Wallgreen Wins Most Outstanding Real Estate Company Award

A Nigerian based construction and real estate company, WallGreen Properties, which prides itself as being one of Africa’s leading brand in the Real Estate sector, has recently been awarded the Property company of the year at the 2018 edition of the prestigious Trek African Entrepreneurship Conference, which was held at the Lagos Chambers of commerce and industry (LCCI) Expo centre, Ikeja and the company with Chief Hon. Lanre Rasak, a real estate mogul and the Balogun of Epe Land as the chairman of the occasion.
One of the side attractions of this year’s edition was the usual special recognition and awards session, which is reputable for being a veritable platform for celebrating outstanding performances and innovative brands in the corporate business world. The session which featured several industrialists and business tycoons saw WallGreen properties limited emerges the winner of the industry excellence award as “Property Company of the year”.
The award which many attribute to the consistency and selfless contribution on the part of the team towards improving the standard of living of their clients is expected to drum up competition between other companies in the real estate sector.
WallGreen properties Limited, a construction and real estate company which was incorporated in some years ago, set goals of delivering quality way of life and convenience to clients and given this most recent recognition by the Trek Africa team, the CEO and staff of WallGreen properties commended the activities of Trek Africa team.
Mr. Wale Lawal, MD/CEO Wall Green Properties limited is a renowned real estate personality of repute who has garnered local and international accolades in the corporate business world for his exemplary leadership and demonstration of excellence.

PHOTO NEWS: Adeosun, Elumelu, Others At IMF/World Bank Meeting

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun and the Central Bank Governor on Sunday left Nigeria for Washington DC to join other economic experts from around the world in discussing issues affecting global economy.

The discussions is taking place under the auspices of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank will bring together central bankers, ministers of finance and development, parliamentarians, private sector executives, representatives from civil society organisations and academics.

They will discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development, and aid effectiveness.

Also featured are seminars, regional briefings, press conferences, and many other events focused on the global economy, international development, and the world’s financial system.

Below are some pictures from the meeting.



Standard Chartered MD, Bola Adesola Appointed Vice-Chair Of UN Board

THE Secretary-General of United Nations, Antonio Guterres has appointed Nigeria’s Mrs Bola Adesola, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria, to serve as Vice-Chair of the Board of the UN Global Compact.

Also appointed with Adesola is Mr Paul Polman of the Netherlands, Chief Executive Officer of Unilever, to also serve as Vice-Chair of the Board of the UN body, the UN announced.

Global Compact is a voluntary initiative based on Chief Executive Officers commitments to implement universal sustainability principles and to take steps to support UN goals.

“The Secretary-General is pleased to confirm that Bola Adesola of Nigeria, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Standard Chartered Nigeria and Paul Polman of the Netherlands, Chief Executive Officer of Unilever, will serve as the two Vice-Chairs of the Board of the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative.

“Ms Adesola and Mr. Polman succeed out-going United Nations Global Compact Board Vice-Chair, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Former Chairman of Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies and of Anglo American PLC.

“The Secretary-General extends his great appreciation to Sir Mark for serving in the position for the past 10 years and shepherding the United Nations Global Compact into a new era,” the UN said.

Both Adesola and Polman had served on the Board of the United Nations Global Compact previously.

“They would bring to the position a wealth of experience in the private sector, in the corporate sustainability space and specifically with the United Nations Global Compact itself.”

Adesola had served as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Ltd since 2011.

She has over 25 years of banking experience, including at First Bank of Nigeria and at Citibank.

Adesola holds degrees from Harvard Business School and Lagos Business School, as well as a law degree from the University of Buckingham.

Polman had served as Chief Executive Officer of Unilever since 2009.

Prior to joining Unilever, he worked at Nestlé S.A., and at Proctor and Gamble, where he spent 26 years.

Polman holds degrees from the University of Groningen and from the University of Cincinnati.

“As Chair of the Board of the United Nations Global Compact, the Secretary-General looks forward to working closely with Ms Adesola and Mr Polman.

“Along with United Nations Global Compact Executive Director, Lise Kingo, as they lead the United Nations Global Compact, the entry point for business within the broader United Nations system,” the UN stated.

Gov el-Rufai Welcomes First Grandchild

Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State is officially a grandfather.

The governor who announced his new status in a tweet Friday night disclosed that his daughter-in-law Kamilah Bello El-Rufai has just delivered a baby girl.

”Alhamdulillah. I am officially a grand-father! My daughter-Inlaw Kamilah Bello El-Rufai delivered a baby girl about 30 minutes ago. Baby, mother and my son Bello are doing well. Please put them all in your positive prayers.” ~ Nasir El-Rufai, tweeted.

Magu, 17 Other Senior Police Officers Promoted

EFCC Boss Promoted Commissioner Police

The Police Service Commission (PSC) has approved the promotion of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), DCP Ibrahim Magu, to the rank of Commissioner of Police.

A statement from the PSC Head of Press and Public Relations, Mr Ikechukwu Ani, revealed that the commission also promoted 17 other senior police officers.

The promotions were one of the high points of the commission’s 27th plenary meeting which ended on Friday in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The meeting was presided over by Chairman of the PSC and a retired Inspector General of Police, Dr Mike Okiro, Channels tv reports.

According to the statement, the PSC approved promoted AIG Agbola Oshodi-Glover who is in charge of Zone 11, Osogbo, to the next rank of a Deputy Inspector General of Police.

Similarly, CP Ghazzali Mohammed, the Commissioner of Police, Administration, DLS, Force Headquarters, and CP Peace Ibekwe Abdallah who is the former Commissioner of Police in Ebonyi State Command and currently the CP, Force Intelligence Bureau at Force Headquarters, were promoted to Assistant Inspector General of Police.

Senior officers also elevated to the rank of Commissioner of Police are Ebere Onyeagoro – DCP Administration, Kaduna State Command, and Moshood Gbolarumi – DCP Maritime, Lagos.

Other promotions approved by the PSC include one Assistant Commissioner of Police to Deputy Commissioner of Police, nine Chief Superintendents of Police to Assistant Commissioners of Police, one Deputy Superintendent of Police to Superintendent of Police, one Assistant Superintendent of Police to Deputy Superintendent of Police, and one Inspector to Assistant Superintendent of Police.

Dr Okiro congratulated the newly promoted officers and urged them to rededicate themselves to the service of their fatherland.

He also assured them that the commission would continue to pay attention to their basic entitlements which include regular promotions.

S/Africa: Ex-President Zuma, 76, Takes 24-yr-old Lady As 7th Wife

Seventy-six-year-old former president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, is set to marry for the seventh time.

His bride-to-be is 24-year-old Nonkanyiso Conco, who confirmed to TimesLIVE that she and the embattled former president are set to wed.

“Yes‚ we are getting married‚ but that is all I can say. I need to consult before I give any interviews‚” she told the South African website.

Conco is a director of the Pietermaritzburg-based Nomkhubulwane Culture and Youth Development Organisation‚ aimed at protecting the cultural practices of young Zulu women.

Conco reportedly resides in the plush Ballito Estate Hilltop‚ home to some of the city’s most well-heeled residents. She would be Zuma’s youngest bride‚ at 52 years his junior.

Zuma‚ who has always been a proponent of polygamy‚ is currently married to Gertrude Sizakele Khumalo‚ Thobeka Madiba-Zuma and Bongi Ngema-Zuma.

He is divorced from Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and separated from Nompumelelo MaNtuli Zuma.

Oil Price Rises To $74 Per Barrel

Oil prices held firm on Friday near three-year highs reached earlier this week as ongoing OPEC-led supply cuts, as well as strong demand, gradually draw down excess supplies.

Brent crude oil futures were up at 73.79 dollars per barrel at 0440 GMT.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures down 2 cents at 68.40 dollars a barrel.

Both Brent and WTI hit their highest levels since November 2014 on Thursday, at 74.75 and 69.56 dollars per barrel respectively. WTI is set for its second weekly gain.

Oil prices have been pushed up by a gradually tightening market.

Led by top exporter Saudi Arabia, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), has been withholding production since 2017 to draw down a global supply overhang.

The tighter oil market is feeding into refined products.

Oil supply tightness is also a result of healthy oil demand.

Beyond OPEC’s supply management, crude prices have also been supported by an expectation that the United States will re-introduce sanctions on OPEC-member Iran.

Development Reporting And Hysteria Journalism, By Kingsley Moghalu

Keynote Address by Professor Kingsley Moghalu, Former Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, At The Niche 4th Anniversary Lecture

 

Gentlemen of the press and distinguished guests

As someone who appreciates the role of the media in shaping society, it is my pleasure to address you at this event. Today’s chairman, Professor Oluremi Sonaiya, has also been an important voice in our public discourse.

It is also my pleasure to be here because I am among former colleagues. I don’t know how many of you know this, but in my former life I worked in the media with Newswatch. That is why I am very much at home with journalists. I was at Newswatch in its glory days, when it was one of the most widely read news magazines in Nigeria, and one of the most trenchant and consistent voices against a military establishment that had long overstayed its welcome.

Under the leadership of that trio to end all trios –Ray Ekpu, Dan Agbese and Yakubu Mohammed – Newswatch was an example and an inspiration to many, a guiding light in those difficult times of the struggle against military rule. I recall the many battles fought against the military in court, through bans and harassment by security agents, with the obvious aim of silencing us.

My work in the media didn’t end with Newswatch. I also was a special correspondent for international publications like the Christian Science Monitor and Africa News Service, as it was known at that time, as well as a contributing columnist for The Guardian.

Media and technology

Thirty years after I left it, the media landscape in Nigeria has changed significantly. Print consumption is in what looks like permanent decline, with online consumption holding sway. While the mode of consumption of news has changed, the role of the media to inform has not changed.

We exist in a time that is defined more and more by what some have called an information deluge. In addition to traditional media like TV, radio, billboards and so on, we now have the constant barrage of notifications from our mobile phones, alerting us to all sorts of things, the majority of which could be described as trivial. And yet these trivialities have the capacity to take up all our time and leave us unable to focus on the things around us that truly matter.

Media these days is indistinguishable from technology. Where once the medium was separate from the message, they have become one and the same, fulfilling Marshall McLuhan’s prophecy. Our choices at every level are influenced by our exposure to the Siamese twins of media and technology. In this day and age, it is easier than ever before to become a news outlet, and the revelations about the use of the Facebook platform by organizations to harvest user data and use it to spread falsehood and influence the outcomes of elections and referendums, should give us all pause to reflect about the impact of news outlets on our psyche.

There are a number of schools of thought about the way media should interact with society, and development reporting stems from the development theory of media, which holds that media should be an agent of educating the masses in line with the development needs of a nation. It says that development communication is that which is employed for the purpose of social transformation.

Development Reporting

What do we mean by development journalism? It is a bit of a controversial term because its critics call it “government-say-so” journalism.But it broadly means that journalism in developing countries should contribute to social transformation by educating and informing citizens on activities that contribute to economic and social development, highlighting the importance of those issues and activities. In this understanding, there is a conscious bias by the media towards what is seen as a larger goal of the society, and less emphasis on other issues that may be newsworthy but are seen as “trivial” or just not advancing the desired consciousness that development journalism seeks to create.

We had a lot of development journalism when the role of the government was in the society and the economy was very strong in many countries including Nigeria, in the 50s, 60s and 70s. In some countries with socialist governments, there simply was nothing else. As from the 1980s with economic liberalization, development journalism began to die a natural death as the media sought to survive in increasingly capitalist economies by being relevant to its consumers by giving more attention to new trends.

Today, development journalism is practiced only by specific, specialized media, much of it, ironically in the western world in the context of these countries’ roles in “international development”. We have as examples Devex, an organization that publishes news and views on development issues around the world.

Investigative journalism and social transformation

One of the major ways by which the media that play role of a catalyst in social transformation is through investigative journalism. By uncovering evidence of malfeasance and shedding light on social ills, journalists can influence public discourse in a major way. There is so much that is wrong with our country today, and a vibrant tradition of investigative reporting can help change this.

The tradition of investigative reporting in Nigeria has been dying slowly as news has become more commercialised, that is why the work of outlets like Premium Times and the Wole Soyinka Center for Investigative Journalism, for example, is crucial to keep those traditions alive. Speaking truth to power and going beyond press releases is never easy, but that is what must be done in order to truly make an impact.

Good investigative journalism is about resources, and the ability for editors and publishers to resist external pressure when reporters ask uncomfortable questions. There is a general absence of both, and that is a key reason why there are so many important stories which remain untold.

The ownership structure of the Nigerian press has always been centered around politicians, or those who aim to go into politics. Even back to pre-independence days, Herbert Macaulay, NnamdiAzikiwe, ObafemiAwolowo and other leading political agitators all owned media outlets. After independence, some of thesemedia continued and were put in the service of one ethnic agenda or the other, leading to the civil war and later, the end of the Second Republic and return of military rule. All those events had at their core the use of media to advance an agenda that served narrow interests.

Nigeria’s press cannot play an effective developmental role because the elite who own these media have no worldview. Their only concern is access to political power, and unfortunately, these outlets are deployed in pursuit and maintenance of this access.

That is why when your newspaper runs on advertising money from some connected people in society, that revenue is at risk if they or their friends are the subjects of an investigative report. Often, the choice is between the advertising revenue and the report. That is one of the reasons 234Next is no longer with us today. Business models that do not rely on the patronage networks of a corrupt political and business class are best for publications that want to do good work in this area.

Entertainment or real news?

There is another aspect to this. And that is the prevalence of news as entertainment that is sweeping the globe. It would seem as if people are more interested in Big Brother Nigeria, the English Premier League or following the lives of their favorite celebrities. So, there is this tension: can the serious, in-depth reporting necessary for good developmental journalism break through our increasingly cluttered digital lives? Even reputable media outlets abroad seem to move more and more toward tabloid-ism, in response to the tastes of their audience.

It is important to note here that the digital space is significantly different from the written word, and news outlets hoping to make an impact will have to deliver their information in ways that are effective. We have seen media outlets move toward the use of short videos and infographics in recent times, to get their message across.

Hysteria Journalism

Closely linked to the entertainment quotient of journalism we have today, is hysteria journalism which seeks to play on the latent prejudices of readers. This has the effect of reducing public discourse to a shouting match and leaving the public less informed. Let us be clear: hysteria journalism is a reflection of our country and the magnified fault lines that exist in it today. The destructive tone and divisive rhetoric of Nigeria’s political class is what is largely responsible for hysteria journalism in Nigeria today.

One of the most common examples in these parts is the recent controversy over a so-called “looters list” of allegedly corrupt past government officials and party functionaries of the past PDP-led government and the response of the PDP. This is one example of how, instead of doing the serious institutional and procedural reforms necessary to reduce corruption, our politicians play political football with corruption and feed the hysteria mode of journalism that dominates our society today. There exists a loud and constant cacophony of divisive and bellicose threats, counter-threats and allegations that create much heat in the societal fabric but very little light.

The discussion on the removal of subsidies in 2012 was a seminal moment. While it is true that the communication around the removal was less than perfect, the narrative that keeping subsidies was a good idea was always wrong. The discussion should have centered on how to re purpose the funds to subsidize production instead. Years later, the oil price crash has exposed the folly of this position.

In the West, hysteria against immigrants is driven by right-wing media. According to them, the immigrants take their jobs and are out to replace them, when all available evidence shows that they contribute significantly to the economies of their new countries. The narrow win by the pro-Brexit campaign in the UK was driven in part by this, as well as a marked tightening of immigration opportunities in the United States. The world we live in is very complex, with many variables. Good developmental journalism cannot afford to be ignorant of this.

Investing in journalists

I cannot talk about developmental journalism without talking about the journalists themselves. Before journalists can carry out their role as watchdogs effectively, they need to have capacity. Typically, Nigerian journalists used to be highly regarded in society. People like the late, great Dele Giwa of Newswatch made the profession appealing to many. That is hardly the case today. Journalism in Nigeria has become a profession where you are not guaranteed the basics. The working conditions of many journalists in Nigeria are appalling. They are not given the support they need.

In many outlets, journalists go for months without pay, while their bosses live large. The result is that the media becomes real estate to be bought by the highest bidder, because people have to feed their families. The truth is that much, though certainly not all, of what appears in news media in Nigeria today is paid for. In this state of affairs, journalism does not perform a public good, and it cannot serve developmental ends.

Before journalists can even educate others, they must also be educated. What is the financial literacy level of journalists who cover finance and economic topics? What’s the science and technology literacy of the journalists who cover those topics? If most media houses find it difficult to pay their staff, how would they be able to invest in their staff to upgrade their knowledge of their respective beats? Every day, new information is being created, and it is so easy to get left behind. It would now fall on a highly motivated journalist to educate himself or herself.

The result of this current landscape is the inability of the Nigerian journalist to inform the public, be at the forefront of social transformation, and hold the powerful accountable. Everyone loses. The Nigerian journalist exists within the Nigerian state, and unfortunately cannot rise above the average level of his or her environment. It would be unfair to demand this.

My vision for the Nigerian media

That is why we need a new elite led by a worldview that is focused on ensuring that Nigeria can fulfill its potential. Nigeria needs to become a worldview state. Only then can journalism in Nigeria play a developmental role, in line with that worldview.

Without an overarching worldview, what happens is what we have at present: several smaller views holding sway in various parts of the country. These narrow worldviews are driven by ethnic and religious considerations, and most importantly, corruption and a lust for power.

My vision for the Nigerian media is as a creator and promoter of a national philosophical worldview that permeates all aspects of our national life. This will reduce and even eliminate the various ethnic instabilities in our society. For a period of time in the 1970s, Nigeria appeared driven by a worldview: that of being a bellwether country for Sub-Saharan Africa, and actively supporting the fight against apartheid as well as other liberation movements in Southern Africa. However, this assured posture in the foreign policy arena masked a lack of economic strength that was quickly exposed by the decline of oil prices in the early 80s.

All the greatest countries in the world are driven by their worldviews, which are actively promoted by their media. The US, China, Russia, and others all have well-funded and highly sophisticated media outlets that promote national unity at home, and project soft power abroad.

There is no reason at all why Nigeria cannot do the same. The NTA used to be the home of great programs, and many of the first wave of Nollywood actors were trained by the NTA. Its decline is a prime example of how rudderless our elite have become. We aim to play a leadership role on the continent and even globally, while the government owned media, like many other things owned by government, is basically moribund.

It is my hope that in the coming years, the lot of the Nigerian journalist will improve due to the type of people who will finance media outlets; a new kind of Nigerian elite who understand the realities of our time and are prepared to use their resources to create and promote strategic national goals.

Thank you very much.

Pendulum: President Buhari As A Public Relations Nightmare, By Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, these are not the best of times for our dear President, Muhammadu Buhari. And it must be much worse for his media handlers. Let me state matter-of-factly, from the onset, that President Buhari gets into regular trouble, indeed, too frequently, because he has invested heavily in a media team but lacks a public relations team. In Nigeria, most leaders fail to realise that being a good journalist, Editor, Publisher, Broadcaster, and what have you, does not make you a good or excellent public relations guru. The other problem is I’m not sure the President is surrounded by those bold or brave enough to look him straight in the eye to tell him the honest truth. His earlier persona as a military ruler has also not helped matters in this respect. The fear of a military dictator is the beginning of wisdom, according to the view of an average Nigerian.

I must confess that I have been a latter-day convert and ardent fan of President Buhari. I signed up only after he decided to contest the 2015 elections for a record fourth time. I took the view that he was the best man for the job particularly because the Jonathan administration was fumbling and not prone to correction. I played my part in articulating the President’s attraction for me and those like me who felt that he was what Nigeria required at the time, a stop-gap in the mould of Mandela option. Without being immodest I can say that I successfully played my own part in the eventual victory of APC and the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket.

I first had a significant interaction with Buhari in 2011, when he asked Dr Lanre Tejuoso to bring me to his house in Abuja and we got on quite well. The camaraderie was palpable. And he disarmed me with his candour and passion. Prior to the 2015 election, I met Buhari in London at a flat in Mayfair, the day he spoke at Chatham House. He sprang to his feet as soon as I walked in and appeared happy to see me. We chatted briefly and took several pictures with Rotimi Amaechi, Hadi Sirika, Festus Keyamo, Hadiza Bala Usman and others. He was as effervescent and excited as everyone else at the prospect of becoming Nigeria’s new leader. His optimism for the country was infectious and I believed I had made a wise decision in deciding to follow and publicly support him.

I vividly recollect my meeting with President Buhari shortly after he assumed office in 2015. This was at his behest. I found him very relaxed and jocular. We again got on well. Contrary to the public misconception and rumours about his taciturnity, he was witty, chatty and freely spoke his mind. He certainly did not appear dictatorial or aloof. Many of those who saw our interaction on television, as well as the pictures in different media, could not believe how freely we had bonded. I was surprised when a few Ministers asked what I did to make him feel so comfortable with me. Even before I went in to see him, a few people had pleaded with me to help talk to him frankly. I started getting the feeling that they considered me a suicide bomber who should carry away the sins of the earth. But the Buhari I met was not as difficult as he was made out to be. Everyone says when you hold meetings with him, it is a monologue, you are forced to do the talking while he does the listening. And that you never know whether he has heard you or what is on his mind. That was not the Buhari I met. He was receptive and we exchanged ideas on the various issues of national and social interest that we talked about.

It is one of those inexplicable ironies that the same man who generated and galvanised so much love and passionate affection has lost and squandered most of that uncommon goodwill. No one since the June 12, 1993, election, which was clearly and undoubtedly won by Chief MKO Abiola, has had such monumental, widely acclaimed and fair victory as President Buhari did in 2015. The youths of Nigeria were so much in love with him that they studiously ignored all his shortcomings and embraced him warts and all. The same youths are so angry today that I’m almost certain it would take some magic and miracle to get them to reconnect with our President like they did in 2015. There was nothing anyone could have said negatively to Buhari that they would have believed at that time. As a matter of fact, the youths said if Buhari presented NEPA bills as his school certificate result, they would accept it as genuine and further, that they were ready to march for Buhari all the way to Aso Rock.

So what went wrong? It is difficult to point at just one thing. It has been an amalgamation of conflicting issues and signals. The first was the attitude exhibited early in the life of this government that there was no real urgency and Buhari could take forever to handpick his team. The government lost the much-needed steam at that moment. And when the team was announced, it was déjà vu, because there was no difference and no big deal about their composition. Next was the witting or unwitting decision to start a war of attrition within his own party. I warned against this very quickly, but was dismissed as raising false alarm. The APC became a house divided against itself. Till this day they couldn’t hold regular meetings, they couldn’t make most of the necessary political appointments, they couldn’t select their board of trustees, they couldn’t even hold a convention to celebrate their victory not to talk of one to elect a new national executive and so on.

The Party’s highfalutin campaign promises soon became its albatross. The grandiloquent manifesto had been packaged to entice everyone like babies to lollipop but when the day of reckoning and delivery came, the chocolate boxes were suddenly and strangely empty. The schools feeding programs could not be achieved. The social security and welfare packages of arranging stipends for the unemployed youths reached a cul-de-sac because government could not muster such resources. The President’s avowed fiscal policy target of parity between the Naira and the US Dollar – One Naira to one US Dollar proved to be a pipe dream that all discerning members of the public knew it would be. Indeed, it was much worse as the Naira slid to its lowest ever price against all currencies including African ones.

Buhari’s biggest attraction was the belief that he would easily wipe out, or at least significantly reduce, corruption in Nigeria. Those who believed the hype saw him as the only saint in Nigeria, but they forgot that sinners are probably the only ones capable of catapulting the saint to power. He tried his best in fighting the demons of Nigerian democracy, but they were much smarter than he ever bargained for. Pronto, the demons lined up in a long queue and migrated from PDP to APC where they are now comfortably ensconced and protected. Several corruption allegations and scandalous revelations involving members of the government or trusted aides and associates have either been ignored or swept under the carpet. Thus it has become difficult for the ruling party to stand on any moral ground and sermonise or pontificate about fighting corruption. For every finger pointed at others, four fingers pointed back at them. The sacred cows, otherwise known as the cabal, and other members of the Politburo have remained mysteriously and monstrously powerful and untouchable.

The most nauseating to many people has been the blame game. This has irritated so many people, including former Head of State and President, Olusegun Obasanjo, who exploded and told Buhari frontally to deliver on his promises instead of his regular lamentations. He effectively said everyone knew the former government did abominably badly and that is why it was sacked. The blame game seemed to have backfired as Nigerians are bored sick of hearing the same jejune tales over and over, instead of government telling us the good news of their own kingdom, and juxtaposing their own achievements against that of former President Goodluck Jonathan. The government should have known that hungry people hardly listen attentively to preaching and sooner than later would request for the way forward. Using the past as an excuse can only work up to a point. The people want action and not this litany of woes.

The other problem, and this is grave, is that the President hardly talks to Nigerians in Nigeria. And when he speaks, the words are so scanty and not much can be grabbed from them. Our President was critically ill and had to domicile himself abroad for several months cumulatively, yet no one knows what was wrong till this day. A public figure cannot afford to be too secretive in this manner. It only fuels curiosity and promotes ugly rumours. Significantly, the President who does not speak at home picks the wrong places and occasions to talk abroad and attracts controversies and public ridicule to himself and his country. The headlines have always been for the wrong reasons rather than the right mileage for the country and himself from the international media exposure and interest. On those trips, we’ve expanded the lexicon with such phrases as “the other room”; or as the latest gaffe goes “young people who want to sit and want to be paid free money and free health…”

I have been inundated by calls since President Buhari made his latest remarks in London in answer to a question at the end of his keynote address at the Commonwealth Business Forum. To say most of the comments have been quite bad is an understatement. To properly understand I listened to the video and transcribed it myself, although I also had access to my dear brother, the Special Adviser Media to the President, Femi Adesina’s transcription. Below is my humble effort:

“We have ah, a very young population. Our population is estimated conservatively to be ah, a hundred and eighty million. Ah, this is a conservative one. More than 60 per cent of the population is below the age of (sic) thirty. Ah, a lot of them haven’t been to school. They are claiming ah, ah, you know, that Nigeria has been an oil producing country, therefore ah, they should sit and do nothing and get housing, healthcare, ah, education free.”

The furore and fury the latest controversy has generated on social media is almost unprecedented. It is like touching the tiger by the tail. A seemingly harmless statement credited to President Buhari has ignited a huge conflagration everywhere. I felt bad for Femi Adesina as he struggled to defend, explain and transliterate what the President said or meant to say to an unwilling and unyielding audience. It has become a very heavy cross he must carry every time his boss speaks these days and it cannot be easy. It is true the President did not use the word lazy or say that all Nigerian youths sit at home and do nothing. It is also not true that he used the word half-educated. However, what he said about the youths suggests something worse, although that is clearly not what was meant. “a lot of them did not go to school”, translates to a lot of them are uneducated which is even worse than half-educated. One may pardon the President because empirically this is true of the educationally disadvantaged States with which he is very familiar, but it is blatantly false about the south where education is much advanced. Similarly, to say somebody sits down and does nothing and wants to claim freebies is to say that person is irresponsible. In my view, this is much worse than laziness. Factor in the fact that free health, free education and affordable housing for all, were the campaign slogans of the APC and no one begged for it. So you can see a public relations disaster right before your very eyes.

President Buhari indeed has become a public relations nightmare. He is seriously in need of experts and coaches in public speaking and etiquette, especially now that he has decided to challenge fate by aspiring for a second term in office. If the plan is to throw in combatants, trolls and internet warriors to bully his opponents into submission, it would not fly. He needs all the gentility in the world to cajole, coax and convince Nigerians that he means well; that he knows what he is doing; that he is tackling the difficult challenges; that he is not a religious bigot or ethnic supremacist or jingoist; that he would reduce the menace of, if not wipe out, Boko Haram; that he would destroy the rampaging invaders called herdsmen wherever they are coming from; that he would revamp and improve the economy; that he would create opportunities for all Nigerians including jobs for our restive youths; and above all that he will keep all the brightest people closer to him …

I pray it is not too late…