By Our Reporter
Human rights and social-justice crusaders, otherwise known as activists, have moved up the social ladder in Nigeria.
They are no longer the harassed and brutalised lot locked up in dungeons, sacrificing their comfort for any cause they believe in.
They have joined the upwardly mobile in Nigeria who drive exotic cars and spend their evenings at lush gardens in the Federal Capital, Abuja with movie and pop stars.
That lifestyle used to be the exclusive preserve of conmen also known as 419 and later internet fraudsters who stage scams to swindle the unsuspecting public of their hard earned money.
The crusaders for democracy and social justice in Nigeria have had their reputation tainted by desperation to make it and have found a gold mine in the offer by corrupt politicians to blackmail either the president of Nigeria or the military.
Investigations by our correspondent revealed that blackmailing the Nigerian president was discovered to be a gold mine shortly before the 2019 elections which the president won with a big margin.
The desperation to taint the image of the military especially that of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai is another goldmine, due to the success of the military operation in the Northeast which has shored up the credibility of the president in delivering the promise he made to the electorate in 2015.
President Buhari had won the 2015 election partly due to the belief that his wealth of experience in the army would help in curbing the terror being unleashed on Nigerians by the Boko Haram terrorists.
Our investigation found out that opposition politicians shortly before the 2019 general elections, in the bid to detract from the high points of the Buhari administration decided to destroy the main thing standing for him; his credibility. This is as all polls conducted before the election indicated that Buhari stood a better chance of winning the election due to his popularity.
The plot was contrived to work on staining his image before the electorate and the international community.
The strategy is said to be aimed at cutting down on his large followership in the northern part of the country and to make it impossible for him to penetrate the southern part which he seemed set to do.
The inclusion of the international community was to regurgitate the age old fable about not being a democrat so that his foreign support base which helped in 2015 would be weakened.
Top opposition figures, our findings revealed, reached out to some individuals and organisations who were known activists for that purpose while offering to pay good money for the ‘project.’
As hard currencies were being mobilised for the purpose, sources in the opposition disclosed to our correspondents that the buzz caught the attention of other intending freeloaders who also aimed to make something for themselves and before the elections would come, the queue of activists demanding a deal became quite long.
Our investigations showed that the bait dangled before the activists who became steeped in the project was responsible for some of the negative publicity against the Nigerian president in the media during the 2019 elections.
An Abuja based social crusader who partook in one of the campaigns and made ‘good money’ for himself, told our correspondent on grounds of anonymity that he knew from then that the business will not go away in a hurry due to the money in their circulation and the desperation of the opposition to paint the president in bad light.
Rather than abate after the elections, things got more serious when the processes of litigation over the election commenced.
The opposition was hopeful that it would get a favourable judgment and intensified its bid to win ‘in the court of public opinion.’
He said that was boom period for the activists as the desperation of the opposition took another dimension.
Another activist who said he got a slice of the action after the elections admitted that he got introduced into the business by a friend who was an associate of an opposition politician
“I was with them one day when they now asked me if could use my creativity to earn something for myself and I said yes.
“That was how I stated and we held several meetings and I was assigned a particular task and topic; I performed well and was paid and the game continued,” he said.
But even as the opposition lost at the courts, the business of blackmailing the president and the military has not stopped.
This is because the military was not unrelenting in making the president proud by defeating insurgency.
Only last week, our reporters stumbled on a meeting in the Wuse area of Abuja where people were being asked to turn in their scripts for vetting and possible reimbursement
Our reporter found out that the activists are usually given topics to develop and blackmail the president and that any that gets the go ahead of the opposition receive as much as $10, 000.
The delivery could either be in form of a news story written against the president or military which is circulated to the mainstream media or by direct confrontation with constituted authority.
An insider told our correspondent that “what you get depends on your target. For PMB they pay as $100,000 which is about 38million naira while for the military, they pay as much as $50,000.
It is not immediately clear whether such activists are working in cahoots with the insurgents terrorising Nigeria in the Northeast but an insider told our reporter that ‘for now it is the politicians trying to get at the president.’
The recruitment of the activists for the purpose of destroying the image of the President our finding revealed is done in two stages.
The first is call up those who have for one reason or the other fallen out with the president and the second is to reach out to the camp of the supporters of the president to give the campaign of calumny a modicum of credibility.
Sources also revealed that even some clerics have also been recruited into the business.
Attempts to confirm if the police is aware of this did not yield fruit but police sources say the authorities may soon swoop in on the activists as what they were involved in was criminal.
A top member of the ruling party who asked not to be named when contacted, said the party is aware and will soon take an action on those involved.