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The task of being a presidential spokesperson is one that comes with relative difficulties, it is never an easy terrain to explore anywhere in the world, it is a job that requires tact, introspective sobriety, emotional intelligence, and discipline; all these attributes sadly have been found lacking in Nigeria’s presidential spokesperson who has deservedly earned himself the nickname ‘Garbage’ Shehu.
Garba Shehu is the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, to the President of Nigeria – President Muhammadu Buhari, by the virtue of his position, he is technically the president’s spokesman. As a spokesman, he is empowered by his principal to convey his (The President’s) mind to the people he superintends over (Citizens).
As earlier stated, the task is never an easy one as the occupier of such office always stands the risk of being misunderstood, misrepresented, or outrightly misquoted, thereby subjecting his or her principal to avoidable dents in the media or public relations (PR) space. This explains why political office holders are always very assiduous with choices as sensitive as that. In this context, President Buhari displayed malfeasance and gross incompetence which somehow have become inseparable from him and all that concern him, to be more succinct, if visible records are a yardstick, his choice of Garba Shehu as a spokesperson is disastrous as his failed government.
In the last couple of weeks, anyone who has been punctilious about listening to or reading press statements emanating from Garba would agree without debates that he has for a while, the presidential spokesman writes or talks either to satisfy a swelling desperation for master-servant overboard theatrics, or for reasons inexplicable to moral guts, held on to a pernicious code of reprehensible conduct that’s fast diminishing his possible legacy; that’s if he would still have any by the time he exits office. Just as a ‘mad dog’ he barks at everyone, gets into a combative mode at any slight opportunity, and misses no chance to display his foolery and stark ignorance, indeed there has been a reversal of commonsense in all his deliveries that leave us confounded by his limited capacity to pass mere information down without the accompanying knowledge consistent with the dignity associated with the office he is occupying or even ideal professional solemnity.
Garba Shehu is a stain to journalism, a profession with decent ethics and moral standards. How Garba Shehu a supposed journalist who served in the PDP government led by Olusegun Obasanjo churning out hits upon hits of anti-Buhari propaganda back then suddenly switched sides and became an attack dog for his ‘vomit’ should be studied, journalists should ordinarily command a great deal of respect but how can one respect a one with low moral voltage as Garba? Surely, when men without principles serve unprincipled principals, expecting a divine miracle would remain a mirage. Indeed how Garba rose to and became the president of the Nigerian Guild of editors, a position he occupied for eight years raises so many questions, which would remain unanswered for a very long while.
Instances of Garba’s horrible outings on his job are countless. Where can one even start from? In the aftermath of the abduction of schoolboys in Kankara Village in Kastina State, Garba rushed to the press to display plain idiocy by announcing that only 10 boys were abducted against the 330 whom were abducted by Bandits and taken to unknown forests. Again, one would not forget in a hurry how he once claimed that Boko Haram has been defeated, a terror group which today holds no fewer than 50 communities hostage in Northern Nigeria. In 2020, Garba publicly announced that Buhari’s Government has created 12 Million jobs, a ridiculous falsehood that the country’s statistical arbiter – The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) wasted no time in refuting. Today, Nigeria’s unemployment is at 33 percent with millions roaming the streets jobless with no hope of a respite anytime soon. Many Nigerians might have forgotten how Shehu blatantly lied that President Buhari’s office was infested by rats which needed over two months to displace, that lie was not only shameful, it was also irrational by every standard. Garba tells lies as often as he eats. All over the world, journalists have an obligation to seek out the truth and report it as accurately as possible, this requires diligence which entails making every effort to seek out all the facts relevant to a story, Graba hates this tedious route, he prefers misrepresenting facts in a very illogical manner.
Garba Shehu is not only notorious at peddling blatant falsehood. He is also an ethno-religious bigot who finds it very difficult to hide his intolerance for people on the other side of the divide. For quite some time, terrorists masquerading as herdsmen have oftentimes been seen invading farms, destroying millions of Naira in investment, raping women in their farms, and committing all manner of atrocities. Garba has never found it convenient enough to condemn or denounce them, however, as an attack dog, he is always careful enough to notice when anyone takes any drastic measure against them. The pathetic words he used on Ondo State governor Rotimi Akerodolu and his Benue state counterpart – Samuel Ortom when they enacted anti-grazing laws in their states ignoring the fact that they are the constitutionally empowered to be ‘Chief Security officers’ of their States best describes him. How the same man looked the other way when the sultan made strong comments on insecurity or Shiek Gumi’s romance with bandits and terror groups still leaves every discerning mind in awe.
Garba barely hides his religious chauvinism, how else can one explain how he was swift to vigorously defend Communications and Digital Economy Minister – Isa Pantami, a fellow religious fanatic with fantasies of blood and death, a terror sympathiser! Garba didn’t even care, he wrote to praise him, not to upbraid him. He chose to write to accuse his critics, rather than face the facts. He wrote to defend a terrorist, not to calm a bewildered country. To be more precise, he simply told Nigerians to go to Blazes and burn to ashes! What a man! Most recently, Garba wrote off Mbaka for asking the president to resign for failing to protect Nigerians – an obligation which he swore to.
Nigeria is remarkably sick, a senior journalist of Garba’s ‘standing’ ought to be circumspect in his outings, in times of national crisis of this magnitude ought to have been scaled up beyond juvenile delinquency. Garba must seek emotional intelligence classes. Sometimes, one may be forced to wonder, if the president even vets Shehu’s Press Statements before he releases them because if he does, he wouldn’t need a soothsayer to see the disservice his spokesman is doing to him.
The current Nigerian Government is a plague, this is indisputable and for the attack dog – Garba. And while we cannot tell the dog whom to bark at, whom to bite and whom to wag the tail for we can only hope that he remembers posterity and the need to save his remaining dignity if he still has any.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK