Segun Adeniyi, Special Adviser on media and publicity to late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, has said that what the late President hated most was the talk about his health.
He said also that one of the major strength of the late President was his wife, the then First Lady, Hajiya Turai, through whom the President’s attention could easily be obtained.
Adeniyi, who delivered an inter-active lecture today at the first day of a two-day Nigeria Governors’ Forum Conference in Abuja, the nation’s capital, said that it took him sometimes to understand these facts, but that once he understood them, he used them to work effectively with the late President.
He told the participants at the Conference, made up of image makers of governors from the 36 states of the federation that there is a greater need for a spokesman to first try to understand his boss before he could effectively work for him.
Adeniyi, who is a columnist with, and chairman of the Editorial Board of Thisday newspapers, said that if he had known that Turai had such an influence on her husband, he (Adeniyi) would have been close to her so that his job would be made easier.
He advised image makers of the governors to avoid joining issues with, and responding to every attack made in media against their bosses, adding that some people derive satisfaction in hitting the governors and enjoy seeing rejoinders from their spokes persons.
“There are some obvious ones that you can respond to, but not attacking back but explaining things that the attackers deliberately or ignorantly raise,” he cautioned, even as he warned them that many people out there are simply interested in unseating them just so that they would be recruited to do the job.
Meanwhile, the minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has expressed sympathy with the spokesmen of chief executives in the current dispensation for the challenges they are facing as the nation approaches the 2019 general elections.
He said that the Conference for the media handlers of the Executive is coming as the political landscape is set to become agog again with electioneering campaigns, which will be a time for stock-taking.
“You, the media handlers, are always in the eye of the storm – and you will remain there. You are the ones who are daily called upon to, more than anyone else, project the achievements of your principals and defend their actions. I am aware that the average government
information manager faces enormous responsibilities and cannot afford to sleep with two eyes closed as he or she continuously faces those who will stop at nothing to denigrate government. “This is why I will like to appeal to your bosses, the Governors, to provide you with
adequate resources so you can more effectively carry out your duties.
“Of course, any effort, such as this conference, which is aimed at making your job better and adequately preparing you for the tough task you face, is welcome.
“Let me be straight: This is the most difficult time for anyone to find himself or herself in your position.”
Lai Mohammed said that in addition to working with a tight budget, the spokesmen face the double tragedy of disinformation and fake news, buoyed to a large extent by the advent
of Social Media.
According to the minister, never before have these ”evil twins” of disinformation and fake news permeated the public space as they have now, adding that they have become potent weapons in
the hands of naysayers.
“Sadly, they will be the biggest obstacle facing you from now till the 2019 general elections, whether you believe it or not.
“In recent days, you have all seen the dangers posed, not just to you but even the general public, by those who have chosen to deploy disinformation and fake news as a weapon of choice. First, they created unnecessary panic in the society by claiming that Monkey Pox resulted from the Federal Government’s deliberate injection of people with the virus in certain states.
“We had hardly dispelled that when they claimed that the military, which is going beyond the call of duty to support the civilian populace, has been injecting school children with Monkey Pox, forcing many parents across a number of states to withdraw their children from school for days. Imagine the implication of this on the affected children’s education and health. Now, the disinformation is that ahead of the forthcoming election in Anambra, the government
has been providing IPOB uniform to some people to cause mayhem, so they can in turn blame IPOB, and that many roads leading to Anambra will be closed before and after the elections, hence they advised Anambra residents to stay at home and not come out for the election.
This is all disinformation, pure and simple. There is no such plan.” [myad]