By Dimeji Daniel
The dictionary defines propaganda as “information, ideas, or rumours deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation…” No doubt, propaganda has become a useful tool in the hands of many, especially in politics and business and going by the definition above, it can either be a force for good or bad depending on the intention of those who use it.
The word ‘propaganda’ originated in Rome. Back then, as it is now, it denotes the spreading of rumour, information, ideas and allegations to further one’s cause or to demonise or damage the reputation of opposing forces.
Propaganda has always been part of politics and the corporate world. It may be surprising to some to know that its use also extends to journalists, salespeople, fake prophets, advertisers, amongst others. It is so easy to think up dirty words or images when the term “propaganda” is mentioned, but propaganda is not all about maligning people. It is used to draw attention to good causes, especially if such could be or are being attacked by malcontents or opposing forces who would stop at nothing to revile a good cause, even if it benefits them.
Figures like Adolf Hitler and Stalin readily come to mind when bad propaganda comes to mind. Hitler was so adept at it that he turned Germans against peace-loving and innocent Jews, but even his Minister of Propaganda and successor as chancellor after he committed suicide, Joseph Goebbels, reputed for saying “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it” insisted that propaganda had to be truthful. This doesn’t mean he did not lie, but he knew that for propaganda to last, it had to have an element of truth.
As former Lagos State Commissioner of Information Dele Alake puts it at a lecture he delivered in Ondo town: “Blowing your trumpet without performance is pure crass propaganda; blowing your trumpet while delivering dividend of democracy is publicity” (not his exact words). If there is anyone who understands what it takes to be a government’s spokesperson in Nigeria, it is Dele Alake. So by saying it is not propaganda if a government publicises its good works, Alake was on point, since in this clime, no one blows your trumpet for you if you do not blow it.
From Dele Alake’s submission, (bad) propaganda is putting something on nothing, which, of course, would be very foolhardy and wouldn’t last, as it would also be foolhardy for a political party that had seven and a half years in the saddle, but achieved almost nothing, save for cosmetic endowments and the introduction of an alien culture of thuggery.
This, today, best describes the situation in Ekiti State where the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) had its chance for almost eight years but totally flunked it. The last was Segun Oni who flunked out, having been sacked for rigging by the Appeal Court, but still hopelessly hoping against hope with his protest against the “red biro judgement”.
Seeing the works of the present administration in the State and knowing that it was going to be almost impossible to beat the incumbent in an election, the PDP quickly activated a propaganda cell, which mostly has made the social media its operational base. Since the youth make up a larger percentage of the voters’ register, using the social media definitely is a good move for them.
Like all propagandists, they use persuasive allegations, messages, ideas, opinions, statements, accusations and exaggerations with the main purpose of influencing, and, if possible, manipulating, the minds and emotions of the public or of those at which they are directed.” (Quoting an anonymous source) .
They try to manipulate unsuspecting indigenes to jump to illogical and baseless conclusions. A typical example of this were the reforms carried out in the local councils. NCE holders who were stagnated in the councils and were to be redeployed to teaching were convinced by the PDP that they were to be sacked. Same goes for non-medical personnel who were drawing salaries of medical personnel at the local councils. PDP went to town with the lie that 4, 000 local government workers had been sacked by the government. When asked to produce just one sack letter, it went on lying in the face of confounding evidence. One expected that they should have responsibly evidenced their claims.
Another of their is name-calling and blackmail, which are also tactics of propaganda. They associate good things or personalities with negative words or images to make unsuspecting people shrink from the thought. Examples of such is the newly formed party, APC which they had already nicknamed armoured personnel carrier without thinking for a second that it could backfire on them. Now that the opposition is saying the Armoured Personnel Carrier is to shoot the PDP down, one can only wonder what they’ll come up with next. If anyone rises in defence of the good works of the government, they’ll say he has been paid to do so, hoping to hoodwink conscientious people into silence. This, like every of their tactics, has failed as patriotic Ekiti people have realised that to leave them is to bring back the days of locusts that so ravaged Ekiti that eminent indigenes of the State were maimed, molested and murdered.
The good thing is that more often than not, their lies have been undressed by the public and rather than responsibly admitting their over-the-bar miss, the party’s members shamelessly continue to insist on the lies. This is seen daily on the social media as most of their tutees and recruits, most of whom use pseudo names on the social media, insist on hugging ignorance right after they have been corrected or confronted with the truth. One wrote on facebook last week that it was wrong to use the expression “consult a dictionary”, arguing that only doctors are consulted when in fact under the word “consult” in the dictionary the expression is used. Corrected, you would think he’d soft-pedal, but he shamelessly continued to bandy words. This bold display of ignorance and lack of depth, whether habitual or deliberate, shows that the PDP cannot be trusted to come up with fool-proof solutions to Nigeria’s problems. It is a case of like leader, like follower. Most of their recruited mouth-pieces on the social media lack intellectual depth, a probing and an incisive analytical mind and can hardly apply their minds to simple permutations. Sometimes, it is sheer waste of time trying to school them because everything is black and white to them.
The crumbling of their house of lies is, however, gradually driving them to desperation. One may not want to blame them as time is not on their side and Kayode Fayemi has also uncovered their political and organisational deficiencies by showing them how governance is done, but allowing desperation to take over reasoning is dangerous and not healthy for Nigeria’s democracy. It is so bad that in Ekiti there is nothing the PDP cannot come up with. Don’t be surprised if tomorrow they say “Fayemi is broke! He now drinks garri with sugar and epa” or “Fayemi has bribed Obama to support him for second term”. Don’t be shocked! It can come from them. It is nothing but sheer lack of ideas and the shock they are suffering from Kayode Fayemi’s unrivalled performance and prompt delivery of dividend of democracy.
•‘Dimeji Daniels writes from Ado, Ekiti State