Nigeria’s first official special assistant on New Media, Mr Reno Omokri, son of Late Justice Jean Omokri; a former Justice of the Court of Appeal and Late Mrs Helen Igbene, is a Law graduate and family man, who describes himself as strong, warm and imperfect individual, striving towards perfection. In this interview with SUZAN IRONSI, he clarifies issues on some publicised stories, his experiences and future plans
Why did you choose New Media as a professional tool?
Well, working with Joe Trippi in America, I had no choice but to embrace New Media for political purposes, because Trippi was probably the first person in the world to do that on an organised and successful scale with the Dean Campaign. Previously, I had worked on the emerging online space during the Obasanjo era, particularly in the office of the then vice president, Atiku Abubakar.
You know I had to be strategic. Nigeria’s New Media environment has a lot of professional naysayers. They wait for you to come out with a message just to disagree with you. Even when you agree with them, they disagree with you. They target people with press value so that they make the headlines at your expense. These disagreements, being political in nature, sometimes cross over to the traditional media and could be a source of embarrassment for the principal. That being the case, it was considered prudent to limit exposure to the most strategic platforms where one could have as much control over one’s messaging.
What do you have to say about the allegation that you used Deborah Campbell’s son’s identity to create a fake document that sought to link Nigeria’s former Central Bank governor, Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II, to terrorism?
I know Ms Campbell. She is a politician in California and, as a matter of fact, she wrote me a few weeks ago asking me to be her campaign manager for her next election. I have the letter which I can give you. Ms Campbell is a public figure and you can contact her directly. Allegations and accusations are always made against public figures and only a foolish person will dignify each and every one with a response.
Can you comment on how you feel when accused of stepping outside of your job role, which is primarily explaining and clarifying policy?
Many people do not know how government works. In April, I began my terminal leave and I officially moved out of my office and handed over all government property in my possession. The tweet you refer to was made in May of 2015. I made that tweet in my personal capacity. If you go and study my tweets, you will notice that since I began my terminal leave, I’ve been tweeting about my faith in God through His Son Yeshu’a (Jesus) whom the Islamic world knows as Annabi Isa (Prophet Isa). I also tweet my personal opinions about Nigeria. I am free to do now, what I was restricted from doing before.
Rumour had it that Obi Asika replaced you in ex-president, Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, was that true?
Obi Asika and I were amused by all the lies and misinformation fed the public by certain sites and individuals. I was never fired, replaced or demoted. Obi Asika was never my boss neither was I operating under him in a subordinate capacity. I had my role and he had his. We had cause to socialise but we never collaborated on anything.
What do you have to say about the attacks on your person because of your erstwhile position as spokesperson for the ex-president, Goodluck Jonathan’s administration?
I thank Nigerians, but most especially I thank some online newspaper sites. When my first book, “Shunpiking: No Shortcuts to God” was released in America, it was not doing so well in the Barnes and Noble and Amazon Bestseller list until these two sites began publishing mostly negative stories about me.
I was shocked at how their stories pushed my book up the bestseller rankings. They had the intention of hurting me but they ended up helping to sell my books which preach godliness through Christ; and then I remembered the words of Paul in Philippians 1:18: “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice”. So, I rejoice at my persecution at the hand of these two sites. It is as Joseph said in Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.”
What are some of the high and low points you had while working for the former president, Goodluck Jonathan?
The highest point in my opinion was when the president was dubbed the “Facebook President” by CNN. He went on to have the second highest Facebook following of any elected president after President Obama. The low point was that my job put me in the spotlight, making me a target of the political media opposed to the president.
Will you still play a role in politics?
I am not interested in any political position any more. I want to retire to evangelism. My second book is coming out in America and is titled ‘Why Jesus Wept’. I want to focus on promoting the book. I am in some demand as a speaker in churches in the United States and I run a non-profit that is building an orphanage in Nigeria. My hands are full doing the work of God.
Any final words?
My final word is this: consider a buffalo and a wolf. One on one, the buffalo is stronger than the wolf. However, because buffalo will not unite to fight the wolves, they become weaker because the wolves are united.
The biggest culture shock Africans have when they travel to the West, especially for studies, is to find out that they are more intelligent than the average Westerner one on one. However, because black folks are not willing to unite, we are weaker as a people and as a result we are under the influence of more united people.
Genesis 11:6 reads: “the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do”.
The most successful nations are those nations who understand the principle of Genesis 11:6. That is the idea behind the United States of America; that is the idea behind the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the British Isles; that is the idea behind the European Union and also the United Arab Emirates. If black people, and especially the Nigerian nation, do not key into this principle, if they remain disunited along tribal, ethnic, regional and religious lines, we will never be able to fulfill our potential as a people, and as a nation. This is my advice to the Buhari administration.