Why does anyone still take @MrAyeDee seriously?

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That is @MrAyeDee a.k.a Mukhtar Alexander Dan’Iyan, an “Africa & Middle East Public Policy & Security Expert”, according to his Twitter bio. Of course, the nature of this line of work does not allow for any means of verifying this. It’s not like public policy and security experts have any badges to flash around to shut doubting Thomases like us up. He is also the editor-in-chief, 15 Past 8 Media Group. Beyond this bio and and a relentless online presence, there really isn’t much left to know about this man.

Oh wait! There’s this…

Back in 2014, the U.S based NigeriaFM.com posted this conversation between one of its presenters and a woman named Liz, who had a lot to say about Aye Dee. But what led to this conversation is more instructive.

Mr. Aye Dee had tried to get the famous Linda Ikeji blog to be shut down by Google based on accusations of plagiarism. He claimed that Linda had used material off his website on several occasions on her own site without permission. Everyone remembers this episode no? Linda eventually revealed that it was just a case of an old friend that went too far in a bid to regain attention.

It was all very sensational. The banter that preceded and followed the big reveal by Linda was interesting and if no one knew who he was before, we all came to know of Mr. Aye Dee after this incident. It would have all been just a ‘Twitter scandal’. It had all the properties of a ‘Nigerian Scandal!’- someone makes a wild claim; thousands of people get interested, blog sites get millions of views from the reportage of both verified and unverified claims; the scorned victim responds; more reportage; more banter; the parties reconcile; people speculate whether it was just a publicity stunt; a few days after, we all move on.

Except that in this case, some people were more interested in getting to the root of the whole mess. An Op-Ed was published to establish the facts of Aye Dee’s fraud. They released a long read about how the scandal was plan for both Mr. Aye Dee’s and Linda’s sites to gain more views. It turned out whatever that piece of information was worth, it came too late. Mr. Aye Dee’s following had grown bigger. People were paying more attention to the security expert. After all, he had the connects and was web savvy enough to report Linda to Google. Abi? But Nigerians have the shortest attention span and it takes more than one break-up and make-up session to leave a lasting memory.

Mr. Aye Dee obviously knew this and so not long after, the public policy expert was ‘public policing’ all around Twitter. Picking on one political figure after another and gaining stronger following in the process.

First his staunch support of Senator Musiliu Obanikoro who was running against Jimi Agbaje for the PDP gubernatorial ticket in Lagos for the last elections. No sooner than the situation between the two PDP candidates was resolved (in favour of Jimi Agbaje), Mr. Aye Dee turned his attention and media support activities to former President Goodluck Jonathan – to the detriment of the APC camp who had being winning the media buzz game.

Mr. Aye Dee was so staunch in his support of President Jonathan that he left his NewYork base to attend pro-GEJ events. In a televised debate put together by Rubbin’ Minds, Mr. Aye Dee represented PDP in a face-off with APC’s Youth Wing Chairman, Akin Oyebode. Mr. Aye Dee’s loyalty to PDP, if questionable before the debate, could definitely no longer be questioned. The PDP leadership even hinted at offering him a position within the party’s cadre. This was confusing though. The same Mr. Aye Dee that had openly supported General Buhari was now discrediting then APC Presidential candidate’s person. If he had switched his loyalty based on policy issues, maybe there would have been no issues. But his points against PMB were mostly along the lines of the General’s military past. A fact that had been constant since 2003, 2007 and 2011 when he openly supported President Buhari.

Maybe what changed was PMB’s affiliation with Bola Ahmed Tinubu because this was his next victim. Replete with court records, Mr. Aye Dee came for the former governor of Lagos. His claim? That Tinubu and his wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu were complicit in the degradation of the Niger Delta region by being deeply involved in some of Shell’s operations publicly reproaching the government.

He had links and proof and all. But then, he always sounds intelligent. He often has public records to back his arguments. But then there is just as much proof – as he usually supplies to back his claims – that he might be fraudulent, dishonest and guilty of forgery too. Ikhide put up this post online a few days after the Linda saga. He recounted Mr. Aye Dee’s role in the pro-democracy movement by Nigerians who were on exile during the Abacha-regime. He added excerpts from Professor Wole Soyinka’s memoir, You Must Set Forth At Dawn, identifying Mr. Aye Dee as an Igbira (possibly from Kogi State) although Mr. Aye Dee says he’s Fulani from Niger State. It’s all very confusing. Which begs the question: Why is anyone still paying this man any attention?

Today, he’s on Twitter making bold claims about the proposed sale of national assets and exposing contradictions between President Buhari’s election promises and post-election actions. He’s also putting the spotlight on lesser known political parties like the YDP among many other varied activities.

But what is it about this man about whom very little is known by just a handful of people that has made him reliable Nigerian public policy and political analyst to the over 33,000 people who follow him? How does a man go from being a scorned patron of a gossip blogger to policy and security expert in less than a year?

Who is Mr. Aye Dee and why are we listening to his stories?

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