A very odd clientele for any an image maker in a growing nation like ours is government irrespective of the tier. The reason is that popular cynicism against government is often very high and often too, tend to paint advocacy in colours of lies-paid-for. The same extends to a political party in power. An image management strategy which is not well cut out in this type of circumstance would leave the practitioner at a corner, where he is immersed in defensive mode and mostly counteracting in a field that gives all the edge to his challenge. The opposition has effectively exploited this in driving a multi faceted media strategy that dwarfed the efforts of the ruling PDP over the years. They set the agenda and led the discussion in a manner that concentration for a ruling party who must deliver on its promises could be compromised. However, all that has changed and the APC is seriously discomfited by a reverse development which has seen the PDP setting the pattern of discussion. Severally, the trend has driven the opposition to the defence line , sweating to deny and wriggle out of labels tightly hanged on its neck by the sharp and awakening interpretative style of the ruling party. Things have really changed. The media turf which the opposition whether as AC, ACN and now APC exclusively dominated has been seized. Someone threw a joke lately that the Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh should check if the certificate of occupancy of his landed property in Lagos is still intact, many have lost theirs by attempting to dare the emperor at Boudillion Street. The APC and its leaders are reeling from a fatal blow from the reinvigorated PDP media management team and looking for all means to get even. There is an El Rufai suit against Metuh but since this appears not to be gathering enough smoke to suffocate and demobilize him, the barrage of orchestrated media attacks may therefore serve better.
But how did the PDP end up pushing the APC to the edge ? First is that Metuh has been able to effectively communicate the position of the PDP, leaving no doubt as to the direction of his party on every single issue. Achieving this means he took time to do a painstaking and unbiased assessment of the ruling party, gauging its weaknesses against its strength . He dug out the dormant party core values and through that, animated an image paradigm that he encapsulated in a thesis that though the PDP is yet to take the nation to the promised land, it has nevertheless taken the nation away from the tethers of backwaters where decades of military regime tied it . Thus, while accepting that it is not yet Uhuru , there is the incontrovertible in the fact that the PDP has made tremendous progress in re-engineering the socio-economic and political fabrics of the nation. There is no doubt in his mind whatsoever that the gains which the PDP has made have unfortunately been overcast by the oozing propaganda of the opposition to whom the PDP must be pilloried. Bringing to the consciousness of all Nigerians, the numerous though modest achievements in all sectors and reassuring the people that the party was not only determined in uniting the nation but creating abundance became an immediate task. While doing this, Metuh carefully understudied the opposition whose promises have remained at best hypocritical. He was therefore able to harness the chic in their armory, puncturing their position on several issues while extrapolating the hollowness in their propositions which he termed ” lies and deceit.” He matched their propaganda with facts . For the first time in years, the PDP became resilient, gave the lead and acquired an agenda setting knack, the lack of which was the reason for a disabled media proactivity .Metuh’s power of anticipation and deep capacity for prompt situational diagnosis ably authorized his analytical accuracy and correct prediction of his opponents while fearlessly interpreting and dressing them in appropriate robes. For a practitioner who has Metuh’s level of visibility and whose commentaries occupy a large chunk of media space, nothing could have exempted or staved off occasional gaffe than the mastery of not just the rudiments of his role but also the sure footed understanding of the locale, history and perspectives of his party. At the receiving end is the sulky opposition APC.
What else do you expect from a megaphonic opposition long used to theatrics and manipulation, from a group in whose acerbic tongue, profiling is exclusively domiciled . The Nigerian opposition must be the one deciding who is good and who is bad; must be the one dictating the yardstick for performance, consigning the ruling party and its members to all manner of abusive nomenclatures and the party stands guilty as charged! By this configuration, the PDP has all along been ” corrupt,” ” nest of killers” ” non performing ” ” incompetent ” and lately ” clueless .” Ironically, the opposition expects that this barrage of invectives be left unchallenged. The PDP is expected to admit all these and close its eyes to the dirty and stinking anus of the opposition. Unfortunately, things have changed. The APC has got the media battle taken to its doorstep. The snides are a symptom of a gang out-gunned, therefore hiring all the hatchet writers it can muster to save face.
However, it must be pointed out that Metuh has merely exposed the opposition’s own vomit, the underbelly which the opposition has made so soft with its own very hands . He has only drawn public attention to a festering mess long overlooked. For instance, when a Kaduna based Islamic cleric took a careful look at the APC and termed it the Nigerian version of the Egypt’s Islamic Brotherhood, all that the PDP did was to draw the attention of Nigerians while analytically x-raying series of unbecoming comments credited to some of its leaders, the domino effects on the trends of insurgency and left the conclusion on what it likened to the Janjaweed ideology to the public. Besides, the cost of a kilometer of road in the APC controlled states in the South West is higher than its equivalent even in the swampy South South. Again, the PDP only asked why. It also interrogated the excessive tax burden bending the back of Nigerians in states controlled by the APC without commensurate returns in good governance. The party also invited Nigerians to a spectral irony of a representative democracy which has turned a facade , a deceptive slogan under which self acclaimed democrats conveniently operate clique dictatorship. Democracy, internal democracy and allied transparency, are all ceaseless mantra on the lips of the opposition but at its very heart is an abiding dictatorship. Let’s not even talk of the mockery which the APC has made of the institutions of democracy especially the presidency where President Jonathan has turned an objective of ridicule. Therefore, the image maker of a ruling political party who waits for silence in the face of all these because it is said to be golden, does not know his onions. Gladly, not Olisa Metuh.
Nwachukwu Ngige lives in Abuja.