Dancing in the Market Place: Abati’s Hard Sale by Akin Daniels
Reuben Abati, President Goodluck Jonathan’s Media Adviser’s, recent reaction to the press briefing held by the Publicity Secretary of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Lai Mohammed, alerting Nigerians to a deliberate ploy to scuttle democracy and exposing a trend of activities and inactions by the government capable of making life unbearable for Nigerians is typical. It offered nothing new. It delivered no punches. It fell in the class of similar rebuffs and the time-worn frantic waving of the performance card of the Jonathan administration. It was a boring read and a sickening recital of what Jonathan has achieved. The pertinent question, however, is what has Jonathan not done or achieved? Reuben succeeded in one aspect and that we must concede. He succeeded in calling Lai Mohammed names and rubbing the opposition in the garb of unpatriotic power seekers who will do anything to attack and abuse the government.
Abati in his attack on Lai failed to realise that Lai speaketh the minds of millions of Nigerians who are too busy trying to survive each day or lack the voice and platform to vent their frustrations at President Jonathan. Almost everyone living in Nigeria can attest to the continuous slide in the quality of life and the decreasing impact of governance. And because there seems to be no capable government in place, they think there is no country. A thousand press statements brimming with all the braggadocio, subtle threats and name calling cannot change what is on ground or alter the bitter experiences of many Nigerians.
Rather than the bluster and grammar sophistication thrown at Nigerians, Jonathan should step into the arena and tell Nigerians the concrete things he has achieved. Achievements speak for themselves and needs no marketing and spin doctors. The duo of Reuban Abati and Doyin Okupe, whose briefs are one and the same, should spare Nigerians the shadow boxing and puerile arguments. In the past few months, they have been put to great task to defend their principal and his foibles. I wish them luck but no amount of sophistry and high faulting can convince Nigerians otherwise that the Jonathan Presidency is weak and unfocussed.
If Lai Mohammed is crying foul where there is none, Nigerians would have since stopped him or shouted him down. Government is and should be an open business and pointers to achievements are easily visible where they exist. In the case of Nigeria under this government, what we see is a trend of inconstancies and policy somersaults, weak and ineffective leadership and a presidency steeped in inertia and search for vain glory.
We need not look too far away to get a fair assessment of this government’s performance and the string of developments if when examined by any lucid minds point to a country in the hands of clueless persons. On the internet and from the numerous online news sites and websites of international news organizations, there is enough evidence to make a water tight case against this government. This government’s ineptitude and selfish pride is on open display. Mind boggling revelations of corruption and avarice, evidence of government failure at tackling the most basic problems for which governments exist in the first place and the tribalisation, bulkanization and marginalization of Nigerians along religious and ethnic lines.
In simple yet frank terms, Nigeria is saddled with a failed presidency and the country might as well be on auto-pilot. Lai Mohammed shouts all the time. Yes. He can exercise his right to freedom of speech. But beyond that, he offers millions of Nigerians a useful service. He puts us in the presence of mind about what is going on, he keeps the government on their feet and warns them about the danger ahead. Rather than ask for Lai’s head or settle for personality attacks and name calling, this government needs to stop whinning and perform. Jonathan was elected to unite and lead this country, not divide and make our lives hell. It should quit complaining and start to offer Nigerians not just explanations but delivery on promises made. Lai is on solid ground and totally in line with his job description. As for Abati, there is no way you can sell a bad product, try as hard as you want.
Akin Daniels is lawyer and publicist based in Abuja.
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