The Real Enemies of President Goodluck Jonathan By Japheth Omojuwa
It is normal for the opposition to be antagonistic to the ruling party most of the time. Whether or not we like it, the quest for power is a competition and except for those who are not true to themselves, no one likes to lose. You would think the people at the All Progressives Congress are the real enemies of President Goodluck Jonathan and you would be dead wrong. They are not his enemies, they are his competitors. Competition helps to make us better if we care about excellence. In a healthy and respectful environment, the battle of wits amongst politicians and political groups is a joy to behold. Many of us read books of agelong political battles of established democracies and we sometimes wish we lived at those times just to enjoy front row seats at the time of those battles. Read up on “Washington Political Battles” by Dr. Jon Schiller, you would get a feel of the joy that comes with political wars fought with wits, intellect, for the love of country and its people and the will to win. The All Progressives Congress/Peoples Democratic Party battles are normal if they don’t degenerate to slander, mudslinging, and blackmail and to certain extents assassinations. So, then, if the known opposition is not the real enemy of Mr. President, who then are his real enemies?
President Goodluck Jonathan is said to be a gentleman and the little I have seen of him since the first time I saw him at Eko Hotel in 2010, he looks it.
Rather than help him build bridges of cooperation and unity, they create a gulf between him and those they ought to have him relate with. They take on former leaders and abuse same, yet return to wonder why the President seems to have been abandoned by those whose help would come useful at times like these when our nation is dire need of all the help it can muster. While others are looking to make new friends, they are looking to make new enemies. They throw mud and dirt around, hoping to stain those they deem too clean around themselves. They would be first to launch an attack on anyone who complains if the President does the wrong thing. They want praise singers and nothing more. They deem as haters those who don’t suck up to their futile attempt at image making. They are the filth that makes the Presidency look like the dirtiest it has been in ages. They are unfortunately paid to do this; they unfortunately earn their living doing this. Their designations are relatively inconsequential but the damage they have caused the Presidency over the years cannot be over-emphasised. In human form, they are represented by Reno Omokri and Dr. Doyin Okupe.
Okupe is Senior Special Adviser to the President on Public Affairs. He was appointed to put an aggressive touch to the government’s media agenda. He called himself an “attack lion” upon his appointment, thereby admitting his “animalistic nature” immediately. At the time of his appointment, the impression was that Dr. Reuben Abati, the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity was not aggressive enough as the Presidency seemed to believe that it was losing the media war because of this non-aggressive nature. Two years in the role next month, Okupe’s aggressive and uncouth nature have caused the Presidency more damage than it has brought it value.
There was a long stretch of time the Presidency seemed to have him tethered but he was soon unleashed again on the Nigerian public. After one of his many public gaffes, Okupe had to deny making abusive comments on Muslims after his attempt to pass Boko Haram as having a Muslim agenda on a Lagos television show. He is the type that wouldn’t mind serving an APC government in the future while firing missiles at someone like Jonathan. He fired shots at his former boss, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo in the wake of the ex-president’s open letter to Jonathan. Okupe attacked Madam Oby Ezekwesili simply because she was humane enough to call on Nigerians to continue to demand that the Nigerian authorities do everything to #BringBackOurGirls in reference to the still abducted #ChibokGirls. At times, he appears a man desperate to keep his job, obsessed with being seen and afraid of being left in the lurch. At a time Nigeria cries for unity and reconciliation, a Presidency that cares about peaceful ends to political issues and conflicts will want someone of uncouth nature and desperation several light years away from it.
Reno Omokri, widely known as Wendell Simlin (Google the name) by those who truly know him and “Pastor” by those who don’t, is Special Assistant to President Jonathan on New Media. He was seconded to the office of the Special Adviser on Research, Strategy and Documentation headed by Oronto Douglas. If there was a need for Omokri’s office, that need vanished the day Abati joined Twitter. Not only has Abati’s social media clout surpassed Omokri’s, the former newspaper editor essentially does what Wendell Simlin ought to have been doing for years. Abati having to join Twitter to save the government’s image was the most telling indication Omokri and indeed his office became superfluous. For every damage Okupe unleashed on the image of the Presidency, Omokri unleashes his via the most puerile and nonsensical tweets you can imagine. Obviously a former aide to Nasir El-Rufai, a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Omokri appears not to have recovered from the broken relationship. Reading his tweets at times, you would pass him off as a heartbroken lover boy estranged from a long-gone lover than you would a representative of the highest office in the land.
Anyone who cares about the image of President Jonathan would keep the duo at a safe distance and have their offices expunged. There would be no need to replace them as their offices are superfluous, hence their tendency to play to the gallery. If they must be employed by the Presidency at all, the President could do with having them retained in any office where they’d never have to relate with the public.
More than ever in the history of our country, the Presidency has been reduced to something to be kicked about, abused and embarrassed. It would be easy to blame others but the blame lies with the President’s aides. They do not represent the President presidentially. They forgot to shed their obviously uncouth personalities to have the prestige and honour of the Presidency reflect in their ways and work. We would love to see a Presidency that appeals to the masses even when it is not getting many things right. We would love to see a Presidency that’d take itself away from blackmail, mudslinging and the sort of thuggery displayed by those unleashed on the advocates of #BringBackOurGirls in Abuja last week. Our government can do better; citizens demanding better governance should not be treated or even seen as enemies. If we all want the best for our country, we cannot go about it like those who ask for the right things to be done are asking for too much.
The Presidency may budget millions of dollars for image laundering but as long as the right people continue to have their voices suppressed by a Presidency that seems to bask in the praise of the wrong people, it would be money well put to waste. God bless Nigeria.
• Omojuwa, Editor, AfricanLiberty.org, wrote in via email@example.com
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