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PMB and Nigeria: Anchoring argument on adjudged absenteeism

By Bala Ibrahim
Since the unhappy remark from President Muhammadu Buhari in Imo state this week, that the achievements of his government are not given the publicity they deserve, the course of the discourse has changed, with some putting the blame on the President himself, for not attaching enough importance to media and publicity, particularly publicity in a democracy.

While some are of the opinion that because of the constraints of modesty, PMB was reluctant in talking about his achievements ab initio, because they may be misconstrued as a show-off, or make him look like a leader that is too proud, others hold a counter opinion. To them, in a democracy, where leaders come to power pursuant to the promises made to the electorates during campaigns, such electorates have the right to be informed, sometimes in detail, the extent to which such promises made were kept. And because, by electing the leader, the electorates have entered into an unwritten contract with the leader, giving such information by the leader should not be seen as a show-off, immodesty, or the blowing of the leader’s own trumpet. It is the fulfillment of an agreement.

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Two things prompted this article. One was a cliché sent to me by a friend, highlighting a quote from a purported statement attributed to President Muhammadu Buhari, viz: “What is the difference between me and those who elected us to represent them, absolutely nothing. Why should the Nigerian President not fly with other Nigerian public? Why do I need to embark on a foreign trip as a President with a huge crowd with public funds? Why do I need to go on the foreign medical trip if we can not make our hospital functional? Why do we need to send our children to school abroad if we can not develop our university to compete with the foreign ones?”-General Muhammadu Buhari, Lecture at Chatham House London, February 21, 2015.

The second was a discussion I had same today, with my brothers in law, that paid a visit to us in the house.

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I would start by addressing the cliché, with the hope of convincing my friend to understand the meaning of propaganda. According to the dictionary, Propaganda is, information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view. Had my friend read the purported statement well, by checking the grammatical construction and the caricature structure of misspellings, he would have seen that they are not only in conflict with English syntax and morphology, but also out of tune with the language style of someone that was once a Governor, a Minister, a Head of State, and as of that date, a President in waiting.

Not even in the inglorious yesteryears, when the office of Nigeria’s First Lady was occupied by someone who took delight in the use of colloquial English, was such abuse of phonology and semantics practiced. No good speechwriter would write such a repugnant speech for delivery at Chatham House, which is the world-leading policy institute with a mission to help governments and societies build a sustainably secure, prosperous and just world. And Buhari’s speechwriter can not be that crackbrained. No way. It’s fake news, but through the use of propaganda, some people have spewed the garbage, in order to influence public opinion against a leader. PMB is a victim of such spin because he has absentee propagandists.

The second segment of the genesis of this article, which has to do with the discussion with my in-laws, also anchors the argument on adjudged absenteeism. Yes, absentee propagandists for PMB and his regime. My guests and I had a lengthy discussion on the seven years of PMB in power, and almost all of them were of the believe that not much has been done by the government.
But I told them it is a stereotyped opinion. The government of PMB had recorded landmark successes, but because of absentee propagandists, instead of hailing the President for such milestone achievements, he is ignorantly damned by the gullible.

After we overviewed some of the strides in infrastructural development, including roads, rail, housing, and security, they agreed that indeed much has been done, but not that much is relayed to the public. On security, yes, security, despite the current challenges, they admitted that truly Nigeria is safer today, compared to what obtained in the past.

Not a single bomb blew off in Abuja since 2015. All the sand bags and road blocks have disappeared. In fact, I told my guests, if it were in the yesteryears, I wouldn’t give them access to the house without the normal ritual of frisking, to ascertain they are free from dynamites. Such was the level of distrust, even amongst relatives.

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We delved into the excesses of some aids of the President, whose performance in office is questioned by many, but who the President refused to sanction. Also here, I said, if Nigerians are serious, they should forward petitions with evidence of their wrongdoings. PMB can not be accused of inaction based on information passed around that cannot be substantiated. Such information are classified as rumours or hearsay. And I gave the example of the suspended Accountant General of the Federation that is being prosecuted, pursuant to the submission of a petition.

Food prices, Oil and gas reforms, General economic condition, Power, Agriculture and the sustained successes recorded by the military, including the good news today, of the aerial bombardment of terrorist Turji’s camp in Zamfara state were discussed. In all, when the situation today is juxtaposed with yesterday, including a comparism with the so called developed societies, Nigeria under Buhari is not doing badly.

But because some people are anchoring the argument on adjudged absenteeism, and the government has no propagandists that would blow it’s trumpet, some tend to think the issues are not being robustly tackled.

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