The War on Truth By Garba Shehu



Presidential image making, in very sane climes, is a very serious endeavour, ‘reserved’ perhaps exclusively for the intellectually savvy; with sound judgement and, above all, relative affinity or pure fidelity to facts. Tragically, we would all be in dreamland if we thought, even fleetingly, of associating such basic fundamentals of Public Relations to Presidential Spokesperson (sorry mis-spokesperson) Garba Shehu.

To be sure, we fully grant Garba all the merited, and unmerited, latitude to engage in all manner of propaganda and image laundering for his paymasters. He is surely at liberty to engage in leprous acrobatics if and when he elects. He has, in the line of a duty he clearly does not understand, chosen to feed the public with falsehood and obvious inaccuracies, deliberate misinformation, and even mischief bordering on denial and selective amnesia.

We certainly cannot, and should not, indulge or extend our reasoned magnanimity to Garba and the quackery he relishes whenever he ventures into the laborious attempts at rebuttals or rejoinders, more often, with scant regard for the truth. His usual habit of ignoring facts was manifest in his attempt to defend his party rather than the government’s confused approach to implementing the agenda it promised.

Now let’s recap a little for the benefit of those who may not have gotten our drift. Recently, respected statesman, nationalist and former governor of Jigawa state, Alhaji Sule Lamido gave an interview to a national daily, the Sun Newspaper to be precise. The publication appeared on Saturday, November 11th, 2017, wherein he fielded questions with the media on his presidential ambition and the state of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He also gave some snippets on reasoned insights on President Buhari’s leadership style, the APC government and future of Nigeria and the place of her youth in it.

Instructively, and against the grain of conventional political wisdom and expediency, Alhaji Sule Lamido exhibited exemplary statesmanship and rare generosity by not attacking the person and office of Mr. President. He also did not, in the entire gamut of the said interview, mention, or impugn the integrity of the Judiciary, an arm of government or the nation’s law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies like the, the ICPC or the EFCC.

The closest Alhaji Sule Lamido came to what might appear as a searing indictment of the widely acknowledged hypocritical anti-corruption posture of the APC- led government was not directed at the EFFC or the ICPC. Instead, it was a passing reference to Prof. Itse Sagay, an APC appointee’s claims that the APC is made up of thieves. This statement of Sagay is the very same “unforgivable sin” for which the government is dragging every member of the PDP and elected officials to the hang man’s noose.

Clearly, Garba’s attempted response to the said Sule Lamido interview is yet another classic example of the PR disaster and liability that he now represents for the Buhari administration. Surely, we would care less for this misfortune of an appointee of Mr. President who is fishing and scavenging desperately for “stuff” that would make him look useful in a job he clearly does not know how to do. His brazen and intellectually lazy import-substitution mission for issues never raised in the interview in the effort to tar Alhaji Sule Lamido with a dirty brush is at best, mischievous, unprofessional and a damning verdict on Garba’s.

His lack of intellectual depth and hollow PR acumen, made even more obvious by a feeble and surely failed attempt to address or “attack” the facts of the matter raised in the Sule Lamido interview. By falsely accusing Alhaji Sule Lamido of impugning the integrity of, while the government is itself destroying the nation’s judicial system as well as the EFCC, Garba has thrown up the poverty of the government’s effort to water down any serious effort to address our national ills.

Where, for instance, did Garba see any reference to these institutions in the said interview? Did he at all, read the interview or in the classic case of playing the ‘Boss’, lazily rely on some subordinates who supposedly drew his attention to a publication he never sighted? And as if this was not shameful enough, he brazenly proceeded to blindly issue a ‘rejoinder’ to a publication he apparently knew nothing about. This is a further injury to the image, integrity and ethics of the journalism profession.

If we accord Garba the benefit of the doubt and assume that he read the said interview, we would be forced to ask the motivation for a 360 degrees swivel away from the contents of the publication to issue a rejoinder to imaginary subject matters? The answer is mischief and incompetence, which are two grave and toxic qualities for a Presidential spokesperson on public affairs for which Nigerians no longer take him seriously. We just hope he knows that, effectively, he alone turned on the self- destruct mode. But then, this is President Buhari’s headache.

To be sure, we know that Alhaji Sule Lamido is not, and cannot be, deterred distracted or cowed by the shenanigans of the ilk of Garba. As a statesman and nationalist whose sole driving impetus is improvement in the material condition of the ordinary Nigerian citizen, as well as carving a place of high repute for Nigeria in the comity of nations, Sule Lamido is forging ahead with steely determination and singleness of purpose.

And for the likes of Garba, who in their infantile logic think attempting to smear Alhaji Lamido with a dark brush will freeze him from the public space, we have a message for you: that Lamido will continue to speak truth to power and call out the APC government in all its numerous failings. No amount of name-calling, falsehood, character assassination or intimidation will do the trick. Not from Garba Shehu, not from anyone else. The APC government must shape up or ship out, or else expect the Sule Lamidos of this Country and they are in the majority now, to continue to call it out.

But since Garba started the x-ray, we take liberty to help him process the film by pointing out some home truths for which he and his likes in the government have acquired that distinct character of an ostrich. Whatever the PDP did, it left the scene over two years ago and that exit provided Nigerians the opportunity to gauge the standard of performance. While acknowledging our human frailties, PDP’s 16 years of mistake is far less than the calamity of the last two and half years of the APC in multiple dimensions.

From the economy, foreign relations where an APC government has decided to make caricature of the country, its leadership and people, security, wage theft, misapplication of resources and the lack of vision at all levels. This is total disaster.

How about confusion and lies, cross messaging and open confrontation among various officials of government even while brazenly engaged in corrupt practices of various kinds as widely reported in the media? This is worse than a calamity for a developing nation like ours. Garba should encourage the government he serves to investigate those cases instead of chasing shadows and silhouettes. If you check the markets, prices have skyrocketed. There is unemployment, poverty and hunger, which bad effects have shot over the roofs, while some officials including Garba are smiling, as they hide their loots from this government. These stories have become daily doses of media reportage. Time shall tell.

The antecedents of everyone given opportunity of service speaks for him or her. Alhaji Sule Lamido comes across as a deliverer of promise. Please and as a challenge, visit Jigawa State to understand the difference between the Lamido years and the present reality. Every visible productive project of stature dotting the entire landscape was initiated and completed by him.

The essential Alhaji Sule Lamido is a quintessential leader who is and still loved by the people; among whom he lives to date. He speaks his mind, no matter who is involved. In the process, he has encountered and also survived the vicissitudes of politics while serving his fatherland. This has, over the years, shaped his vision with courage of conviction and strength of character. You may confirm by the kind and nature of people around him and his associates.

Unlike Alhaji Sule Lamido, Garba is inconsequential inconsistent, foul mouthed and practicing quackery as Public Affairs management. Therefore, our final word and free consultancy for Garba is this: “Attend a refresher course on how not to be a Public Affairs assistant. We understand one such course is scheduled for some time in the year 2019, otherwise, you will remain an albatross on President Buhari’s neck. Nigerians are watching!

Hadeja is the National Coordinator of  National Volunteers for Lamido

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