Phrank Shaibu, a Special Assistant on Public Communications to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, has reacted to the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, remark on the alleged forgery of President Bola Tinubu’s academic records.
He said BBC erred in its ‘fact-check’ report, claiming that there was no evidence that forged his Chicago State University certificate.
Shaibu, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday, alleged that the report was part of “a hatchet job, “ aimed at turning the tide in Tinubu’s favour, adding that, “the outrage it had solicited from the generality of Nigerians was enough evidence to show that the BBC goofed.”
The Atiku aide said the BBC’s move was not surprising as it was in line with a previous statement he had issued wherein he had revealed that the Tinubu administration was set to unleash its full propaganda programme.
Shaibu said, “Sometime last week, when the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) issued a final warning to Arise News TV, we pointed out that the Tinubu administration was on the verge of launching a full-blown propaganda and also intimidating ‘uncooperative’ media houses into discrediting and downplaying the CSU scandal. Sadly, we never imagined that it would be the BBC that would become the willing tool.
“It is unconscionable, appalling and preposterous that in this current information age, a foreign medium of repute could try to bamboozle Nigerians with a jaundiced report when the details are clear for everyone to see. Thank God, young Nigerians have begun filing complaints against the hack writers who decided to soil their names for a bowl of porridge.
“We are not ignorant of the machinations of the BBC and its bias towards the current government. It is unfortunate that the BBC is not upholding the same standards as they would uphold in the UK where a Prime Minister was forced out of office for hosting a party during COVID-19. In 2009, columnist Mehdi Hasan wrote in the New Statesman that the BBC was biased ‘towards power and privilege, tradition and orthodoxy.’
“It is no wonder that in the last year, the only news medium that was given exclusive access to interview Tinubu was the BBC. It is sickening that the BBC has decided to surrender its platform to a man who was accused of illegal drug trafficking in the United States.
“In the so-called fact-check report, the BBC decided to bury in the last paragraphs the fact that Tinubu claimed to have attended Government College, Lagos, in 1970 when the school was established in 1974. Why didn’t these so-called fact-checkers reflect it on their headline?
“What is the essence of the report when it failed to uncover the most critical questions? If this report was aimed at fact-checking, it should have mentioned the year the certificate was obtained by Tinubu from CSU and if the one he submitted to INEC is the same one he received from CSU.
“Tinubu said at Chatham House that he had received a replacement from CSU when the school said in unambiguous terms that he had not done so. What was the date he applied for his INEC replacement certificate from CSU, and when was it issued to him?
“The investigation was clearly carried out with a predetermined goal, which was to clear Tinubu. But let us ask the BBC if they would employ anyone who has had a case of drug trafficking in the US before and if he had three dates of birth in his official records as well as two different genders as well as attending a secondary school before it was established.”
Shaibu urged the BBC and other fact-checkers to be more circumspect, adding that their job was too sensitive to entertain errors.
He recalled that “On November 28, 2022, Africa Check, one of the highly funded fact check organisations, claimed that the report by the opposition that Tinubu had lied that he attended Government College, Lagos, was false.
“After Atiku Abubakar, through his daring court case, decided to blow open the lid, it turned out that the opposition was right all along. Till date, Africa Check has also not apologised for misleading the public. This is the new reality that we face. Who will fact-check the fact-checkers?”
The Atiku aide advised media organisations to invest more in investigative journalism.
“If the BBC had invested in proper investigative journalism, it would have been the one uncovering some of Tinubu’s scandals instead of relying on Atiku for information on Tinubu’s certificates,” Shaibu added.