Keeping government in check is the most advantageous ways to balance a democracy. This is what the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is doing through its sophisticated publicity handler, Barr Olisa Metuh.
Metuh is the party’s National Publicity Secretary. He has a unique way of handling public relations campaigns without accompanying them with deceit. Especially now that the party is facing internal displacement, Metuh is grounded in engineering of concepts on how to checkmate the All Progressives Congress (APC), which only great thinkers like him could harness.
The process of shaping opinion, attitudes, and perceptions in politics could be learned from Metuh. With the proposed national conference of the PDP, Metuh did not behave like the ruling APC would have done in trading blames.
He did not apportion blame to anybody or group with regards to the impression that there were some members of the PDP National Working Committee who were working to annul the conference.
Metuh simply said that the party needed the conference in order to put up strategies to rebuild the party. That was where reality took precedence over public relations. In earnest, Metuh was not fooling anybody or group.
In these days of instant communications, Metuh’s views as the PDP’s national publicity secretary is different. He endears many Nigerians with his visible and authentic decisions the PDP makes. Metuh also acknowledges mistake where the PDP erred in error, unlike the APC that is giving the country a democracy of denial, through its media handlers.
An example was the apology the PDP tendered to Commissioner of Police, Zakari Biu, for mentioning his case on a Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Programme ‘Good Morning Nigeria’.
Tendering the apology, Metuh said, “The comment is highly regretted, especially as we are now very much aware that Mr. Zaraki Biu’s exoneration and reinstatement were done in line with extant laws of the country, and is beyond any irregularity. We therefore sincerely and honestly apologize to Mr. Zakari Biu, his family, friends and associates, for this highly regrettable slip.”
Some of the public relations officers in other political parties would have manipulated that fact with evasion and outright deception. But Metuh owned up the error made on the TV programme in passing comments! That was a social democrat at his best. That does not stop his free flow of information which the APC would always characterise by frivolous claims in order to distract Mr. President.
In a subject of unclothed truth, Nigerians saw the APC and Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, instead of owning up, were quick with such statement against the PDP, that the later should stop distracting President Muhammadu Buhari with frolicsome and unsubstantiated allegations of witch-hunting in the anti-corruption war.
In that context, the APC may be likened to a political party that flatters and kisses Nigerians with behaviour of anti-criticism. Followers of Metuh would attest to the fact that he was not doing his public relations work with a mind of guilt. His good creation of public relations has become a phobia to the presidency and the APC and they see Metuh as the beginning of wisdom.
This is good with a man like Metuh who knows what he is doing and can afford great ideas of national importance and if checked right and left, the APC will only use such a language like ‘PDP stop distracting the president’ for defense, without making any substantial rebuttal to make the claims of Metuh bite the dust.
While Metuh is not gossiping in his job, it is surprising how the APC bleach the meaning of his critiques against the party just for political gains. The APC’s public relations is a disaster! The APC continues to manufacture charm that goes under the headline as public relations. Why?
The substance is with Metuh, no matter the elusive ‘change’ that many Nigerians are looking up to Abuja for. Metuh was in the neck of the APC, when a special squad of the Department of State Services, DSS, invaded the Akwa Ibom State Government House, Uyo recently in guise as if the government house was a bomb and gun manufacturing industry.
In a public presentation by Metuh, the PDP cautioned that one could imagine the destiny of regular citizens if such brazen terror could be mated out to such office.
Without Metuh saying it, Nigerians who look at the ‘change’ mantra of the APC horizontally and vertically without a bias mind, knew that Nigerians were set for autocratic government. Metuh was of the fear that such invasion was a script being played by the APC-led government to humiliate other PDP states, which he said included Rivers, Delta, Abia and Taraba.
While the APC would stop at nothing in seeing Metuh’s harangues as ‘frivolous and unfounded’, Nigerians were made to know by Metuh that electoral officers in the PDP states were being hounded and harassed by the DSS. As if that was not enough, Nigerians were dazed with the information by Metuh that the DSS were without shame directly snooping in the activities of the election tribunals.
Imagine! The APC would always see Metuh’s profound views to mean desperation, when the APC through its body language, was in nervousness with ways to take over the states mentioned above from the PDP.
Metuh would however say, “The PDP recalls similar action by the APC controlled police, which in July, sealed local councils in Rivers State and barred caretaker committees lawfully appointed by the state government from taking charge of the councils. We wish to restate that the PDP lost a general election and not a war. PDP states are not occupied territories but part of the Nigerian nation; its members are not prisoners of war, but free citizens in a democratic state.
“We invite Nigerians and the international community to note that never in the history of our democracy have we witnessed such a divisive government, whose actions and constitutional violations have so polarized the polity along its fault lines, while undermining national unity and cohesion, a development that spells doom for our democracy, if left unchecked. Finally, we wish to state categorically that as citizens of this country, we can no longer continue to stomach such brazen attacks on our members and elected officials. The PDP will therefore hold several leadership and stakeholders meetings to come up with its response to this barefaced assault on our democracy. Enough is enough.”
But the APC does not see enough as enough. The APC through its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed was calling for a national sympathy against the decision of the PDP not to hang the official portrait of General Muhammadu Buhari at the PDP national secretariat Abuja with the following statement, “This is ridiculous and we have no comment; et Nigerians judge the PDP on this matter.”
Metuh who may be seen as a great thinker had said this, inter alia, “Can you find out if the APC had the portrait of former President Jonathan in their office before he was defeated? That is just it.”
Barr Olisah Metuh is not only spending his time at the public relations of the PDP, but in enlightening Nigerians to see the present government with a mind full of questions. His party’s views through him worth many things. Space may not permit, in this treatise, to tell more about the work Metuh is doing.
The final truth is that Metuh says what he meant and meant what he says. He discusses ideas, unlike the average minds Nigerians can see in the APC’s publicity desk discussing events from Metuh with denial and want small minds that characterise the Nigerian population to accept.
Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet/Writer; he writes from Rivers State.