“Did you call me a hunchback?”
“Me? Why would he do such a thing? He was just talking about that other man with a hill on his back and chest.”
The above dialogue is an approximation of how many people interpret Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s denial that his recent salvo at Abeokuta was intended for President Muhammadu Buhari.
Tinubu had added a new twist to the ongoing fuel shortage and the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) decision to redesign the N200, N500 and 1,000 notes when he hinted that both developments were designed to sabotage his victory in the upcoming election. He stated: “Let them increase the price of fuel, keep hoarding fuel, only they know where they have hoarded fuel, hoarded money, hoarded Naira; We will go vote and we will win. Even if they change the ink on the Naira bills. Whatever his plans, he will come to nothing. We will win…”
The PDP presidential campaign organization opportunistically, but quite understandably, latched on to what it saw as a monumental mistake and berated Tinubu for insulting Buhari. The PDP stated, among other things, that “our campaign finds it pathetic that Asiwaju Tinubu is seeking a face-saving measure ahead of his landslide electoral defeat by shedding crocodile tears and claiming that the redesign of the Naira banknotes and the fuel crises under the APC administration, which it has allegedly been corruptly benefiting, were plots to sabotage the 2023 general election…”
The PDP added that, “Only politicians who have always won elections by relying on bullion vans have cared about the monetary policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to redesign the Naira.” The opposition party also accused Tinubu of trying to distance himself from the Buhari administration, which he helped bring to power.
Nigerian politics is in a world of its own. Imagine PDP trying to sound more buharista than tinubu! However, this is not to accuse the PDP. There is no doubt that if the shoe had been on the other foot, the APC would have gladly acquiesced in a similar intervention.
Therefore, only a one-sided analyst will take the PDP’s view of the APC, or the APC’s impression of the PDP, as gospel truth. Both sides have slapped each other with some of the vilest attacks since the current campaign began.
However, twenty-four hours after the Abeokuta outburst, Tinubu scoffed at the PDP’s charge that he had insulted the Buhari administration. His invective, he said, was directed at the PDP itself. (Nigerians on social media have been asking if PDP was responsible for redesigning the Naira!)
He maintained that the misunderstanding of his speech was due to the fact that he spoke in the Yoruba language. “Those who do not understand the nuances of this richly layered and subtle language may have inadvertently but mistakenly missed the true meaning of what I said when attempting to translate my statement,” he argued.
No one is fooled by that twist, especially when an informant, Professor Itse Sagay, took the cover off all the pretenses. Sagay reaffirmed Tinubu’s accusations.
Sagay said: “What Emefiele is trying to do by saying that you cannot use the existing currency after January 31, in a situation where the new currency is not available to use, is a plot to create disaffection with the government and indirectly create an unfavorable image for that government before the population in a few weeks before an election… What is surprising is that nobody stops it. The president hasn’t stopped it… It’s just incredible.”
On the fuel shortage, Sagay noted, “This is going to be three months now and NNPC says there is no shortage, they have enough supply for another three months. However, we cannot find gasoline anywhere. Someone is playing a game. I suspect that after the elections we will have gasoline. I agree with what Tinubu says. Something clandestine is happening in this country that is intended to affect the outcome of the elections.”
Although the gloves are now off and the spokespersons for the presidential candidates have to work very hard to manage the fallout, I still can’t understand why they can’t seem to harmonize their campaign organization’s position on specific issues. Each spokesperson has their own quirky thread for any particular question, leaving audiences wondering where the true position is.
We all know that rebuttals come with territory, but as Judge Judy Sheindlin, the host of an American court reality show, puts it: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to have a good memory… If you don’t make it common”. sense, probably not true.” In this age of social media, spokespersons walk a tightrope because the public can, through a single messaging app, piece together the various conflicting answers given to the same question by different spokespersons who They work for the same candidate. The Internet never forgets. When your camp stands out for lies, the world won’t believe you even when you tell the truth.
The truth, as far as I can see, lies in the undercurrents. There are so many conspiracy theories thrown around, from the plausible to the outlandish, but it seems some APC stalwarts aren’t enamored with President Buhari’s reluctance to give his party’s candidate an undue advantage over other contenders. They criticize his statement in London last year, in the sense that it would guarantee a level playing field for all contestants.
In that interview, Buhari had stated that Nigerians should vote whoever they want from any political party during the 2023 general election. He warned that no one would be allowed to mobilize resources and thugs to intimidate people in any constituency. “My goal is to make sure that Nigerians believe that we respect them as an administration. That is why I want to go down in Nigerian history as a leader,” the president said.
Although he had made his principled stance known, when asked to assess the APC’s chances in the 2023 election, Buhari sided with his party; “We are going to win the elections,” he predicted.
But that’s not enough, say his critics. They prefer that he lead the troops at all rallies and do everything possible to install their party’s candidate. However, political observers have warned that the most pressing need for anyone who wants to become president of Nigeria is NOT a presidential deus ex machina device but rather oratorical discipline. Too often, aides to political bigwigs worship their directors instead of guiding them and teaching them the fine art of messaging; this results in an avoidable mess whereby countless hours will be spent trying to paper over the cracks. Say what you want, it’s not wise to drop innuendos at a sitting president.
I wish all 18 presidential candidates the best. I have gone on record in the past as sharing free PR advice on messaging and crisis management. In that same spirit, I want to advise our political cobras to remember that nature has never given birth to a thesis without its corresponding antithesis. For every political cobra, there is a mongoose.
The cobra is fearsome. Your bite is a medical emergency. The amount of neurotoxin it can release in a single bite is enough to kill 20 people, or even an elephant. King cobra venom affects the respiratory centers of the brain, causing respiratory arrest and heart failure. The king cobra, the largest of the species, is a sight to behold in its splendor and majesty.
The mongoose, on the other hand, is a small carnivorous mammal with an elongated face and body, small rounded ears, short legs, and a long, tapered tail. Its length ranges from 24 to 58 cm; weighs between 320 g and 5 kg. It is to this relative Lilliputian that Providence has delivered the key to the destruction of Cobra. The mongoose is a warlike and formidable hunter. His punches are lightning fast. In a typical cobra fight, the mongoose rears up on its short legs and bites the snake on the snout. The cobra fights, even tries to wrap itself around the mongoose, but the game is over. The king cobra becomes food.
To appreciate his legendary reputation as a cobra killer, consider what happened in India when a snake catcher was called in to catch a cobra that had been a threat at a large family compound. The snake catcher appeared and took a mongoose from his bag. And soon the mongoose dragged the snake away!
Now, speaking of political cobras and mongooses, where do you place the controversial events in Osun state where the electoral court has just swung the pendulum in favor of ex-governor Oyetola? The drama has only just begun!