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No, Tolu Ogunlesi is neither Reuben Abati nor Reno Omokri

Tolu Ogunlesi came on to his Twitter page to air his opinion on the state of the economy and how Nigerians are simply getting it wrong with the direction the narrative of their complaints take. The timing was wrong. On the eve of Independence Day, Nigerians are more in tune with their pain, more upset with the government of the day for everything it has done wrong. The older lot reminisce about pre-Independence days while the young ones dig up history and regret the actions of patriots who fought to secure our sovereignty from Britain.

We should not have let them go, look where we are now.

Our leaders have done nothing for us and they should take all the blame for the pitiable state of the country and her economy.”

Passively or actively, most Nigerians are in this state of mind, sore vexed, dejected, bitter. Then, Tolu Ogunlesi strolls into the danger zone called Twitter Nigeria, unguarded. Needless to say, he got more than he bargained for. Before his appointment as Digital Communications person for President Buhari, Tolu was like the rest of us. A wailing, proactive young Nigerian who used every possible platform to tear the government apart every time it messed up. This was the Tolu Ogunlesi we all agreed with. But things are no longer the same. A man is a crucial part of the government now, he’s a voice for the administration. A man must keep his job and to do that, he must speak in sync with the government. But his followers and former co-wailers are maybe heartbroken, or just disappointed.

We saw this when Nigeria’s government number one critic, Reuben Abati, whose Guardian Newspaper columns used to help us shape our anger against the ruling Peoples Democratic Party at the time, became former President Goodluck Jonathan’s spokesperson. Then he launched an attack on everyone who called out the excesses of his boss and his policies. He called us “unintelligent people repeating stupid cliches”. And the intelligent ones? They were “wasting their talents lending relevance to thoughtless conclusions”.

We have seen it so bad before so there was no way to cut Tolu Ogunlesi any slack when he posted those tweets yesterday and we understand.

But Tolu is not like the others, Tolu Ogunlesi is not Reuben Abati, neither is he like Reno Omokri. He apologizes, he engages, and unlike them he still insists on seeing himself as part of the commentariat. He knows he will not always be in government. He will not always be an “Aso Rock person” like some called him yesterday, he belongs to the “lamenting middle class” he condescendingly criticized. He took the backlash well, replied a few, toned it down, turned it into bants, and humbly said sorry.

But in between his apologies, he still inserted his argument, but with a mild approach (for those who failed to see the point the first time).

And maybe we are half way to a place called Perspective.

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