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Ogunlesi, Shittu, Shehu… Buhari’s key men who assaulted Nigerians during Easter


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Only days ago, Tolu Ogunlesi, Special Assistant to the President on Digital and New Media, was in the hot seat after he referred to Nigerians who “slandered” British model Naomi Campbell as “animals”.

“Naomi Campbell met Nelson Mandela more than once. He hugged her, called her his ‘honorary granddaughter’. She visits Nigeria for a fashion festival and meets President @MBuhari, and some of you animals are slandering her. YOU’RE RAVING MAD WITH NOBODY TO TELL YOU,” Ogunlesi had tweeted on Friday.

The following day, he proceeded to “clarify” the statement by saying it was not directed to all Nigerians or those who disagree with him. “My comment [sic] were specific to those who thought it appropriate to denigrate/’slander’ Naomi Campbell,” he said.

He added that he has learnt his lesson and the tweet should have been “worded clearer & less provocatively”. Nigerians were dissatisfied still, with many commentators on the thread replying that the so-called apology reeked of arrogance. In the end, it seems Ogunlesi was only preparing Nigerians for a weekend filled with further assaults.


In an interview with Punch published on Saturday, Adebayo Shittu, Minister of Communications, was asked why he distributed “caps and other campaign materials among the ministers” at a time Nigerians were mourning killings in Benue.

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This is what the Honourable Minister had to say: “What could have happened? Could anybody have given me notice that there were killings somewhere? And did that stop the fact that people who wanted to eat would have eaten or people who wanted to hold meeting would have been holding their meeting? People who wanted to do so many other things would have been doing them. So, I don’t see the connection.”

“The connection is that we were in mourning mood,” the interviewer, Everest Amaefule, replied. But Shittu had his mind made up.

“Who was in mourning mood?” he asked.

“Nigerians,” he was told.

“I don’t know what you mean by mourning mood. Killings have always been happening in so many areas. And to the best of my knowledge, the security people who should take action had been mobilised. So, I don’t see the way the issue of holding our meetings and engaging in what you call distribution of caps make the mourners not to mourn again (or that reduces whatever was happening),” he said.

“Engagements happen every now and then. As far as I am concerned, there was nothing to discourage me from what I did or prevent me from what I did at that time.”

Realising the Minister’s level of conviction, the interviewer asked if his statements meant he would do the same thing again given similar circumstances. The short answer was yes.

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The long answer: “Do what again? Are you saying that people should continue killing themselves? You see, the issue of my support for Mr. President is a national duty. It is a patriotic duty because for once, we have a leader that we can trust will not steal our money; we have a leader who can be trusted to be focused … So, as far I am concerned, what I did was patriotic duty as and I will continue to do it.”

The Minister’s remarks are notably in conflict with those of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who, last month, had insisted against a “grand wedding” for his daughter “especially given the current mood of the nation”.


Also, on April Fools’ Day, a day after the Punch interview with Shittu was published, Garba Shehu was reported to have told “everyone complaining of hunger” to “go and work”. And he wasn’t fooling around.

The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President made this statement during an interview with Ben TV, while praising the administration’s social investment schemes.

“There is a lot going for people who really want to go out there to work especially in agriculture,” he said.

It is however doubtful that Nigeria’s 16 million unemployed persons have no jobs simply because they are not willing to “go and work”. It is perhaps closer to the truth as Oloruntoba Oke, Chairman of Ifako Ijaiye Local Government Area of Lagos, put it: “There are no jobs anywhere.”

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'Kunle works with The ICIR as an investigative reporter and fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via [email protected] or, if you're feeling particularly generous, follow him on Twitter @KunleBajo.

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