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“Know your story”, spreading misinformation via social media

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“In this journey of life, if

You are not paying attention….

Rumors will make you

Hate the innocent and

Love the hypocrites” (Internet)

MAN is a social animal; the only one who has various tools to communicate his feelings, his passions, his desires and his needs to others. With the introduction of mobile devices and other communication tools, many of us spend many hours and precious moments “getting in touch”, monitoring others and passing on information. We scroll, link and skim but, sometimes, we come across the questionable, fake and what could have gone viral. These can be harmful and false as they are false and dangerous to the society or the individual concerned.

It is therefore risky to believe everything you read on social networks. In Nigeria, social media has become the preferred platform for spreading false information due to its easy penetration to its destination and the gullibility of a captive audience. Fake news is dangerous because it deliberately begins to misinform and sow confusion. It goes viral easily through posting and reposting.

It is worse in a society with many fault lines, such as religious and ethnic divides. The intention is to reinforce a point of view or a state of mind. For the University of Oxford and the Reuters Institute, “social media personalities with large followings are often the culprits. They are considered “super spreaders”, who can very easily share inaccurate information with their impressionable followers… If you have an extremely active network, you may also frequently encounter false information being shared among your own friends and family. “Some platforms in Nigeria are deliberately spreading false and hate speech and we are morally bound to challenge them. Take, for example, an article that was hypocritically credited to me. It’s called “Know your story”. It’s been a trend for weeks, if not months, until some people brought it to my attention.

I am the only teacher Ihechukwu Madubuike that I know. And I haven’t written anything with the above title anywhere. My younger brother is an engineering professor, but he doesn’t write about social issues. He is a reverend sir. I’m not a history teacher either.

“Know Your History” is therefore a fraud concocted by internet rats with false names like Lateef, Emeka Ugwuonye and Ibrahim without address. The only purpose is to discredit me, Nnamdi Azikiwe and to demarket the Igbo people in general. The trigger may not be unrelated to the 2023 elections.

“Know your story” began with what the fraudsters called the forgotten history of the Igbo tribe and the Northern Alliance and continued, “Do you know that when Tafawa Balewa was Prime Minister of Nigeria, the leader of Army Chief of Staff was from SE; Navy Chief of Staff was from SE; Police IG was from SE; Defense Chief of Staff was from SE; Minister of Home Affairs SE; Minister of Foreign Affairs SE; Minister of Education SE; Many other key ministries for SE; Speaker of Parliament SE; Unilag VC SE; University of Ibadan VC SE; North resisted the same at ABU.

The excerpt above is not my language. I do not call the different ethnic groups in Nigeria “tribes”. I am too sophisticated to use such a pejorative term for highly cultured and civilized people in Africa. It is an act of culturecide to do so and it smacks of the colonial mentality. Second, I would have named the people occupying these various offices listed in the document, for the sake of authenticity. Anyone who sees an Igbo name will recognize it. Third, nothing was like “SE” during Tafawa Balewa’s tenure, that is, between 1957 and 1966 when he died as a result of the unfortunate coup. And, finally, I’m not used to self-immolation. I am proud of my ethnic group and will not denigrate it, as the author or authors did.

But to set the record straight and not mislead the general public, here are the three cabinets of Prime Minister Balewa from 1957 to 1966, as a point of reference.

Balewa’s first cabinet (1957-59) included Balewa himself (Prime Minister); Raymond Amanze Njoku (Minister of Transport); Jaja Wachuku (Education); KO Mbadiwe (Trade); Ladoke Akintola (Communication); JM Johnson (Internal Affairs); Kolawale Balogun (News); Ayo Rosiji (Health); Festus Okotie-Eboh (Finance); Muhammadu Ribadu (Lands, Mines and Energy) and Zaina Bukar Dipcharima (Works).

This was a pre-independence power-sharing arrangement in which the majority ethnic groups were represented. The charismatic and sartorial Okotie-Eboh, the extraordinary Ishekiri-born fashionista and businessman, was an exception. How this cabinet above translates to Igbo dominance is difficult to decipher. Yet Balewa, then deputy leader of the Northern Peoples Congress, a man of Gere background and ethnic background from what is now Bauchi state, remained an outstanding champion of Hausa-Fulani interests.

Balewa’s second cabinet (1959-1964) included Balewa (Prime Minister); Jaja Anucha Nwachukwu (Foreign Affairs); Elias (Attorney General); Ribadu (Land Affairs and Lagos); Okotie-Eboh (Finance); Njoku (Transport & Aviation); Zanna Bukar Dipcharima (Commerce and industries); Inuwa Wada (Works & Surveys); Johnson (Work and Wellness); Wachuku (Education); Maitama Sule (Mining and Electricity); Shehu Shagari (Economic Development); Olu Akinfosile (Communication); Usman Sarki (Internal Affairs); TOS Benson (News); Waziri Ibrahim (Health) and Yar’adua (Nigerianization).

This brings us to Balewa’s Third Cabinet (1964-1966), which included Balewa as Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs; Ribadu (Defence); Elias (Attorney General); Okotie-Eboh (Finance); Dipcharima (Transport); Wachuku (Air Force); Mbadiwe (Trade); Augustus Akinloye (industry); Inuwa Wada (Works); Adeniran Ogunsanya (Housing and Surveys); Adeleke Adedoyin (Labour); Richard Akinjide (Education); Sule (Mines & Energy); Waziri Ibrahim (Economic Development); Alade Lamoje (Natural Resources/Research); Njoku (Communication); Shagari (Internal Affairs); Rosiji (Information); Moses Majekodumi (Health); Jacob Obande (Establishment) and Dominic Mapao (Minister of State, Mines/Energy).

These ministerial appointments by Balewa indicated where political power lay in Nigeria at the time. The North, with the support of Britain, not the Igbo, held this power. The position of Prime Minister was theirs without interruption from 1957 to January 1966, that is, until the unfortunate coup inaugurated military rule.

In Balewa’s cabinet from 1959 to 1964, Wachuku served as foreign minister. In his 3rd Cabinet from 1964 to 1966, Balewa retained the External Affairs portfolio, while Shagari held the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s post as president was ceremonial.

Brigadier Ogundipe served as the first Chief of Staff and de facto second in command, Supreme Headquarters, under General Aguyi Ironsi. When Ironsi was killed in Ibadan, he was supposed to take over as acting head of state. But he fled to Las Palmas and later became high commissioner in London. The Chief of the Naval Staff was Commodore Joseph Edet Olawale Wey; the Inspector General of Police was Sir Louis Orok Edet. His deputy was Kam Salem. None of these gentlemen were Igbo. The Chief Justice of the Federation remained Judge Adetokunbo Ademola. Colonel George .T. Korubo was the chief of the air force. All of these officers were senior to Lieutenant Colonel Yakubu Gowon, who was later promoted to head of state. There was no such thing as “Parliament President”, a nomenclature unknown to our Constitution, but which, according to the ignorant author “Of Know Your History”, was occupied by an Igbo.

Needless to inform internet rats that Ahmadu Bello University was a regional university, like the University of Nigeria and the University of Ife. Their regional owners appointed their vice-chancellors. Furthermore, the Constitution did not prohibit Igbo people from holding high-level positions in federal institutions. Eni Njoku was kicked out of the University of Lagos as vice-chancellor in 1965, well before 1966.

Sufficient facts have also emerged to prove that the 1966 coup included people from different ethnic groups. A Yoruba major, Adewale Ademoyega, who participated in the coup, wrote a book about it called Why We Struck. Lieutenant Fola Oyewole, the author of The Reluctant Rebel, was also implicated. Atom Kpera claimed that he could not distinguish between Operation Damissa and a real coup in which he was involved. Soldiers from other parts of the country also took part in the coup. It is therefore a misnomer to call the January 1966 military revolution an Igbo coup.

We must separate the propaganda from the story, for the sake of posterity. We must defuse fake news at all costs. I am not the author of “Know Your History”.

  • Professor Madubuike is a former Minister of Education (1979-81) and a former Minister of Health (1995-1997)