By James Ogunjimi
Nigeria has a rich political history, and by rich, I don’t necessarily mean good, but still, a rich political history. Another thing in Nigeria’s political terrain is the recurrence of history. Every year in Nigeria’s political life always bears a resemblance to something that happened in the past.
This last week, news about the Buhari Media Center (BMC) as ‘exposed’ by Prof. Farooq Kperogi has been in the air. Some people have confessed to being aware of such a center. Some have denied its existence and some have argued that there’s nothing wrong with such a body.
Ordinarily, there should be nothing wrong with having such a center to combat fake news and lies against a government. With the creation of fake blogs and websites daily, every administration that cares about its image and public perception needs a team to always be on ground to counter untruths.
Where the BMC thing becomes questionable is the part where these writers who work under BMC have to write using pseudonyms. It’s questionable that they exist under a secret arrangement that its existence when exposed had to be vehemently refuted. It becomes questionable when the said center does not operate under any arm of the Federal Government or under any government agency budgeted for legitimately in the Nigerian budget but as a center allegedly created and funded by a friend of the administration but which after hours of denial and counter-accusations was discovered to be headed by Presidential Spokesperson, Garba Shehu with the writers getting paid as much as N250, 000 naira monthly.
The BMC issue takes us back to instances like these when government has attempted to hide behind a finger. There was Daniel Kanu’s Youths Earnestly Ask for Abacha in 1998 when he led a 2 million youth march to express support for the late dictator. He had claimed it was an independent move, to show his love and support for the regime, but everyone say behind the attempt to hide behind a finger.
There was the Wendel Simlin move of former Presidential aide, Reno Omokri, where he created a profile called Wendel Simlin and used it to spread propaganda and lies. It backfired when he went after Emir of Kano, Alhaji Lamido Sanusi who was the then embattled CBN governor. The emails were traced to him and his plans backfired.
Then there was Ifeanyi Ubah’s Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria, a group created around the 2015 elections to support President Goodluck Jonathan but which claimed it was an independent body. Protesters were paid to rally, jerseys were made and eventually, like those who created the YEAA, its plans failed.
When it began to appear as if President Buhari would be a major letdown, political expediency once again dictated that a movement that could masquerade as independent while supporting the administration be born. That birthed the ‘I stand with Buhari’ movement that marched, drove fancy cars, shared jerseys and money and when it became a national embarrassment, the government was forced to deny association with them.
One thing that unites all these attempts at branding these administrations is the glaring incompetence of those charged with these responsibilities. You look at the TAN protesters who protested in the UK when they were asked why they were protesting and they had nothing meaningful to say. You wonder if they gathered blockheads, paid them and released them into the streets.
With the BMC, it’s unbelievable to think that anyone was paid N100 naira to defend this administration not to talk of N250, 000 monthly and the public image is in tatters. Every one of those writers and image makers should have been fired and made to return every dime they were paid.
In the end, the government’s incompetence always shines through in the calibre of people it employs to help its image. An incompetent leader cannot appoint competent people or recognize competent people, can it? So, in a way, both the hirer and the hired deserve themselves.
As we wait for the BMC wind to blow over, and another political scandal to rock the nation, we will lodge this one in the log of our nation’s political gaffes and months, years later, we will be pointing fingers and saying: “Remember when this happened?”. Why? Because history always go round and round and mark this point, we will be back here.