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Jubril al-Sudani, the Buhari joke that has gone too far

3 December 2018

I have thus far refrained from talking about Jubril al-Sudani, because it is bunkum. And I was quite glad that President Muhammadu Buhari had also ignored it, or, appeared to have. Until yesterday.

Now he has spoken, and the cat has been set amongst the pigeons, as it were. There are three threads to this story:

1 — Jubril al-Sudani is the creation of a delusional and likely insane Nnamdi Kanu. Unfortunately, the story was given strength by the information gap that Buhari’s long absences generated when he went for his meds. If his media team had been honest with Nigerians about what is wrong with our president, we won’t have had to deal with this. Lesson — when there is an information gap, people will fill it with something. Natura abhorret vacuum.

2 — Buhari’s choosing a foreign venue to respond to the allegation in person, when he could have simply told the person who asked the question something along the lines of, “I don’t dignify such stories with a response”, is a clear testament to the disdain with which Buhari holds Nigerians in Nigeria. Not responding to the rumour was the right thing, but Buhari being Buhari, the moment he was outside the country, he started to sing like a canary, and now the international press has picked it up, and as of four hours ago, the influential American political commentator, Ben Shapiro, has used it to make yeye on Twitter. For those who may not know, Ben Shapiro has a show on Fox News, and guess who watches it…

3 — Most importantly from my view point is this: that this rumour spread like wildfire is evidence of the kind of society that we are. One that thrives on unsubstantiated tales, and disdains rigorous fact-checking and data gathering. To be honest, I am a lot more frightened about Nigeria’s future now than I have ever been. The kind of people who have propagated this tale, highly educated people, makes me worried. I mean I got WhatsApp messages from people I know, people whom I respect, and still do, where they simply forwarded the flipped “left-handed Buhari” as evidence that he is now a clone. If the so-called cream of the crop in Nigeria can spread this without thinking, imagine the kind of damage a well thought through fake news campaign can do to us…

Anyway, make I dey go find my daily akpu.

By Cheta Nwanze.  This piece first appeared in the Medium.

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