He tugs his massive self all over our political landscape, lumbering from one media house to another, trying to ululate us into seeing that which exists not and professing as true that which is false. Today he is a guest at AIT, tomorrow he appears on Channels and the next day he is on NTA.
His message isn’t quite clear, because there isn’t any message in the first place. But his approach is discernible. He seems all out to make as much noise as he can and distract as many people as he is able to, while hoping that his principal somehow learns how to commence the task of governance, a task he has deliberately refused to do in the last two years. He isn’t just after half-truths and utter falsehood; he is also into frontal attacks of those who point out the many ills of his principal’s regime. He is Dr. Doyin Okupe, the recently appointed Senior Special Assistant to President Jonathan on Public Affairs.
Recently he took umbrage at the duo of Nasir el-Rufai and Tunde Bakare, calling them names for voicing out their displeasure with the purposeless leadership President Jonathan is giving Nigeria. He alluded to Pastor Tunde Bakare nursing a “deep-seated hatred…” He admonished the Man of God to “not convert the pulpit into a podium”. On El-Rufai, he said politics is “derailing or deranging” the former FCT minister.
To pooh-pooh El-Rufai’s call for the president to resign if he is unable to perform the job which he was elected to do, Mr. Okupe posed the puzzle: “Can President Goodluck Jonathan be in Borno and everywhere at the same time?”
It is plain ridiculous to advance the argument that the insecurity in Nigeria persists because our president is not omnipresent. Which mortal is? When did Mr Jonathan become a security operative? If he were, then it is reasonable to emphasize that an operative can only secure his immediate vicinity without knowing what goes on in other vicinities. But he is not. One therefore wonders why Okupe took to such wrong logic in his desire to spew something; just anything. Ok, since Mr Okupe is implying that the president can only secure where he is, why is Abuja also part of the cities constantly bombed by Boko Haram? Why hasn’t the president, who isn’t in Borno but in Abuja, been able to secure Abuja? For Mr Doyin’s information, the president isn’t a security operative. He doesn’t carry guns. He is the Commander-in-chief. His job regarding security is to constitute the nation’s top military/intelligence command, instruct them on what to do, make funds available for the job, monitor and evaluate their performances from time to time, and make changes when necessary. He doesn’t need to be omnipresent before the lives and property of Nigerians will be protected.
On his “pulpit to podium” admonition, one can only laugh. In a country where the clergy maintain a troubling criminal silence in the face of massive stealing by government officials, it is easy to understand Okupe’s frustrations with Bakare. Well, there’s always a podium on every pulpit, it only depends on what the speaker on the pulpit wants to do with the podium. Many a Nigerian pastor use their pulpits to bless corrupt people in government in exchange for mega tithes, huge offerings, substantial seeds and import waivers. Tunde Bakare has chosen to use his to bear witness to the light, as against the evil going on in the land. There is no conflict there, except, of course, one has one’s mind made up to demonize the pastor. That is what Doyin has done, and prepares to still do.
Given the number of illogical statements he makes, it is becoming almost clear that Mr Okupe doesn’t understand the job he took up to do. It’s also possible he underestimates the level of enlightenment of Nigerians of today. Given the circumstance – which is a public knowledge, anyway – under which he was hired, one would have thought that his job should be to engage the Nigerian public on what his principal has achieved in office, what wasn’t achieved, why those achievements eluded them, and the efforts being made to put Nigeria back on the track of growth and development. Okupe is not doing this.
Himself and his fans are quick to point to his experience. If he does have any, then he should have known that such jobs, irrespective of who is handling them, require clear evidences of performance on ground for its handler to perform well. Why, in the first place, was he hired? After making enough noise in the media to attract the president’s attention, he was hired because the man he went to assist, Reuben Abati – who himself got his own job through noise-making, had exhausted all the falsehood he could think up. For instance, he couldn’t cook up a sellable lie to defend a wasteful president’s wife who ordered 200 brand new cars for African first ladies’ event that was to last for less than one week. The only reason he hasn’t resigned, one should assume, must be the excessively huge remuneration – legal and illegal – that goes with working for the Nigerian government. It is obvious that Abati has nothing more to say about the government. Actually, nothing is happening in the government. Abati knows this.
Doyin Okupe thinks his job is to haul insults at Nigerians once they call the mediocre president they have in Aso Rock by what he truly represents. That was what made him conclude that Tunde Bakare is a hater. Yet it was the same Bakare who mobilized Nigerians to speak for Jonathan ‘the oppressed’ during the lingering health crisis of late President Yar’Adua. Okupe is today a beneficiary of Bakare’s dogged fight for the oppressed; yet the same Bakare is now exhibiting a “deep-seated hatred” against Jonathan.
Those who do not understand the definition of good governance, as well as the work of a government spokesperson, have said that Mr Okupe knows the job he was hired to do, and is doing it well. I don’t think so.
Doyin Okupe is fighting hard to buy his freedom, and probably justice, with the vitriols he daily hauls at government critics. The desperation says it all. He understands what it means to be in the net of the EFCC. Okupe doesn’t have the freedom to say the many evils of this government. His hands are tied. If he dares say the truth, then he should be ready to go on exile or his sins will be tossed in his face.
He was reported to have used his closeness to former president Olusegun Obasanjo to obtain a contract in Benue State, got mobilized, and then abandoned the contract without executing it. The governor of the state during the period under review is still alive and presently a senator. He has since confirmed the story. It was also reported that in 2006, Mr Okupe was detained for one month in EFCC custody, Lagos. What was his offence? He obtained a contract in Imo State, got mobilized with a hefty amount, and failed to execute the contract.
Clearly, if you were Okupe, with a past steeped in corruption and criminal conversion of state funds, and with a president willing to provide state cover for such crimes, you would do exactly what he is doing. He is desperately seeking to impress the president so as to attract a clandestine obliteration of his sordid records with the security agencies and ultimately avoid prosecution, and possibly, the Bode George treatment.
And he won’t stop. Instead, he will up the ante in the days and weeks ahead. Preparing our minds to the dimension his vitriols will be taking soon, he said in his recent appearance on AIT that he prefers being referred to as an “attack lion” rather than an “attack dog”. He apparently was looking at how ferocious the lion is in its attacks, and the level of damage it does to its victims. In the same programme, he said his office and team would respond to any public criticism – by public commentators – against Mr. Jonathan and his policies.
At Doyin Okupe’s age and supposed level of exposure, criticism of government is evil and only speaks of hate against the person and/or office of the head of the government. So he would respond to any public criticism against his principal even if such would help his boss become a better president and run a better government that could cause history to judge him fairly. Such mindset is destructive, especially to the president whose interest Mr Okupe claims he is protecting. Mr Okupe has been out of government for a long time, and also out of free mega money for the same period. If he were truthful to himself, he should have understood that things tend to appear clearer from outside the seat of power than when one is inside. In Nigeria, the lies and sycophancy that cocoon public office holders shield them from reality, and blind them from seeing jobs which should be done, but which remain undone. Those in government should, on a daily basis, listen to critics, and even show gratitude to them for helping them see what the glory of incumbency shields from them. For governments that are working, eternal vigilance from critics perpetually keeps them on their toes and prevent the society from sliding into the valley of backwardness, much less a totally bumbling administration. In fact, Mr Okupe should canvass for more critics to help point out to them all the ills of their government which, pitiably, big money stops them from seeing.
Okupe’s approach to his job is self-serving and will, ultimately, hurt President Jonathan. Yet the question might even be what Jonathan himself wants. Does he want to be helped on the task of governance or does he seek to just recruit those who will praise him to high heavens while the ship of state – which captain he is – totters towards sinking? This seems to be the president’s desire.
Nobody is intimidated by the name change from dog to lion, or by the fact that our money is used to pay two different people, and offices, for doing the same job. We owe this nation the duty of forcing a halt to its designed slide to destruction. Part of how to perform this duty is to remain vigilant and watch closely what government does and what it fails to do, pointing out those that weren’t done or those done wrongly, and insisting that the right thing be done.
There is no force in this world strong enough to push us off this path; and certainly, there is no dog or lion or tiger that would eat up that page of our constitution where our right to freedom of expression is guaranteed.
Somebody just has to let Dr Doyin Okupe understand this.
Follow Chinedu on Twitter for more direct engagement. @ekekeee
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