By Bala Ibrahim.
“Whoever advised President Buhari to grant media interviews last week and also address the nation on Saturday, June 12, did him a big favour. The intensity of media appearance was a good move, even if it came rather late. Nigerians may disagree with some of the things the President said in his media outings, but many of the myths constructed around him have been exploded, and that must be helpful to his administration. The man that our team sat with and interviewed didn’t sound like a Jibrin from Sudan. He was alert, alive, informed, confident, relaxed, witty and capable of disarming humour. He was not the invalid or the senile old man that his critics say he is. He didn’t sound weak either. As the interview progressed, he had another function that he needed to attend, and we didn’t leave the Villa until about 11 pm. Less than 12 hours later, the same man, the following day, was in Lagos to commission rail, maritime, and security projects”-Reuben Abati, spokesman to former president Goodluck Jonathan.
With that astonishing disclosure, from the man that is believed to be among the most critical of the present regime, came a big comfort or political relief against the long standing disappointment on the person and perceived performance of Muhammadu Buhari, as the President of Nigeria.
The Reuben’s scoop has shamed many, who have made continual criticism, or the expresion of unfavourable opinion about the President, a daily duty.
The biggest seller that came, particularly promoting for the government in the Reuben’s remarks is where he said, “Opposition elements argued that Nigeria no longer had a President but a Presidency that had been taken over by a cabal. They argued that the elected President died a while ago and had been replaced by a body clone called Jibrin from Sudan. For effect, they added that even the First Lady was aware of this and hence, her trenchant criticisms of the government and her husband’s aides. Commentators like Farooq Kperogi, claiming insider knowledge of Aso Villa and its actors, in seductive prose, told Nigerians many tales about how their President had succumbed to a combination of dementia and senility and government had been taken over by unscrupulous persons who call the shots in the President’s name.”
In public relations as well as in politics, spin is a form of propaganda, used to provide a colourful interpretation of happenings, with the intent of influencing public opinion in favour of a party or a public figure. And here, Reuben had indirectly given the duo of PMB and the ruling party, an astounding acclamation, by removing doubt and those unpleasant characteristics that were fastened on to the President.
Indeed whoever advised the President to grant those media interviews did him a big favour.
The essence of this article is not to delve much on what the president said or did not say, but simply to demystify those whose minds were poisoned, about the President being incapable and his government gradually going dysfunctional.
It’s time for Mr. President to wake up and smell the coffee. He should realize the truth about the public perception of his style of leadership, vis a vis the situation the country finds itself in, by allowing himself to be more interactive and orally engaging.
While everyone knows that there are roadblocks to the smooth running of the government, mostly occasioned by conflicts, which are triggered by political competitions, combined with communal, ethnic or religious rivalries, the President must know that in a termed tenure, time is an extremely essential factor, that does not work with a reverse gear. Once it passes, it’s gone, and gone for good.
Now that Reuben had made these remarkable revelations, with two years gone out of the last four, and with a change of baton-election approaching, no time is more appropriate for the president to engage the public and make them more involved than now.
In a democracy, which is a government of the people, for the people and by the people, public engagement by leaders is the best tool of involvement. Leaving things to be told by others could result in misinterpretations, and where there is political prejudice, some people may see it as a patriotic duty to even refuse admitting the performance of the government.
Since the advent of democracy in Nigeria, no leader had come with the kind of goodwill received by President Muhammadu Buhari. And at no financial cost to him.
This is largely because of his adjudged and attested integrity. But along the line, his silence and implied indolence, have combined to cast doubt on his acclaimed high sense of discipline, resulting in the exodus of support from some people.
In politics, silence is wrong. And long silence is very wrong.
It was Abraham Lincoln that said, “Be with a leader when he is right, stay with him when he is still right, but, leave him when he is wrong.”