Make Your Enemies’ Lies Work for You, By Pius Adesanmi
When you are President and your enemies accidentally tell a lie guaranteed to make you look good, you own it and let them rue their foolishness and stupidity. That is political savvy. You turn your enemies lies into a wonderful goal for yourself.
While hoping that President Buhari, Vice President Osinbajo, Lai Mohammed, and all their media handlers have learnt a thing or two about the impossibility of denying things said, promised, and written outright in the age of Google and social media, here is another free lecture on how and why not to deny some lies told against you by your enemies.
Not all lies told by your enemies are harmful. Some lies end up having unintended positive consequences – if you know how to own and exploit them auspiciously.
The initial gesture of Jonahideens after May 29 was to go into a frantic lying mode. They told one thousand and one lies per day. All Buharists will recall the nightmare we went through coping with the torrents of lies by Jonahideens. They were very prolific. Very creative. Very determined. Very shameless. They kept producing and making lies viral in the hope that something would stick. Sometimes, the regular media would fall for the social media lies of Jonahideens and publish.
They told white lies.
They told black lies.
They told grey lies.
They told fat lies.
They told thin lies.
Some Jonahideens became instant Facebook and Twitter celebrities based on the genius of lies they told daily against Buhari. They built followership and began to take themselves seriously.
Then, one day, Jonahideens manufactured the lie that Buhari had decided to reduce the size of the Presidential fleet. As usual, it went viral.
That nonsense and ever-expanding fleet has, of course, always been one of the lowest points of Aso Rock with the Nigerian people. It is absolutely irresponsible of any country, any government, any presidency to maintain a harem of 12 presidential jets.
Any President who reduced the fleet to two or three was always going to gain enormous traction with the Nigerian people; was always going to increase his stock and capital with the Nigerian people. That is the one move guaranteed to make you win with the Nigerian people.
Of course it was a lie told by Jonahideens. But you needed no soothsayer to tell you that it was an ownable lie. Some of us had in fact even run to town to celebrate President Buhari and add the sale of the jets to his column of early positives. We had no idea it was one of the malicious lies of the enemy.
When you are President and your enemies accidentally tell a lie guaranteed to make you look good, you own it and let them rue their foolishness and stupidity. That is political savvy. You turn your enemies lies into a wonderful goal for yourself. You go ahead and claim that initiative and begin to discuss modalities for transforming nine of the planes to the initial fleet of the new Nigeria Airways. You act on that lie. You can only win.
Going ahead to reduce the fleet would have pulled the rug off the feet of the liars. Buhari would have won a jackpot of popular approval and the authors of the lie would have had to contemplate the unintended positive consequences of their lies in pain and anguish.
What did the Presidency do? Smack in the middle of celebration by Buharists, Femi Adesina issues a yeye statement saying it is not true.
I nearly died of embarrasment.
I desperately phoned some Buharists. I needed them to explain to me just what the Presidency stood to lose by denying something guaranteed to make them win.
Or does the frugal and disciplined President Buhari actually intend to keep that Presidential harem of planes? We expect him to reduce it anyway. He must reduce it anyway. You cannot morally or ethically keep the size of that Presidential fleet. It is indefensible. Why not run away with the lies of the enemy and turn it against them?
We lost that fantastic moment because the Presidency could not sniff opportunity in the lies of the enemy.
Buhari Presidency – stop denying what you should own even if it is invented by the enemy.
Stop denying what you said, even if it has become inconvenient.