- For mocking Chibok Girls
- Why Okupe may be fired
The sustained and nauseating campaign in the country to ‘bring back Jonathan’ in 2015 has made a mockery of the Presidency and Nigeria, reports Ohia Israel
Mid last week, President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the removal of billboards bearing messages which contains hash tag said to be adopted from the hugely popular #BringBackOurGirls campaign. It was, however, gathered that Doyin Okupe, President Jonathan’s Special Adviser on Public Affairs, was one of the instigators of the divisive #BringBackJonathanIn2015.
Though this paper cannot ascertain at this moment the initiator of #BringBackJonathanIn2015, it is of note that Doyin Okupe was among the principal persons who promoted and used it on his twitter page.
Investigations reveal that there are four different campaign hash tags the presidential aide aggressively promoted between August 20 and August 22 using his handle @doyinokupe. On August 20 at around 8:04pm Mr. Okupe tweeted: #NigeriansSupportGej42015, #NigeriansSupportGej42015, #NigeriansSupportGej42015.
Also on August, 20 at around 7:21 he tweeted #2015:RUNJONATHANRUN, #2015:RUNJONATHANRUN #2015:RUNJONATHANRUN. Again on the same day, August 20 at around 7:53 he tweeted #2015:GEJRUNANDWIN, #2015:GEJRUNANDWIN #2015:GEJRUNANDWIN.
However, on August 22 at around 4:15 pm he tweeted the one straw that broke the Carmel’s back, in that tweet he said; #BringBackJonathanIn2015…4continuity, #BringBackJonathanIn2015….4continuity #BringBackJonathanIn2015…4continuity.
Among the four, it was the #BringBackJonathanIn2015 that caught fire on Twitter, creating controversies that even foreign media did a piece on it. Aside the tweet hash tag, there has been setting up of billboards and banners that were believed to have promoted by aides and promoters of President Jonathan for the 2015 election.
Most of these banners and billboards are placed in strategic locations in the city of Abuja, a scenario which brought about lots of responses from Nigerians at home and abroad and these also elicited strong key articles that featured in foreign media such as the BBC and the Washington Post.
While more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls remain in captivity, the campaign became a rallying point and is deemed amongst the social media’s most popular campaigns yet.
For instance, the Washington Post’s columnist, Ishaan Tharoor, described the #BringBackJonathan2015 hash tag for a government that has failed to rescue the girls nearly five months after, as likely the “most inappropriate hash tag of the year. It’s not clear whether Jonathan has officially endorsed the new hashtag, but its seeming ubiquity suggests that he is not opposed to it,” said Mr. Tharoor.
However, when the heat was so much on, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan last week directed that the #BringBackJonathan2015 signs and banners around Abuja, which, he claims as many Nigerians, finds offensive and repugnant be brought down immediately.
In a statement signed by Reuben Abati, President Jonathan said he wholly shares the widely expressed view that the signs which were put up without his knowledge or approval are a highly insensitive parody of the #BringBackOurGirls. The statement added that while President Jonathan appreciates the enthusiastic show of support for his administration by a broad range of stakeholders, he condemns the #BringBackJonathan2015 signs which appear to make light of the very serious national and global concern for the abducted Chibok girls.
The President also assures all Nigerians and the international community that his administration remains fully engaged with efforts to rescue the abducted girls and that he will not knowingly promote any actions that will fly in the face of the seriousness of their plight and the anguish of their families.
The All Progressives Congress, APC, has described as a good first step the order by President Goodluck Jonathan for the removal of the #BringBackJonathanIn2015, which is a mockery of the #BringBackOurGirls that has helped to call global attention to the fate of the over 200 girls who were abducted by Boko Haram almost five months ago and remain in captivity.
In a statement issued in London on Wednesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party, said the president made a mockery of his administration and his country by waiting for an international condemnation of the shameless and brazen usurpation of #BringBackOurGirls before issuing the directive for it to stop.
“Had the US newspaper, Washington Post, not written a stinging editorial skewing the Jonathan administration for appropriating the BringBackOurGirls hashtag for his re-election, the administration would have continued its brazenness without regards to the feelings of the parents of the girls or indeed the Nigerian people,” the party said.
“Again, the Administration has waited for a global opprobrium before doing what is right. Recall that it took an international media campaign before the Jonathan Administration acknowledged, after all of 19 days, that the Chibok girls were missing in the first instance. Recall also that it took a 17-year-old, Yousafzai Malala, to make the President realize that he should meet with the parents of the girls, even if he eventually insulted the grieving parents by inviting them to Abuja instead of going to visit them in their abode. It is important that we don’t make a mockery of our own people, so that we don’t become an object of international mockery,” it said.
APC said belated as the president’s directive on #BringBackJonathanIn2015 is, it is a good first step that must be quickly followed by another directive ordering the so-called Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria, TAN, to immediately stop its rallies that have offended the sensibilities and intelligence of Nigerians.
The party said the noisy and sycophantic rallies being held across the nation, ostensibly to collect signatures from Nigerians urging President Jonathan to seek re-election, contrast with the challenges currently facing the nation, which is being dismembered town by town by the terrorist group Boko Haram.
“Nigeria is in a state of war, a state of anarchy, a state of loss never witnessed since the end of the unfortunate civil war in 1970. Terrorists are capturing towns after towns and hoisting their flags over the seized territories, our troops are engaged in an epic battle to ward off the terrorists. Our people are being daily slaughtered by the marauding terrorists. And Ebola is very much here with us.
“Therefore, this cannot be the time for festivities and celebrations, the type being orchestrated by the government under the TAN banner. The rallies insult the troops who are battling Boko Haram. The rallies insult Nigerians who are fervently praying for the unity of the nation in the face of the madness by the marauders. The rallies offend the sensibilities of the families of our citizens who are being mowed down daily by Boko Haram. They must stop forthwith,” it said.
APC wondered whether the organizers of the rallies and those who have been mocking the #BringBackOurGirls campaigners know that Nigerians are not fools, hence can see the deceit, the callousness and the insensitivity of the Jonathan administration in secretly funding the rallies and the anti-BringBackOurGirls campaigns.
“Really, what makes the president and his backers think he should be brought back? Is it because he is presiding over the dismemberment and humiliation of a once proud nation? Is it because he presides over an administration that is monumentally corrupt, that cannot account for 20 billion dollars in oil money; that cannot successfully prosecute anyone over a 1 trillion oil subsidy fraud? Is it because of an unparalleled incompetence that has led to a massive decay in infrastructure and lack of jobs for our youth? Or is it because he has exposed Nigeria to unprecedented global ridicule?
“There must be a limit to the desperation of a President to win re-election at all cost. There must be a political price to pay for a President who would wilfully subvert the Constitution he swore to uphold. There must be some introspection by a President who will be jetting around with an alleged sponsor of terrorism. As we have warned before, when a drum is beating too hard, it is about to burst. President Jonathan must take a moment to reflect, to realize that he can only preside over a country that remains whole, not one that has been fractured or bombed out of existence by terrorists,” the party said.
Meanwhile, former Education Minister, Obiageli Ezekwesili, who also is the convener of the #BringBackOurGirls group, has blasted President Goodluck Jonathan for saying he was unaware of the #BringBackOurGirls was modified in favour of the President’s re-election campaign.
Ezekwesili said the presidential spokespersons are just being “deceitful and incompetent in their discharge of duty. In her tweet she said; “The inhumanity of that hashtag was too much for one to bear and so steadfastly ignore it…But this DECEIT by@abati1990 cannot be ignored.”
According to Ezekwesili’s tweets; she said the presidential aides are “liars and duplicitous beings. LIARS and Duplicitous beings @abati1990: President Jonathan orders removal of offensive Bring Back Jonathan Signs,” she asserted.
She said: “Also incompetent, @abati1990 dissociating the Presidency from a hashtag that was GLEEFULLY CREATED by the President’s spokesman @doyinokupe.”
Speaking on the issue, Head, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, Emmanuel Onwubiko, said while he appreciates Mr. Jonathan’s responsiveness to the outrage since the #BringBackGoodluck2015 banner was raised, the president should investigate and discipline whoever started it.
“The president should go a step further to investigate who generated that hashtag, it was highly irresponsible, he should order for a probe so that next time other people will not do same,” he said.
While on his own part, Executive Director, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, Mumuni Tokunbo; “The campaign for any election must commence legally upon the declarations of INEC, nobody is expected to jump the gun.” According to him, Nigeria must be “practical and realistic” in its decisions to rescue the abducted girls.
It would be recall that #BringBackOurGirls was generated by a Nigerian lawyer, Ibrahim Abdullahi, following the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls from a school in Chibok, Borno in April; a hashtag which drew immense local and international awareness to the providence of the girls.