One of the reasons President Buhari was voted into power, was that he promised to thin out the herd in the Nigerian executive, cutting off all the needless positions and provide us a unified front and voice for the Presidency on all topics. We were all awed by the precision with which Lai Mohammed, then integral to the Buhari campaign, was able to highlight the flaws of the previous administration and how Buhari’s personal commitment to austerity would keep him from making the same mistakes. We can admit that many Nigerians had already made their own decisions as regards the 2015 elections at this point and we were simply looking for reasons that buttressed our decision and Buhari’s campaign plan seemed to tick all the right boxes. It has been three years since we elected President Buhari into power, and all we have experienced is regret. Especially because Buhari has made the exact mistakes we voted Jonathan out of power.
Jonathan’s tenure as president was largely shaped by his media team. Three men, in particular, stand out, Reno Omokri, Doyin Okupe and Reuben Abati. All accomplished in their own right with careers in journalism, all three men began their tenure as presidential spokesmen with a fair level of objectivity, but as President Jonathan began to face increasing scrutiny from citizens and the independent press, they began to become increasingly defensive, forgoing their objectivity to allow them unanimously defend their employer. The chasm between the realities on ground and the government propaganda spewed by these men was much too big to bridge when the elections finally came around and the voting public was finally offered an alternative to Jonathan. However, those men haven’t even begun to plumb the depths that President Buhari’s government spokesmen have descended in their defense of this government’s often callous actions.
Lauretta Onochie, or Laurestar as she is known on the internet is easily one of the biggest trolls on the internet right now. If I was asked to compare her to a popular internet figure, I would place her somewhere between Kola Boof and Kemi Olunloyo. This specific subgroup of women are known for their volatile opinions, their unapologetic stances, even when they are visibly, clearly wrong, and their self-righteousness, the fuel that keeps them churning out the obscenities each one of them have become infamous for. There is, however, one cardinal difference between Onochie and the other women. She is a presidential spokeswoman.
Onochie has routinely gone on air to defend President Buhari even on situations that are clearly out of her purview and scope of understanding. She ignored our right to ask about the health and whereabouts of our president when Buhari relocated to the UK to treat an illness the presidency is yet to disclose until this day, proudly proclaiming that Buhari, the number one public servant was a ‘private citizen’ who could go where he pleased while he somehow demanded fealty from us.
Who can forget her spectacular misstep when President Buhari’s piss poor economic policies plunged the country into a recession, going on air to categorically shame Nigerians for daring to demand more of their president. Her only premise for this kind of grandstanding was that Nigeria wasn’t the only country working its way through a recession at the time and we as a people were, perhaps, overreacting.
But all of this pales in comparison to Onochie’s recent statements given on the occasion of President Buhari’s impromptu decision to attend the wedding of the daughter of the Kano governor, Abdullahi Ganduje to the son of the Oyo governor, Abiola Ajimobi. There couldn’t have been a worse time for the president to have embarked on this courtesy visit. Just days before 4 Nigerian health Aid workers were killed in a fresh Boko Haram attack at Rann, the same place bombed a year before by the Nigerian Airforce, killing over 100 people. It was considered such a tragedy that the United Nations immediately withdrew its personnel from the region and put out warnings. The Nation waited patiently to see how the president would respond to this and all we received in return was a press release, delivered by a series of tweets suggesting the president’s remorse at the needless death of poor Internally displaced persons.
Boko Haram’s recent cowardly attacks have only renewed the determination of our government to bring the insurgency to a decisive end, in the shortest possible time. I sympathize with the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies working in Rann, Borno State.
— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) March 2, 2018
In response to much-deserved outrage directed at the president, Mrs Onochie took to her Twitter page to tweet this, peppered as it were, with a photo of the president in Kano. In your face, as it were.
— Lauretta Onochie (@Laurestar) March 3, 2018
What manner of sycophancy moves a woman to prioritise the president’s reelection campaign over the lives of aid workers who risked their lives to go into Boko Haram ravaged Rann and treat the women and children there. How can she dismiss the concerns of Nigerians so willingly, with such conviction that the president simply cannot and does not take missteps or do something so grossly wrong it calls into question his humanity?
We have always speculated what ended Goodluck Jonathan’s career, and it is hard to shake the feeling that the people he surrounded himself with ultimately led to his ousting from the seat of office. If Lauretta Onochie’s approach to public relations as a National figure is anything to go by, we are about to see Jonathan’s woes, come to life in the next few months of Buhari’s reelection campaign. And for once it will be all his fault.