Being the owner of two Universities and a plan to own 5 more was of little help to Pastor David Oyedepo as he read out a satire which claims President Muhammadu Buhari has a body double named Jubril from Sudan, thinking it was an actual News report.
Speaking to about 50,000 of his members, Oyedepo referred to a piece by “one Olatunji Dare” published in The Nation Newspaper of Tuesday, November 27, 2018. Among the claims made in the said piece, according to Oyedepo, includes that President Buhari had died in the UK in 2017, and the Cabal in Aso Rock brought in a double from Sudan and made him President.
The Pastor went ahead to read the piece as saying that the family of Jubril, upon knowing the weight of the issue, came to Abuja to demand power-sharing arrangement and 50% of Nigeria’s revenue for 10 years.
The “One Olatunji Dare” is actually Professor Emeritus Olatunji Dare. A scholar, author, satirist, famous columnist and former Chairman of the Guardian Editorial Board, who is now an Editorial Adviser to The Nations Newspaper and write a column titled “At Home Abroad” every Tuesday.
For 19 years Professor Dare taught Journalism and International Communications at Bradley University and is the recipient of multiple awards including Lious Lyons Prize for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism.
Not just anyone, Professor Dare is known for his satire, and indeed the piece Oyedepo was reading to his mammoth crowd, most of whom supported him with reactions, was a satire which sought to mock the rumour that the President has a double.
A History of paranoia?
Bishop Oyedepo comes with a lot of outbursts. From claims that some Fulanis wish to enslave Nigerians to claims that some politicians wish to Islamize Nigeria and his physical assault on a young lady who claims she is a “witch for Jesus”, the founder and presiding Bishop of the Living Faith Church Worldwide is not new to the trade of conspiracy theories.
His sometimes direct promotion of conspiracy theories and lost of temper forms just a section of his general controversy. While coming under criticism for the cost of tuition fees in his Universities, Oyedepo lashed out on people who have but have to be forced to release money. This assertion was topped by a prophecy that God supports the increment in the University’s tuition fee from 631,000 to 799,500.
The Bishop has also been a victim of misinformation in the past. In October 2014, Sahara Reporters did a report insisting that Oyedepo had been ban from the UK as he has been indicted by the Charity Commission whose responsibility is to ensure that charitable organizations like the Bishop’s Church in the UK are not using their funds for the personal benefit of its owners. The UK government later debunked the story, saying that the fact that the CC looked into the Church’s finance does not mean it was investigating it. The CC further said most of the issues for consideration had been cleared.
A thin line between Satire and Fake News
Satire appears to be fake news with good intention. While it is the wrong information said on purpose, the intention is to ridicule evil and promote good in doing so. Yet over time, this good and evil have been loosely defined and it is not strange to see satiric messages being used to double play or taken on face value.
In 2017, Chinese State-owned News Agency, Xinhua, published a News piece titled “Trump Turns White House Upside-Down Looking for Signs of Obama: ‘He’s Still Here Somewhere, I Know It’” not knowing it is a satiric piece published by The New York Times.
The New York Times article claimed that sources in the White House “confirm” that President Trump, wearing a bathrobe, ordered his counselor Kellyanne Conway and press secretary Sean Spicer to wrap all the building’s phones in tin foil. The satire was in reaction to a series of Twitter posts by the U.S. President in which he claimed his predecessor, Barack Obama, had had him wiretapped during the election.
There are other incidents of Chinese Newspapers taking US sources too serious whereas the sources were just playing out a satire. This can be largely understood from the fact that the Chinese, when they publish satire, avoid political topics for fear of it being tagged rumour mongering which would attract a 7 years jail term. For Nigeria, the term is 3 years as contained in Section 59 of the Criminal Code.
34 years old Robert, who does not want the world to know his surname, runs RealNewsRightNow which is a satire News website. Once he published a satire with the headline “US to House 250,000 Syrian Refugees at Navajo, Standing Rock Indian Reservations”. Soon after that, FOX News’ Sean Hannity trumpeted the figures. Robert was alarmed when President Trump repeated the same figures which he purposely made up to be outrageous and unbelievable.
Some say the idea of satire has created an opening for outrageous information to be put out there for gullible people. There has been an increase in piece with no satiric value, but which can be said to be satire in the event that a defense is needed.
To make this go away, professionals like Professor Dare do what is called a bold exaggeration. They say things that cannot possibly be true and obviously so to anyone who can read.
But they still get misunderstood. Some say purposely.