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Enugu 2023: Deliberately maligning PDP candidate by opposition figures

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I have never had fun reading a piece of lamentation masked as a press statement, as I did the one released by the Director of Communications and spokesman of the Enugu State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Campaign Organisation. The lawyer-turned-election publicity expert must have packed the frustrations of his party men into a tight press release of just five relatively long paragraphs, that, if properly dissected, carried the weight and tears of the, wait for it, the five chapters in the Biblical Book of Lamentations.

I decided to make this intervention because I cannot understand why Nana (I particularly love the sound of his Ghanaian name) Ogbodo, a man whose job has been to arrive every election year, assemble attack dogs for those who pay him and disappear until another four years, would complain of being hounded by the opposition. It just didn’t sound right. It still does not sound normal!

I do not think I have ever met this man before, but I am aware that he featured prominently in the campaigns that brought Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi into office in 2015. But I did not hear much of him again until preparations began for the 2019 elections and his name emerged, yet again, as the Director of Communications of the Ugwuanyi campaign. Interestingly, I was working in the Ugwuanyi team then, and I am aware that the team never had a single meeting until that election was over.

Barrister Ogbodo disappeared again after this, and as it has become time to hand over the baton to another governor for the state in 2023, the people who understand hiss “once-in-every-four-year” value have gone to pluck him from his strategic obscurity so whisk the party into victory.

The problem Ogbodo has, this term, is that the ecosystem has changed so radically that his bifocals just might not enable him to have a good view of the re-characterised political and social environment of Enugu. The space has become totally different from the one he ran over with the ease of falling rain in previous cycles.

Ogbodo has always been lucky. He arrives on the scene every four years, collects his sign-on fee, pulls one or two strings, and takes credit for an election that had been won long before he strolled onto the stage. Enugu State had, up until now, been a one-party state and required little or no work at all for electoral victory. So, it was easy for an Ogbodo to walk in, sit in an office somewhere, and believe he is in charge of the churning and swaying of the minds of the voting public in favour of PDP.

That’s what perhaps made him the go-to person; the communications expert that comes in handy when the matter came to winning elections for the PDP in Enugu State.

But if Ogbodo truly disappears and reappears only during elections to assume the same office, do exactly the same thing and look forward to the same result, then it is important to let him know that, this time around, things have changed. If the environment was so smooth for him in the earlier missionary journeys, he missed the tone, texture and other realities of the market, then someone just has to tell him the truth, and that truth is that the market has shifted in sophistication and a number of other core indicators

If there is one thing I would give to this gentleman, it is his measured choice of words. Those who are not well-schooled in literature could miss a few active ingredients that lay latent like active volcanoes in this five-paragraph statement.

I believe politics and election matters have to be about issues. But Ogbodo, you are surrounded by people who have no other value they are offering your principals except what is vile, caustic, asperous, and often lending to bullying. You are fully aware of this, except you are angry; may be scared, just like the proverbial man who kills by the sword and who panics each time someone holding a cutlass stands behind him,

In a nutshell, Ogbodo, in this press statement, was issuing warnings to the people whom he said, have been deliberately maligning the PDP governorship candidate in the state, Peter Mbah. A lot of brickbats have been flying across the room since the whistle for the 2023 election campaigns was blown, and sometimes, I even wondered if it is still people from one state that are throwing these poisoned barbs at one another.

There is nothing that is ugly that has not been traded across the table since the campaigns started, and to my dear Nana, if you were still studying your contract documents at the time your principals were already at work, hiring attack dogs of all types, it is important to let you know how hypocritical they are making you sound. This is because the first trumpet of doom was blown by those that have been conveniently subordinated to you in your campaign office.

I can name names.

Long before this video, themed, Ego Ndi Enugu came on the scene (do not worry, I know that is what your press statement was trying to address without being particular), your principals had intentionally hired folks whose only value on the table was the size of aspersions they could cast on perceived political opponents.

These included men who have records of rape, wife battery, paedophobia, and sundry other character issues, but who were found useful since they exhibited no sense of shame in deploying bile and “tarnishment” to the electoral narrative.

Reuben Onyishi, who works in your team, as your direct report, was signed on for his lack of conscience and the amount of insult he is capable of piling on the opposition. Using, as at my last count, six different mobile phones that enabled six different WhatsApp and countless Facebook accounts, Onyishi has made it his business to insult everyone who was opposed to Peter Mbah.

Try and ask Mbah himself. He was, for months, at the receiving end of this person’s acerbic attacks, until he was able to sign him on. I recall that one of my major encounters with Onyishi was on his campaign for the Ka Isi-Uzo Jee project. I remember he had gone on radio and was sharing the video recordings of his outing on a WhatsApp group I belonged to and after watching only one clip where he disparaged Mbah and, by extension, all Nkanu people, for being, as he described them, hopeless land-sellers. I tried to make him aware of the limits and boundaries of even unhinged propaganda. We had an exchange that had both of us suspended from that group.

Dear Ogbodo, it is this same Onyishi that eventually got signed on by Mbah. Days after his onboarding, he arrived social media to brag about the vehicle your principals used to reward him for nothing other than the queer virtue of being innately vile. He showed his expansive office also and boasted about how your principal had empowered him. Onyishi, as you might see in some previous articles that I took time to research and publish about him, was worth less than nothing before he met your principal. He could not pay his rent and depended on handouts for his next meal.

But I understand he has become rich, or at least can now afford his meals under your watch. I understand he can now buy his next lunch without sponging it off someone. I understand that thanks to you and your principals, he has been able to “own” two cars within a space of six months.

Dear Ogbodo, these are rewards for his dutiful maligning of the candidates of other political parties, and he does this every day of his tarnished adult political life.

Do you now see why you have no moral right to complain? Or you are telling us you can give, but not willing to take?

There is also another man on your side. His name is Onyekachi Ugwu. Ahmed is his nickname. Some say that Ahmed was to him, what Bola is to a certain Yekini Amoda Sangodele. This person is also in your team. Like Onyishi, he was also preaching the Ka Isi-Uzo Jee decoy until he understood the slogan was only a red-herring of the No 1 citizen of the state.

But he switched almost immediately and flung his previous project and everyone on it under a speeding bus, turning his attention in the direction his belly button was facing. But before I digress, Ahmed was also notorious for massing his army of well-remunerated unscrupulous minions against anyone who as much as contemplated an opposing voice. His favourite word for opposition voices was, “NSHIKO”. I am not the one to tell you the meaning of this word. You know, and you also know all what those you hired to run this campaign are doing.

Your only anger, in my view, is that the people of the state have woken up and might just have, with simultaneity, decided to make it impossible for your party, the one that signs you on every four years, to ride rough-shod over the people to the usual easy victory. I suspect that is what you find hard to understand.

I believe politics and election matters have to be about issues. But Ogbodo, you are surrounded by people who have no other value they are offering your principals except what is vile, caustic, asperous, and often tending to bullying. You are fully aware of this, because you recruited them to do just this. Maybe you are angry; perhaps scared, just like the proverbial man who kills by the sword and who panics each time someone holding a cutlass stands behind him.

Lest I forget, I also did not miss the hint about the governor doubling down on opposition voices. You are a very clever person. You veiled this so well the normal reader would miss the hint. The way you put it, you are presenting a challenge to the governor, to descend on opposition. If, assuming that your clever goading works, who would rein in the rabid dogs that are all over the place, hounding and bullying, on your behalf, those whose only crime was having a different viewpoint, and a different platform, other than yours, through which they want to express this?

I need you to think about this.

Okuhu is a specialist brand critic and public relations strategist, serial author, among other competencies. He is the founder/publisher of BRANDish.

This article was first published in https://ikemsjournal.com.ng/

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