BY ABDULHAMID AL-GAZALI, APRIL 07, 2022 | 11:48 AM
In the business of public relations, your success is largely dependent on your ability to predict the consequences of the "recklessness" your client is going to take, down to every detail. A word, let alone a whole set of them, can knock you down, completely, depending on how it is said (or not), where and when. As such, every word, phrase, sentence... or action must be properly weighed before they are kicked or acted out. Our dilemma mostly stems from how we are treated. We are hardly contracted to work until a client manages to get himself into a trouble by his own words or actions.
Our job is not always to get them out of the trouble because we cannot. The only thing we can do is to minimize to the barest the level of damage they may have on their reputation, the best way possible. So for instance, when troops run away from the battlefield, the best thing we can do is to 'confuse' the obvious act of cowardice with words such as "tactical maneuver".
While we devise these strategies, we try to weigh and predict the likely reaction to every word or statement going out to the public space because sometimes our best efforts only help to further compound the situation. When I read and listened to some of the things Nuru Khalid said immediately after his suspension, I predicted he was going to be sacked.
I predicted he was going to get a few interviews here and there. I predicted he was going to continue with his daily Ramadan lectures the next day. I even predicted he was going to move on to or be invited to a new mosque as an imam. I think everyone did that, because we know this country well.
But there are a lot more. Without doubt, when the chips are down, or when the newspapers finish using him for their editorial purposes--which can be as soon as a more interesting subject such as one of Aisha Buhari criticizing her husband emerges--many other things will follow. He will be almost completely left alone, merely as a footnote of some political arguments in the future.
The sad thing for him is that, Buhari has a way of throwing some of his most stringent critics out of relevance, simply because he would rather allow them to run their energy down by themselves, a la Fayose, Femi Fani Kayode and co. Whatever we say of him, Buhari had found a way in 2015 and 2019 to convince the voting demographics of the country to trust him despite all the things his critics say about him.
But in this matter, even if he had the habit of giving a damn about what is said of him, Nuru's will have no any political effect on him come 2023. Because Buhari is Buhari, he will not ever respond to him. I notice that that stems from age and accomplishments. Aged people especially when they are accomplished often don't feel the need to ever defend themselves against criticisms. But one doesn't have to be aged or accomplished; I am none and I also hardly do. I know some people feel highly proud when the president or other people in top positions respond to them on the pages of newspapers, which then fuels them to keep going.
Nuru may try to become more blunt in an attempt to sustain the media relevance he now enjoys because sometimes even the most pious of us get carried away by the joy of being the center of attention. Yes, Nuru has the right to "feel a hero" too, he is a human. But let the community of his temporary fans be warned; because, this way, he may cross even more sensitive red lines.
Should he do that, Nigeria being Nigeria, he will be picked up and arrested by security agencies, even if only for sycophancy. A few hashtags, protests, pretentious fundraiser and some big grammar here and there, he will again be left all to himself. Security agencies in most parts of the world hardly work to stop you from committing crimes; some of them actually bait you into one, then arrest you remorselessly. If Nuru continues the way he is going, especially as I heard him already say he is ready for anything, then this is hardly a question of if but when.
If he does not exercise restraint, again, Nuru may take a path into politics. But let that not happen; otherwise the next imam to be sacked and his like will come hard against him and then he (Nuru) will have a lot of denouncements to make. It is true, my late boss told me that I better avoid talking strongly against things I do not like; because, he said, the world has a way of turning us into them. We already have a colossal example in this country.
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