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Open Letter To Nigerian Politicians: Strategies For Regaining Political Relevance In Nigeria – Gimba Kakanda



Dear Politicians,

This may be the last, and I’m sure it’s not the first, intervention shared out of my sensitivity to your unjust vilification by a vengeful people to whom you, your family and friends are responsible for the witnessed socio-political dysfunction and all the things, genuine and imaginary, that have barred them from benefiting from your largesse when you were elected to, well, secure some proportions of the dividends of democracy for them. So, if you’re concerned about the negative media you have endured recently, this is the way out:

Journalists may be your worst nightmare but their weapons aimed and fashioned against you will not prosper if the reading citizens are on your side, and are aware that all you have experienced since leaving office are the handiwork of your enemies from the other region, religion or ethnic group. So, come to the social media, which is now the beer parlour of all reading citizens, and face your predators. Yes, create Facebook and Twitter accounts and befriend them, all of them, trolls both northern and southern, Muslim and Christian, patronising and belligerent, sound and silly, young and old…

At first they’ll accuse you, label you and even gang up against you and yours. Don’t panic. Call them “my bro”, “my sis”, “my young friend”, “my good friend” and even “sir” and “ma” in responding to their attacks. They’ll calm down. “Wow! X is so humble,” they’ll say. “Thanks for the response, boss!” they will add. And then, “Thanks for clarifying. This made a difference!” It’s called famzing. Google it!

Don’t stop there. Show them you are as dispossessed of all the good things of life as they are. It doesn’t matter that you’re reading their tweets and posts lounged in your yacht or lavish living room in a grand European or American city. Post about your private life: how you taught your wife, call her by a mischievous pet name in your post and tweet, how to prepare a dish–feminists will hail you for this. How the government of the day has been wasting public funds–the opposition will hail you for this. How the sermons at the mosque or church that day uplifted your spirit–the religious, and they’re in their millions, mostly uncritical, will embrace you. How Arik almost crashed with you on board, in the economy class cabin–the lower middle-class will sympathise with you….

As soon as you’ve successfully polarised them, embark on overt humanising stunts. Post pictures of you and your wife playing a video game. Share stories of how you couldn’t afford a stay in London, and that your friend–mention a Forbes-endorsed business tycoon–had to host you. Never hesitate to exploit the gullibility of your supporters anytime an unlucky politician is convicted; manufacture an experience and tell them how you and a certain politician resisted participation in such corrupt act while you were in power. Make sure that the “certain politician ‘friend’” has a huge following and, very importantly, is no longer alive. If you’re not too young to be a crony or disciple of, say, Aminu Kano, tell your followers that he was that certain politician. And that you have actually resisted many of such unholy acts together with, or in line with the principles of, the late emancipator of the talakawa. You just won over citizens to whom Aminu Kano was a role model to your side. And you’ll be shocked by their number, and the passion with which they will defend you henceforth.

Nothing unifies the people as much as grief. Always remember this. So be very quick to exploit such situations. If you lose even a distant relative, say an aunt whom you never ever met, to a disease that kills even the most medically conscious, make sure you write about it and how sincerely broken you have become over the death. People are united in their fear of cancer, so if it is the cause of the death of that relative, make sure you become a cancer advocate in memory of that “beloved aunt who was my favorite confidant… She was the one who advised me to go into politics.” This sentiment shared will validate your political credential in ways you never imagined. Even if your advocacy is for a week or month, be very loud in your solidarity with all cancer patients and survivors. It doesn’t matter that you actually threw the photocopy of your aunt’s medical report with details of diagnosis and cost of treatments into your bin when your personal assistant delivered it to you. “Sir, I lost my mother too to cancer, so I can understand how you feel about your late aunt now. May her soul rest in peace. Please take heart!” This, identification with your predicament by your critics, is a very effective tool of unravelling their hate.

One more thing, always be ready to “politicise” the misfortunes that befall your political enemies. Let’s say one loses a wife, dedicate a Facebook post or tweet to condoling with him, saying how death is not a respecter of any and how we all will die some day. This emotive condolence may touch the heart of your critics and supporters of the bereaved who, in that spark of your wisdom, will remember fatalism and how the Bible and the Qur’an actually emphasise the essence of forgiveness.

I may not know how damaged your reputation is, but as a reputation management expert, of course I’m one, a sought-after one even, I only recognise two effective ways of interacting with your critics. One is to disarm them, and the second is to confront them. Disarming is a tactic you employ in calming your critics by responding to them in the most friendliest possible way and referring to them as “brother”, “sister”, and “friend” which is exactly what everyone wishes to become to a Big Man.

Now, to the confronting method, you must be ready to stoke religious, ethnic and regional sentiments to polarise your critics if it gets too tough. Do this for some months to gain very reliable “family and friends” before you embark on confronting your most difficult critics. You confront your critics by marking them out, or highlighting the damaging things they have said about you, and then permitting your supporters, who are mostly victims of your polarisation campaigns, to lynch them. Be very articulate in insinuating that you’re despised by them for being of a particular religion, region, political party or ethnic group. Better to have a polarised fan base than dealing with collectively belligerent bullies. A good friend of mine used to be a critic of this politician but we have not read anything negative from him ever since the politician shared his article and praised him, almost calling him a genius for insulting President Goodluck Jonathan.

Wait, my dear clients. Do not get carried away in your rush to convince your supporters that you are not the retired thieves our newspapers report. Do not allow your supporters to see you as one of them, ordinary mortals or paranoid victims of Out of Office Syndrome who have turned the social media into a rehab. So, be sure you frequently share details and photographs of your   meetings with famous and powerful people.  Especially white technocrats, politicians and diplomats. Call those global icons too “my friends”, and do not be modest in sharing that you actually took them up, and even educated them, on aspects of your country they didn’t understand. Being seen as an equal of Bill Clinton, whose photograph of you with him, your supporters have widely shared, is a confirmation of your ability, power and influence. Nobody will realise that you only got to see and pose with Bill Clinton during the general photo session at the event you attended as an audience member, uninvited guest, star-struck.

Your other enemies are journalists but I deliberately refused to mention them because they’re the easiest to tame. All you need is locating the addresses of obsessively critical journalists and inviting them over for lunch or dinner and, well, you know the parting gift. If at this age in your pursuit of relevance, you don’t know the power of brown envelopes, then you’re not fit to be a politician. Trust me, if you do as I have advised here pro bono, even if you still have conscience left at the end, you may not even share or retweet certain praises from your former vilifiers, not out of modesty, but for being obscenely flattering. Sample? “Sir, I used to hate you but now I’ve realized that I was wrong. You’re the best XYZ ever in Nigeria. Please we need you as President in 20XX!”

May God save us from us!

By Gimba Kakanda

@gimbakakanda (On Twitter)

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