OPINION: Festus Keyamo would win the election for Atiku

By Reno Omokri…

Ever since President Buhari was unfortunate enough to have appointed Festus Keyamo as the spokesman for his fledgling reelection campaign, the latter has acted as if his job was to be the chief alienator for the President. The man is uncouth, abrasive and does not understand the power of words.

Like very many supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari, Keyamo is a victim of insular thinking. It is strange that a man who was tutored at the feet of the legendary human rights lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi of very blessed memory, refuses to understand the power of logic and instead emotes. Like a character from George Orwell’s 1984, Keyamo is so tunnel visioned that he has hypnotised himself to think of reality as false and his fancies as real.

As the spokesman for a campaign, you are not meant to be an attack dog. You could have a sidekick to whom you give that role, but you are meant to be a diplomat who should use a charm offensive on those opposed to your principal. You are not meant to huff and puff and dismiss them with acid laced words. The job of a spokesman is to build relationships, not destroy them.

A spokesman for an unpopular President must at the very minimum learn to master the art of communication. He ought not to speak just to express himself, but rather to persuade others. When the critical mass are speaking, you ought to listen to them as if they were the most important person on earth. They in turn will help you achieve your purpose-reelecting your candidate.

What a spokesman should never do is lecture people as Keyamo does. Once the public senses you are lecturing them, it does not take long for them to tune out. If you want to influence people, learn to listen to them. Everyone likes to be listened to. If you learn to listen to people, they will love you and see to it that they always defend your interests. But unfortunately, neither Keyamo nor his principal listen. They do not even talk to Nigerians. They lecture us.

Festus Keyamo has failed in all these areas and the latest example of this is the immensely distasteful statement he released insulting former President Obasanjo and revered religious figures including Bishop David Oyedepo, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah and Sheikh Abubakar Gumi.

Nigeria is still a patriarchal society and not a few people will take offence at a young upstart like Keyamo raining invective on a man of historical significance as Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Chief Obasanjo has done so much for Nigeria in peacetime and war such that if even you have cause to disagree with him, which will happen, you must use measured and civilised language.

But perhaps the unkindest cut was Keyamo’s suggestion that the religious leaders who attended the event where Chief Obasanjo endorsed His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, did so for gain.

It is silly of Festus Keyamo to insult Bishop Oyedepo as someone who endorsed Atiku because of gain. David Oyedepo is probably richer than HE Atiku Abubakar. He is a man that has applied Godly principles and succeeded.

Covenant University is one of the most successful, if not the most successful universities in Nigeria, whether private or public. Bishop Oyedepo is not interested in what he will gain. He is interested in what Nigeria will gain.

Just last week, one of President Buhari’s social media aide wrote a letter insulting the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria and now this. Can Keyamo or any of his fellow co travelers insult Islamic leaders this flippantly? President Buhari may want to caution Keyamo and his media aides.

But look at me asking President Buhari to caution his media aides. Has the President not said worse things himself? The more I think about it, asking the President to caution Festus Keyamo on this issue is like asking a dustbin to caution a toilet for its dirty habit.

The funniest thing is that Festus Keyamo and other Buharists celebrated Pastor Kumuyi for hanging out with President Buhari. They saw nothing wrong with it. Only to turn round and insult Bishops Oyedepo and Matthew Kukah for doing same with Alhaji Atiku. Hypocrisy at its peak!

Come to think of it, isn’t Vice President Osinbajo a pastor? By the puerile logic Festus Keyamo has applied, Pastor Osinbajo deserves knocks for fraternising with President Buhari too.

Keyamo has become predictable and in battle (politics is war by other means) predictable people are not reliable people because they can easily be preempted. One hour after the rapprochement between Chief Obasanjo and Alhaji Abubakar, I tweeted the following:

“Let me make a prediction. Within the next 24 hours, Lai Mohammed, @GarShehu and @FKeyamo will start attacking, insulting and slandering former President Obasanjo. They have no record of achievement to run on which is why they run on a record of abasement”

And boy was I right. It took only four hours and not the 24 hours I thought it would take.

President Buhari may not know the damage that characters like Festus Keyamo, a man who is capable of almost anything, good or evil, have done to him. Unfortunately, he is not as social media savvy as Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who goes on Twitter and Facebook himself to see what the public are saying.

If only President Buhari did that, he would find the responses to ALL of Keyamo’s posts, most alarming. Between Keyamo and the shameless woman who reps Buhari on social media, I do not know who is worse. So bad is the situation, that one of their colleagues, a special assistant to the governor of Kano state, openly insulted one of them and accused them of destroying the President’s image. Perhaps they have destroyed it beyond repair.

If I were President Buhari, I would have left Keyamo to his ambulance chasing work of representing girls who make false claims of sexual assault against internationally respected men of God. But then again, we are dealing with a man President Donald Trump called ‘lifeless’. What else could one have expected from him?

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