By Denrele Animasaun
“Never confuse movement with action.” — Ernest Hemingway
On the 3rd of June, BBC Hardtalk presenter, Stephen John Sackur interviewed Doyin Okupe, a senior adviser to Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan. The opening question was; “Are Nigeria’s leaders capable of rescuing their country?” And most of the interview centered on the government’s ineptitude and failure to locate and rescue the Chibok girls.
Doyin Okupe was very defensive from the word go and he particularly took offence to being asked about the performance of his boss. He took to shouting and evading the questions. It was apparent that he was not sure of the exact number of girls that were abducted. In fact, according to him “only God knows”. Well, other than “the principal and the Borno officials”! It was like watching a train wreck about to hit the buffers and screeching to halt before impact. Teflon Don could not have done better but it was apparent that we cannot believe a word of what he uttered. When he said that the challenges were a “Nigerian problem and that Nigerians always get it right”
When and how have we got it right? In fact, we have not got it right in a long while. Someone needs to tell the spin doctor that shouting does not equate to the truth.
Okupe took pains to convince the viewers about the ongoing efforts to rescue over 200 girls who were kidnapped in April by Boko Haram. He defended the action (inaction) taken by Goodluck Jonathan in the aftermath of the kidnapping and said that, although the military knows the location of the girls, the rescue operation is difficult because they don’t want to ‘lose any of the girls’
“The president has promised he will get these girls out and he is going do that,” he said.
He vehemently denied that everyday dozens of bodies with signs of torture and brutality are being transferred from the military headquarters prison called Dubar and deposited at a hospital in Maiduguri.
Doyin Okupe spun another whopper when he said that the Nigerian Government and the military is suffering from an orchestrated plan to cause disaffection, alleging that people who are angry with the fact that President Goodluck Jonathan won an election are doing everything within their power to fight his government. Well, the conspiracy theorists are spinning more and feeding the gullible and the apologists their version of the truth.
Doyin went on to explain, “You do not understand the holistic problem of Nigeria. President Jonathan has committed an offence. His major offence is that he won an election when some people in Nigeria, very strong and powerful feel that he ought not to have won and power ought not to be where it is currently resident. So people want to take this power by all means, at all cost, playing all sorts of gimmicks and all and they have a lot of money and a lot of influence both within Nigeria and outside Nigeria,” he said.
Despite the fact that, Okupe conceded that Boko Haram’s increased activities in Northern Nigeria are as a result of high level of poverty, adding that this is because of prolonged neglect occasioned by past governments. He was very quick to add that the government will put in place structures to alleviate poverty in the north once the insurgency has been quelled. Well, he did say that the government has been in power for only three years but it seems that three years was not enough!
Doyin countered that “If you ask any objective Nigerian, they would tell you this is as a result of longstanding neglect by various governments, not the present administration because this government is only three years old” well, can the objective Nigerians please stand up?
Doyin made a statement that Nigerians have always got it right. I do not know what parallel Nigeria that Okupe occupies but Nigeria is failing and spectacularly under his boss’ watch. This man was having a shouting match, he dodged, evaded and jabbed his finger at the presenter and at one point he was holding the hand of Stephen in order to make his point. On so many levels, it was cringe worthy to watch as he blatantly lied to cover the government lackluster response to the way they have handled the present situation. He even went as far as to defend the administration’s lack of progress and its stupendous corruption.
Was he believable despite his loud protestations? No. but, he worked hard to convince the audience that his boss is doing his utmost best to make the country better. Doyin said that the president is considering a host of options including voluntary disarmament of the insurgents and inclusion into society. Where and how can that happen when these killers have committed such heinous crimes?
When asked why GEJ had not visited Chibok. Doyin assured the presenter that the president will visit at some point. When the country needed the chief of staff, he has been found wanting. He leaves his spin doctors to deflect and front his campaign. Doyin Okupe may have ranked his performance on HardTalk as a triumph but it was very apparent that the spin doctors are very much the mouthpiece of the president. This does not bode well in terms of the character of a capable head of state.
In the meantime, seven weeks have passed and the girls remain missing and hundreds more are losing their lives. If as Doyin had implied that the government and the army know the whereabouts of the girls, logic dictates that they should have now been rescued and the insurgency quelled.
At present, the BH is allowed to massacre and maim at will and the atrocities continue to claim more lives. They continue to kill hundreds on a daily basis and it is alarming that over 720,000 people have been displaced as a result of the terrorist activities. When will we see the end to this senseless bloodshed? How do you become a refugee in your own country? What is the government and armed forces doing to keep people safe? Where is the contingency plans, where are the resources and deployment? Who helps those who have been bereaved and terrorized and maimed? There is a lot of hand wringing and not enough action. Spin Doctor Doyin may talk the talk; his boss definitely is not walking the walk.
All we are saying is; bring back our girls
The man who has won millions at the cost of his conscience is a failure. – B.C. Forbes
Where else in a democratic country are you denied your right to free association, right of assembly and expression? Well, only in Nigeria! The commissioner of Police for FCT declared that the protesters be forced out of the capital as their protest is deemed “a security threat”. It’s had to believe that, in this day and age, the police force has the temerity to enforce and dismantle a peaceful protest.
It is very convenient as it came on the day that the BringBackOurGirls group, filed an N200m suit at the Abuja High Court, challenging the powers of the Nigerian Police Force to ban any form of protest within the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, after an outrage from members of the public greeted the decision of the FCT Police Commissioner, Mbu.
I wonder on whose order this was carried out? The protesters were simply exercising their constitutional rights as enshrined in Nigerian Law.
The groups have the right to insist that nobody has the power to stop them from holding peaceful meeting especially for the release of the abducted Chibok girls.
It concerns the whole of Nigeria and if the world are concerned should we not be doubly so? It seems the powers that be do not think so. The movement at home is a thorn on the sides of the top honcho and where upon, they cannot stop the world wide concerns they feel they can flex their political muscle and muzzle any voice of protest.
The movement cited the constitution, that “Any action that violates our constitutionally guaranteed rights as citizens, particularly our rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, among others as enshrined in Chapter Four (Section 40) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) is illegal and unconstitutional”.