent governor, Seriake Dickson. That’s more than enough reason for the former president to decide to work against his party, if indeed he did.
“We really must stop this habit of blaming President Buhari for everything, including issues that are not his business,’’ he added.
Social Media Bringing Down Government
Mrs Buhari defended her support for the regulation of social media, saying some Nigerians were using the platforms to attack the president falsely.
“Meanwhile, they said the president was dead when he was sick, they showed his coffin, they showed his everything, and then recently all over the social media. They said he was getting married, they were showing this and that but nobody came out to defend the President, or to say anything about it,” she said.
“They are now taking to social media to bring down the government itself. I think that we should not allow people that are nobody and nothing to override the innocent; I don’t know why people that are supposed to be in charge should remain mute while bad people take over the government from us. It is impossible and totally unacceptable.”