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As it is with top Government officials all over the world, there are always aides, advisers and secretaries to assist them in dispensing their duties to those who they serve. These aides come in the form of special assistants, advisers, administrative officers, security detail and the personal relations team under which the media aides fall.
The present Nigerian Government is one of the worst governments to ever be at the country’s helm of affairs. From President Muhammadu Buhari to his cabinet members at the presidency, the Senators and the Chief Judges of the Judiciary down to those at the state level and then the State Governors and ministers and their cabinet members too, the country is being ruled by incompetent, egoistic, corrupt minded individuals whose one siphon and embezzle public funds with every slight opportunity presented to them. And to make things worse, they have stifled the voices of pure journalism in the country with the help of their media aides who are known to spin tales and lie about unnecessary details.
Take for example President Buhari’s Special Assistant on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie; his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu; his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, the notorious newspaper columns man Femi Adesina and Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed. These are individuals under Buhari who have in addition to their duties pledged to be sycophantic ass-lickers who on very numerous occasions have fed Nigerians with very wrong information while prasing and extolling their boss President Muhammadu Buhari without application of common sense.
Dictators usually use lies to legitimise and legalise tyranny and terror of authoritarian rule. President Muhammadu Buhari is no exception. Buhari lied that he would create two million jobs every two years. He lied he would build two million public housing units every two years. He lied that Boko Haram would be history six months after he assumed office. He lied ₦1 would equal $1. He lied he would lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in ten years. He lied that he would restructure the lopsided federal system and lied that he would convert the presidential jet fleet to a national carrier.
Buhari did all these with the help of Femi Adesina who lies so frequently with shameless audacity. And most times, in defense of Buhari’s unrepentant falsehood, Adesina will suspend his critical faculty. Adesina assists Buhari in managing and mangling Buhari’s lies. Femi Adesina also derives joy in peddling falsehood about matters of utmost consequence and he also lies about the most trivial things. One of his most recent controversial statements to Nigerians that earned him a lot of backlash was that Nigerians should be very grateful to Muhammadu Buhari because the Boko Haram and other insurgents are being very merciful under his tenure. He was trying to react to the Kankara kidnap saga.
Other aides also help in pulling off their own falsity stunts when it comes to raising Buhari’s already tarnished image. Following the killings of over 76 farmers in Zabarmari, Jere Local Government Area of Borno State by Boko Haram, the nation was in mourning when President Muhammadu Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in an interview with BBC’s Hausa service asked rhetorically if the farmers had clearance before visiting the farm. When asked if the farmers were to be blamed for their death, he responded,
‘Not exactly, but the truth has to be said. Is there any clearance by the military, which is in total control of those areas? I have been told by the military leaders that they have not been so advised.’
He added that since there is no military presence in every corner of the regained territories even though people are ready to go back, some of the areas have been mined, thus, ‘mine clearance has to be carried out first.’ This terrible attempt at trying to save his boss’ face was met with a lot of Local and International backlash as individuals from all corners of Nigeria and all around the world blasted him for trying to defend the massacre of innocent farmers on their own farmland.
Another more recent event was the abduction of over 300 school boys from a Government Secondary school in Kankara, Katsina State. On the day, the state governor, Aminu Bello Masari disclosed that 333 students were kidnapped, Garba Shehu punctured it, saying only 10 of the students were ferried away by the bandits. However, the statement turned out to be untrue as 344 students were released by the bandits on Thursday. A day after the schoolboys were released, the presidential spokesperson took to his Twitter handle to apologise for the inaccurate figure he gave to the public, saying it was not in any way to downplay the seriousness of the issue but that he was misinformed. But the damage had already been done, going further to show how President Buhari parades clueless and incompetent aides around himself.
Lauretta Onochie herself is no new face to courting controversy as she takes her lying to another level totally. In February 2019, she uploaded a Facebook status screenshot that said ‘Atiku becoming president is like hearing that a former armed robber is now your bank manager’ – OBJ (My Watch, page 49)’.
The ICIR reviewed the pages cited, which didn’t contain anything close to the quotes tweeted. Pages 31 and 32 narrated how Obasanjo settled on Abubakar as his running mate and then regretted he later had. It contained some unpleasant remarks about Abubakar －mentioning a ‘somewhat shadowy’ parental background, propensity to corruption and poor judgment – but it didn’t indict him for large-scale stealing during his time in power. Pages 49 of all three volumes made no mention of Abubakar or his likeness to an armed robber. Other excerpts published from the book about Abubakar also did not contain the two quotes shared by Onochie.
In April 2019, Onochie shared a picture with her followers in which she praised then Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima for launching ‘Africa’s biggest Automated Solar Panel manufacturing plant’. The tweet was liked 1,309 times and shared by 587 users of the social media platform. Checks, however, showed that the picture that is credited to senior airman Larry E. Reid Jr ( staff sergeant at the US Air Force), was over 11 years old and depicted a solar power plant in Las Vegas in the US.
Sometime also in 2018, she had tweeted a picture of an asphalt road being constructed. She captioned it ‘Nasarawa-Jos Road’, giving the impression that it was a road constructed by the government, but it was actually a stock photo uploaded to Getty Images in November 2015. The inaccuracy triggered a wave of sarcastic tweets under the hashtag #TweetLikeLaurettaOnochie. She then pulled down the tweet and apologised for the ‘big mistake’ saying ‘it won’t happen again’.
On many other numerous instances too she has come down hard on Buhari’s critics using unprintable words and phrases which are very unbefitting of her position.
Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed who ends this dishonorable list is a very notorious liar having been subject of ridicule, cartoonery and caricature trends because of his penchant for falsehood. One famous controversial phrase about him which generated reactions from far and wide was that ‘If you keep one hundred microphones in front of Lai Mohammed, he would tell a different lie in every single one of them’ This phrase was appended to a photo of Lai Mohammed speaking into numerous microphones at a press hearing.
The Kwara State-born Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has in the last five years of his stint in the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, done nothing but to work in cohorts with anti-democratic forces and reactionary elements embedded in the National Assembly, to design and introduce proposed legislations targeting the whittling down of the increasingly expanding frontiers of media freedoms, which is the global trend.
His latest dance of shame which were his attacks against the United States of America’s based Cable News Network (CNN) and his angst which apparently represents the mind of President Muhammadu Buhari, were all about the effrontery and courage displayed by the international media giant to authenticate the widely held claims that indeed, peaceful protesters in Lekki Tollgate Lagos, on October 20th were shot at by a group of soldiers.
Lai’s claim that Buhari’s infamous globetrotting was in response to invitations from world leaders to discuss the return of looted funds is nothing but blatant lie, his repeated claim that 55 persons stole ₦1.34 trillion is sheer fabrication, and his 2016 announcement that a retiring permanent secretary at the Ministry of Power bolted with 40 brand new SUVs is fake news. He also lied about President Buhari’s state of health, his numerous travels to the United Kingdom for treatment and his appointment of various cabinet members. Lai has never apologised, even when caught in his web of lying. He would rather tell another lie, most times striking both opponents and admirers numb with shock.
If there is any atom of shame in this administration, Buhari and his cabinet should have resigned and tendered a heartfelt apology to Nigerians for destroying the little legacy and pride the Country still had in the eyes of her other counterparts.
Some of the lies Nigerians were told against the government of Jonathan have finally become the road map of Buhari’s administration. Jonathan’s government was accused of being weak in tackling Boko Haram menace but today the terror movement has dealt with the so-called government of a former general. Not only that, bandits which Jonathan’s government never gave a breathing space are waxing so strong. Killing and displacing innocent citizens at ease from their ancestral homes. There is high level of insecurity across the country. Nigerians are living in great fear. Official corruption is more pronounced. Buhari said he will fight corruption but his kitchen cabinet is outrightly enmeshed in a stupendous corruption. Buhari is more engrossed in chasing shadows in the name of war against corruption. The rate of looting in this present administration is alarming. Government officials loot with impunity because nobody has the ball to call them to order and corruption has beaten Buhari’s administration flawlessly. Nigerians are so hungry coupled with COVID-19 pandemic that has led to so many loss of jobs. Nothing is being done to help Nigerians out of this present precarious situation.
When it comes to rule of law, sensitive Nigerians will agree that Buhari’s government has no iota of respect for the law. No respect for court injunctions. There is brazen disobedience for due process, stifling of press freedom, arrest of oppositions on trump up charges and abuse of human rights through the use of coercive apparatus of the state. Millions of Nigerians are living in fear because of state intimidation, they have returned to the days of military junta when no bloody civilian dared question the actions of the military ruler.
President Muhammadu Buhari and his cabinet filled with two faced liars are all part of the problems plaguing Nigeria today.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK