Yesterday, I read a news reportage from some news outlets in Kwara state and I was left dumbfounded, I was dumbfounded because I found it as an act of deliberate misinformation. I would have ignored it, but because of my educational and professional background, I am not always comfortable at the sight of misinformation, I always try my best to educate people and prevent the spread of misinformation as much as I can each time I see one. It is on this note that I would be fact-checking the news report headline and its content.
The society we are in is currently suffering from low information and media literacy; and in the era of information explosion, it will amount to a great disservice to society if anyone is engaging in the enterprise of misinformation. Misinformation is said to be false or inaccurate information, especially when it is deliberately intended to deceive. In today’s world, information is one of the most critical things in decision making. It is useful in economics, politics, governance, business, media etcetera.
On Friday, July 3, 2020, whilst reporting the amount of money Kwara State Government has expended on COVID-19, some news outlets in Kwara State reported that the state government spent N17m daily on COVID-19. These news outlets in their article claimed they divided the total amount of money the Kwara State Government announced to have been expended on COVID-19 by 90 days.
According to the press statement released by the Kwara State Governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr Rafiu Ajakaye, a total of N1,569,107,944.70 has been expended on the pandemic between April 1 and June 29. However, the press statement didn’t claim N17m was expended daily on COVID-19. Why do we need to twist the content of a press statement that is simple, clear, unambiguous and easy to comprehend? Although those news outlets claimed that they calculated the average of the money expended on the pandemic between April 1 and June 29 by dividing N1,569,107,944.70 by 90 days to find the average. The formula used in the report to calculate the average is wrong and not in conformity with the Mathematical standard. For the avoidance of doubt, to calculate an average, one needs to add up all the terms, and then divide by the number of terms added. The result is the average. So, the question is, what are those terms those news outlets added and what is the number of terms they divided it with to give them average? This is purely mathematical abracadabra which shouldn’t be allowed to stand!
For the sake of posterity and innocent minds that might want to seek for information, the press statement as released by Mr Ajakaye specifically gave the breakdown of how N1,569,107,944.70 was expended as follow:
1. N132,931,510 was spent on the running (cost) of the activities of the technical committee gulped.
2. N713,480,100.90 was spent on medical supplies and equipment.
3. N525,277,030.00 was expended on palliatives
4. N149,928,753.80 was expended on COVID-related renovation works
5. N47,490,550.00 was expended on security, health workers’ allowances and logistics
It is important to note that the above expenses covered the purchase of military-grade Toyota Land Cruiser Ambulances; automated ventilators and several other Intensive Care Unit (ICU) gadgets/equipment; production of hand sanitizers; and the cost of running the activities of the technical committee and its subcommittees, the statement added; palliatives that were distributed during the lockdown; renovation of the Sobi Specialist Hospital and the Hajj Camp; mass production of face masks, purchase of surgical masks, digital thermometers, N95 and respirator-sperian 5311, and other Personal Protective Equipment; medical supplies and consumables; security expenses; training; allowances for medical personnel and other support staff in charge of the pandemic; part-renovation of the Offa General Hospital as an isolation centre; and patients’ management, among others.
The claim that Kwara State Government expended N17m daily on COVID-19 is FALSE, the mathematical premise the calculation was founded on is also FAULTY.
We can’t continue to give misinformation a breathing space in our society, if it can’t consume our society today, it surely will consume it one day. Misinformation is dangerous, before you act on attempting to engage in it, kindly consider this: “Stop, Reflect, and Verify before sharing any kind of information. Misinformation can be a serious concern for our world, our country, our city, our community, our image and our reputation if we do not stand to address it and keep fighting against it. So before you quickly press the share button on that next article you read, share responsibly, and Stop, Reflect, and Verify.”- Japhé Mercier