For Nigeria, a new era started on May 29th 2015; for the first time in our nation’s history an incumbent President from the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was successfully voted out of office and a new President from the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) sworn in. President Muhammadu Buhari after three failed attempts at the polls is now Nigeria’s democratically elected President at the ripe old age of seventy two. President Buhari is no stranger to governance as he had been Nigeria’s military Head of State between 1983 and 1985, after deposing democratically elected President Shehu Shagari in a coup.
|President Muhammadu Buhari|
President Buhari’s emergence and the journey so far, though too early to evaluate, has thrown up interesting contradictions in the Nigerian polity. The 2015 election campaigns that secured victory for many APC candidates nationwide was the most competitive, vibrant and expensive in Nigeria’s history. The APC’s mastery of the effective use of Propaganda gave them an edge that the over-confident PDP could not surpass. Both parties used Propaganda, but the APC’s was on an advanced scale, thanks to input from the likes of David Axelrod, an American political consultant whose savvy Public Relations strategy ensured Barack Obama’s two term victories at the US polls.
However, APC’s victory at the polls cannot be entirely attributed to Axelrod’s contribution; as a matter of fact the APC had already laid foundation for its victory as far back as 2012. The anti-subsidy removal protests and the massive rallies at Freedom Park-Ojota (Lagos) can best be described as APC’s first unofficial gathering, then known as Occupy Nigeria. The PDP and Goodluck Jonathan never really recovered from the propaganda based seed that was sown at Ojota in 2012, in spite of good intentions behind fuel subsidy removal.
When the APC was formed in February 2013, it did not relent, rather the party consolidated on its use of propaganda at every given opportunity. Sadly, national tragedies like Boko Haram and their nefarious activities in Northern Nigeria were somewhat infused in APC’s propaganda trajectory-and it worked.
Several dictionaries define ‘Propaganda’ as “information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution or nation.” Unknown to many, Propaganda also has hypnotic value, able to brainwash entire populations and make them dance to the rhythm of propagators. Majority of Nigerians that voted in the 2015 general elections were under that ‘propaganda spell’ cast by both PDP and APC. Fortunately or unfortunately, the then ruling PDP failed to offer effective counter-propaganda or a superior argument that would have diluted APC’s hypnosis and replaced with common sense.
The elections have come and gone, a new President sworn in and the mass-hypnosis is gradually wearing off, even as the APC struggles to sustain it.
As at the time of writing this article, President Buhari still has no cabinet in place, and word just got out that he may be presenting his ministerial list by September. Propaganda has its limitations; from May 29th till date many propaganda stories have been planted online and offline to cover-up obvious lapsed in President Buhari’s early approach to governance.
During the campaigns, General Buhari promised to declare his assets publicly; after inauguration, assets were declared quite alright, but privately. We heard news that President Buhari had ordered the sale of excess Presidential jets in order to cut cost, many jubilated, and that story was false too. Nigeria’s National Petroleum Company (NNPC) announced that the nation’s refineries were about to resume production, quickly word got out that the ‘fear of Buhari’ must have jolted our refineries back into action. It took Mr. President himself to appear on national television and ‘confess’ to not having a hand in the revitalization of our nation’s refineries before that narrative died off.
APC spokesman and Chief propagandist Alhaji Lai Mohammed had much earlier issued a statement outlining several early achievements of President Buhari that have already surpassed Goodluck Jonathan’s five-year rule. Notable was the claim that President Buhari had weakened Boko Haram and is currently swinging his hand in 360degrees motion about to give the terror sect a final death blow. Meanwhile, Boko Haram has killed almost a thousand Nigerians in roughly two months since Buhari took over as President.
During President Buhari’s recent visit to US President Obama at the White House, we were told (by his media team) that our President would become the first Nigerian ruler to lodge at the official guest house for the President of the United states called Blair house. Obviously, another propaganda story as many have come to realize that former President Olusegun Obasanjo and even Prime-Minister Tafawa Balewa once lodged at that same Blair house. In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, President Buhari signified his willingness to go into negotiations with Boko Haram’s “credible leaders” in order to secure the release of Chibok girls. Former President Jonathan at some point in his administration also expressed similar sentiments but was vilified by the same APC and their supporters. Besides, during 2015 election campaigns, Buhari and his APC promised to ‘crush’ Boko Haram; now it’s Negotiation?
From the look of things, President Buhari’s achievements in his first fifty days (or so) as President have been in form of Northern appointments, cute pictures and unverifiable populist stories. Perhaps the latest witch hunt on former allies of Ex-President Jonathan can also be added to Buhari’s list of early successes.
The Nigerian secret police (DSS) few days ago laid a 48 hour siege on the residence of former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki. To make matters worse, the leadership of DSS went further to release a statement accusing Dasuki of Treasonable culpability, justifying their undemocratic actions with claims of discovering incriminating evidence inside Sambo Dasuki’s home. An unbiased summary of the DSS’s statement suggests that the former National Security Adviser and middle aged man-Sambo Dasuki, was planning a one-man Rambo style onslaught on Aso Rock.
The reality on ground is that Nigeria has been on a standstill since Buhari’s APC government took over. The Nigerian Stock exchange continues to bleed, prices of goods and services are skyrocketing and Nigerians have gotten accustomed to regular fuel shortages once again. Nigeria is clearly operating on Retrogressive Auto-Pilot.
APC supporters and other prominent individuals have (rightfully) urged Nigerians to give President Buhari more time to fix Nigeria. There should also be a corresponding call to President Buhari and APC’s media team to stop dishing out unnecessary propaganda narratives to Nigerians. Nigerians also need time to recover from the intense propaganda they were subjected to at the 2015 elections, and come to terms with the sad reality that most of APC’s outrageous campaign promises will not be met.
Article also published on THE BREAKING TIMES