Open letter to Garba Shehu
Sir: In my teenage years I was enthralled by the bearing of prolific writers such as Fr. Mathew Hassan Kukah (now my Lord Bishop), Edwin Madunagu, Fr. Gabriel Osu, Reuben Abati and many others who wrote wonderful columns again and again. Even though I never read your pieces I was relied informed that you were a good writer and journalist. I listened to you on Tuesday, January 16 when you were interviewed on AIT’s Kakaaki programme over the recent Benue killings by suspected hoodlums that many say are Fulani Herdsmen and I must say that that interview came so short of my expectation especially since you occupy a very important position as spokesperson for President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
I follow spokespersons elsewhere such as Sarah Sanders and see how alive she is every time she appears to defend the policies of President Donald Trump. I may find it hard to compare you both. President Buhari currently suffers from a crisis of followership in the middle-belt and many states in southern Nigeria and his administration needs direction by media men associated to him. You were to fill the void and to arouse the consciousness of many watchers who may have dull speculative resume to position their thoughts for nationalism but you missed that chance by not only wearing an oleaginous, elated face but you went about issues of death in a jovial manner, trying to rationalise what happened in Benue State, a national tragedy without ashen faces. Rationalisation of evil by whomever and wherever promotes social injustice.
I wish you used the opportunity on behalf of your principal to let bad people know that their steps are being watched to retrace steps and that they are no longer relevant in the scheme of things in Nigeria. To be a presidential spokesperson is no mean feat. With people like you, Nigerians if guided properly may not be politically inert. After all it was John F. Kennedy who said, the hottest part of Hell should be reserved for all those who keep quiet in the face of moral crisis. If a presidential spokesperson can act nonplussed like you did in that interview, who then will fight for the masses; inspire pride and serve as the anointed Ombudsman for development?
Sir, I know that writing craft is one of the most difficult in the world. Writers are thinkers, and real writers only write when they are inspired not necessarily out of commercial necessity and in my view you would have served Nigeria better in your capacity by not only speaking but touching the hearts of the Benue people, empathizing with them so they could understand the policies of the president. You clearly struggled with the job in that interview, giving me the impression that you were not prepared before you came on air. Nigerians want an open and transparent government as well as respect and tact by presidential spokespersons when they give press interviews. It struck me as I write this, how beautiful our country would have been if majority of media men truly live their talk, to stand for principles till the end. Youngsters looking up to them will certainly choose principles over nothingness, especially those on the journey seeking to evolve.
One of the herculean tasks besetting an average man (person) Professor Dele Owolawi shared with me is transcending his ordinary, basic consciousness to that of higher consciousness which makes him a truly evolved being. Most people in Nigeria that I know are social media activists only, others select convivial environments for activism, many patronize Op shop for pieces of piss.
Certainly your poor handling of that interview would not stop the chanting of war songs, the pouring diatribes on the north by Nigerians from other geographic blocks. One of the most noxious and backward place in the world to live in today is in a country in love with “clanism” instead of nationalism. Countries everywhere are not built by brains alone but by synergy with other people. The budgets of Francophone African countries are balanced by France, mineral resources, used to drive the economies of countries are procured through bilateral agreements. The country’s office-bearers must provide opportunities to orientate all Nigerian’s regardless of ethnicity without favouritism.
Many years ago the cream of the crop elsewhere promoted religiosity over national statehood, today the youths serving as foot soldiers for insurgents can’t be tamed, and the chicken has come to roost dangerously.
Even though life is transitory and faddish life and nature has its way of steam-rolling people close to the occasions of obsequies. Men in Nigeria and not nature have found ways to send Nigerians to the grave and no presidential aid should make minced beef out of that.
Government persons in Nigeria enjoy being caustic, nippy, without being camilia. In public places they always soft-shoe around major issues in Nigeria. Regrettably, they highlight successes of their principals without addressing the ambivalence, chasm and governmental boors everywhere that has made us a laughing stock before the international community.
Abah wrote from Abuja.
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