The Presidency in its rejoinder to a recent statement by the PDP upbraided its spokesman Mr. Olisa Metuh for “unjustly denigrating the President who continues to strive with all his might to alleviate and reverse the harm done to the nation by PDP misrule and corruption.”
The Presidency further made several diversionary ad hominem attacks on the person of Mr. Metuh and the PDP, failing to address a very serious issue raised by the main opposition party in the country.
The Presidency needs to be reminded that in a healthy multi-party democracy, the opposition party takes on a crucial role of holding the ruling party and the current administration to account for every action or inaction that can hurt the country, and ultimately help to articulate the frustrations of those who bear the brunt of bad governance. The PDP, warts and all, has a role to play in our democratisation journey, while the Buhari administration as the legitimate bearers of the mandate of the Nigerian people also have their role to play.
In this case, the PDP has chosen the very apt concept of De-Marketing to pass across a message. A dispassionate consideration leads any true patriot to agree that it does appear the President’s media handlers truly have a challenge in helping their principal play his role as the Chief Marketing Officer of Nigeria effectively, inadvertently de-marketing Nigeria instead. The global economic space is a very hostile environment not given to sentiments, where visionary governments take every opportunity to sell their countries’ competitive advantage while downplaying the challenges and unsavoury aspects about them.
President Buhari needs to be advised to rest his vapid rhetoric about all of Nigeria’s woes being caused by his predecessor and the PDP – Nigerians and the rest of the world know that already. He needs to be guided on how to sell Nigeria; he needs to tell us what we don’t know. He should restrict discussions about our flaws to his strategy sessions with his team back home. When he is in the field as a marketer with definite performance targets, he is to convincingly sell Nigeria by highlighting our strengths that make us such a viable country to invest in.
It is pertinent to note that Nigeria needs the international community more than ever before to work with us to address our economic and security challenges. We urgently need fresh foreign direct investments in our economy, not the type that milks our country and increases capital flight, but tangible models that will help bridge our huge infrastructure deficits and broaden the economic opportunities available to our people. We are best positioned to get at least a fair end of the stick if we speak from a position of strength, a position that tells that the current administration might have been fazed by the depth of the moral and material rot they inherited, but is energized by a greater force – that of clarity of vision, and the capacity to marshal intelligent and pragmatic solutions. Whining about the past will not help us. Mr. President, Nigeria is broke, so what are you going to do about it?
At some point, our challenges will stop being the fault of former President Jonathan and the PDP. Five months into the tenure of this administration, we are nearing the tipping point when the sun on the Buhari administration’s honeymoon will rise and Nigerians will turn our frustrations in the direction of those who currently hold the power to make a difference in our lives. In fact, if the truth be told, some of our challenges have been acerbated by the absence of neither a coherent economic policy framework nor a cabinet in place to drive the much anticipated changes, long after President Buhari’s assumption of office.
More worrisome is the limited premium the Presidency seems to place on communicating with Nigerians. Our national psyche has been badly bruised and we need to believe in ourselves again. We need the President to speak to us, to inspire hope in us by carrying us along in the steps he is taking. It does not bode well that this administration has come to be known for deep secrecy that leaves Nigerians groping in the dark, while crucial policy positions are gleefully shared with international media and audiences as though Nigerians don’t matter.
One can only hope that as the new cabinet is getting ready to be inaugurated, the minister designate being speculated to be assigned Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, is being purged of his combative posturing that worked for him as an opposition party spokesman, but which would only serve the complication of existing communication gaps between our leaders and we the people. We hope he is preparing to effectively collaborate with the media team in the presidency to have a more inclusive and proactive communications strategy that puts the common man at the centre as focus.
Mr. President, your carrying us along in your efforts is just as crucial to your success as the efforts you are putting in. Please leave former President Jonathan alone for posterity to judge, you talk to us Nigerians and the international community about what you are doing to make Nigeria great again.
Written by Desmond Afolayan.