The president’s media team and his ministers are failing him

11 Min Read

Nigerians love killing themselves. Like me you can list more than a thousand ways in which we do this. I have come up with a few below. You can add yours.

Boko Haram
Politicians inciting their supporters to kill / lynch opponents
Politicians arming thugs to kill and maim
Security personnel killing the people they should be protecting
Those who turn a blind eye at the borders / ports and allow arms importation
Inciting one set of Nigerians to murder each other via social and regular media
Politicians and civil servants who embezzle money meant for the Armed Forces
Citizens who defend politicians and civil servants who embezzle money meant for the Armed Forces
Politicians and Civil Servants who embezzle money meant for the health services and welfare of the public
10. Citizens who defend Politicians and Civil Servants who embezzle money meant for health services and welfare of the public
Transport Union / Agbero Association / Okada Rides Club violent clashes
Domestic abuse
Contractors who build roads that quickly degenerate into death traps
Civil servants who certify said bad roads / death traps
Selling Fake Petrol
Selling fake vehicle brake pads
Selling / Buying bad tires and driving vehicles with bad tires
Scooping petrol from a tanker or a breached pipeline
Armed robbery
Land disputes
Historical political disputes
Religious disputes
Commercial disputes
Choice of location for government projects
Ill-prepared for Civil Wars
If there is an opportunity to kill ourselves, we will find it.

It is a big shame and a disgrace. And it is not going to stop anytime soon. It did not start with Buhari and it is not going to end with him if we continue with the attitude we have in Nigeria and the attitude we gleefully display on social media.

If you are like me, you probably grew up in a home where the other tribes are either illiterate know nothings; or flesh and stone eating vampires; or dirty partying sluts. As with everything Nigeria, the minorities didn’t have an identity, they had to fit into one of these three broad caricatures.

Though prejudiced, the parents back then behaved themselves a bit. Their prejudices were discussed in hushed tones and shared only with their children and close family members. These parents potentially ended up as policy makers and you can bet their prejudices is steeped in the constitution of Nigeria and the way our politics has evolved. No wonder we are like this.

But we are different now. We live in the modern age, where any idiot whether young or old will gleefully advertise his hatred for another tribe in the presence of over 300 million twitter users or over two billion Facebook account holders. Absolutely no thought is given to said idiot’s future employability or the fact that he might be committing a crime by openly displaying his hatred for another tribe or promoting violence against others.

Ultimately, it is our funeral. We decide how we want to leave and die. If the lessons of Rwanda and other violent crisis in the world are not enough for us, then we deserves what we get.

How is this linked to the President’s Communications Team?

They allow silly narratives take hold within traditional and social media without responding promptly and repeatedly

They do not appear to have allies in the traditional and social media that can push their well thought out counter narratives repeatedly. We did it once is not your job. Do it everyday and every minute.

They have not made the case for the importance of the communication unit through all formal and informal levers of power. We know the president does not believe in packaging. His wife does; his kids do; his Uncle does. He listens to his Chief of Staff; he listens to the VP. Do what it takes to make him take you serious. Complain to his governor; anybody. Shout and scream until you get your way except you don’t care about Nigeria.

The Presidential Communication Team appear to believe that the absence of a budget for appeasing the traditional media boys means they are powerless to engage and help shape the narrative emerging from the traditional media. Please see my reaction to this below.

Before I go on. I don’t pay a lot of attention to paid twitter handles who are obviously or disingenuously members of the previous administration and the pseudo opposition PDP. They are playing politics. The umbilical cord connecting them to the nation’s commonwealth has been cut off. They are indeed Wailers. And all right thinking Nigerians should hope these ones wail to the point where hunger shuts them up.

What about the neutrals on social media? Can the President’s Communication Team hand on heart claim they are winning the war for the heart and mind of the neutral? I don’t think so. It is one thing to have a wonderful product to sell; it is another thing for people to know about it. Portable music existed in the mass market long before Apple made it even more portable and turned it into a trillion dollar business.

Buhari is a good product but you still have to sell him to the neutrals. It is ok to rely politically on the President and his key allies’ political base but there is nothing wrong in broadening that base.

The President’s Communication Team has allowed the noise about a ‘partial’ president, an ‘ethnic’ president an ‘incompetent’ president gain too much ground without doing anything in a coordinated manner to refute, repel and go on the front foot on these issues.

This is not about money, this is about lack of critical thinking. What should the Presidential Communication Team do?

When was the last time Femi Adesina and Shehu Garba and Laolu Akande organized a meeting with the Editors of all newspapers in their capacity as the Communications Team and a meeting with the President / Vice President? Is it that they don’t have the clout to engage with the Editors? This is not about money, this is constructive and robust engagement with lots of receipts about what the Editors are doing wrong?

When was the last time they organised a MEANINGFUL security briefing for the Editors?

When will the President’s Communication Team arrange a meeting with Publishers / owners of media houses again? We know where the sympathies of some of these owners are but the meeting still needs to take place.

When was the last time they called out newspaper editors collectively and individually? Not the recent one where a member of the Team picked on just one media house? COLLECTIVELY and ONE BY ONE!

Why are the ministers getting a better press in the traditional media than the President? The ministers are spending significant sums on publicity for their projects. Rightfully so. The publicity projects involve advertisement in all parts of the traditional media. Nobody shouts when eating. This is etiquette. So why are the Presidential Communication Team and Ministers not leveraging on this goodwill the ministers seem to be enjoying to make sure the same traditional media lay off their principal?

Finally, while some things need to be said. Not everybody is entitled to say them. A prostitute should ideally not preach sexual morals. Likewise the PDP should not preach about violent killings in the land.

Like Femi Adesina pointed out, the PDP is the winner when it comes to the killing of Nigerians. But maybe Femi Adesina should not be the one who writes an article about this fact.

If he genuinely has allies in the media, they should be pushing that narrative on his behalf. It has to be said. The figures have to be out in the open because we are quick to forget and there are many vultures out there waiting to profit from our forgetfulness.

People like Atiku who was Vice President when Odi and Zaki Biam were leveled and said not a meaningful word about these heinous crimes. The same man who was VP when Plateau State burnt and burnt and tens of thousands died in ethnic strife is now claiming to be the voice of reason.

If Nigerians collectively refuse to say NEVER AGAIN, we will all suffer. But the Presidential Communications Team have a big part to play in helping us arrive at that point.

Baba Grumpy works in financial services in the United Kingdom. He blogs mostly about football at His Twitter handle is @BabaGrumpy

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