A distinguished political analyst in Nigeria lamented last month that the country had probably invented the Fake News phenomenon, closely linked to Donald Trump's presidential election campaign in the United States and a lucrative business model. As if to buttress this claim, some Nigerian bloggers and commentators were last month assuring us that President Muhammadu Buhari had died of a mystery illness. Days earlier, his office had announced that he would be staying in London for medical tests.
When the death story petered out, it was replaced by reports of
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo
being held hostage by several state
governors as well as Senate President Bukola
Saraki until he agreed to
stand down and transfer his powers, as head of state in Buhari's
absence, to one of their number. For Nigerians of a nervous
disposition, this is a reworking of the plot around the ailing
President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua
in 2010. The planned trip on 16 February
by Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu
Dogara, to see Buhari in London may dispel some of the
scarcity of information so far about Buhari's ailments has given
Nigeria's Fake News industry a shot in the arm.
Curiously, investors in Nigeria's billion-dollar Eurobond seem
unbothered by the President's indisposition. The bond issue was eight
times over-subscribed and with an interest rate several percentage
points lower than those of other economies in the region.