Inanities Of Presidential Campaign Spokespersons

By Casmir Igbokwe

‘She Stoops to Conquer’ is a lighthearted farce written by Oliver Goldsmith. The play, first performed in London in 1773, revolves around some comical characters entangled in misunderstandings and deceptions. Like the characters in this comedy, some presidential campaign spokespersons in the forthcoming general election now stoop so low because they want to unduly capture or conquer the minds of the electorate.

Or, how else does one describe a Facebook post by the Director, Media and Communications of the Bola Tinubu Presidential Campaign Organisation, Mr. Bayo Onanuga? Recall that some hoodlums hijacked the #EndSARS protest of 2020, destroying some private and public properties along the line. Last week, Onanuga posted a picture of some of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) buses burnt by these hoodlums. His disgusting caption is: “The destruction of Lagos assets in October 2020 by IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) elements disguised as EndSARS protesters. These are the same elements supporting Peter Obi in Lagos, after substituting him with Nnamdi Kanu. Lagos will surely not forget these destroyers.”

Just imagine! The torrents of comments that followed showed people’s disdain for the post. It is worthy to note that Mr. Onanuga was my managing director (MD) when I worked for the Independent Communications Network Limited, publishers of TheNews/Tempo magazines as well as PM News. He is also a former MD of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). He was one of the top journalists who introduced guerrilla journalism during the dark days of the Ibrahim Babangida/Sani Abacha military dictatorship. For such a personality to write the above trash shows how bad the desperation of some presidential candidates is.

Prior to Onanuga’s inanity, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Spokesman, Festus Keyamo, had spewed his own crap. He told Channels Television that “Atiku Abubakar (presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP) has never held any government position where he makes the final call. He was vice-president; he was not the chief executive. He was never governor. He was never anything…” Rubbish! I don’t know where Keyamo, who is also the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, got this strange theory. Does one need to have held a government position “where he makes the final call” to succeed as president?

Atiku’s Presidential Campaign Spokesperson, Dino Melaye, did not waste time to vomit his own nonsense. In a video shared on his Facebook page, Melaye said: “Atiku Abubakar is running for the presidency for the second or third time and he understands this route better than the political virgin, Tinubu, that you (Keyamo) are supporting, who is running for the presidency for the first time and sees it as his life entitlement and retirement benefits for supporting Buhari.” I never knew that running for the presidency three times qualifies one to be a good presidential candidate!

Melaye then went for the jugular: “Keyamo’s inactive ministerial sojourn is affecting him.” The minister, he added, had a commercialized conscience and had been redundant and completely consumed by the aura of Chris Ngige, the superior minister. Curiously, Melaye challenged Keyamo to a debate where he threatened to break the minister to pieces and expose his ignorance and emptiness to Nigerians. You can imagine how this debate will look like. My unsolicited advice to these spokespersons is to encourage their principals to engage in this debate. Nigerians want to hear them speak. They want to see how articulate they are and what they have in stock for them.

This is what stands the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, out. While opponents keep attacking him and spewing lies against him, he continues to move round the country, preaching the gospel of production as against consumption and profligacy in government. He has continued to reel out his programmes and how he intends to solve Nigeria’s numerous problems. They say he has no structure. Yet, they have nightmares all the time his name is mentioned.

The President-elect of Kenya, William Ruto, faced a similar challenge. In the heat of the campaign for the presidential election held on August 9, 2022, outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta and some other political elite ganged up against him. Ironically, Kenyatta and Ruto (currently the deputy President) were allies but fell out after they were re-elected for a second term in 2017. Thus, Kenyatta gave his full support to his hitherto political opponent, Raila Odinga (77). The President-elect also faced the hostility of a biased media.

Nonetheless, Ruto, who is 55 years, got the support of the majority of the youths who are about 40 per cent of the 22 million registered voters. He called himself and the underprivileged youths ‘hustlers’ and used the word, ‘dynasties’ to refer to the Kenyattas and the Odingas. Recall that Kenyatta’s father, Jomo Kenyatta, was the first President of Kenya while Odinga’s was the first Vice-President. Ruto’s message resonated with the youths. They felt that supporting Odinga would be encouraging a continuation of the dynasties’ economic and political exploitation of the masses. Despite all odds, Ruto won the election.

I foresee this situation in Nigeria in 2023. While Obi has consistently gone for the ball, his major opponents have continued to go for his leg. The majority of the youths rooting for him are doing so on much conviction. They are tired of the rate of unemployment, poverty, hunger and other deprivations hitting hard at them. They believe Obi can fix these problems for them. Because the youths are angry, sometimes, they go caustic in their comments. Obi does not support this and he has told them many times to soft-pedal. But the youths will have none of that.

Incidentally, the Obi candidacy has become a national movement. Those who have refused to join are mainly those profiting from the status quo (the dynasties). Out of fear, they struggle to change the narrative to make it look like Obi is Igbo or Christian project. That is why they try very hard to associate him with IPOB and Biafra. It is quite unfortunate.

By and large, Nigerians have the right to scrutinize the character or programmes of their presidential candidates. The only concern I have is that the spokespersons of some of these candidates have left substance to pursue shadow. APC and the PDP are the major culprits here. It will be good if their principals redirect their energies to something meaningful rather than this infantile gibberish they insult Nigerians with. They should stoop to conquer in the presidential election, not to win in the craft of lies and propaganda.

 

Re: ‘Emi lokan’: Pyrates are not to blame

Dear Casy, ‘Emi lokan’, as it refers to Tinubu and his desperate presidential ambition, fails to reckon with the ‘principle of diminishing returns’, which affects everything in life, especially age and health. In a sane clime, Tinubu and the likes ought to respect themselves, having regard to their ages and attainment of pinnacle of divine blessings in life. But ‘inaa’! Casy, the said song by the Pyrates, trying to reject the imminence of another catastrophe, is very apt at this point in time in our national life. Those condemning the pirates are either that the ‘men in them have died’ or that the ‘men in them’ are on life-support, or that they are reckoning with the fact that the veiled subject of the lyrics of the said song is ‘tiwa, tiwa ni eleyin’ (this is our own) and, therefore, the song shouldn’t have been. In other words, ethnicity, the bane of Nigerian politics, is at play here again, going by the said condemnation. But with the heavily dollarised party primaries, having thrown up these expired political products, should we, on ethnic consideration, with the tailspin Nigeria finds herself today, permit them into our political space again, via our votes, to contend with another eight years of catastrophe? ‘Olorun ma je’, ‘Chukwu ama ekwe’, ‘Allah sowu ke’, God forbid!

-Steve Okoye, Awka, 08036630731.

 

Casmir, big thumbs up to the sea dogs for their creativity in composing the song. It serves Tinubu, who has no respect for the Christian community, right. Respect is reciprocal like you rightly pointed out! The totality of a man’s life is subject to public scrutiny once he becomes the candidate of a major political party. Such candidates are likely carriers of the destiny of more than 200 million Nigerians. This is certainly not a joking matter like Nigerians have come to discover! They are now showing more than a passing interest in the age, health, competence etc of their future leaders! Whatever role he played in Buhari’s emergence is not enough reason to have a sense of entitlement to the keys of Aso Rock in 2023! Tinubu is too arrogant for my liking. He just can’t ‘brittle his tongue’ when making public statements! He is unsuitable for the task.

-Mike, Mushin Lagos, +234 816 111 4572

 

Casy, most arguments on the Muslim/Muslim ticket are politically-generated. Why have we suddenly lost sight of the recklessness of PDP presenting a Northern candidate who may take over from Buhari in 2023 after eight years of Northern rulership? Tinubu on his part is merely acting ‘politically correct’. Or, is it not the very Tinubu who has shared the ‘other room’ with his pastor wife all these past years? It is an act of fraud when some Nigerians pretend to be more Catholic than the Pope. There are many Nigerians who are mere Christians in their mouth but very satanic in their heart. Note that of all the presidential candidates, Tinubu flaunts the most intimidating Dollar-strewn chest. Even Godswill Akpabio the former Akwa Ibom governor who’s widely known for his uncommon acts and credited with the saying that ”what money cannot do, more money can do” was also felled by the Tinubu Dollarmania when he directed his supporters at the APC presidential primary to go the Tinubu way. Your obsession for Peter Obi is not unexpected and unthinkable. Objective and fair-minded Nigerians truly and eagerly yearn for a Nigerian president of South-East descent.

-Edet Essien Esq. Cal South, 0803 795 2470

 

Dear Casmir, 2023 is not for gerontocracy. It’s a time for the youth to reclaim Nigeria. It’s time for national government, consolidated unity and economic salvation. The Pyrates are on the right track.

– Cletus Frenchman Enugu, +234 909 538 5215

 

The ball is in our court to do the needful in 2023 general election in spite of party, religious and tribal differences. Nigerians should not allow ‘had we known’ be the issue after the election. It is time to change the narrative. If we fail to elect a credible candidate like Peter Obi, it means God created Nigerians to suffer.

-Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +234 806 288 7535

 

The very self-same Prof. Wole Soyinka who derisively called President Jonathan’s wife (Dame Patience Jonathan)”Sheppopotamus” was taking umbrage about Pyrates’ song which didn’t mention any candidate’s name? Pseudo-activists like Soyinka, Obiageli Ezekwesili, Tunde Bakare, Joe Okei-Odumakin et al, have been literally deaf and dumb since 2015 even when Nigeria is in worst condition today unlike before. Nigerians cannot afford to go through another harrowing experience under a very sick and old president.

-Ifeanyi Maduako, Owerri, +234 806 156 2735

 

The Nobel laureate’s rebellious disposition has always been in line with societal ethics and hardly can we suppose that the silence portrayed in his famous line, “The man dies in him who keeps silent in the face of tyranny,” has anything to do with mockery. The renowned playwright got it aptly describing the said video as distasteful. Attack on characters and sub-ethical behaviours are certainly not a welcomed content of electioneering.

-Dr Idongesit Inyang, Uyo, +2348084318845.

  • Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, August 22, 2022

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