by Stanley Azuakola
People’s Democratic Party (PDP) National Publicity Secretary, Olisah Metuh showed today that he isn’t afraid to swim with the sharks as he sat for an interview with radical online news outlet, Sahara Reporters. Conventionally, officials of the government and PDP stay away from granting interviews to online media so Metuh, the lawyer turned politician and publicist must be given an A for attempt.
Having said that, here’s the verdict on his performance, using a sample of his choicest soundbites.
1. “Gen. Buhari never came to the South-East, except once. How are they going to vote for him?”
Metuh basically expressed the general consensus here, which is that Buhari did not campaign enough, especially in the Southern states and so wasn’t deserving of their votes. His late start to the 2011 campaigns and weaker financial muscle compared to the PDP machine have been sampled as the factors responsible for the misstep. However, Metuh still got his facts wrong: Buhari visited two, not just one, out of the five South-Eastern States. He was in Imo on March 7th and in Anambra on April 6th.
2. “President Jonathan has been the most criticized president in the history of Nigeria…We at PDP are unduly harassed and intimidated. People are telling lies about us. Could it be jealousy?”
This is like saying, “You’re so jealous of my iron boots because I step on your skull so well with them.” It’s bull. We have no scientific way of proving now if Jonathan has been more criticized than Babaginda or Abacha. But what’s obvious is that Metuh and the PDP are trying to play the victim card, which is a very dangerous game. A “victim mentality” can rationalise any and every shortcoming.
3. “We are not perfect. We are open to improvement.”
This was the most factual response in the entire interview. Two statements, both simple and true.
4. “I will own up to the fact that people are not owning up to the achievements of the PDP. We have recorded monumental achievements. Our achievements as PDP: free and fair elections, providing strong national leadership, keeping Nigeria one in spite of distractions.”
Well, well, well, what do we have here? When one reads statements like these he wishes that there was a poll-taking culture in the country. I wonder the percentage of Nigerians who would ever use “monumental achievements,” in describing the performance of the PDP government. Let’s consider the monumental achievements listed by Metuh. Many would argue that Nigeria is still one as a country despite, not because of the PDP. On elections, the 2011 elections was much more improved compared to the Iwu horrow show of 2007; election petitions for the presidential elections for instance, reduced from 6 in 2007 to 2 in 2011. Generally it was a much more commendable effort but still –we must admit– it was fraught with sizeable irregularities. As for the last achievement which is to provide strong national leadership, even Metuh would agree that he was just spouting falsehood that he surely doesn’t believe. Strength isn’t a strength of this government.
5. “There are projects in place by the federal government to ensure that in the next 18 months there will be improvements…”
And let the church say AMEN. Some of us are yawning here. This is the standard goal post shifting strategy of the PDP. It’s one year since the inauguration, no tangible improvement to show, so what do we do? We throw in another 18 months. Smooth! Besides how does Metuh intend to measure the improvements? Questions, questions, questions.
6. “Any programme that we decide to do, we will be criticized. If the president wants to build roads the people will say ‘no.’ If he doesn’t build roads, the people will say ‘build roads.'”
Again this is just Metuh giving in to sensationalism and falsehood. As seen when a majority of Nigerians queued and cast their votes for the president in 2011, when they hailed his decisions on Libya, Cotedivoire and the yellow fever brouhaha, Nigerians stand with him when he does the right thing. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to happen often enough, in which case the president and his party need to look inwards for the cause.