THIS IS not a mocking writeup,
it is a serious piece meant
mainly to draw attention to
something that could become a
real problem in the future. While
they were on the campaign
trail, President Muhammadu
Buhari had been mocked for
not remembering the name
of his vice president, for not
remembering the name of his
party and so on. The reason for
these mistakes is not far-fetched.
President Buhari’s handlers and
coaches at the time were not
doing their job. I know Buhari is
no longer a young man and they
all have to be careful how much
they exert him; but, what does it
take to go through a speech and
master every name and every
title the man needs to mention?
These things matter, the socalled
elementary things matter,
because when you don’t get
them right, people everywhere,
rightly or wrongly, cannot trust
you to get the more serious ones
Yes, Buhari does not have a
university education and he
hasn’t been known exactly for
his eloquence, but his handlers
have to prepare him adequately
before he makes public speeches.
He is the president of a nation
for Christ’s sake!
I can understand all these
mistakes on the campaign trail,
but it just cannot be allowed
when the man is president and
when talking about important
foreigners. Our president has just
returned from the G7 Summit
in Germany, a forum of huge
magnitude and significance
where he met world leaders
and had several chats. After a
meeting of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, he spoke on Channels
TV where he had reasons to refer
to his recent trip to Germany, but
what did we hear? He referred
to German Chancellor, Angela
Merkel as “President Michelle of
West Germany”! C’mon, this is
just so wrong, wrong on several
First Germany has a President,
but his name is not Michelle,
his name is Joachim Gauck and
I doubt Buhari met him. And
even if he did, he was not the
one Buhari was referring to; he
was referring to Angela Merkel
(not Michelle) and her title is
Chancellor, not President. The
worst of the booboos is to refer
to Germany as West Germany. In
2015, West Germany? That is just
not excusable. If Buhari still has
the worldview of 1985 when he
was in office as Military Head of
State and when there was indeed
a West Germany, he has to be
brought into this century with
a proper lecture in international
Let me not end this without
voicing concerns too about the
way Garba Shehu has been doing
his job as Senior Special Assistant
to the President on Media and
Publicity. The man is an accident
already happening and waiting
to happen still. He keeps issuing
empty contradictory statements
one after another as if they’re
going out of fashion. For instance,
he was the one who on 30th of
May, a day after the president was
sworn in, issued the statement
that President Buhari had publicly
declared his assets as promised
during the campaign, because he
said he would do so immediately
upon taking government. But,
in fact this did not happen. All
that happened was the routine
declaration at the Code of Conduct Bureau. When curious
Nigerians raised eyebrows at this
volte-face, Alhaji Garba Shehu
icily directed them to go use the
Freedom of Information (FOI) Act
to get whatever information they
want on the president’s assets.
Exactly a week later, the same
Shehu in another cringe worthy
attempt at some damage control
issued a statement claiming that
President Muhammadu Buhari
has said that in fulfillment of one
of their campaign promises, his
declared assets and those of Vice
President Yemi Osinbajo will be
released to the public upon the
completion of their verification
by the Code of Conduct Bureau.
So, did the president make two
separate promises about declaring
his assets in public during the
campaign? Of course not. And
rather than simply say the president
would make the public declaration
of his assets within his first 100 days
in office and leave it at that, he’s
now claiming he will release it after
verification by the Code of Conduct
Bureau. Of course, that raises
another question of credibility. I
mean, if you are making a public
declaration of your true assets
would you need anyone to verify
it and ascertain it’s true before you
release it to the public, especially
where you have the precedent of
President Umaru Yar’Adua and
then Vice President Goodluck
Jonathan to follow? Won’t you feel
confident releasing it to the public
immediately, knowing there can be
no contradiction from anywhere,
because you know you are saying
the truth? The idea of waiting
for the conclusion of verification
before releasing it indicates that
you are not sure of what you have
declared to the CCB and until they
finish their verification and give
you a clean bill of health, you can’t do anything. Does that mean you
have something to hide, something
you’re praying they don’t discover
upon verification?
Mallam Shehu was at it again. He
was quoted as saying that President
Buhari sent a communication to the
Clerk of the National Assembly,
Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa to delay
the inauguration of the 8th National
Assembly, because the president was
having a meeting at the International
Conference Centre in Abuja with
elected legislators of the APC at the
same time the inauguration was
originally scheduled. This was after
the Proclamation Letter from the
president had already been sent to
the Clerk of the National Assembly
indicating that the ceremony should
be performed at 10: 00 am. Now,
aides of the National Assembly
Clerk are being forced to deny that
any such communication was made,
not even by a phone call or via text
messaging. It simply didn’t happen.
So, why would Mallam Garba Shehu
be making such a claim? What point
is he trying to make?
The significance of these two
examples of how Mallam Shehu
works is that they put the president
in a bad light. It exposes him as
someone who is not sure exactly
what he wants to tell the Nigerian
public, someone who isn’t firm
with his decision-making. Mallam
Shehu should not just think his job
is to be issuing statements left, right
and centre, he is also responsible
for burnishing and protecting the
president’s image with the national
and international publics. That
means whatever statement he issues
must be absolutely necessary and
must be trusted by the people. For
instance, he didn’t have to issue
any statement after the president
declared his assets at the Code of
Conduct Bureau. He should have
waited to issue a statement when the president makes up his mind
to make the public declaration
he promised at anytime within
his first 100 days in office. If he
had exercised that patience, the
president wouldn’t be wiping
egg off his face now nor would
he have been made to appear
as though he did not intend to
publicly declare his assets, but for
the outcry after Mallam Garba
Shehu’s initial statement.
The statement about the
president sending a message
to the Clerk of the National
Assembly to delay the
inauguration was totally uncalled
for after the events of the day of
the inauguration. In fact, it was
and still is in the interest of the
presidency to extricate itself from
the day’s show of shame, rather
than seek to show there was an
attempt to stop the proceedings,
possibly to placate some party
leaders who are up in arms
against Saraki and co by giving
the impression that the president
was always on the same page
with them. If that was the
objective, placating such leaders
does not need making such selfindicting
claim. The president
can always explain himself
to them privately outside the
public glare.
So, while the bright boys and
girls bring the president up to
speed with the state of the world
in 2015, someone should also
tell Mallam Garba Shehu that
in his job, patience is a virtue.
He has to constantly sniff the
wind first before he delivers
any statement, because he is
the voice of the President of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Emetulu, a public affairs
commentator wrote in from

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