The saying “When a man has once gained a reputation, not even with God’s help can he get rid of it.” came to mind when the news of the DPR recruitment saga involving the presidential spokesperson Bashir Ahmad broke online via the increasingly popular People’s Gazette.
The Government’s attempts to deny the stories were preemptively stifled by the fact that the administration already had a huge reputation for blatant nepotism with public sector positions being routinely filled with candidates from the president’s ethnic group.
If the Buhari Administration planned to make itself an institution that couldn’t be trusted to even truthfully tell the time of day, then it’s been successful because the truth is that there’s absolutely nothing that is going to make the Nigerian People believe that Bashir Ahmad hasn’t been unlawfully made a staff member of the Department of Petroleum Resources.
We could talk about Bashir Ahmad being unsuited for the job but this is Nigeria. Bashir Ahmad has a degree in Mass Communication and was a personal assistant on new media to Sam Nda-Isaiah, the publisher of Leadership before assuming his position as a presidential spokesperson, and the DPR job in question is rumored to be one that entails supervision of an entire division but this is Nigeria where we have a passion for forcing square pegs into round holes.
The social media era has made the topic of “Fake News” a critical one. We are at a point where governments and established media houses are no longer the only ones with the power to lie and misinform at scale and this has left these institutions very uneasy as their corporate ability to sway society is under some threat.
So at some point, all public persons and institutions are going to find themselves having to deal with unfavorable news and what helps now in managing the outcome of these situations is your reputation. A government or person that is already known to be upright would have more people being skeptical of negative media and find it easier to shape public opinion in its favor.
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has predictably responded with a denial and insisted that all of its recruitment is done following legally binding rules guiding employment into the Nigerian Public Service. Well, we don’t believe them.
They might be saying the truth but the Nigerian Government has created an immense deficit of trust with the Nigerian People through its actions and utterances and left itself unbelievable.
It’s often said that the best way to avoid disappointment is to have very low expectations and wittingly or otherwise, the Buhari Administration has made Nigerians place their expectations in subterranean locations.
A reputation once broken may be repaired, but the world will always keep its eyes on the spot where the crack was.