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Nigeria’s political contractors at war! By Tony Okoroji

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Festius Keyamo and Dele Momodu

Nigeria’s master propagandists are in the battlefield, firing hot words at each other. Something crazy is going on! Those who have been hired by the big politicians to use superlatives to sell to the public their politicians’ unique ability to lead Nigeria in 2023 are using the superlatives to batter themselves.

During the week, my guy, Dele Momodu whom we all in the Lagos media and entertainment family, fondly refer to as “Bob Dee” fired a very dangerous shot at the APC fraternity.

With fanfare, the APC, had Friday week, launched its 80-page presidential manifesto tagged ‘Renewed Hope 2023’.

Within 24 hours, Dele Momodu, who has recently assumed the title of Director of Strategic Communications of the PDP Presidential Campaign, went out to burst the big balloon of the APC even before it began to fly. Dele described the APC manifesto as a cut and paste job, in other words a product of plagiarism.

In an article he titled ‘APC: Renewed Hope or Forlorn Hope?’, Dele wrote that the APC document is filled with “half-thoughts, poor reasoning, and copied notes” from Abiola’s ‘Hope ’93’ manifesto.

Before the ink had dried on Bod Dee’s critique, the APC Presidential spokesperson, Festus Keyamo fired back saying that Momodu’s accustomed lane is to praise-sing socialites and their likes and that he should have stayed there instead of dabbling into the more demanding job of critiquing policy statements. In the words of Keyamo, “It is clearly not his forte!’

Of course, Dele returned fire referring to Festus Keyamo as a ‘Certified Nuisance”. In the last week, the Nigerian media space has known little peace from these guys.

The hot and derogatory words these gentlemen have in a few days used on each other to tear down the credibility of the other person, should be a source of worry to their familes and friends. Where these men of huge egos hired to promote their candidates or to destroy each other? What is the benefit of their hot words and diatribe to Nigerians who are presently under siege from bad leadership?

I have written here before that I am a sucker for words masterfully put together. I believe that words used the right way can move mountains. They can make men fight like hell in war. The right words can bring peace where strife reigns. The architecture of change is words.

I am one of those who believe that Nigerians have had to endure the excruciating pain we are going through today because we have a president who has very little communication skills.

President Buhari was elected practically, without saying anything to anybody. An avalanche of people like Adams Oshiomhole, Festus Keyamo, and co. hugged the microphones at campaign events and spoke for Buhari and made promises on behalf of Buhari. Please check, Buhari personally promised Nigerians very little. With hindsight, Nigerians never really had a chance to interrogate Buhari. Middlemen and political contractors spoke for him!

Masterfully, the minders of Buhari scattered the presidential debates organized by BON during the elections. Across the world, the political debate has become a critical platform for assessing politicians and their abilities, their communication skills, their temperaments, their mastery of the issues and their readiness for the job. That is why nations do not joke with debates and nobody gets elected without a debate. Words matter.

On the debate stage, Buhari would have been on his own. There would have been no Garba Shehu, no Femi Adesina or Lai Mohammed to tell him what to say. There would have been no carefully crafted press release to tell us what he meant. We would have heard him unfiltered and left to make up our minds.

If you think that Donald Trump lost the last U.S. presidential election on the day of voting on November 3, 2020, then you were not quite following the events. Joe Biden won the Presidency fair and square on September 29 on the debate stage in Cleveland Ohio.

Words matter. Just imagine how many people have been moved by the immortal words of Martin Luther King Jnr in his ‘I have a dream’ speech. What of the unforgettable ‘Ask not what your country can do for you’ speech of John F. Kennedy? Without ‘Yes we can’ would Barack Obama, the young man of Kenyan ancestry, have become President of the most powerful nation on earth?

As a Nigerian, I keep scratching my head in search of the memorable or inspirational words of our President. Of course, the lack of appreciation of the use of words by those who purport to lead us, to paint their picture of tomorrow and to inspire us to dream big dreams, has something to do with the level of our underdevelopment. President Buhari’s inability to lift us up with his words and heal our wounds at this time of distress, is a sore in the heart of many Nigerians. Words do matter.

Most Nigerians are agreed that we should not make the Buhari mistake again but the political contractors are back telling us what Tinubu and Atiku will do for us as if Tinubu and Atiku are deaf and dumb. I am tired of hearing the babble of Bob Dee, Festus Keyamo, Dino Melaye or Femi Fani Kayode. This is not the time. Nigerians are in deep trouble and those who want to lead us out of the trouble must themselves tell us how.

Whether you like Peter Obi or not, he is out there everyday answering questions on Nigeria’s problems and saying what he intends to do to solve them.

This time around, no presidential candidate should be allowed to use any subterfuge to escape the Presidential debates. If they cannot talk to us, they should leave us alone. This should not be the time of political contractors.

See you next week.

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