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Opinion

Ola of Lagos, Ameh Ann & Content Creation -By Zayd Ibn Isah

Popular, self-acclaimed car reviewer and Nigerian entrepreneur, Waris Olayinka Akinwande, also known as “Ola of Lagos,” was recently involved in controversy. A young lady, who later identified herself as Ameh Ann, alias “Enidoma”, released a video online, accusing Ola of impregnating her and leaving her to care for herself and the unborn baby.

Predictably, her accusation generated quite a lot of backlash from members of the public. Those who knew Ola of Lagos well enough expressed their doubts as to whether he would stoop so low to date a girl of her status. As a result, the young lady made another video to berate those who doubted her claim and felt she was not good enough for Ola of Lagos. She also mentioned that their relationship dated as far back to their secondary school days, adding that it took five years before she agreed to be with Ola. She blamed him for abandoning her after his fortunes changed, stating that if not for this, she would have become a classy “Lagos Babe.” To show the gravity of the situation, she even called on Olaʼs celebrity friends and business associates to get him to accept the pregnancy and own up to his responsibilities, before threatening to invoke her ‘Ogbanje’ spirit if he failed to do so.

Two months after making the damning allegation, Ameh Ann finally came out to publicly apologize to Ola of Lagos, stating that she was never pregnant with his child, and did not intend to tarnish his image or brand. She expressed regret, acknowledging that she never anticipated the video would generate so much attention. She clarified that although the original intention was merely to create content that would boost her social media numbers, she had enough time to realize it was all a silly and misguided approach to fame.

Her apologies to Ola of Lagos, to me, seem like a typical case of medicine after death. After all, the young lady herself is a typical Nigerian who should be aware, to a reasonable extent, of the possible ripple effects of her inanity. But what did she do in the end? She went against her better judgment and took the time to attempt ruining one’s reputation. And all of this so that she would simply apologize and move on with her life? And of course, the case would die a natural death, without anyone actually giving a hoot about the level of social damage done to Olaʼs name, family and reputation. 

This is sobering especially when one takes cognizance of the fact that most Nigerians might even come out en masse to plead on Ameh Annʼs behalf if Ola insisted on pressing charges against her. These same people who, weeks before, had sided with the young lady and insulted Ola for being a deadbeat father, would now be the ones to guilt-trip him if he refused to accept the public plea for mercy on her behalf. If you tried to make them understand the gravity of the situation by explaining how what the girl did amounted to a serious case of character assassination, they would dismissively say, “Enh-enh, and so what? Did she kill  anybody?” They would even add that since God forgives our transgressions, who would Ola of Lagos be to not pardon Ameh Ann?

While I understand that God forgives and He enjoins us to constantly do so, I think it’s pertinent to state that if we all follow the teachings of God with honesty, we should be aware of how strongly God frowns upon those who make false allegations and bear false witness against others. Can you imagine the hell that would have been raised if the young man was married? Can you imagine just how such a careless and insensitive allegation could have precipitated the end of that marriage? Can you imagine the distrust and doubts that would have been sown into such a marriage, even if the allegations were to be later proved false? And knowing now the implications of what Ameh Ann did, would you still persuade Ola of Lagos to “just forgive and forget?”, considering the fact it even took her a while to come out and debunk the claim?

Content creation, a global phenomenon which has made countless people successful and famous, has evolved upon an entirely different dimension in Nigeria. Just for clout and cash and “cruise”, almost every Musa, Emeka and Femi desires to be a content creator nowadays. Why? Simply because there are enough success stories on the Nigerian internet. The likes of Emmanuella (Mark Angel Comedy), Sabinus, Broda Shaggi, Lasisi Elenu and of course, Ola Of Lagos, now enjoy enviable wealth, fame and “household name” status, after years of generating content across Instagram, YouTube & TikTok. And true to the “copy-copy” fashion of the average Nigerian, many people now see the area of content creation as a goldmine of sorts, a possible pathway to riches. 

The downside of this, apart from countless cringe-worthy comedy skits and dangerous pranks, is that where the exhibition of talent fails, more people have begun resorting to a variety of antics in order to “trend” with the hope of “blowing”. These people upload triggering posts and videos on Twitter, fabricate stories for Facebook and even produce digitally altered photos on Instagram. And some, like Ameh Ann, simply surface to spread vile falsehood. If they eventually get called out on their stupid antics, everything is often watered down as “cruise”, as not being “that deep sef.” 

The case of Ola of Lagos and Ameh Ann and other similar cases casts light on the urgent need for responsible behavior on social media platforms. Remember when two girls in October, 2019, uploaded a video in which they unwisely showed their faces to the world while alleging that one of them was pregnant for global music superstar, Davido? If you don’t recall this incident now, I don’t blame you at all. After all, that one fizzled out and faded away, but not before the girls in question were arrested (Davido placed a ₦1 million bounty on them and threatened to sue them for ₦30 billion in damages) and publicly disgraced by being made to beg for Davidoʼs forgiveness. As it turned out, their allegations were just as false as Ameh Annʼs, because as they later said, they were just trying to prank the If crooner. 

Perhaps, if those girls had been made proper scapegoats of, through a publicized trial, we would not have had to deal with the embarrassment of Ameh Annʼs replication of the same antic. While content creation can be a powerful tool for expression and creativity, it also comes with responsibilities. False allegations and misinformation can have serious consequences, not just for individuals but for society as a whole. Perhaps it’s time for governments to consider regulating social media more effectively, ensuring that individuals are held accountable for their actions online. This could involve creating clear guidelines and consequences for spreading false information, thereby discouraging such behavior and protecting the integrity of online spaces. 

Ultimately, promoting ethical conduct in content creation and consumption is key to fostering a healthy and trustworthy online environment. And to every content creator out there, whether aspiring or established, you should know that you can create great content without necessarily assassinating someone’s character in order to attain popularity. Putting out false claims and misleading information is akin to throwing a bundle of feathers into the wind; once out, it is challenging to retrieve all of them, just as it is virtually impossible to completely undo the damage caused by malicious falsehood.

A word should be enough for the wise. 

Zayd Ibn Isah can be reached via lawcadet1@gmail.com

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