President Goodluck Jonathan’s information minister, Mr. Labaran Maku, is as intelligent and smooth as were all information ministers before him. He is the first holder of that post from North since Prof. Jerry Gana. He is a northerner serving under a President from the South-south who believes northerners do not like him and therefore want to take his job from him. That makes Maku’s task harder as he must prove his loyalty more than any other of the President’s men or women has to.
To justify his pay and warm himself into the heart of his master, Maku, in his late 40s, has become disrespectful of Northern elders and political leaders, many old enough to be his father. He even hurls insults at them. The other day he accused them of not doing anything at all to put down the Boko Haram bloodletting in the North-east states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, now in its fifth year.
But it was always going to be a matter of time before the minister shot himself in the foot and would be made to pay for his foul mouth. Last week, he wrote off the nationwide campaign to get the federal government to do more to bring back the Chibok girls abducted from their school by Boko Haram fighters as the handiwork of opposition All Progressives Congress (APC). He said, “The entire money we are spending is to maintain security in states controlled by that party. So why do you come back and start playing politics? We are busy spending money to maintain security in those states, what have they done about it? Because 90 per cent of all insurgency is in states controlled by that party, 90 per cent of those campaigning to bring back Chibok girls are members of that party.”
However, he has since discovered that on this one he put the wrong foot out. He has given the opposition a fortuitous political point in the build-up to next year’s presidential and general elections. And the latter has been quick to make political capital of that blunder. APC minority leader in the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, responded, saying that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has conceded that it was losing the confidence of the majority of Nigerians demanding the return of the kidnapped girls. “I’m particularly chuffed that the PDP government has finally woken up to smell the coffee and has admitted that APC is a movement and that 90 percent of Nigerians are APC because, as far as I know, that is the exact percentage of Nigerians who are criticizing the government over the handling of the terror crisis”, he said in a statement he put out on Sunday.
No doubt, this is a huge political ground the PDP has conceded to the opposition by an overzealous government spokesman. Next time he would do well to heed the Biblical advice: Be quick to listen and slow to talk.