Part of the benefit of this platform is that it provides for engagement of issues in the communication space. Through the years I have placed a few such issues before us.
Being a frequent victim of fake news I have come to be intrigued by the mind of the generator of fake news.
In the last month I have found at least three that went viral that were credited to me or attributed to me one had me talking up how Ndigbo hold their politicians accountable and the other ‘tribes’ fail to.
My first irritation was the faker had little knowledge of how I express myself. Tribe as description of ethnicity is for me ethnocentric and derisive. So I never say you are from my tribe. I use ethnic groups. I could speak of a moral tribe but not of an ethnic tribe. The faker was not thorough enough to notice that element in my writing. Besides the horrible grammar of that piece the writer was unaware that I am very critical of politicians of the South East and how Ndigbo have held them to account. About the 5th of May when I gave the Nkata Umuibe lecture in Enugu and attended Ohanaeze Ime Obi I gave a very long interview with plainer-in questions on Urban Radio in Enugu in which I excoriated South East politicians and insisted only if Peter Obi emerged in PDP or Ogbonaya Onu in APC would I in good conscience support a South East candidate for President from the traditional politicians, even though many good people like Sam OHUABUNWA were available. I had doubt they would nominate Mazi Sam OHUABUNWA.
So where did this faker see credibility in attaching my name to the story seeing how clearing it runs against my previous positions.
Lately there has been a series purporting quarrels between Peter Obi and I on who should be signatories to accounts for his campaign.
First the event supposedly took place in Agbor, a town I have not visited in years. I had not attended Nduka Obaihgbena’s mothers burial.
Peter Obi and I not having ever had a disagreeable conversation made the no smoke without fire logic problematic here.
I was about to declare these fakers too lazy and incompetent when a new perspective occurred to me.
If most of my adult years I have been seen as someone with a healthy contempt for money would it not seem silly to suggest me quarreling in this autumn of my time of being about cash. It then came to me the fakers may not be the dummies I think of them as.
In 2010 I wrote a book titled Business Angel as a Missionary. I indicated the motivation for writing the book was a question posed to me by Ben Murray-Bruce. He had asked me; why do you hate money.
Astonished I had retorted; how can an evangelist of free enterprise hate money. To this Ben proceeded to point to people who made a fortune off my back, in his perception, yet I lived so modestly.
In the book in which I pointed to counsel from two close friends, my classmate Ike Emeagwali and Chris Ogbechie on how I help create value in enterprise start ups and walk away leaving billions of Naira of potential upside just because they turned to ways of questionable ethics or quarrel over money.
Ike was always upset at what he saw as my walking away from what I had built up or ‘throwing away’ that which I made at one cause or the other. Chris (Prof Ogbechie now Dean of The Lagos Business School) argued that if my walking away soothed my conscience it was greater value. Both men had their points and I respected both as I showed in the book.
Truth be told I consider quarrel over money the most banal of human proclivities and often choose to be dissociated from such places. It may not be the smarter way to proceed but it had been my established pattern. So could it be that these fakers in observing this personality quirk believe that by inventing a story from nothing, with neither smoke nor fire from which it could have come in sight, they could get me to walk away from this all important elections.
They may not be the dummies I imagined would be good to work this case study. I welcome your perspectives, especially because of the deep wound being inflicted on culture by the identity teasing of fake news purveyors. Could we reach a point where no one trusts that the written word emanates from where it claims or bears resemblance to truth.
Pat Utomi (the real Pat Utomi of Lagos Business School and Centre for Values in Leadership CVL).