IT WAS not meant to be an easy road for President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 presidential race. Despite the overwhelming activities of several individuals and organizations rallying support for his e-election bid, opposition against him is equally building up. Some groups and individuals rallying support for him seem to have outplayed their roles. For instance, there was an imposing billboard in Abuja that ran across a six-lane expressway that was quite intimidating to opponents of Jonathan. The picture on that billboard was that of the president in a colourful T-shirt folding his arms with a simple message: “#BringBackJonathan2015”. The Billboard was a parody of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign message which appeared in several social media platforms, trying to draw world’s attention to the plight of more 200 schoolgirls abducted in their dormitories in a government secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, on April 14, this year. To opponents of Jonathan, the billboard and its message were a classical display of insensitivity on the part of the president and his support groups. The Chibok school girls have remained in captivity ever since without an appreciable effort by the government to secure their release. The public outrage over the billboard seemed not to have moved the president until the Washington Post, an influential newspaper in the United States of America, USA, came out with a stinging editorial which described the “#BringBackJonathan2015” slogan as “galling”.
Apparently succumbing to local and international pressures, the president, on Wednesday, September 10, ordered the immediate removal of all billboards with the #BringBackJonathan2015 hash tag. Reuben Abati, special adviser to the president on media and publicity, said Jonathan had ordered the removal of the billboards because the message was being used without the knowledge and approval of the president. But in spite of the president’s directive, opposition groups are feasting on Jonathan’s campaign blunder. One of such groups is the All Progressives Congress, APC, whose national publicity secretary, Lai Mohammed, said in a statement issued on Wednesday, September 10, in London, that the president had made an a mockery of his administration and Nigeria by waiting for an international condemnation of the shameless and brazen usurpation of the #BringBackOurGirls hash tag before issuing the directive for it to be removed.
Said Mohammed: “Had the US newspaper, the Washington Post, not written a stinging editorial skewing the Jonathan administration for appropriating the “#BringBackOurGirls” hash tag for his re-election, the administration would have continued its brazenness without regards to the feelings of the parents of the girls or, indeed, the Nigerian people.” Another group that has found the rally for Jonathan’s re-election campaign disgusting is the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF. It does not understand why the Jonathan administration should focus on his re-election in 2015 instead of doing all in its powers to end the Boko Haram insurgency which has ravaged three north-eastern states since 2009. The ACF has told the president to forget his 2015 re-election bid if he fails to secure the freedom of the abducted girls by next month. All these are expected to play out as we move closer to the election year.
Perhaps, the hot vibes from the opposing groups is the opportunity the Boko Haram insurgents were waiting for. They have intensified their campaign to capture many territories in the region and in turn, make nonsense of the Bring Back Jonathan campaign. Through their propaganda warfare, they have also succeeded in portraying the Nigerian armed forces as inefficient, ineffective and a mis-match in the counter-insurgency war. Nigerians are so confused by the propaganda war coming from the battle field that they do not know what to believe now. Are the insurgents succeeding or the Nigerian armed forces rising up to the challenge. Why are the insurgents having an upper hand in the propaganda warfare? This is the focus of our cover story for this week entitled “Jonathan’s Rough Road to 2015.” As usual, it was crafted by Olu Ojewale, the general editor. It’s a bumper piece. Enjoy it.
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— Sep. 22, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT