Akande and Jonathan’s combative aides

Chief Bisi Akande, the interim chairman of newly registered APC, must by now be wondering what he said about an elected president to warrant the verbal assault from President Jonathan’s combative media aides. He must be having a nostalgic craving for the old constitutional monarchy of his people where leaders earned their positions, answerable to the people and can be told to abdicate if they betray the trust of the people. Part of what may be agitating his mind could also be whether we have not made a mistake to trade the old reliable system for the current variant of PDP democracy where losers resort to self-help and where might is right.

The old man had incurred the wrath of the angry and combative media experts when he last week stated that ‘following two meetings he had with the president since 2011 and two other long telephone conversation on two other different occasions to discuss serious challenges facing the country, he came to the conclusion that the president has reduced governance to kindergarten level and that he is not serious-minded.’ He also accused him handling national issues with levity as well as of embarking on witch-hunt of political enemies citing the cases of Asiwaju Tinubu who was dragged before the Code of Conduct Bureau, even while the president has refused to declare his own assets and Rotimi Amaechi, who was being persecuted because of what the chief described as ‘his insistence that the allocation of the country must be judiciously shared among local, state and the federal governments.’

The above is what the president aides dismissed as “an unguarded and intemperate outburst, not only an unbecoming lack of respect for the person and office of the President of his country, but also a complete disregard for the patriotic feelings of the millions of Nigerians who voted for President Jonathan and who continue to appreciate his sincere efforts to positively transform the nation.’ He was also accused of ‘rudely and falsely describing President Jonathan as a ‘kindergarten’ leader who treats national issues with levity’. It doesn’t matter whether there is an element of truth in this claim for the president who has not found time to publicly address the ongoing ASUU strike or thought it necessary as the father of all in the on-going intra-party crisis in Rivers to call to order rascals who claimed to be fighting his family’s wars. They also did not forget to warn “Chief Akande and his fellow-travellers to remember that there are laws against libel and defamation of character in this country even if there are no legal impediments to indecorous, hypocritical and unpatriotic vituperations.” As a final shot, they said “It is certainly rude, ill-mannered, uncharitable and hypocritical for Chief Akande to falsely and cavalierly allege that a President who toils tirelessly every day of the week, evolving and implementing workable solutions to Nigeria’s problems, is handling national issues with levity.’ For maximum effect they cited one of the president major achievements- ‘his well acclaimed deft handling of the insurgency.’

And for accusing Jonathan of playing ethnic and religious politics in order to divert attention from his bad governance, the media aides have also taken a swipe at El-Rufai, a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory. They dismissed him as a ‘serial liar.’ They want Nigerians to note that El-Rufai ‘profaned the name of Jesus Christ on Twitter by tweeting a joke which is too indecent to mention in the presence of civilized persons’.

And to demonstrate that President Jonathan does not play religious and ethnic politics, they called attention to the president who ‘though a Christian took part in the just-concluded Ramadan fast and broke his fast with Muslim faithful every evening.’ Besides they cited ‘the quantum of funds that Jonathan had spent on education specifically tailored for Islamic itinerant scholars known as the almajiris,’ to demonstrate his tolerance of all religions.

The PDP through its acting secretary Okeke also descended heavily on Chief Akande claiming that ‘the main agenda of Akande and other prominent members of the APC were to liquidate the nation’s economy’. He did not say how but added that ‘Akande and El-Rufai were aggrieved because of the refusal of the President to join the APC when he was invited’. I suspect a tinge of blackmail is allowed here to justify the righteous indignation of the president’s media aides and PDP.

President Ebele Jonathan has for over two years worked under severe strains. The thankless albeit a privileged job of paddling the affairs of our great nation has started to take its toll. Watching him closely during his last visit to his godfather, ex-President Obasanjo in Abeokuta, the scars have become very visible. He is fast aging, while some of his ministers, special advisers, and some rabble rousers who claim to be the president co-crusaders are developing rosy cheeks and rotund faces.

The angry media aides have been called upon to assuage the president’s apparent feelings of despondency, celebrate his self-acclaimed giant strides, and insulate him from the offensive actions of some of his PDP feral party members. They are also aware the president as a toy in the hands of PDP political warlords is called upon to take responsibility for the mundane, the ludicrous and outright invidious actions of PDP unruly family members. But the media experts are equally aware that the opposition is the weakest link.

For instance it was not the president but PDP that influenced the emergence of Ahmadu Alli as chairman of PDP as well as his chairmanship of PPRA. Yet his presidency suffered collateral damage when the later was accused of presiding over the loss of about N1.7 trillion in phantom fuel subsidy. When poor Nigerians were indirectly called upon to pay through taxation, which experts said best described the fuel pump price increase, the president took direct responsibility. When his economic advisers misinformed millions of his admirers who gave him a landslide victory that the price increase would affect only the middle class car owners and the wealthy Lagos residents, the president alone faced the outrage of commuters, petty business owners and 140 millions Nigerians that the minister for power claimed have no access to electricity.

When overzealous police officers under the police commissioner Joseph Mbu shut down a section of Port Harcourt where the first lady has her mansion erected, making it impossible for even the governor to move, the president is called upon to check the excesses of his unelected wife. When the governor of Balyelsa appointed the president’s wife, Dr Patience Jonathan, a permanent secretary to operate from the presidency in Abuja, the president was accused of nepotism. Even when Bipi the leader of a gang of five that illegally attempted to take over Rivers State House of Assembly proclaimed the first lady a messiah for whom he was prepared to lay down his life, the president was the one accused of blasphemy by his fellow Christians. As we can see from the account of how Nyesom Wike emerged as a minister, infiltration of the president’s cabinet by leaders of the South-south militants as well as the North-east Boko Haram was the handiwork of PDP.

But as I said on this page last week, both Doyin Okupe and Ahmed Gulak failed to protect the president from bad press because instead of focusing on improving the quality of their product, they adopted an outdated media model of leaving the substance to chase the shadows. The product and its qualities contribute to the making of a successful brand. The decision by Reuben Abati to now join and invigorate the efforts of the duo will not make the press legitimize President Jonathan’s assault on the spirit of the constitution. It is also not likely that angry verbal assault on Chief Akande by combative media aides while ignoring the important issues he had raised will suddenly lead to a change of fortune for a government that has not only failed to meet the aspirations of the people, but generally considered as very corrupt by both national and international press.

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