My Unbiased Media Chat Analysis: Smart, Confusing Or A Prank? #GEJMediaChat
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Yesterday’s Presidential Media chat revealed a lot about Nigeria and where we are going as a nation in the next few years. It was smart and confusing all at the same time, making one think that the whole chat was a sort of national prank.
But what I personally learnt was that the President is not completely clueless about the nation. He just has a very very bad way of communicating with Nigerians both verbally and timing wise … I mean it took him over 20 days before he addressed the nation on the Chibok issue and no the Reuben Abati tweets don’t count!
But this article is really about analyzing the chat from an unbiased view point. I know it is a national past time to criticize the President of a country especially Nigeria based on the past crop of leaders we have had, but I did find some smart things the President said as well as some confusing things. And I have broken the analysis down into 3 main sectors Security, Economy and Corruption and graded each of the sectors. I also did a quick bonus review on the performance of the journalists yesterday as well as the Administrations use of social media.
All the above create my completely unbiased, I really swear it is unbiased analysis of the GEJ Media Chat…
Which actually was the first question that was asked. What really struck me was that the President seemed to insinuate that there was a lack of corporation from the Parents in providing the IDs of their children. I find this hard to beleive and I really think that this is a case of poor communication between the Abuja administration and Borno admins. But the President repeated it twice, so he might have a point there.
But then his solution to the whole kidnapping issue baffled me. Per his talk he said the Army and Airforce had searched all the possible locations of the girls but had found nothing. But then the solution was to send a joint committee to Borno to help look for the girls. The committee will consist of Teachers and WAEC officials? Not sure how that will help.
The other thing that bothered me was his statement regarding why the army was ill prepared to fight boko haram, he responded by saying
“We have not been equipping our army for past 20 years till issue of bokoharam”
First of all this to me is an excuse. Our army should always be ready. To say that because we have had no major war is an excuse for not having the right equipment for the army is poor. And let’s not forget that Nigeria was a major part of the ECOMOG peace forces in 1999 and that boko haram has been around since 2013! Again this statement baffled and worried me and goes to reinforce the 4lah.com interview with one of the victims Uncle’s that said the Nigerian army ran away when Boko haram came.
One of the really good questions came when the President was asked how he would control movement of terrorists across the Nigeria borders. But the response by GEJ again left me confused, he did not tackle the question but rather talked about the ECOWAS free movement and how Nigerians that travel to other ECOWAS countries might be reverse discriminated against so the government has to be hush/gradual about the whole process of securing the borders …
I see where he is coming from, but I think security is more important than ECOWAS free movement. I felt like that was the opportunity to give a strong answer like improving our National ID systems and establishing better border control. But he let it slide and so did the journalists.
The best moment on security for the President was when he responded to why “boko haram could not be negotiated with like MEND.”
In this area he talked about his direct involvement in negotiating with MEND. You could tell this was the President in his field of expertise because he gave one of the few clear and strong answers on security. He clarified that MEND was totally different from Boko Haram which I think most Nigerians understood. He also stated the fact that boko haram has a loose leadership structure which would make negotiation difficult. But here I felt the journalists could have pressed him hard for alternative solutions beyond negotiations but they just nodded their heads. At the end of the day I give the president a GRADE E: hide your kids hide your wives because the army is hiding also.
Some of my live tweets on Security
- GEJ clarifies that bokoharam has not infiltrated his cabinet. But says they have infiltrated government.
- GEJ gradually* removing illegal foreigners quietly so as not to disrupt ECOWAS free movement? How and why gradual? #mediachat
- We have not been equipping our army for past 20 years till issue of bokoharam? What about ECOMOG?
- Credit to him he does have a point that negotiating with bokoharam is different from MEND. There is no clear leader.
- GEJ says again that #Chibok parents are not being cooperative in providing IDs of their children. True? #BringBackOurGirls #GEJMediaChat
On The Economy
From the responses, I believe the economy is the President’s primary focus. He gave some good answers, but the main thing with the President is that he does not like dealing with numbers, which is odd for someone so focused on the economy.
For example, when talking about the 1.6 million jobs to be added to the Economy, he was dismissive on the numbers but insisted that his government was working to create a conducive environment for the private sector to grow and that numbers are not that important. He then talked about how the government cannot provide more than 35% (need to verify that number) of jobs in Nigeria, I am not sure where he got that figure from but he was not willing to tie it back to the 1.6 million jobs, but rather focused on the conducive environment…
He re-iterated this “conducive environment strategy” many times and talked about how good infrastructure power (NEPA), roads and communication could help the private sector grow. But the problem with his economic plan lies in the belief that our economy can only grow with Foriegn investment. That was a BIG flaw in his economy plan and exposes the communication issue the President has. The average Nigerian is not waiting or interested in foreign investors to rescue them, they want to know how they (Nigerians) can start their own jobs or get jobs in Nigeria. I would have liked to hear things like lowering interest rates to make lending favorable for businesses or enabling affordable mortgages to make it easier for Nigerians to buy houses. But nothing.
The other issue which a journalist brilliantly pointed out was that if foreign investors actually come into Nigeria, how do we ensure they invest the money in the Nigeria economy and not take it away to their countries. To me this was the poorest response to the best journalistic follow up of the night. GEJ talked on and on about foreign reserves and how foreign companies should have freedom to spend money where ever they wanted. Either he was not very well versed on the answer to this, was not clear or sure, either way the Journalists did not follow up again.
I was confused and had to go to Khan Academy to figure out how the Foreign Reserves impacts Foreign investors keeping money in Nigeria. Ironically the point the President was making made sense. He was saying that if Nigeria has a large foreign reserve we can stabilize our exchange rate and make the Nigerian currency more valuable/attractive to use, by doing so investors will naturally want to invest in Nigeria. This according to him will be better than artificially forcing investing (Mugabe style) that could bite Nigeria if other countries retaliate. Again brilliant idea but bad communication to average Nigerians and again the journalists did not clarify they just nodded their heads.
The part I really liked was his answer on people selling fuel above N97. This has a direct correlation with the 2012 occupy Nigeria movement in Lagos where people protested to keep the N97 fuel price, but at the end of the day in 2014 some fuel stations still sell above the price why still chopping heavy fuel subsidy discount on the backside.
Of course the president used this opportunity to argue for the removal of fuel subsidy but in a tongue and cheek ehn-I-told-you-so type manner. But what he said at the end was really key, and that is the government cannot regulate all the petrol stations in Nigeria, there are just too many. It is up to the people, you and me to do that.
I remember seeing people sell fuel at higher prices, I was too desperate to get fuel so I did not argue or take any picture/video. I think his push here was for us to assist government. All in all I give this sector a GRADE C aka go and find a foreign friend.
Some of my live tweets on Economy
- Makes a good point about fuel price. We occupied Nigeria to keep price at N97 but people still sell it higher than that. #GEJMediaChat
- GEJ says if we (#Nigeria) see people altering pump prices we should report them to DPR or take picture/video. Good point. #GEJMediaChat
- My issue with GEJ economic plan is that is based on attracting foreign investors. What about encouraging local entrepreneurs?
- GEJ says if you go on strike for one day you should not get paid for that day. #gejmediachat
- GEJ was asked how he would ensure foreign investors invest money in Nigeria. But his answer was confusing. Foreign Reserves?
- Government cannot employ more than 35% of the population. But we create the environment to promote private sector. How GEJ?
He either did not expect to tackle this questions or he was not prepared. Whatever the case, his answers were quite funny and hilarious. The first was when he was asked about the Lamido $20 billion missing money accusation. His answer which I am sure he regrets by now was in the lines of
“that amount is so high that if $20 billion was actually stolen America Will Know!”
I was completely lost on this and I am sure others were because soon the #AmericaWillKnow hash tag started trending all over social media.
But if that was confusing his next response was douby confusing. The President said and I quote
“Some of these cases they call corruption are just people stealing.”
I will blame this on a slip of tongue or fatigue or food poisoning. A good journalist would have pushed back on this answer to give the President a better chance to clarify himself but as usual they just nodded their heads.
On the Minister of Petroleum Private Jet scandal, he did not really answer the question but ended up saying that the Ministry of Petroleum using private jets is not a new thing. I would have loved to hear a I can categorically say that the minister of petroleum did not steal any money but after the Stella Oduah case I don’t blame him for rambling. I just wish again that the journalists probed more. All in all on corruption I give him a GRADE F: Only Because America Will Know.
Some of my live tweets on Corruption
- GEJ response to Lamido’s accusation is that it is difficult to steal $20 billion? I am officially confused. #gejmediachat
- GEJ says minister of petroleum has always been using private jets in the history of Nigeria. #GEJMediaChat
I don’t know where to start with the journalists. They asked good questions to start things off with but beyond the prepared … the impromptu off the cuff questions and the follow ups where quite poor. It seemed to me like they were in awe of having been chosen to interview the President. In fact at the end of the day the lead journalist in charge thanked the President with a slight bow for giving them the privilege* to interview him.
And this is my issue with journalism in Nigeria and when it comes to Presidency. If Bill O’Reily interviews Barrack Obama he does not say thank you for the privilege, instead he asks hard fact finding questions and says thank you for your time. The President is an elected officer, him granting an interview to Nigerians to the media is not a privilege it is a right.
But the journalists just seemed to be happy to be privileged and because of the privilege we lost the opportuntiy for key follow up questions to be asked. I am praying that the next media chat gets some Bill O’Reilly type journalists to ask the critical questions. At the end of the day I am privileged to give the journalists a…GRADE D we are privileged to have such amazing journalists!
Some of my live tweets on The Journalists
- Government has created environment to promote jobs? But how many jobs have been created? The journalists should follow up.
- If I utilize 40 to 50 percent of my powers… Nigerians will say I am a dictator. But the Diezani issue was not answered. #GEJMediaChat
- We know terrorism is tough to battle but what are the mitigation plans? #mediachat
- Journalist saying thank you for giving us the “privilege.” Its not a privilege its your “right.” He works for you. Gosh! #GEJMediaChat
The Social Media
lol … never start a sentence with lol …
First of all the
egg person running the @mediachatng1 account should be slapped. That account has been open for years now and the profile picture has not been updated, its still an egg. Also the last tweet from that account was sent in September 29th 2013. This is social media for pure water sake. Can Reuben Abati or Reno Omokiri or someone else not manage the page or hire someone to manage the page. It is embarrassing.
Just because you have a social media account does not mean you are doing social media right. The other thing that annoyed me was the hashtag confusion. At first the official hash tag was #PresidentialMediaChat but that ish was too long, soon it was #mediachat but it was too generic, finally it became #GEJmediachat. My question is this, how freaking hard is it to tweet from the @medichatng1 account and inform people about the hashtag or even respond to people’s questions? The whole social media account management seems to be run by someone that has no computer. So I give it a grade GRADE F we hope to change the egg one day to a fried egg.
Some of my live tweets on Social Media
- These twitter questions are suspect. The first one had 3 questions in one. With just 140 characters how manage?
In summary GEJ is not stupid but neither is he dynamic. Most of his answers were very generic responses and when he got stuck he said go and ask my ministers or advisers. He did not do a good job in communicating to the average Nigerian in pure water langauge. The fact that I had to research to grab his point on foreign reserves probably means that a lot of people were probably confused. And the Chibok issue was really poorly addressed in my opinion, too many uncertainties for an issue that has been going on for over 20 days.
As for the journalists, we need more aggressive and younger people that are not bowing and nodding but rather plowing and prodding for serious answers. Also we don’t need 4 journalists, we really need 2 people or one person so that we can get better follow up questions.
Lastly, let the twitter questions be live questions like they do on CNN, show them at the bottom of the screen or something. All in all I rate the entire thing a …. Grade D+ good president with bad communication skills being watched by privileged Journalists!
Some of my live tweets In General
- GEJ talks about being decisive because he changed ministers and IGs. Anyone can change officials but why the change?
- I feel pained every time a Nigerian is killed by bokoharam. #gejmediachat
Written By Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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