By Akeem Soboyejo
Doyin Okupe is a trained medical doctor who subsequently made a name for himself as the presidential spokesman better known as an executive attack dog.
One suspects the good doctor is not bothered at the least by that unwholesome legacy. Just recently the man emerged from a hibernation of sorts to unleash another offensive on the sensibilities of more discerning Nigerians. Sounding even meaner than he did during his attack dog heydays in the service of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Okupe attempted a lean explanation for the electoral annihilation his former boss suffered in the March 28th poll.
To Okupe, the defeat of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the election would never have happened had Professor Attahiru Jega, erstwhile chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), not supervised the polls. Nigeria’s immense gain in that regard, according to Okupe, was the PDP’s loss. Jonathan’s former spokesman strongly believes his boss should have removed Jega from his position prior to that election, given what Okupe alleged was the immediate past INEC chairman’s “obvious and profuse partisanship”.
Okupe did not stop there. To him, Jega and certain anti-PDP cohorts in INEC “skillfully manipulated” the use of the card reader technology to facilitate Muhammadu Buhari’s emergence as President. Never mind the same technology had previously been used all over the world in elections widely-acclaimed as free and fair, in places such as Ghana, Brazil and Belgium, among others.
Then the good doctor turned to God. Sort of. According to him the PDP’s biggest mistake was fielding Jonathan for the election; this was not necessarily because Okupe thought Jonathan was a bad candidate but that he was “…a good, God-fearing and patriotic man”. Had Nigerians not been “lucky” enough to have Jonathan at the helm of affairs on March 28th, according to his former spokesman, he could have deployed the “…enormous power” and “…the avalanche of deployable arsenal of war at his disposal”.
Weren’t we all lucky? We thank God former President Olusegun Obasanjo had it all wrong when he alleged just before the election that Jonathan might be considering giving Nigeria the Laurent Gbagbo treatment!
Beyond the sarcasm Okupe’s trite rationalizations for Jonathan’s ouster at the polls highlight the tragedy of the Nigerian project, which is primarily the shallowness of its leadership cadre, notwithstanding the educational, social or intellectual pedigrees of such persons.
It is simply mind-numbing Okupe’s ramblings failed to recognize the transparent electoral process that produced Nigeria’s current president. That singular achievement cannot be divorced from the impeccable credentials of the man who midwifed that accomplishment. Attahiru Jega, who has long been blessed with an unblemished reputation for incorruptibility and wholesome integrity, also had the good sense to assemble a “dream team” of able assistants, primarily certain similar icons of integrity and service from Nigeria’s Ivory Towers. These served mainly as chief electoral or returning officers during the recent presidential elections.
Okupe’s calculations also did not figure that by March 28th, the PDP’s chickens had finally come home to roost. That the overwhelming majority of Nigerians, especially in the northern and south-western part of the country, had simply gotten tired of the party’s record of non-performance in office; that just prior to the election, the PDP had turned into a house divided against itself, and that the opposition had managed to crystallize into a formidable force just at that same time, under the auspices of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
It could also not have been lost on Okupe that just before the election the opposition’s candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, had developed a tremendous following among a significant segment of the populace, especially in the Northern part of the country. This was the same part of the country the PDP expected to get most of its votes, as had been the case during previous presidential elections. That was not to be in 2015, simply because of Buhari’s candidacy and the PDP’s implosion.
It’s about time this attack-bear returned to hibernation. Permanently.
– Soboyede is a public affairs commentator.