As the spokesperson for the then opposition All Progressives Congress, Mr. Lai Mohammed issued statements after statements, blasting the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan for its glaring incompetence and monumental corruption.
He boasted about how easy it was to fix the myriad of problems Mr. Jonathan could not fix, and nicknamed him “clueless”. He explained that the President was overwhelmed by Nigeria’s challenges and advised that he stepped down to allow a more competent person do a better job.
To him, rescuing the Chibok girls could have been so easy had Mr. Jonathan listened to advice. His advice. Fixing electricity was a child’s play if only his party could be given a chance to lead. Ending corruption or running an efficient government was the simplest of things.
At virtually every opportunity, Mr. Mohammed excoriated Mr. Jonathan. He mocked him and used the kind of disrespectful language no one had used on any Nigerian leader since independence in 1960.
Newspapers repeated his propaganda without cross-checking. Everything he said was right. His insults were right. His abuses were right. Disrespecting the President was right. Belittling the office of the President was just right. The social media were just fair game. There was no need for regulations. Only those who had something to hide would be afraid of the social media.
Then in March 2015, Mr. Jonathan was defeated by Mr. Muhammadu Buhari who was later sworn into office in May last year. Mr. Buhari was the candidate of the APC, Mr. Lai Mohammed’s party.
By September of last year, Mr. Mohammed was appointed Minister of information, and shortly after, it became glaringly obvious to many that propaganda was different from effective communication.
He made many gaffes and failed to inform Nigerians about policies of government, including the removal of fuel subsidy, the increase of fuel prices, the mismanagement of funds meant for Boko Haram victims.
It got so bad that Nigerians began to wonder whether there was still a Minister of Information in Nigeria or Mr. Lai Mohammed had been silenced by the reality of office; that it is easy to, grumble, blast and advise those in power when one is out of office.
So far, Mr. Mohammed has performed a very poor job, sometimes mistaking information with propaganda and railing against journalists and others for disrespecting the President or his office in their write ups.
As the naira continued to crash and electricity was nowhere to be seen, Mr. Mohammed was nowhere to be found. He has effectively failed to communicate with Nigerians who ask every day where is the country going? Or where is the damaged economy going? How long should we wait? Does the government have a clear economic plan?
Mr. Mohammed should realise that it is not enough to vent anger while in opposition and continue with the same propaganda while in power. He should drop propaganda and communicate effectively with the masses.
And when others use the type of language he used while in opposition on President Jonathan, he should just take heart, knowing that he set the stage for the kind of recklessness we see now and may continue to experience for many years to come.