By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu
The sole aim why propaganda is adopted is to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis or perception, or using loaded language to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information. Propaganda is not objective and is more or less a systematic effort to manipulate other people’s beliefs, attitudes, or action.
Propagandists use negative or discriminatory words to arouse suspicion and prejudice. They make generalised statements attractive to their audience.
Down history lane, disgruntled elements have adopted propaganda to achieve political and economic gains. Ironically, they end up achieving a backlash instead of positive results.
In the Falkland Islands war, Argentina thought it could have achieved any positive result with its propaganda stunt. The country continually fed its soldiers with propaganda about how weak and degenerate British forces were, and how subhuman its Gurka soldiers were. Unfortunately, the propaganda backfired. Instead of Argentine soldiers thinking that the Gurkhas were subhuman, they were terrified of the Gurkhas! Argentine propaganda inadvertently built up an image of the Gurka as being a drug-crazed, knife-wielding, homicidal, cannibalistic, psychotic, serial killing human Terminator!
This compelled the Argentine soldiers to surrender to the British instead of facing the Gurkhas in combat. The Argentines knew that the British would follow the international rules regarding Prisoners of War. But the Gurkhas, on the other hand, would hunt all of them down. Cut them open, and eat them alive! Given such a choice they preferred to surrender rather than fight.
Way back in the then Soviet Union, the Soviets in order to paint a gloomy picture of the American economy, distributed the American movie The Grapes of Wrath (1940) in their country to show that the poor in America also was starving and oppressed. However, Soviet audiences all reacted by saying (or at least thinking) “look! The American peasants can afford trucks! We can’t even have mules!” The movie was quickly removed from circulation.
The stage is set across the country as various political parties engage in campaigns. While there have been mounting cries for politicians to play by the rules, the opposition in Abia has thrown decorum to the wind by engaging in smear campaigns with the sole aim of running down the administration of Victor Okezie Ikpeazu.
These opposition politicians should be strongly reminded that wars and political victories are not achieved by propaganda. The case of Joseph Goebbels, German Nazi Party member who became Adolf Hitler’s propaganda minister in 1933 comes to mind. By exploiting mob emotions and by employing all modern methods of propaganda Goebbels helped Hitler to power. His work as a propagandist materially aided Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. When Hitler seized power in 1933, Goebbels was appointed Reichsminister for propaganda and national enlightenment. From then until his death, Goebbels used all media of education and communications to further Nazi propagandistic aims, instilling in the Germans the concept of their leader as a veritable god and of their destiny as the rulers of the world. In 1938 he became a member of the Hitler cabinet council. Late in World War II, in 1944, Hitler placed him in charge of total mobilization. Unfortunately, despite Goebbell’s propaganda wizardry, Germany lost the war. On May 1, 1945, as Soviet troops were storming Berlin, Goebbels committed suicide.
No matter how hard these elements strive to alter the perception of Abians on the performance of Gov. Ikpeazu, they can influence their perception to the extent that Aba was almost an infrastructural disaster before the advent of Ikpeazu’s administration and that today the city has been given a facelift.
Neither will they erase in the minds of Abians the revolution in the agricultural sector which has witnessed the planting of oil palm seedlings to Abians and distribution of same; the Education for Employment initiative which concept is to imbue in young Abians the necessary skills that will ensure self- independence; the elevation of the state to an SME hub; the departure from the era of “Dubai” roads when the state resources were wasted attending to roads less than six months of their construction, courtesy of the rigid cement technology; revolutions in the health sector where the telehealth initiative comes to mind, just to mention but a few.
In every age, traitors abound. There are always disgruntled elements who oppose popular causes. Hughes Stanford sought to appease the Christian mission which explored the Niger areas(later Nigeria). Stanford poured invectives on Africans only to be keenly avoided by the church leaders who rightly felt that they needed diplomats, committed missionaries and lovers of humanity, not raving racist and hate- monger who would ignite African resistance to their new values. He died without a job and without a penny in the world. But this was a time some more positive colonial agents were building their career in the emerging colonies.
David Dion, the renegade Jew, thought he could buy a lifesaving friendship into the German power caste by betraying his people. ” A traitors to his people will be a traitor forever,” they told him. when they shoved him into the gas chamber before the end of the second world war.
Abians be steadfast in your support for Gov Ikpeazu.”When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men commit themselves to the glories of love.”Thoughts of Martin Luther-King.