by Yomi Kazeem
Reno Omokri has got a very difficult job.
Effectively, he’s got to say the opposite of what the reality is and try to sound sane at the same time. He’s got to qualify the President with positive adjectives in the face of an ever-increasing negative public perception. He’s also got to try to convince a vibrant and well-informed social media audience that they’re wrong and his principal is right. Reno’s job title reads Special Assistant to the President on New Media but in reality, he doesn’t need such a long and descriptive job title when only two words suffice: fall guy.
Social media has done quite a number of things for the Nigerian populace – the young ones at least. Amongst others, it has given us a platform where our thoughts can be shared. Critically, it’s given us a place to vent.
When Reuben Abati tagged young Nigerians as the “collective children of anger,” he hit the nail on the head. One of the primary reasons for this anger is the brazen insensitivity of the current administration. A crime of which Abati himself is guilty. While Abati’s exposure to the angry generation is minimal, Reno earns his money and stripes by facing them head-on. Sometimes he wins, most times he loses.
He’s a tough guy, Reno. You’ve got to give him that. Every other day he takes a battering but just when you’re about to cut him some slack, he insults your intelligence. Reno’s latest act of folly was tweeting a few stats that, according to him, meant that Nigeria’s fortunes were getting better. While he was wise to pay attention to the statistics and figures, it was dumb of him to believe them all.
Reno serenaded social media users with news that Nigeria’s poverty index dropped by a negligible 2% under his principal and tales of how foreign media have praised the President’s handling of the economy. Predictably, Reno got bashed and rightly so.
No-one knows our predicament as well as us Nigerians. Foreign media comments and/or articles are flawed by one simple factor: they’re foreign. Here, at home, general signs of stagnation are ostensible. Unemployment figures have not dropped; if anything, they’re increasing. Job creation schemes have not yielded results; Millennium Development Goals may well be achieved sometime in the next millennium; fuel prices are soaring and corruption in high places is as sure as Diezani’s stay in office.
The economy presently does not reflect progress. If any futuristic growth is on the cards, wait till they are manifested, dear Reno, before you stuff stats down our throats.
And the poverty index that dropped by 2%? Let’s be good citizens and commend the 2% drop. *waits ten seconds* Done!
Now, let’s be Nigerians and ask Reno a question: in the bigger scheme of things, what the heck is 2%? The continuance of the culture of waste and personal aggrandizement will see that 2% creep back sooner or later so why are we throwing a party?
Reno’s job is difficult and the path he treads daily is fraught with pitfalls but he can make it easier for himself. Progress is what everyone wants and when it comes it should be celebrated but only when such progress is meaningful, tangible and far-reaching. When progress comes in form of ‘stats’, quit rubbing it in our faces dear Reno because in the words of former coach of the Ukrainian National Football team, Oleg Blokhin: Statistics are like miniskirts- they never reveal everything.