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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Buhari’s Government of No Substance and Propaganda

Buhari’s Government of No Substance and Propaganda

In trying to verify the accuracy of the odd appointment letter I posted here yesterday, I discovered that President Buhari actually has 9, not 6, media aides, all of whom also have a retinue of personal aides.

The presidential media aides are Femi Adesina (Special Adviser, Media & Publicity); Garba Shehu (Senior Special Assistant, Media & Publicity); Tolu Ogunlesi (Special Assistant, Digital & New Media); Lauretta Onochie (Personal Assistant, Social Media); Bashir Ahmad (Personal Assistant, New media); Sha’aban Sharada (Personal Assistant, Broadcast Media); Naziru Muhammed (Personal Assistant, TV Documentary); Sunday Aghaeze (Personal Assistant, Photography); and Bayo Omoboriowo  (Personal Assistant/ President’s Photographer).

In addition, the president has about 40 paid journalists, bloggers, media analysts, commentators (whose names I have but will leave out for now), working under the Buhari Media Centre (BMC) in Utako, Abuja. The BMC is a well-furnished one-storey building with expansive premises. It has security guards, clerks, and cashiers. The team members are paid a monthly allowance of between N200,000 and N250,000.

They are mandated to react to all media contents critical of the president, write favorable news items for the president, and attack/demonize/smear people critical of the president.  They also work with government agencies such as the EFCC to push narratives to deflect attention from the ineptitude of the government.

They work behind the scenes and use pen names in extended articles, and pseudonyms on social media. Almost all the members of the APC Presidential Campaign Media Directorate operate from the BMC, with the exception of those with appointments. And this excludes Lai Mohammad’s well-oiled lie squad.

When a government takes propaganda and mind-management this seriously, you know it’s not ready to change. Good deeds are their own PR. It is when people determine that they don’t want to do good deeds that they resort to mindless propaganda. If only they invested and expended as much energy in managing the economy as they do in propaganda, we won’t be where we are. I have more, but I will stop here for now. By the way, that appointment letter is authentic.

People should be held accountable for what they are paid and for their jobs. Who are all these people that purport to do work as media aides to Mr. Buhari? What do they do? Clearly, not much from the chaos of communication and PR that we witness daily. And many of them are just double-faking double-dipping Machiavellis willing to sell anyone for a plot of land in Lekki.

I am amused. Ordinarily, it is not a lot of personnel for a complex country like Nigeria, it just seems like a huge patronage system and a tribe of overpaid incompetents. I would take all those media positions, fire everyone, yes, everyone and use the capacity to create a crack media team. Also, one should not have to hunt down the names of the folks, they should all be on the web, complete with working email addresses. They work for the Nigerian people, their names should be public.

I think though that in Nigeria, people don't understand conflict of interest and ethical lapses. Many Nigerian intellectuals I have interacted with are genuinely good people but look at you askance when you question their judgment. There are no structures to guide them. So, they don't understand why they can't be in the payroll of say, the APC or the PDP, and be writing faux objective pieces for The NY Times or the Guardian. Many of these youngsters were even feeding fat from both parties and fooling people with beautiful words on social media.

It is really bad. I was once on an editorial board that included a high ranking personal assistant of a sitting governor. He did not, and many on the Board did not understand why he couldn't be objective on Nigerian issues and still be on the Board while working for a governor. I left that Board but I suspect that this is how life is.

Many of us in the West look at Nigeria from Western values and norms. What is repulsive to us seems to be the new normal for Nigeria. I thank Onugo of my ancestors for the Internet and the many young men and women who have been trying to shine a light on this mess. #RESPECT