Okupe’s tough job of presidential rebranding – Professor Ayo Olukotun

Published:15 Aug, 2012

Dr. Doyin Okupe, newly appointed Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, has hit the ground running by hard tackles of two well-known critics of the Jonathan administration, namely Pastor Tunde Bakare, General Overseer of The Latter Rain Assembly, and Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory. Although Okupe insists that he is not an ‘attack dog’ for the administration, his robust upbraiding of Bakare and el-Rufai given its harsh tenor veer precisely in the direction of critics baiting. And what more, the criticisms are set forth in such cutting and biting cadencies that they send implied warnings to aspiring critics that they are in for the rough side of Okupe’s tongue. The prospects of success however measured for Okupe in his hard sell job of rebranding the Jonathan Presidency are dependent not on the resonance and pitch of his attacks on the government’s critics but perhaps more on two factors that are beyond his purview.

There is, first, the issue of raw disconnect between image making and reality checks to the extent that unless a modicum of progress is recorded on governance indices, most of which are currently caught in a downward spiral, presidential rebranding will be no more than a nice but vacuous slogan. In other words, for as long as the current siege on the nation by insurgents, urban and semi-urban bandits persists with only feeble response by law enforcement institutions, and so long as unemployment figures continue to soar wildly and corruption evocatively described by renown poet ,Niyi Osundare, as Nigeria’s number one industry, flourishes and social services remain disheveled, Okupe’s job of putting a new gloss on an underperforming government will remain a most daunting one. True and as Prof. Manuel Castells insightfully observes, the link between power and image making has become overwhelming in the information age such that the media in all their variegated forms are fast replacing traditional political institutions in the accumulation and retention of power. Nonetheless, credibility deficits are bound to arise when image projection runs against the tide of observable evidence and proven dereliction.

To return to Okupe and the subjects of his scathing denunciations, the public is bound to weigh whether the persistent criticisms of Bakare and el-Rufai have basis in observable evidence or whether they are merely contrived or sensationalised to damage the administration. In this respect, by zeroing in on what Okupe calls the flawed character of these critics, the new presidential spokesman is guilty of what my colleagues in a class on logic would call adhominem argumentation, which is an attempt to establish the truth or falsity of a claim by reference to the character of its advocate. This is another way of saying that what matters more is the substance of the criticisms made of the administration and not the character of those leading the charges.

Contextually, Nigerians are lamenting the crisis of aborted visions, the failure of political imagination among a recycled rentier ruling class as well as the annulment of the social contract under which the government was expected to justify its existence and minimally provide basic services for its citizens on whose behalf it holds power in trust. One does not need to look further in search of evidence to buttress this assertion than the recently published report of the Auditor-General of the Federation on the monumental scale of pillage and theft which prevail at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. The document is a stunning narrative and a Pandora’s Box in which millions of dollars were misappropriated, for instance, under the omnibus cover of security votes as well as the appropriation of huge amounts for projects which remain very much in the pipelines. To put that in perspective, consider the vitality and staggering financial war chests of state-owned oil companies in other oil producing countries such as Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Norway amongst others many of which have visible appearances on the New York Stock Exchange and have played notable roles in the modernisation of their country’s economies. And so here we have a bottomless pit into which ever rising amount of monies disappear while in those other countries we witness creative purpose which serves and advances their citizens.

To be sure, some of these problems predate the Jonathan administration and would in all probability outlive it if the current tempo of governance is anything to go by. The source of national frustration and disappointment, if this writer gauges the national mood correctly, is the rising cost of both previous and current failures and the violent lack of it between expectations of a transformative intervention unleashed by presidential rhetoric and the persisting lack of progress, if not arrested development, on several fronts. That is another way of saying that Nigerians were led to expect a big impact president who would initiate crucial reforms that would turn around a nation stranded by years of cruel misgovernance. Indeed, the proclamation of a “Transformation Agenda” leads one to expect a break with our dishonourable past; in reality however, it is doubtful even if Okupe would venture so far as to say that any such seminal departures have occurred or are about to occur under the current administration.

There is yet another problem that should exercise Okupe as he settles down namely, whether in the absence of a credible establishment medium which can publish the narratives of the administration while also countervailing the dominance of the print media by opposition politicians his job can be said to have truly begun. For, although the Federal Government more or less dominates the airwaves the effects of that dominance are more than cancelled out by the overtly propagandistic style of the National Television Authority for example as well as by the continuing importance of the print media — dwindling circulation notwithstanding — in view of their pedigree as arbiters in times of national political crises both in colonial and post-colonial times. The long and short of this lacuna in which the ruling party lacks a credible print medium to tell its stories is that both its successes and failures will be narrated for it by what we may broadly call opposition media. In this respect, the picturesque ruins of the once legendary Daily Times which was sent to death throes by failure to grant it editorial independence and then finally auctioned off to unviable hands under a so-called privatisation programme forewarns that the ruling party may, in fact, not be able to sustain a credible print medium even if it has the will to start one.

In sum, therefore, Okupe’s new job constitutes an uphill adventure because it will have to wrestle with the challenging task of squaring up image projections with unpleasant reality arising from governance deficits. Perhaps, he can minimise this challenge if he is able to convey truthfully and accurately the popular mood with its tinge of disaffection to the authorities rather than simply defend the administration hook, line and sinker. Unfortunately, it does not appear that too many of our presidential spokespersons have had any noticeable influence in altering the character and pace of governance and have been merely reduced consequently to publicists of unpopular policies. It will be nice if Okupe can stave off this depressing scenario and perhaps interest his bosses in remedying, at least in some degree, the skewed playing field in political communication that currently prevails. The prospects of success in either undertaking are hardly exciting.

•Ayo Olukotun is a Professor of Political Science at Lead City University, Ibadan. ayo_olukotun@yahoo.com

via Punch

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Shaping Nigeria’s Future is Your Responsibility – India Tells FG

The Vice-President of the Republic of India, Mohammed Hamid, yesterday at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), charged the federal government to recognise its enormous responsibilities in shaping the future of the country. Hamid, who stated this in a lecture at the University of Lagos, entitled Legacy of Indian Freedom Movement,’ said: “Nigeria and India, as large developing countries with multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual societies, have enormous responsibilities within their countries and in shaping the future of their region and beyond. “Our...

We’ll Continue to Touch Lives – Rotary Club

The ninth President of Rotary Club of Lagos Palmgrove Estate, Tarun Sanghvi, and the first President of Rotary Club of Lagos Island, Vinod Garg, had their offices formalised at an induction y in Lagos. In his valedictory speech, the immediate Past President, Rotary Club of Lagos Palmgrove Estate, Pradeep Pahalwani, underscored the importance of doing good and touching the lives of the less- privileged as the best thing one could do to others. In his acceptance speech, Sanghvi declared blood donation...

Foreign Nomads Responsible for Farmers, Herdsmen Clashes – FG

Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engineer Babachir David Lawal, Thursday revealed that nomads from outside Nigeria have migrated into the country and that they are the ones perpetuating most of the crises among farmers and herders across the country. He also reiterated the decision of the present administration to establish ranches and grazing reserves across the country as solution to the incessant clashes between cattle rearers and local farmers. The SGF who gave the revelation when he received in...

Kaduna Appoints Actuaries As Pension Reform Law Takes Effect 1 January 2017

The Pension Reform Law of Kaduna State, passedin 2016, will come into force on 1 January 2017. By that date, all public sector workers will migrate to the contributory pension scheme which replaces the defined benefits scheme. The current government inherited arrears of pensions and gratuity amounting to N14bn. The sheer size of this outstanding liability uderlines the challenge with the defined benefits scheme which tends to subject...

Brad Pitt Releases a Second Statement on his Divorce

Last week we all heard that Angelina Jolie had filed for divorce from her husband of just two years, Brad Pitt amidst reports he is being investigated for child abuse by the LA County Department of Children and Family Services for being verbally and physically abusive with one of his children. In the second statement since his separation, the actor said he won't be attending the red carpet screening of Voyage of Time, a documentary he narrated which...

Unemployed Man Docked For Stealing Spaghetti

A 29-year-old unemployed man, Monday Suileman, who allegedly sneaked into a shopping plaza and stole three cartons of spaghetti, was on Thursday charged before a Badagry Chief Magistrates’ Court in Lagos State. The accused, who resides at No. 2, Adewusi St., Ajara Dokoh area of Badagry, is facing a charge of stealing. Prosecutor Innocent Uko told the court that the accused committed the offence at Ajun Plaza in Gbaji area of Badagry, but did not...

Edo guber: Sheriff Not in Support of PDP’s Rejection of Result

Disputed National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff, said he did not support Thursday’s rejection of the yet-to-be-declared result of Wednesday’s governorship election in Edo. He said that the rejection of the result ahead of its declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was pre-emptive. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that PDP in Edo, at a news conference in Benin, announced its rejection of the result of the...

Soldier delivers woman of her baby after she fled her village over Boko Haram

A gallant Nigerian, Celestine Nwabueke, has been praised after his heroic effort in helping a woman deliver a bouncing baby boy in a village in Borno state. According to multiple reports, the new mother -was aided the the gallant soldier with the help of other women who fled their community over fear of Boo Haram attacks.. According to reports, the woman wanted to name the child after the soldier to appreciate him but later changed her mind due to his...

Police Officers To Undergo Psychiatric Test As Medical Team Arrives Lagos.

The medical team of the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, on Wednesday converged on Lagos state to begin arrangements for the mental evaluation exercise to be carried out on all armed policemen.   The exercise is meant to assist in promoting principles of people-oriented policing as directed earlier this year by the then Inspector-General.   It would be recalled that the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Solomon Arase had in January, disclosed that the NPF was considering conducting psychiatric test on recruits and serving officers,...

Okorocha Gifts Paralympians Cars For Winning Gold

Governor Rochas Okrocha has fulfilled a promise he made to the victorious Paralympic gold medalists by presenting car gifts to them after a nice outing in the concluded RIO 2016. Three contingents from Imo state were among those that represented Nigeria and they all won gold medals in power lifting. See photos below;    

56th Independence Anniversary: FG Declares Monday Public Holiday

The Federal Government has declared Monday, October 3, as Public Holiday to mark Nigeria’s 56th Independence Anniversary. This was contained in a statement signed by the Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Alhaji Muhammadu Maccido and issued to Vanguard Thursday in Abuja. The Minister of Interior, Lt Gen (rtd) Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau, while making the declaration on behalf of the Federal Government, congratulates Nigerians at home and abroad on the commemoration of this year’s independence anniversary and assures them that Government...

Nigerian Man Deported from Kenya Twice Over Alleged Drug Trafficking Arrested Again in Nairobi

Police in Nairobi, Kenya have arrested a suspected Nigerian drug lord, Emmanuel Peter Inobemhe. According to Kenyan media, Inobemhe who was deported from Kenya in 2013 on Presidential orders, was arrested by police officers in Kayole Estate, Nairobi yesterday Wednesday Sept. 28th. The Police boss at Kayole police command, Ali Nuno, said Inobemhe had been deported twice from Kenya over drug issues and wondered how he came back to the country.   “He says...

BREAKING: APC Candidate, Godwin Obaseki Wins Edo Governorship Election

Godwin Obaseki, the All Progressives Congress (APC) party candidate in the gubernatorial election in Edo State, has won the contest in the two-way race with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), winning most of the votes. Pastor Ize-Iyamu of the PDP came second in the votes collated and announced by INEC. The Independent National Electoral Commission, announcing collated results across the state, said APC won 13 of the state’s 18local government areas. Details to follow shortly...

Lafiya Dole: Nigerian Soldiers Ambush Boko Haram Terrorists

Troops of Operation LAFIYA DOLE on patrol yesterday, Wednesday, September 28th, came across some elements of Boko Haram terrorists at Bulabulin.   They engaged them in a fire fight that lasted for an hour. The troops killed 9 Boko Haram terrorists and wounded several others.   They also captured 2 AK-47 Rifles, 2 Hand Grenades, 1 Improvised Explosive Device, 5 Jerrycans of Premium Motor Spirit and 9 motorcycles. However, the troops hand held radio was badly damaged during the encounter.  

Borno Government To Rebuild Churches Destroyed By Boko Haram

Gov. Kashim Shettima of Borno has promised to rebuild churches and other structures destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents in Lassa as he visited liberated communities in the southern senatorial zone of the state. “We will rebuild churches, private and public buildings destroyed by the insurgents,” Mr. Shettima said when he accessed the level of damage in Lassa in Askira-Uba Local Government Area on Wednesday. He expressed shock at the magnitude of destruction, saying that the government would commence the rehabilitation in...

#Nigeria@56: FG Declares Monday Public Holiday

The Federal Government has declared Monday as public holiday to mark the nation’s 56th independence anniversary celebration. The Minister of Interior, Lt Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd.), who made the declaration on behalf of the FG, congratulated Nigerians at home and abroad on the commemoration of this year’s independence anniversary. He assured  them that the government was working assiduously to put in place “various palliative measures to cushion the effects of the current economic challenges.”

3 Fashion Rules Every Generation Should Live By

It’s Not What You Wear, It’s How You Wear It My mom always told me, "It doesn't matter if your clothes are expensive or designer, if you wear them well you'll be the best dressed in the room." I hear her advice in the back of my head every time I go shopping and always choose pieces that fit my body type, that I feel confident in, and that work with my individual...

Live Updates: Edo Governorship Election

Official Edo State Governorship Election Result as released by the Independent National Electoral Commission Owan West LGA APC : 12, 862 PDP : 10,132 Registered Voters: 54, 406 Accredited Voters: 24, 487 Igueben LGA: APC: 7,802 PDP: 7,560 Registered Voters: 42,655 Accredited Voters: 16,482 LGA: Esan North East APC: 9,130 PDP: 16,220 Number of registered voters: 74,293 Number of accredited voters: 27,121 Total valid votes: 25,747 Rejected votes: 1,197 Egor LGA APC: 26,177 PDP: 19,514 Total registered voters: 184,296 Accredited voters: 49,802 Esan South-East LG APC: 9,554 PDP: 11,466 Reg. Voters - 66,698 Accredited Voters - 22,522

News Reporter Who Quit On Air To Sell Weed Faces 24 Years Behind Bars

Remember the Alaska news anchor who was doing a segment on the Alaska Cannabis Club and then shocked everyone when she revealed she was the owner and quit live on television? Well it looks like she should have kept her daytime job because her Cannabis Club got her in some big legal trouble and could spend the next 24 years of her life behind bars. According to Complex , Greene has been hit with 8 charges...

5 Myths About Marriage That Are Totally Untrue

1. The romance eventually dies Your sex life doesn't end when you get married! Yes, as time passes things become routine or perhaps less spontaneous than in your 20s, but married couples actually experience more intimacy because there's a level of trust that may not exist in premarital relationships. 2. Happy couples don't argue Let's get this straight: every couple argues. No matter how compatible you may be with your partner, disagreements are going...

OPEC approves first oil output cut deal since 2008

Members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreed yesterday, to cut oil output for the first time since 2008, with Saudi Arabia softening its stance on arch-rival, Iran, amid mounting pressure from low oil prices. A report which quoted two sources in the organisation said the group would reduce output to 32.5 million barrels per day from current production of 33.24 million bpd. The sources however could not tell how much each country will produce, saying that is to...