In the past year, veteran journalist and publisher of Ovation magazine, Dele Momodu has written several desperate, albeit kind worded memos to President Muhammadu Buhari reminding him of his campaign promises to Nigerians.
Even as the popularity of the President amongst Nigerians decreased, Momodu’s column on ThisDay, The Pendulum, had nothing but passionate, soft worded criticisms that all but bordered on a gentle tap on the back of an errant child.
In the build up to 2015 general election, Momodu was an avid campaigner for the President and his party, the All Progressive Congress.
Momodu preached the Buhari gospel, constantly hammering on the President’s incorruptible, yet affable, persona and his supposed love for the geographical entity – Nigeria. He constantly referred to his meetings with Buhari (then General) and how he was struck by the General’s homeliness and frugal life style.
And even as Buhari faced severe criticism over certain actions, policies or statements, Momodu either ignored the cause of the ruckus or gave a mild criticism that came across as an attempt not to lose faith in what he had passionately campaigned for and hinged his reputation on.
Momodu’s faith in the President is yet to waver, not even slightly – or at least that’s what his column wants us to believe.
Not even a single high handed criticism against the President has Momodu uttered, even as he sits on the fence on all things Buhari, preferring instead to write narratives that on one hand reminds President Buhari of his campaign and on the other, tries to prove to Nigerians that the President has Nigeria’s best interest at heart.
It is nearly impossible to read an article on Momodu’s column without having a rethink on any preconceived conception of Buhari.
Momodu paints the President as an open minded, approachable, forgiving, taciturn, passionate person – traits contrary to the perception of a section of the public which believes that Buhari is a vengeful ethno-religious bigot.
As a reward for one of his desperate memos, Momodu, who was once rumoured to be a possible minister in President Buhari’s cabinet, was invited to the Presidential villa where he met with the latter.
Giddy as a child on Christmas day, Momodu had penned a long winded narrative that can easily be summarized in these words: Buhari is aware of the disconnect between government between government and citizens.
Momodu had written: “I was glad he had allowed two wonderful photographers, Bayo Omoboriowo and Sunday Aghaeze, to join us, as well as a cameraman from NTA. It would have been sad to tell the world the cordial nature of my meeting with the President without solid evidence.”
“This is because he had asked everyone out after the photo-opportunities were comprehensively dealt with. I seized the opportunity to present a copy of my forthcoming book, PENDULUM: A Book of Prophesies, which is a compilation of some of my landmark essays in the last five years or thereabout. Not only did he show some excitement, he actually requested for my autograph: “Please, sign it for me so that people could see I got the original copy from you…” he said with that inimitable tinge of childlike innocence.”
“I couldn’t believe this was the same over-demonised Buhari who had been superfluously described in lurid colours by political opponents. If he was play-acting before me, then he must be a damn-good-actor, I thought to myself coolly.”
But even as Momodu does the President a passionate public service, the veteran journalist has failed to give concrete reason(s) why Nigerians should trust in the President.
Instead he has written countless articles – that sought to offer counsel and reaffirm his belief in the President and why all Nigerians should also have faith.
As President Buhari marks his first year in office, it is pertinent to note that Dele Momodu has done the Presidency a public service that no one else has, and maybe can.