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When you’re in a hole, stop digging!

But that is not what those packaging President Jonathan for re-election are doing. In the last six months, the only discernible strategy I’ve seen is…

But that is not what those packaging President Jonathan for re-election are doing. In the last six months, the only discernible strategy I’ve seen is the demonization of the opposition and the use of base sentiments and fear to sell his candidacy. I feel truly sorry for the president that he has had to play catch-up as an incumbent.
This is 2015, the year Nigerians decide whether they want more of the same or a different dispensation.
Public Relations 101 teaches that you cannot sell a bad product more than once, but if your product has some good qualities you concentrate on those and highlight how and why your product is better than competing brands. You can’t sell fish pepper-soup by demonising isi ewu. And you have to couch the message in such a way that it will appeal to your various publics.
The strategy of trying to frighten Nigerians with the prospect of a Buhari presidency is backfiring big time. By saying Buhari would throw many people in jail if he becomes president, the ruling PDP stalwarts are unintentionally characterising the general as an anti-corruption crusader. By repeatedly accusing him of religious fundamentalism and tribalism when his driver of many years  and many of his prominent associates are Christians, they are making the public find out more endearing things about the man.
And whether they notice it or not, somehow circumstances and coincidences seem to be conspiring against them to render several of their efforts at getting Nigerians to re-elect the president, futile. Let’s take only two examples: First Lady Patience Jonathan recently paid a visit to the oracular Catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka. It was thought that her visit and request for spiritual support would have guaranteed the priest’s support.
But, no; at the turn of 2015, Fr. Mbaka told the mammoth congregation at his Adoration Prayer Ground in Enugu that the Holy Spirit had instructed him to speak the truth which was that President Jonathan’s time was up and Nigerians should vote for change. He lambasted those who use religion to cover up their inadequacies and prophesied that they would bite the dust in 2015.
What about what was thought to be the masterstroke to get the Southwest on board the PDP train: the reissue of the newly designed 100 Naira note with the bust of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, first premier of the Western Region who is still celebrated as the Abraham Lincoln of that zone. That plan has been brutally neutralised by Buhari’s choice of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo who is married to Awolowo’s grand-daughter, as running mate. Three days ago, Mrs HID Awolowo, the matriarch of the family, openly prayed to see the day her granddaughter’s husband would be sworn in as vice president.
The attempt to use religion to knock out Buhari had been so overdone that some of the PDP crusaders already believed their own propaganda. So cocksure were they that Doyin Okupe, Senior Special Assistant to the president, in one of his countless unguarded moments compared Jonathan to Jesus Christ. Now, that was blasphemous and tendentious. In trying to dribble his way out of the national outcry that followed his reckless utterance, Okupe compounded blasphemy with insolence. He found himself between a rock and a hard place. He inadvertently put his boss in the eye of a needless storm. Many Christians on social media promised to revenge that affront against their religion at election time.
Jonathan may have failed in the fight against corruption and in discharging his duties competently as commander-in-chief. But there ought to be things that could be said positively for him in some other areas of governance, yet nobody has identified such areas so as to focus on them. Instead, the social media are being used to fling insults at Jonathan’s opponents and in total disregard of the president’s open admonition that he wanted an issues-based campaign. They even say Buhari is a half illiterate! The way to know that some people are miserable with their lack of credibility is when they try to destroy that of another person. Caution: Drive Carefully; Grave Diggers At work.
Remember, the Republicans had taken Barack Obama for granted for a long time but by the time they woke up from their racist stupor, he was being sworn in as the 44th president of the United States – the first African American to attain that enviable height. Parable for Nigeria?
On the other side of the divide, people like Alhaji Lawal Kaita are Okupeing Buhari’s candidacy by portraying his presidential bid as part of a Northern agenda. “Anything short of a Northern President is tantamount to stealing our Presidency….”
Your presidency? I beg your pardon!
If Mujahid Asari Dokubo’s hate-filled utterances against the North are condemnable, so are Kaita’s – and doubly so, because as an old man he ought to know better. Nigeria does not need an ethnic president. People like the venerable Kaita think they are helping Buhari but the general is best advised to stay clear of such do-gooders. We had counselled President Jonathan to rein in some of those appropriating him as an Ijaw president, without avail. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
Let me serve notice that people like us will rise up against a return to ethnic ‘cabalism’ in the event of a Buhari presidency. Nigerians don’t want to exchange one cabal for another. The reason for the gale of support Buhari enjoys now is that he is seen as a competent man who can be trusted; an incorruptible patriot. All yesterday’s men who have nothing to add had better stay in their villages to amuse their grandchildren with their analogue vibes.
The next eight weeks will determine our immediate future as a nation. There will be a Storm before the Calm. Old fixers will take centre stage. Tons of raw cash will flow. Distribution of ‘stomach infrastructure’ will momentarily attain industrial proportions. The masquerade of violence will demonstrate its gory dance steps. Political stewards will serve their usual dish of hate. But in the end, Nigeria will prevail. So help us God. Welcome to 2015!

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