For those Nigerians who’re new to Nigeria’s political discourse and its murkily unpredictable, hair-splitting political environment, but have been wondering why Reno Omokri seems fixated in turning the truth on its head about the Jonathan presidency despite the many heaps of incontrovertible evidence that stands like the Rock of Gibraltar, they need to be informed that his mischievous fixation in trying to unilaterally re-write the history of the former president has an established pattern. And in order to maintain his sanity, Omokri must stay true to this established pattern of insanity.
For starters, Bemigho Reno Omokri was the Special Assistant to Jonathan on Social Media. On that job, Omokri barked at anyone that publicly expressed serious misgivings about Jonathan, his character flaws and his presidency. As Jonathan’s megaphone on the social media, Omokri was unapologetically ruthless that there was no low to which he could not descend in defending his principal against the litany of his recklessness in the way he shepherded the affairs of the Nigerian state, which had earned him the inglorious reputation as that Nigerian leader that vandalized the country more than any of its past leaders.
In his recklessness, if not his own addiction (as his principal had an addiction of a different kind then) to defend the indefensible, and his incessant attempts to convince Nigerians that they’re the ones needlessly tormenting the polity with their actions and condemnation of the Jonathan presidency, Omokri had used a moniker, Wendel Simlin to link the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi to the Boko Haram terrorist group. In a clear case of forgery and identity theft, a California-based woman, Deborah Campbell, had said, according to the investigation of a Nigerian news portal, that her son was the real Wendel Simlin. The woman said Omokri took advantage of her marriage with his brother-in-law and “exploited the relationship to perpetrate [the] forgery.” Despite the outcry that greeted this criminal act, Omokri was unperturbed.
Any loyal but rational ex-presidential aide would have been humbled by that disgraceful and criminal conduct, having escaped spending prison time in the penitentiary of the United States because Deborah Campbell did not file charges, Omokri have even gone insanely bold since the ouster of his principal by President Muhammadu Buhari to unleash information terrorism on the Nigerian people. For instance, Omokri said in an article that the former President of the United States, Barack Obama, “ensured [that the] former President Jonathan lost the 2015 election as punishment for the same sex marriage law” which he refused to append his signature during his tenure.
In another piece, the former special assistant said he doubts the sanity of the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, for accusing Jonathan of killing Nigeria’s economy on account of the out-of-this-world corruption that took place under his watch that the world had never seen. What is more, Omokri even said that Jonathan fought corruption better than President Buhari in yet another article. It doesn’t get more insanely comical than that.
Omokri’s many outrageous claims and his weird fake facts—-which have largely gone unchallenged—-to denigrate President Buhari and his administration may well have resuscitated Jonathan from the obscure graveyard that Nigerians had interred his administration that he has also started kicking and sniping at the president. And this is why Reno Omokri must be called to order. Omokri is practically the only person in the disgraced and discredited Jonathan administration that still leaps to attack Buhari or anyone in the present administration who dare to point out the ex-president’s seemingly endless crimes against the Nigerian state. These are crimes for which the former president would most certainly have been incarcerated by now were the country to be governed by the rule of law as defined by the rest of the world.
Omokri’s latest inanity is contained in his recent article which, surprisingly, received wide coverage in the Nigerian (both traditional and new) media establishment in which he accused the vice president Prof. Yemi Osinbajo of “spreading lies against Jonathan” at a ‘Greater Nigeria Pastors Conference.’ The VP was quoted to have said at the conference that the former president allegedly “gave out N100 billion and $295 million for security in the buildup to the 2015 election.” Omokri, who’s himself a self-styled pastor in far away United States, even asked the vice president “if he is still a pastor” in the article for reminding Nigerians about the most egregious squander mania of the Jonathan government that the ex-president himself was the superintendent in the build-up to the 2015 election because he was glaringly very desperate to win.
It probably would not have been worth the trouble for anyone to dignify Omokri with a response in his reckless and insane outbursts and the attempt to turn history and the truth on their heads if not because of that time-tested adage that a lie told often enough becomes the truth. Omokri should leave bad enough (the Jonathan era) alone. Nigerians do not need Osinbajo to remind them of the unprecedented looting that took place under Jonathan’s watch. They may have short memories, but a looting that broke world record is bound to linger in their collective psyche for a very long time.
Need we ask Omokri on what the more than $2 billion disbursed by Dasuki (in which we may never know the exact amount or the number of people that ‘obtained’the largesse from the former National Security Adviser) was expended if not to sway the 2015 election in Jonathan’s favour. Perhaps Omokri is the only Nigerian who believes that the several billions of dollars domiciled at and distributed by Fidelity Bank to INEC officials and several others at Diezani’s behest were for the bank’s recapitalization agenda. What about Jonathan’s nation-wide tour on the eve of the presidential election when he met Nigeria’s major traditional rulers? Omokri may yet tell us that Jonathan embarked on that infamous trip to deepen his understanding of culture and traditions among the various ethnic groups in the country. Again, Nigerians may never know the amount of hard currency that went with that trip because it is cultural taboo for the society to ask its Obas, Obis and Emirs how much of the ‘dollar yam’ they ate from Jonathan on that fateful trip. Need we also ask Omokri for what purpose the $43.4m, £27,800, and N23.2m found on the 7th floor of a four-bedroom apartment at Osborne Towers in Ikoyi that the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Ayo Oke, said the monies were meant. And the list goes on.
Omokri probably takes solace in his continued effrontery to offend the sensibilities of Nigerians in the fact that there’s virtually no repercussion for anything bad that members of the country’s top echelon say or do. Egregious violations of the people’s trust by various actors in the Jonathan administration would have most definitely committed them to various jails in saner climes by now. Or they may have simply gone underground never to be heard of again in any public discourse for the rest of their days in societies with strong moral foundations. But in Nigeria, the criminals are the ones that make the loudest noise and accorded the highest honour and respect.
– Femi Odere is a media practitioner.