Saheed Animashaun: Yet another PR gaffe by President Buhari
For the umpteenth time, I put forth that Buhari’s PR style needs to be changed. I really hope it doesn’t become an albatross that would ultimately become the undoing of his administration. This would be terribly unfortunate because if Buhari fails, it would mean every Nigerian has failed. While myself and many other conscionable Nigerians hope that this administration would succeed in putting Nigeria on a recovery path and are ready to contribute their own quota to ensure this, the buck ultimately lies with Mr. President.
I am enraged at how President Buhari relates with the citizenry. It smacks of utter disregard and belittlement! Many times I wonder what the roles of the many members of his media team are! PR has evolved beyond just coming out to defend or speak for the president. An integral aspect of it is managing the President’s image and ensuring co-ordination among the PR team so as to promote coherence in the utterances and releases of every member of the team.
Specifically, I wish to state my rage with the adoption of a new foreign exchange regime. Few weeks ago, the CBN announced a new Forex regime with a floating exchange rate system to replace the hitherto fixed exchange rate system. This new regime commenced on Monday and in simple terms, it means that the Naira has been devalued. Many economic analysts have hailed this move terming it as long overdue. While I agree with this, especially considering the long term benefits, I am annoyed for a different reason. Restricting the effect of the market interaction between demand and supply almost always leads to gross imperfections especially when there is a supply deficit, like we have witnessed in the forex market in the past few months.
Buhari has waxed lyrical in the past few months about how he is not going to devalue the Naira. However, now he has HAD to devalue the Naira! Yes, our backs are against the wall and he almost had no choice! However, he should have come out cleanly on this. He should have made a public statement reiterating the reasons for his No-to-devaluation stance and state why he is changing his mind. Don’t get me wrong! Mr. President had the right to change his previous stance. In fact, I believe that people should not be castigated for having a change of opinion lest they stick stubbornly to their opinions subsequently, even in the face of superior arguments. So, while on one hand, it is impressive that the President having seen the current realities agreed to devalue the Naira, it is depressing on the other hand that he couldn’t come forth to clearly state this. Some would ridicule him for it, but many others would appreciate this.
To understand why I am so bothered about what many others would term a non-issue, all you have to do is review Mr. President’s previous statements on devaluation. In each case, he passionately derided the idea even in the face of mounting pressure from international agencies, stating clearly that the Naira would not be devalued under any circumstance.
I believe it is not too much of a task for Mr. President to have issued a specific statement to address this significant economic policy change. Even if he wouldn’t apologize, it would suffice to make the factors necessitating the change in stance clear to the citizenry.
The political consciousness of Nigerians is still at an infant stage. This is why Mr. President has gotten away with many PR gaffes and why he might still get away with many more in future.
Many politicians have been screaming ‘witch-hunting’! My sincere advice is that to them is that they have nothing to fear. They should only be fretful if they are witches! Mr. President had once made it known that he should not be feared and that people should only fear the ‘consequences of their actions’. Whether na witch-hunting or wizard-hunting, Baba carry go! Sha follow due process!
- Saheed Animashaun is an accountant and social commentator. Follow this writer on Twitter: @ani_gene