By Philip Agbese
This is indeed a serious topic. I choose to write on this topic for the fact that President Muhamadu Buhari has been receiving bashes from all fronts, and the media think tank appointed to rise to his defense has gone to sleep.
The slumber is so deep that one is tempted to ask if there is any sense of loyalty or urgency left in the way and manner they carry on with their duties. I will try to avoid delving into the narrative pushed by the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, even though she made some form of sense about the presidential media aides not doing enough to protect the President and project his numerous achievements since he assumed leadership of the country in 2015.
I have a verdict. My verdict is that the presidential media aides have performed below expectations in the task at their hand. They have carried on like rookies learning a new trade when in truth; most of them have seen it all in the journalism field. They have distinguished themselves before their appointments. The question thus is what went wrong?
The answer to this question lies in the apparent fact that there is a lack of either interest or commitment to the jobs they were hired for. I stand to be corrected; on a scale of 10, I would score the presidential media aides 4. This is in fairness to their years of experience over the years. However, the irony is that these individuals missed it along the line. They mistook the job for news reporting. They relegated the place of strategic communications and crisis management, either by omission or commission.
Make no mistakes; the presidential media team has performed woefully in the sense that they have allowed the many achievements of President Muhammdu Buhari to go unnoticed. They have also allowed critics of the government to dictate the narrative in the public space. And trust, this loophole has been exploited to the fullest, and at the detriment of the image of the President. Do they care?
We must come to terms with the fact that perception is the reality in this business. This much they should know with all their years of experience. This is not to say that they have been entirely lacking, but they are not in tune with the present realities. They have decided to engage in conventional strategies in a space that requires out of the box strategies and approaches. This could be deliberate or out of ignorance. If intentional, it is indeed a shame. If out of ignorance, it is indeed pathetic. And it behooves on them to brace up or leave the scene.
They must realize that this is not the era of press releases and pictorials. This is indeed the era of strategic communication intended at putting issues in proper perspective at the risk of losing the plot. I empathize with President Muhammdu Buhari with the level of bashing he has received on issues that ordinarily should not elicit harsh reactions from members of the public. But this is what you get when your media handlers are asleep.
President Muhammdu Buhari, in my opinion, has done well since he assumed leadership of this country. He has displayed a commitment to leaving Nigeria better than how he meant it. But the challenge is that those saddled with the responsibility of projecting his numerous achievements do not seem to be in tune with the urgency of now. They have left so many things to chance, and instead of being proactive, they have been reactive.
Trust the opposition; they have taken full advantage of this shortcoming to project the President as a dictator and one with little or no regard for the rule of law in Nigeria. This is indeed a sad tale. Whether we like or not, the achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari are in short supply in the public space. What we get to see are mostly press releases that are lacking in content.
I stand to be corrected; the approach deployed by the presidential media team has been lackadaisical. There is no urgency. There is no display of mastery of the game. For example, a situation where a presidential media aide would go on air to muddle issues rather than engage is most worrisome and does not speak well for the image of their principal.
I must add that the approach must change soonest. The bickering must be replaced by strategy. Their number one focus must be in the interest of their principal. And not their pockets. Those that can’t live up to expectations should tow the noble path because this is a serious business. If this approach is not embraced, then I am afraid there would be no justification for their continued stay in office.
The task at hand requires all hands to be on the deck where teamwork and cross-fertilization of ideas would rein supreme, where an avid commitment to projecting the achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari would take center stage.
The presidential media team must wake up from its slumber and live up to expectations. It is inexcusable for them to continue to rely on goodwill. There is a place for strategic communication. This much they know and his much they must admit.
Agbese is an author, publisher and human rights activist based in the United Kingdom.