• Saturday, April 13, 2024
businessday logo


Social Listening: Disinformation, misinformation, and cynicism

Disinformation, misinformation, and cynicism

Excitement and cynicism greeted the release of 137 students abducted from Kuriga in Kaduna State. The military and the state authorities rolled out the drums. Maj-Gen Edward Buba, the Director of Defence Media Operations, quickly corrected the number of persons abducted from 285 to 137. They comprised 76 females and 61 males.

The military also secured the release on 21 March of 16 pupils (Almajiris) terrorists abducted in Gada LG of Sokoto State. They also took a woman hostage.

Buba declared: “These efforts demonstrate the armed forces’ resolve to find other innocent hostages and track down the terrorists that perpetrated these crimes. These efforts would continue until other hostages were found and the terrorists arrested, tried, and brought to justice by Nigerian law. Troops are employing similar efforts to track down the culprits responsible for the killing of 18 soldiers in the Okuama Community in Delta State. Justice awaits the culprits, as they cannot go unpunished.”

Some citizens disputed the release narrative. From X to WhatsApp, they claimed the release must have involved a financial exchange between the Federal government and the terrorists.
A commentator capped the cynicism: “Congratulations to our gallant troops who just fired gunshots in the air & the kidnappers released & the Army rescued the 137 children down from the initial figure of 287 and a very special congratulations to the kidnappers & their tailors who, in a short time, went to market & both (bought) beautiful shiny materials to sow (sew) or make bespoke Muslim outfits completely fitted with hijabs with correct shoe sizes for the kidnapped pupils while in captivity without receiving any ransom whatsoever.”


Deaths and non-deaths in Nollywood

Is Nollywood star Zack Orji still on this side, or did he join his colleague Amaechi Muonagor in travelling to the other? Did his colleague Amaechi Muonagor indeed die? The question buzzed in the first three days of the week following rumours of the death of the renowned actor in blockbuster movies.

The Actors Guild of Nigeria issued a disclaimer stating that rumours of Orji’s death were unacceptable. On WhatsApp, Kingsley Orji of Egbeigwe TV posted a rebuttal showing Mr Muonagor receiving dialysis at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital, Nnewi. He disclosed that the minders need N30m for the dialysis and a kidney transplant.

“Are actors not humans, too?” Fellow Nollywood star Rita Edochie asked exasperatedly following the rumours. She continued: “People, especially in Nigeria, often come up with questions like, what is happening in Nollywood? Why are actors dying? Something has gone ‘bla bla bla: what has gone wrong?
“Please, questions like this are annoying and should stop because death is only a displeasing call of nature”. She mourned the death of Mr Muonagor, 62, supposedly after a prolonged sickness.

● After Herbert Wigwe’s burial, the social space continues to feature stuff on the takeover of Intercontinental Bank. The most exciting and trending is a counter-narrative by former Central Bank governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. His response is a blistering attack. We have avoided the personal mentions.


No Regrets. CBN did the Right Thing on term limits for leadership of Banks~Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

“We must remember that everything boils down to context. And we should not naively believe the claims of some people that they are the “owners” of banks—especially the listed ones.

“In almost all the banks that we took over, we discovered that these so-called owner-managers set up SPVs (Special Purpose Vehicles), lent money to these SPVs, and then purchased their bank shares with these funds—and that was how they acquired control. In blunt terms, they STOLE money belonging to depositors to buy the shares.

When the stock market tanked, and the bubble capital burst, it was those deposits that were entrusted to them that evaporated, and we had to redeem them.

These CEOs had stayed so long no one could call them to order—not their boards, not risk management, not audit, not Legal. In one case, the Board of one bank was bold enough to decline a loan recommended by the CEO. After the Board declined it, she came to her office and approved it, and it was disbursed.

If staying so long makes some CEOs that powerful, and if that power is seen to be corrupt, why would we allow CEOs to overstay their welcome? If all banks were run like Citi or StanChart or IBTC, this matter would not have arisen, but we can‘t run a system based on miraculous exceptions. And is ten years not enough in a CEO position? Is there no benefit to something called succession? Is there nothing like key man risk?

Banks are not businesses. Dangote Group and Exxon Mobil are. Banking is a profession. Bankers are professionals guided by ethics. A bank is where you keep your money and expect to find it. If your banker can keep your money safe and profit by trading it, that is what we want. If he starts making it his own, he must be reminded it is not his.

The arrogance begins when these bankers, who own a tiny percentage of the total capital at the bank’s disposal, think they own the bank. They do not. And the Central Bank is not there to protect the rich and powerful shareholders and management but the poor and vulnerable depositors who trusted us and kept their savings in these institutions. Some people just don’t get it.

With the CBN, the depositor is King. It is hypocritical, after everything we know, to pretend that these criminals are bank owners. They never were. And to make the system safe, we must learn lessons and not wait for the next round to happen.

Someone else sitting in that office with all this information may have ideological sympathies for shareholders and management and believe I had gone overboard in protecting depositors.

Such a one should be at the Stock Exchange, not the Central Bank. Term limits are among the policies I am most proud of, and yes- we demystified all the mini-gods and oligarchs. But none of them was a target.

The only target was to protect depositors and keep our banks safe.

I am publishing my CBN memoirs next year, Insha Allah. The title is “Confronting vested interests: Central banking in a rentier economy”. The title says it all. -SLS

● Cynical responses have trailed the drop in fuel prices by the NNPC on the social space. NNPC reduced prices from N640 a litre to N630. Instagram Blog mocked.

● They had their laugh. However, oil marketers debunked the story of a price reduction.

● The dollar-price equation task for BusinessDay. Are middlemen responsible for high prices? Or is the exchange rate of the Naira to the dollar the cause of the steep rise in prices of all goods? If so, should prices not start moderating in line with the reduction in the exchange rate? Citizens are worried and querying these matters on social. A cartoon captures it. Other citizens think it is a task for the media. On the BusinessDay WhatsApp platform, a contributor wants the newspaper to unravel the disparity. He wrote: “A cartoon of Peak milk was N11500 when the dollar was 1900. The same milk is now N14000 when a dollar is N1350. I learnt the WAMCO Campina distributors are just increasing the price as they wish. BusinessDay should help us investigate all these saboteurs.”

BusinessDay editors have noted the request. Gus Wiggle pinned it on middlemen. He asserted: “The distribution chain in Nigeria is always exploited by middlemen who, in this case, are the distributors. The price of cement is a case in point. BUA is putting the blame of high cost of cement on the distributors.”

Follow the point-counterpoint on the BusinessDay WhatsApp platform as experts regularly interject.