Saturday, 20 December 2014


Akin Adeoya

What should be the objective strategy of the spokesman of Nigeria’s President in power? Communicate what the government is doing, communicate the challenges of the President, sell the vision of the President and tell us the strategic and tactical framework for getting there. Such an individual must operate within a defined communications framework.When this does not exist, the result is chaos. Strategy compels you to stay on course, continue to say the right things, focus on building a consistent image for the government brand personified by President Jonathan Goodluck, the principal, in this case. It moderates your communications and allows you to be guided on what to say and what not to say. It determines what you respond to and it saves you from suffering from what I choose to term as TheParrot syndrome. The parrot garbles on without control. It speaks to everybody and
Dr Okupe
responds to every situation. It does not distinguish between what is of significance and what is inconsequential. The parrot is the ultimate waster of words.

The Presidential candidate of APC, Gen Mohammadu Buhari, says he is a poor man. What is controversial in that? The man is not rich, he has not stolen money. Hear DrOkupe’s magnum Opus on this simple declaration: “Buhari is trying to make poverty a virtue, but poverty is not a virtue. The fact that Buhari has left office for so long and he says he is so poor, is nothing to celebrate. It is indolence and shameful. Is that a role model? Is that who you will want your children to be, a poor man?” I want to submit that this frame of mind, this attitude to material acquisition, where both young and old see the acquisition of money, by any means, as the only definition of success, is the biggest challenge we have today as a nation. We are beleaguered by a collapsed moral standard. Everything is measured by money. To DrOkupe, its as as a result of “indolence”, seriously? The warped logic is if you are old and poor, then you are “indolent”. Therefore you must strive to be rich at all costs. Does DrOkupe live by that moral standard? I will love to hear him on that relevant subject matter. The question is, would even President Jonathan deny an Ex-head of state a fat juicy contract if he wanted it(Provided he was not challenging his incumbency)? This type of endless string of taboosreeled, out on daily basis by many government spokesmen, compels a need to intervene in the conversation. We choose DrDoyinOkupe as our case study because he personifies the genre in all its disturbing glory.
The Hunter Complex
When a government spokesman sees a monster in every individual or party who does not agree with his point of view, even when the matter in question has little to do with him, or his principal, he has become a victim of The Hunter Complex.The hunter in the jungle is looking for any wild animal to kill. The communicator becomes a brutal killer beast looking for what to devour and therefore incapable of productive ventures, no wonder many have described the otherwise respectable medical doctor(My good Egbon for that matter) to an attack dog, or, less or more, others call him an attack lion. Should the spokesman of a government in power be seen as an attack dog? What or who is he attacking? That is the job of those who seek power, it is their job to look at government policy, vision, achievement and subject it to fiery criticism, even then, cynicism is anathema, for every great communicator must have the ultimate good of the nation at heart. There must be a seeking for public good.DrOkupe must purge himself of the sin of The Hunter’s Complex.
The Blasphemy Complex
He seeks to shock. He seeks to draw attention. But some attention can be too much. Speaking too much too often gradually delivers a reductionist effect to the communication. It becomes a wasted effort and people begin to wonder if you take yourself seriously at all. Hear the modern Machiavellian, Robert Greene, who counsels men of power to always say less than necessary: “When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less in control… Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.(Law 4, 48 laws of Power). People become deadened to the effect of such an individual’s campaign. He begins to increasingly sound like a broken record. He begins to lose traction and attention and this makes him get more desperate to gain attention by shocking his listeners. This symptom is what leads to Blasphemy complex. In the Blasphemy Complex scenario, a communicator, having exhausted his repertoire of surprises, and realizing his words are now obeying the law of diminishing returns, succumbs to the worst form of professional hara-kiri: Blasphemy. Nothing shocks more than blasphemy. And yes, he will get the attention he needs, but in reverse order. Instead of gaining traction, he gains opprobrium, people wonder at his desperation and lack of a sense of proportion. Where a presidential spokesman compares a man to the divine Christ, he has reached the apogee of his powers and diminishing returns has set in. This is what we call The Blasphemy Complex. DrDoyinOkupe is guilty of this sin.
The Empty barrel complex
One way to explain the frugality of rational content from the president’s backyard may be as a result of the frugality of ideas in governance. It would appear that there is a certainopaqueness ingovernment’s capacity to attack the regular problems laying violent siege at the heart of the Nigerian state. Without a clear cut well-reasoned approach to government business, defending and advocating also becomes a challenge. You can therefore sympathize with those managing the information pipeline. This is what we refer to as The Empty Barrel Complex. You resort to propagating hot air. The selection of Buhari, according to DrOkupe is a “fatal error”. What is fatal about Buhari’s selection? It is true Buhari has contested elections to be president of Nigeria on three occasions, and lost. How does that make his candidacy “fatal”? Has DrOkupe read the biography of Abraham Lincoln? In the classic book of communications, there is nothing that compels a presidential spokesman, the man who ought to be the guardian, from a communications point of view,of the most sacred and most responsible office of the nation, to virtually convert that hallowed office to busy bodying and poke nosing into matters which are not of grave concern to him or his principal. The selection of a candidate by the main opposition is an opportunity for introspection by the incumbent and his team, an opportunity for a grave and strategic review of options and tactics. This is when you work on your own plans to ensure you have left no rotten underbellies floating on the surface of the river, pickings for an ambitious opposition hungry for power. This is the time to re-enforce your policy initiatives and deepen your salesmanship of your administration to a nation of frustrated citizens. There are millions of undecided voters out there. This is not the time to engage in political numbers crunching that is not supported by any research in order to show why the opposition will not win, because you do not know if the opposition will win. The Empty Barrel complex exposes the incapacity of a policy communicator to say anything of value, not because he does not have the ability to do so, but because he is operating within a system that is not driven by any serious development focused strategic plan(?). He has nothing of grave importance to say.He must become negatively creative and diversionary. Activities are largely reactive, knee jack responses to the ensuing scenarios which were not predicted or envisaged, and therefore not planned for. I would expect DrDoyinOkupe to react to the crippling crash of the naira which has driven credit rates to a benumbing 29% for Nigerian businessmen, a development which has seen many foreign actors in the economy develop winged feet. That is more important right now to the wellbeing of Nigerians than been worried about the man who wants to take over next year. I would expect an OkonjoIweala, beyond scaring us about the hardships that we will experience next year, to tell us the plans the administration has to mitigate the potentially devastating effects of the further crash of crude oil prices and convince us that this administration actually had this possibility in mind, and has a contingency plan to stave off disaster. Many observers believe that the administration had no scenario planning in place and is therefore at sea as to how to deal with the interminable crash that could result in crude selling at rates as low as ten dollars in the next 12 months except something miraculous happens. For not focusing on the key issues concerning his principal’s image, DrDoyinOkupe is guilty of The Empty Barrel Complex.
The Adultery Complex
When you get married, your responsibility is to engage with your wife for good or for bad. Your wife or husband becomes your primary business at the domestic level or more. You want to know her strengths and weaknesses. You want to know what he needs to communicate and what he needs to keep under the wraps. To achieve positive and productive engagement, you spend time talking seriously, you plan, and you reason together, you gain a depth of understanding of each other. When you go out, you know what to say and what to keep quiet about. When a man abandons his wife and goes to ensconce himself with another man’s wife, or when a woman abandons her husband and goes to hibernate with another woman’shusband, that is called adultery. I want to propose a parallel in our communications discourse. A professional who is employed to help develop, propagate and sell a set of agenda must focus first on his primary task,all other things put aside. That task is about projecting a given world view, a particular vision. A second dimension of that assignment, of course, is to defend when under attack and occasionally criticize the projected policies of the other side when the position been advocated conflicts with your own world view. This is a tactical, not a strategic imperative. When you abandon the first, which is, in reality, the real assignment, and you focus all your attention on the opposition, upbraiding at every opportunity, then you are a victim of what I call The Adultery Complex. This is not just unprofessional, it is also immoral. Dr. DoyinOkupe is guilty of The Adultery Complex, he has abandoned his wife, in a metaphorical sense that is, and embraced another man’s wife. He has turned another man’s business into his business. The result is glaring: Loss of focus.

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