They speak as though their legs have never passed through the four corners of any school. The tone of their voices, what they push out as publications, and their appearances in the media, are even much scarier as though they are far distance dwellers from human beings. Unfortunately, they are adorned with titles worth fortunes; PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON is what they are called in my dear country, Nigeria.
It was hard, I mean even more confusing, getting a word or two that best describe their kind of characters. In this puzzle, VENOMOUS can be the best match for their title.
‘Venom: is a toxic substance secreted by animals such as snakes, bees, scorpions and the like. These animals inject this substance into their prey or aggressors by biting or stinging, resulting in injury to the body that received it.’
In the build-up to the 2023 general elections, various political parties announced the appointment of portfolios to advance their campaign electioneering at all levels.
The appointments, as contained in each political party’s Presidential campaign council list, include spokespersons, state coordinators, committee members and more.
Before the appointments, Omadaily, like other reputable media platforms, had a track record of these appointees, especially the presidential candidate’s spokespersons.
However, shortly after their appointments as presidential spokespersons, Nigerians have seen many of the so-called elites spitting out words capable of disrupting the peace of the country.
Most of their comments and public outburst could be considered poisonous to the heart of their thousands of followers and loyalists as they speak without guarding their tongues.
Who Is A Presidential Spokesperson?
To better understand this argument, let’s take a dip into knowing who a presidential spokesperson is. What is the role of a presidential spokesperson?
According to Wikipedia, a Presidential Spokesperson speaks on behalf of the President about matters of public interest. Considering the restricted level of access that the media has to the Chief Executive, the Spokesperson was expected to be the primary source of presidential directives in the absence of the President (presidential candidate)…
It is, however, unfortunate how the political class have lost respect for their fellows and the entire Nigerian populace, especially at a time like these when they marketing their candidates to the citizens for one position or the other.
Nigerians have witnessed a series of absurdity from these so-called presidential spokespersons in the last few days into the 2023 general elections. They have repeatedly put out their dirty linens for public view, especially on social media, where they are easily seen and engaged.
Their many disgraceful acts and comments have called for urgent questioning and address.
They Are Playing The Innocence Card
One can deduce from the presidential aides’ attitudes that they are all playing the innocence card. In every way possible, they come at each other with name-calling, digging into their pasts.
These characters are possibly unaware that the internet never forgets, so intellectual and patriotic Nigerians never do. Or rather, they chose to turn blind eyes to the truth to avoid missing a plate of porridge from their paymasters.
They often forget that a little but sincere dig into their different political journey and past lifestyle can put them behind bars forever.
In one of his discussions in – Why Creeps Don’t Know They’re Creeps – German-American novelist and comic artist, Oliver Markus Malloy wrote: “If you were accused of being a witch back then, you were shit out of luck. Being accused was all it took. Forget innocent until proven guilty.
“Nobody bothered to prove your guilt. Nobody dared to speak up on your behalf for fear of being called a witch sympathizer. Because if you were seen as the friend of a witch, you were the next one to be accused of being a witch.
“As soon as a woman was accused of being a witch, she was a pariah without any friends. Nobody wanted to be seen in public with her. The whole village ganged up on her. Everyone was trying to outdo everyone else in their anti-witch fervour: Look at me! I’m throwing rocks at the witch! Look at how much I hate witches! I am definitely NOT a witch myself!”.
He added saying whenever he sees a social media mob ganging up on a celebrity for supposedly saying something “offensive”, it reminds him of the Salem witch hysteria: “That’s racist! And me calling you a racist proves that I’m definitely not a racist myself! That’s sexist! I shame you! And that means I’m definitely not sexist myself! I shame you for being a bad person. That means I’m a good person! Look at how really really offended I am! That means I’m a really really good person”.
It is unfortunate how some of these politicians get away with their sins. If each of their grievous offences were treated rightly, the country would have been in the right place many decades ago.
Here in Nigeria, it has almost become a crime to question public officeholders. As far as they are still in the ruling class, they are as holier than the pope.
Influence On The Electorates
Nigerians are hopeful that despite opposition, the 2023 general elections will be more peaceful than the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan era in 2015.
This can, however, be if the presidential spokespersons, socio-political activists, influencers and those who have taken it upon themselves to lead a group of people supporting a political movement bridle their venomous tongues and coordinate themselves in the interest of peacebuilding.
It becomes crucial to educate the concerned parties that for every comment they make on or off social media in the interest of their candidates, a hundred folds of electorates get indoctrinated. These comments can either make or mar the 2023 general elections depending on what was or is being said.
They Have Done More Harm Than Good To Their Candidates – Jide Ojo
Contributing to this piece, Nigerian Development Consultant, Author and Public Affairs Analyst, Jide Ojo shared that some presidential spokespersons have done more harm than good to their principals.
When asked to speak on the intellectual of the presidential spokespersons and how they are appointed, Ojo noted that some are not necessarily appointed because of their academic qualifications or professions.
He observed that while some spokespersons are lawyers, some were appointed for the positions because of their political alliance.
“These are people from different backgrounds, geopolitical zones that were given appointments maybe because they are lawyers, influencers”, Ojo said.
Speaking on the attitude of some of the spokespersons, including insults, incitement, fake news spread and attacks on their counterparts in the opposition camp, Ojo said parties ought to have adequately inducted the spokespersons.
He furthered that the spokespersons were supposed to have been well informed of the rules and obligations guiding the campaigns and warned them to be mindful of using abusive language, hate speech, and inciting comments as forewarned in the Electoral Act 2022.
What Can Nigerians Do?
When asked whether the electorates have a role to play in dealing with these Venomous Spokespersons, Ojo said the part the electorates can play is to call out and shame them on social media whenever they make inciting remarks or any publication that could mar the 2023 election.
INEC, Their Principals, Buhari Can Call Them To Order
Ojo said that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) could do well to caution the presidential spokespersons through their candidates, noting that they can, with the cooperation of the security agencies, sue them for hate speech as it is an offence punishable in the country.
He continued that those who can call the spokespersons to order include the political parties and the candidates they represent. Ojo submitted that the presidential candidates, Atiku Abubakar (PDP); Bola Tinubu (APC); Peter Obi (Labour Party); Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (NNPP) could summon their representatives and warn them of how their comments are of disadvantage to them.
The analyst said President Muhammadu Buhari is also at liberty to summon all presidential candidates, their spokespersons, influencers, security agencies and all concerned bodies, warn them against any threat to the forthcoming elections, admonish them to commit to issue-based campaigns and political rallies.
Omadaily reported earlier that the National Peace Committee (NPC) expressed concern over violent election campaigns ahead of the 2023 elections.
The committee, in a statement jointly signed by its co-chairmen, General Abdusalami Abubakar (rtd), and Bishop Mathew Kukah, urged all the presidential candidates to abide by the peace accord they signed and caution their spokesmen and representatives against inciting utterances.
According to the committee, they have watched with utter dismay the deterioration in the communication of fundamental issues among politicians since the campaigns started on September 28, 2022.
The committee warned that aggressive and abusive language would only diminish the integrity of the individuals, their candidates and their parties, just as it asked Nigerians to be ready to punish instigators of violence by isolating them or their candidates.
In conclusion, the Holy Bible in – Proverbs 21:23 says: “Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.
Also in – Ephesians 4:29 it says: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Nigerians deserve a peaceful atmosphere before, during and after the 2023 general elections, and no candidate’s ambition is more important than the peaceful living of the citizens.