By Mohammed Salihu
Which kind of ‘friend’ will come to your house in the middle of the night to apologize for writing falsehoods about you in newspapers and explain that he was only doing it to get appointed as Special Assistant to the President on Communications? I will answer this poser shortly.
I read Reno Omokri’s articles ‘Getting better and not bitter’ and ‘Again on El-Rufai and bitterness’ in response to some veritable questions asked the Jonathan administration by former FCT minister Nasir El-Rufai, I found both quite revealing: sycophantic in tone, full of lies and exaggerations, and clearly intended to be seen as the work of a very patriotic Nigerian. Both were quite frankly, utterly idiotic.
“Let me state that I do not believe that his (El-Rufai’s) piece is an accurate account of current realities in Nigeria,” declares Omokri in his first piece. And in the second piece he went on to imply, disingenuously, that El-Rufai was criticizing the government for selfish reasons (for not getting what he wanted) by declaring ”so what happened in the intervening period? You guessed your answer right- bitterness as a result of unfulfilled expectations.”
In both articles, he muddles the issues raised – even irrefutable facts about the state of our economy without providing any logical explanation. Having decided to be mischievous and misleading – just to suppress the truth, he rattled around all the valid points and analysis provided by El-Rufai. He even attributes the problems to previous governments, while suggesting that what was needed to restore the country to normalcy was for El-Rufai to keep quiet and support President Goodluck Jonathan while the mismanagement goes on.
The new crops of political jobbers like Reno Omokri are very much in the mould of Daniel Kanu’s Youths Earnestly Ask for Abacha YEAA. Reno lacks the framework to make sense of events and has therefore chosen to ignore reason, honesty, loyalty and even simple friendships. He ‘eats’ by attacking with hysterical exaggeration, any analysis that should serve as a wakeup call for his paymasters and indeed, the rest of Nigerians. Awful, but understandable
The positions most people take depend on their personal interests. And oftentimes, people have less than honorable motives in assuming the positions they assume in public. My short political encounter with Omokri was a big eye opener. When I first met him last year in the United States, he wanted us to come together to be the arrowheads for the political activities of a man he considered more fit than anyone else to manage the affairs of Nigeria – Nasir El- Rufai. I did not know why he felt that way then and why he now considers the same man to be unbecoming of a statesman.
He frantically sent me this email:
Dear Mallam Salihu,
We need to have a long term plan to change the mind of skeptical Nigerians and show them a new way of leadership. Contrary to what a lot of people believe, such a plan should be simple not complicated.
We need to build a grass root movement like the one built by Joe Trippi with the Dean campaign in The U.S and with the Tsvangirai campaign in Zimbabwe. This has to be a long term strategy. Our task is therefore to use web based tools to solidify our base which is the educated youth and middle class who see Mallam El Rufai for what he is and have a favourable opinion of him and we have to follow a template that worked well for MKO Abiola by using philanthropy and humanitarianism to penetrate the psyche of the ordinary grass root Nigerian who is suspicious of politicians in general and views MallamEl Rufai as an elitist.
My plan is simply this, to return to Nigeria sometime in the near future and use Mallam Nasir’s Council for Youth Empowerment to wake up sleeper cells that I have planted over the years in Nigeria and organise them into an army of volunteers who will immediately go to disaster areas such as places which have experienced floods, building collapse, multi car accidents, epidemics (like the Cholera epidemic/Zamfara lead poisoning outbreak) etc and in the name of the Council and it’s founder Mallam Nasir provide some form of community service to the victims. They will also go to Motherless babies homes and orphanages as well as leper colonies.
In the social arena, they will tour both private and public universities and organise the students to clean up their environments and renounce cultism as well as provide them with tokens such as books and condoms to reduce the risk of HIV infections amongst the student population. We will also get inexpensive eye glasses and over the counter medications from bargain stores in the U.S and give these to rural communities. This will be followed immediately by intense media spotlight which I will personally direct. The end result is that subliminally, we will affect the minds of Nigerians such that when they think of the name Mallam Nasir El Rufai, they will immediately think of his volunteers and their good work because EVERYTHING that is done will be acknowledged by my people to be done under the inspiration of Mallam El Rufai.
El-Rufai has never told anyone that he has ambitions to be president. In the run up to last April’s elections, there was intense pressure from many quarters for him to contest the presidency, but he maintained that all the other contestants were his friends and would not want to run against the, especially Nuhu Ribadu. Upon hearing this, it became clear that Reno wouldn’t be sailing on the El-Rufai boat, so he quickly jumped ship, and even deleted me from his Facebook account. When I confronted him about it he had this to say:
Thank you for your email. You are my brother and I appreciate you. I was forced into the deletion because it was leading to an expose of private details. I will re add you but let us avoid getting too deep
in our disagreements.
I am not surprised that Reno has become the attack dog now that GEJ is captain of the ship. When looters fear that their racket is being imperiled by a powerful figure using inspiring messages, they looters will obviously try to destroy that figure and his reputation using any means at their disposal. Reno is willing to do just about anything to get into the pot.
I urge Reno to learn from history. All men that did his kind of hatchet job got nowhere. For the paymasters, Reno can be sacrificed as collateral damage. He is being used as a pawn in their spinelessly orchestrated effort to perpetuate their sinister acts. He is inconsequential and will be easily discarded when the need arises. And as to why Reno takes particular pleasure in smearing the man he once believed best suited to be president, an email he sent to El-Rufai in October 24, 2010 and copied me will explain:
Dear Mallam Nasir,
I am playing with an idea in my mind. I am thinking of taking time off (a sabbatical so to say) and coming to Nigeria as a free moral agent to try to influence the direction of the 2011 elections. I am convinced that if I am on the ground my influence will be greater. I would want to arrange something on the ground similar to what Trippi did in Zimbabwe and organize private citizen groups and equip them with technology and skills to monitor the elections clandestinely and relay video and oral reports to the world media in real time and force the government and the INEC to be honest and conduct free and fair elections. One thing holding me back is that I will need accommodation in Abuja. I have been exploring options but Abuja is even more expensive than the U.S and landlords are demanding 2 years rent in advance. Respectfully sir, I was wondering if you could help in this regard.
El-Rufai was unable to pay Reno’s house rent; from that moment on, he became an enemy. Today, from the comfort of his suite at the Transcorp Hilton (paid with taxpayers’ money), Reno can come up with all the falsehoods he dreams of; he has to be seen to be doing something. I wanted to end this piece by saying something about mediocrity, but Omokri and his team aren’t mediocre. What’s going on is something different and worse: we’re seeing the desire for political positions outweighing principles; we’re seeing vague prejudice (that just so happens to serve the interests of demagogues) trumping very honest analysis.
And this answers the poser I raised at the beginning of this piece: All the insults, misrepresentations, exaggerations and outright lies being told by Reno Omokri is geared towards one thing: securing the position of Special Assistant to the President on Communications. He has confessed as much to his ‘friend’, Nasir El-Rufai!
Mohammed Salihu is an Abuja based Project Engineer and Consultant and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org