As the desperation of opposition linked new and traditional media reaches a crescendo, they have adopted Goebbels' philosophy that a lie told often enough eventually comes to be accepted by the public as true. It is therefore imperative to expose their tactics so that impressionable members of the public are not fooled by the propaganda of failed politicians posing as journalist whose only motive is to secure from the back door what the electorate denied them.
For starters, most Nigerians saw the story carried on Premium Times on Sunday the 8th of December 2013, alleging that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was traveling on a jamboree to South Africa on Monday the 9th of December 2013 which according to them was six days before the funeral of Nelson Mandela was to begin. The headline on Premium Times read 'President Jonathan jets off to South Africa, six days ahead of Mandela’s burial'.
Of course this was a lie. As may be seen from the official programme by the South African government (released on line here http://www.mandela.gov.za/funeral/) the funeral arrangement for the late anti-Apartheid icon began on Tuesday the 10th of December 2013. President Jonathan along with approximately 90 other world leaders including President Obama of the US, Prime Minister David Cameron of The UK and President Francoise Hollande of France, all left their respective nations on the same day, Monday the 9th of December 2013 in order to meet the memorial for Nelson Mandela which held on Tuesday the 10th of December 2013 at the FNB stadium.
The South African authorities coordinated with various governments and actually advised on the date of departure. So, how Premium Times came up with their lying headline, I cannot fathom.
After being caught in a lie, Premium Times, rather than apologize, simply moved on to the next lie and carried another story on Tuesday the 10th of December 2013 to the effect that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was snubbed by South Africa at the memorial for Nelson Mandela at the FNB stadium on Tuesday because the President did not have a speaking slot.
Though it only shows you the state of minds of anybody who will be willing to politicize the funeral of such a pure man, those discerning enough may want to ask if the British Prime Minister, the French President, the Canadian Prime Minister and 85 other world leaders who did not speak at the memorial were also snubbed?
In their rush to gain political mileage out of the death of Nelson Mandela, Premium Times, like a child in an ice cream shop were so giddy, they did not remember that Nelson Mandela was a man who preached unconditional love and politics without bitterness, and while the world was celebrating the historic handshake between President Obama and President Raul Castro, Premium Times was celebrating the historic lie that Nigeria was snubbed!
Perhaps they and their political sponsors ought to be educated on the etiquette for funerals. A funeral is not a place to go and shine. It is a place to go and mourn. As such, it is impossible to be snubbed at a funeral because you did not go there for yourself, you went there because of the bereaved!
For instance, some opposition politicians on social media spend a considerable amount of time insulting and defaming the president, but when they lose loved ones, the president does not mind what they have done and continue to do to him. He writes them and sends delegations to condole with them. The reason the public never finds out about it is because funerals are not for show but for sympathizing.
It is rather unfortunate that Premium Times and other opposition linked sites have shown that they will not let something as vital as the truth stand in their way in their propaganda efforts for their sponsors.
This particular medium has a history of lying.
They lied about former president Jerry Rawlings of Ghana indicting Nigeria of corruption prompting the former leader to issue a statement threatening them with a libel suit and denying their claims completely.
On June 12 2013 Premium Times ran a headline stating ‘World Bank Indicts Jonathan’s Government, says Massive Poverty Unemployment Killing Nigerians’. That headline and story was fictitious and malicious. The World Bank itself whose report Premium Times allegedly relied upon for their story released its own press release with the title ‘Nigeria Economic Update: World Bank Forecasts Rising Growth, Less Inflation, Urges Closer Federal and State Government Cooperation’. Nigerians can read the World Bank Press Release here(http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2013/05/13/nigeria-economic-update-world-bank-forecasts-rising-growth-less-inflation-urges-closer-federal-and-state-government-cooperation). Premium Times merely took advantage of the assumption that many Nigerians would not bother to cross check their story and so sold a lie to the Nigerian public.
Also, on the 14th of June, 2013, Premium Times carried a story titled ‘Nigeria: Exclusive – Okonjo-Iweala Opens Up, Says Nigeria Economy in Danger’ and quoted an unnamed source giving details of a meeting of the Economic Management Committee . That story was false as was evidenced when the Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, released the transcripts of the meeting at which Premium Times alleged that she made such statement which showed that the story had no basis in truth.
Ever since Premium Times was established by the media handlers of a candidate whom president Jonathan defeated in the 2011 elections, their reportage has been so full of bile that it behoves on me to remind them that the election was in 2011 and they ought to have gotten over the sting of defeat by now.
Perhaps they think that they can gain a lot by remaining constant in their line up of false and malicious stories. But the public is becoming wise to them. Anybody can go and check on Alexa.com (the world's premier internet traffic analyzer) and find out that both Premium Times and Saharareporters have slipped in popularity. They are loud quite alright, but are they still popular?
Where they use to be amongst the top 10 sites in Nigeria two years ago, they have slipped with saharareporters,com sliding to number 39 and Premium Times in number 77.
Imagine that a young Nigerian blogger like Linda Ikeji's blog is in the top ten most visited sites in Nigeria and a site that boasts that they are ground breaking are not even in the top 30. Why the huge drop in visitor traffic? You see, no matter how far and fast falsehood travels, it must eventually be overtaken by truth.
Reno Omokri is Special Assistant to President Jonathan on New Media.