By Sly Ikechukwu

I read with utter disappointment an opinion piece authored by one Phrank Shaibu with the above headline. In the rather toxic piece, he oozed so much rage and bitterness, much to the chagrin of many astute Nigerians.

He and allies chose to respond to Festus Keyamo’s recent assertion not out of concern for citizens or love for Nigerian students caught up in the ASUU/FG crisis, but because the Minister of State for Labour and Productivity said ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar never held an executive position that would have qualified him to be President next year.

In the chat with Channels Television, Keyamo marshalled reasons he thought Atiku is not the candidate to beat in 2023. He also bared his mind on the lingering ASUU strike, suggested that individuals intervene, and urged parents to beg ASUU to sheathe their sword. The passionate and unbiased analysis of the ASUU saga revealed the Minister’s empathy for students and parents.

As a product of the system and a proponent of the masses, whose own family members also suffer the adverse effect of the industrial action, Keyamo merely expressed a harmless opinion which himself was willing to champion as a parent. But it hit Shaibu and his likes on the wrong chord.

Without clothing him in a borrowed apparel, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate has not occupied any executive post till date; whatever decisions or policies implemented between 1999 and 2007 were sanctioned by the Commander In Chief, Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR on whose table the buck stops.

The statement of fact which Keyamo reiterated during the interview formed the basis for Shaibu’s tirade against the erudite Senior Advocate well-respected for his eloquence in national matters, exceptional brilliance and mental soundness.

My first knowledge of Shaibu dates back September 23, 2012 when I read an article written by renowned Professor of Journalism, Farook Kperogi, which described him in unpalatable terms.

When Olorogun Keyamo was announced as the campaign spokesperson of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) for the 2023 presidential election, the derangement syndrome that it caused in the opposition was surprising but not unexpected.

Leading the cyber militia to illustrate the trepidation in their camp is Phrank Shaibu. In 2019, after all efforts to pitch his tent with President Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign team crumbled like crushed cookies, he surfaced in Atiku’s camp and began to spool up crap in the media.

The latest article by Shaibu has clearly shown that the PDP is scared. The public should note that his attack on the Minister’s introductory media interface was not based on issues but an attempt to deny the truth. He tried to obfuscate the interview, albeit poorly.

Keyamo has a mandate borne out of an eloquent testimony of verifiable performance record which the naysayers cannot attain. He will not be distracted from the objective, which is to market the APC presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to the enthusiastic and knowledgeable electorate.

He will not dwell on Shaibu’s uncouth manner, intemperate disposition and theatrics but focus on the onerous task of informing Nigerians the qualities which sets his principal apart from pretenders. If accomplishment is the yardstick for measuring success, Festus Keyamo SAN, FCIArb UK, is the frontline campaign spokesman; a tested and effective image maker whose life and career are well known.

Keyamo’s outstanding performance contributed immensely, in terms of political communications and reputation management, to President Muhammadu Buhari’s reelection. The outstanding performance record undoubtedly played a pivotal role in Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s choice to re-hire him for the same position, going into the general elections.

Though the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) hasn’t pronounced the campaign season open, political parties are working hard in the background to promote their candidates. Keyamo’s emergence as the leading spokesperson of the APC campaign machinery is apt and applauded as he’s well apprised of the contending issues of our polity.

Every election season throws up all manner of political hacks that traffic in a one-way lane already strewn with shipwrecked characters that operate on reverse osmosis thinking of decency and societal good. It is a case of history repeating itself and the exact occurrence of past.

It’s regrettable that political communication jobbers fail to communicate principles that will unite the people into a cohesive democratic force but resort to elevate propaganda, demagoguery and falsehood of what a true President should represent beyond their parochial interpretation of programmatic thrust.

Phrank Shaibu should realize that it’s not easy to shape his institutionalized memory and vile against the APC in his futile bid to twist Keyamo’s comments and hoodwink intelligent citizens as to the presidential candidate who gathered more political IOUs in Nigeria other than Tinubu, the quintessential Jagaban.

Sly Ikechukwu is a public affairs analyst, writer and commentator

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