After the amalgamation of the parties that formed APC and the National Executive Committee emerged, amidst the brouhaha that followed was the evidence of an efficient and effective spokesperson that had more than what it took to speak for the then opposition party. At every turn of the incumbent administration, there was Lai Mohammed.
The ease at which he carried out his tasks on behalf of the opposition was so natural that it could have been said that Alhaji Lai was born for this purpose for such a time as this. In fact, the energy and the anger with which Nigerians chased out the former occupants of Aso Villa could not have been more effectively channeled by any other Nigerian. Such was the zeal and the vigor with which Lai Mohammed performed his duties as the National Publicity Secretary of the APC.
Fast forward to 8 months after the elections, the percentage of Nigerians who are impressed with the same man who now functions as the Minister of Information is, if at all existent, significantly negligible. When in the opposition, Lai Mohammed followed every wrong turn with both a condemnation and a propaganda. Since Nigerians agreed at least with the condemnation, they bought both in the spirit of the adage that says you can’t throw away the baby and the bathwater.
The question as to whether the propaganda helped the campaign is credited with an answer in the affirmative 10 times out of 10. It can be compared salva veritate with the notion that you could get something done with a kind word but you could get more things done with a kind word and a gun. That things are different is obvious to every Nigerian that has continued to engage with national issues. For Lai Mohammed however, things are not.
The Honourable Minister of Information is still at best immersed in the spirit of criticism and opposition down to his speeches and his addresses to his staff. I have it on good record that Mr Minister had referred repeatedly to the Federal Government as The Government in contexts where he continually recommends what must be done when talking to members of staff or when addressing visiting stakeholders.
This part however is not the unfortunate part. The Minister’s continuous referral to the past and engagement in the blame game in a manner that can only be likened to a robot put on a repeat command is not only starting to get sickening but also injurious to the nation.
Mr President, after his “unfortunate” criminal remarks to the Telegraph, opines that Nigeria has an image problem internationally. The little image that we have of ourselves at home is now being threatened by Lai Mohammed whose parody account on Twitter states that all tweets by him are signed LIE.
This unfortunately echoes the sentiment of a majority of Nigerians active online. A situation where the words of the Information Minister are synonymous to lies and propaganda is not one to breed cooperation of citizens with the government in achieving its set goals.
It doesn’t stop there. The propaganda machine and the information Industry has both been expanded and captivated. This administration currently has 6 individuals who have to, one way or the other, communicate the intentions and the activities of the administration to the Nigerian populace. This is on another hand supported by a Presidential Media Volunteer Team which I heard is populated by 40 year old youths.
As irregularly as the wind blows or the spirit of change leads, there are events organized amongst influencers, opinion shapers and media agencies to solicit for cooperation with the administration and more specifically to request for a deliberate easing of the pangs of the media on the government.
The popularity that this administration enjoyed free of charge without having to organize meetings and dinners while they were in opposition now needs to be lobbied for whether in cash or in kind.
Whether the fruits of these activities sowed by the administration has started to yield is debatable. What is however not debatable is whether the APC led Federal Government will answer to the same questions that the former PDP led government answered to.
By then, Alhaji Lai Mohammed’s Lies, Blames and Propaganda will no longer be tenable and the same way they couldn’t save the GEJ-led PDP, no amount of aides and advisers and overlords on communication and information strategy will be able to save them.