By Bucky Hassan
Anyone who tells you that you are an honest man who gave an honest response to the media, is not ‘doing’ you well. Your comment about rats and rodents, is a self-inflicted disaster of monumental proportions. It has opened up the Presidency and the entire nation to ridicule and mocking laughter across the world.
You also committed the cardinal sin of media ‘gurudom’ – you destroyed your Principal’s good news cycle with a story that has made him an object of conjecture and jeering.
I see some are offering the defence that both the White House and Buckingham palace have suffered rodent attacks? Sadly for you, that defence falls flat as this is not the same situation.
Both those stories did not gain much traction in the international media, because of the location of the vermin, the time of the event AND how the stories came to the public’s attention.
In Buckingham Palace, the vermin were in the kitchen and not in any official staterooms or the Queen’s offices.
In 2013, roaches were found in the White House Press offices located in the basement, with mice also suspected to be in the walls. However, the only time rats were scampering around the Oval office, throwing parties, chewing furniture and driving President Carter out, was in 1977. 40 years ago!
Most importantly, the news was not broken to the world by the Palace Spokesperson or the President’s Press secretary. It was the press who stumbled across the story on their own.
In fact, the official Buckingham Palace spokesperson stated the Palace had no problems with rats.
The Nigerian story would barely have got any interest if you had told us rodents were found in the grounds of Aso Rock, or even in your office. What makes this story utterly stomach-churning is the President’s senior media aide telling us rodents have taken over the highest seat of power and authority of the nation. And driven the President out.
You could easily have avoided all this by saying : “The President’s office is undergoing a little redecoration and until the work is finished, the President will work from his office in his official residence”.
Then release photographs of the president’s office in the private residence so the public can see it is also set up as a formal office.
There might still a little room to clean up this horrendous mess you created. Have a short interview with a friendly member of the press and give em photographs of the home office and the president working there. Then segue unto all the President has done since his return – his raptuous welcome, his security focused speech, his 3 hour meeting with the service chiefs, his receipt of the corruption probe from the Vice-President etc etc.
Will that be enough to make the sting of the story go away? Who knows. It however seems a tad more useful that the defence that you are an ‘honest man’.
You can be honest while being professional, discreet and totally protective of the President’s image. That is your job.
Please do your job without embarrassing the Presidency. Or the Nigerian people.
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