While visiting former Vice President Atiku Abubakar during the Sallah celebrations, Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Jummai Alhassan, made statements that suggests she supports Atiku’s candidacy for 2019. Since then she lost her portfolio at Women Affairs in the eyes of some media houses and became “Buhari’s Minister”. From Vanguard to Daily Post to TheCable to Premium Times, everyone seem to have resolved to gift the Ministry of Women Affairs to Buhari and personalize ownership of her office.
Premium Times even went with the all-time fake news favourite “SHOCKING!” The Premium Times report also included a rather awkward line which painfully read
“Efforts to get Mrs Alhassan to speak on her comments in the video were unsuccessful, especially as President Muhammadu Buhari has not declared that he would not run in 2019. She did not return calls or respond to a short message sent to her mobile number.”
They apparently made effort to reach her on phone but there was no reply because President Buhari has not declared. God will help us understand.
An interesting trend was how single media houses made this single incident into 15 news items with different titles and sensation. Except for a child attempting to learn how to count one to hundred, it will be safe not to count how many “news” item the copy and paste legend, Naij, did on this one. The Daily Post even made a special report on Fani Kayode, one in 200 million Nigerians’, reaction to the issue. Sahara Reporters seem to be decent as regards this as it was observed that fresh posts on the subject were due to fresh facts. Added to that, Sahara Reporters hardly ever reports a tweet as news.
Daily Trust was perhaps the most dramatic. This newspaper thought it wise to report that the Minister “stylishly” campaigned for Atiku. If you are thinking the media is supposed to report fact and ‘stylish fact’ is not working for you, know that you are not alone. ‘Obasanjo stylishly says he supports Buhari’, who does that?
To make Daily Trust’s back dive more acrobatic, its headline reads “Video: Buhari’s Minister urges Nigerians to Vote Atiku in 2019”. What kind of lie is this?
You would think that presenting a video about an event will make you tell the truth about the event but apparently Daily Trust was hoping we won’t actually watch. There was no direct or indirect reference to ‘vote for him’ in the Minister’s statement, matter of fact she was reported by the BBC to have said
“I am not going to stand before him and campaign, besides this is not the time for campaign. Even when my people asked me to come out and start campaigning, I told them this is not the time for that. This is the time to work for the people.”
After all these drama and while the short text message sent by Premium Times was trying to deliver, BBC Hausa did an interview sharp sharp with the Minister and she said a number of things but the media was interested only in the ones that made her seem worse, at least for the sake of the headlines.
She explains why she will be compelled to support Atiku saying “Atiku is my godfather even before I joined politics”. Although the reference to Godfather is creepy but then she spoke Hausa. Words have different meanings across languages. Remember kare jini biri jinni?
She says “Baba”, referring to the President Buhari, did not tell her he will contest in 2019 “And again, Baba Buhari did not tell us that he is going to run in 2019.”
She added that Buhari had told them he is only going for a term “In 2014/2015 he said he was going to run for only one time to clean up the mess that the (previous) PDP government did in Nigeria. And I took him for his word that he is not contesting in 2019,”
The media however went to town with ‘Even if Buhari is contesting I will vote for Atiku’ whereas what she said was that she will thank the President for the opportunity and explain to him that she has to support her godfather.
“Let me tell you today that if Baba said he is going to contest in 2019, I swear to Allah, I will go before him and kneel and tell him that ‘Baba I am grateful for the opportunity you gave me to serve your government as a minister but Baba, just like you know, I will support only Atiku because he is my godfather. If Atiku said he is going to contest.”
In summary, the Minister made the following points
She does not expect Buhari to contest in 2019 because he told them he will not hence she supports Atiku for 2019.
In the event that Buhari decides to contest she will consider it a clash of interest, thank him and explain that she cannot oppose her godfather.
But then, online media needs traffic.