The 2011 general election has ended, and according to this American based media consultant and PR expert, Austin Ajero people-oriented programmes should be looked into and not politics. During the last general election in the country, he played a very prominent role in the ousting of the then Imo governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim out of office.
In this chat, he speaks on how he professionally masterminded the Catholic Church saga against the Clean and Green administration of Chief Ikedi Ohakim, which however was the major reason why he found it difficult for a reelection.
Read through as this internationally and well-experienced PR expert speaks on how the media could serve meaningfully against the use of weapons and violence to win or rig an election.
Having traveled large with lot of experiences, please how better can the media serve in the reduction of crime rate come 2015 general election?
We find it so difficult in this side of the country to bury our differences after election. There is nothing wrong about electioneering propaganda, but where we get it wrong is when we begin to go beyond into applying bitterness to it. Whatever strategy one applies to win an election shouldn’t be worried of, rather we should be concerned with the end point. Let it not be about revenge. Sometimes when I’m called to consult media wise in politics or leadership, I try first to study the candidates involved. I try finding out their programmes and weaknesses, then I will come to the stage of analyzing them all before full engagement.
At the end, you see me coming up with results. Yes, we may involve propaganda, because it is the soul of successful media consultation. It is practiced all over the world, and it has nothing to do with violence. It reduces the risk of people dying while running for one elective position or the other, because it is very strategic in planning.
How does it reduce violence?
It does because it has to reduce more of the face-to-face issue of breaking down laws and order. People involved are always on the pages of newspaper and online. You hardly see propaganda analysts and consultants engaging in face-off, but most times clients go beyond ridiculing it when they must have settled themselves. Also, I as a person will always advise most clients to play safe. It should not be about using thugs against the people. Okay let’s look at Imo for example, during the 2011 general election, I worked there and most campaigns we introduced then effectively worked for us.
You saw how Ohakim lost the election as a result of our propaganda strategy. In 2011, the Catholic Church was resolutely against the return of Ohakim as a governor. Out of our construction and mastermind, he was allegedly accused of brutalizing a Catholic priest over a minor traffic offence, and the church had risen against him as one body. At least, instead of Ohakim as an incumbent governor to use force against other candidates, he had to fall as a result of the Catholic Church saga.
How would you rate the upcoming 2015 general election, especially with Rochas Okorocha’s mandate in Imo?
For me, I don’t think there is a better propaganda that will stop him except the one he is personally inflicting on himself. His greed when it comes to acquiring of properties will rise as a fact against him. He may be good in terms of activities of infrastructure in Imo state, but he lacks vision. Real people who understand governance will always tell you that.
He is running a government that is full of deceit. I can tell you that he has no enemy as long as the State is concern. Yes, the opposition needs to grab power from him at all cost, but they are not ready to attack him properly the way Ohakim was attacked. You need to see how people who are not even from Imo came down to the State for political business. They all invested their money to pull Ohakim down.
Another fact that will stop Rochas is the fact that he is not able to keep his word with people who brought their resources to make him governor of the State. It is no longer a news that Rochas doesn’t enjoy his old relationship with Arthur Eze, Emeka Ofor, Ifeanyi Ubah and other Anambra sons. Ohakim had same issue with Orji Uzor Kalu, but I’m surprise that they’ve reconciled now. There is nothing that kills rapidly than the fact that you took money to contest, and when you climb, you could not deliver again. It is better you don’t receive or reach any agreement, than accepting but not fulfilling. That’s just the problem with Rochas, and I’m afraid it may consume him this time.
I can authoritatively tell you that people he betrayed and could not reach agreement he signed with them are on standby, and they are ready to fight with their last drop of blood to stop him. This I have just told you is one of the problems that stop people from achieving their end goal in life. Remember they say: “He who goes to equity must go with clean hands”. So, what again are we saying here?
But President Jonathan also made a promise of one term if elected. How about that?
He made a promise, yes. But today, has it been easy for him? No! It is as same as what I’ve told you about promise making and its fulfilment. The President’s case may be as easy as anything, because he never took money to be supported for his ambition. It was a Party affair, which if he wants to further, it will still be the same leadership of the Party that will make it work. So, it is not just about stopping for he owe anybody, rather it is a Party affair. If he gets their support, fine and good for him. He never anchored his ambition on anybody’s expense unlike Rochas’ case here.
Gov. Rochas a time also promised one tenure, didn’t he?
Of course he did! It may not have been an issue if that’s just the case, but here we are talking about him collecting resources and fund from people for the realization of his ambition. If it had been about promising Martins Agbaso’s family and the masses alone, it will all be a different thing. At least, he will go back to them for campaigns, and they may or not accept him. I will call it a problem for them alone. But here, he has got issue which is more than a deep wound against the Agbaso family, which was removing their son illegally and also accused him of fraud. If you are in their shoes, what will you do come 2015?
How bad was Ohakim’s government?
If not the issue he had with Orji Uzor Kalu which today they’ve reconciled, I will tell you that Ohakim’s government was visionary. He knew where he was heading to, and he had passion for a first class Imo that would have been the envy of a place like Dubai.
What then stopped him?
These same ingrates I worked for in 2011 general election! Leadership of the then Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN. Yes they are now what we see and call APC. They were so keen to stop Ohakim at all cost. In fact, they facilitated all our operations and campaign against Ohakim, to an extent that I and my team had to come down to Imo to generate propaganda against his government. We planted all our agents around him, to the level that those in his house and kitchen were giving us materials we turned into propaganda against his very person.
What were the propaganda steps you took?
In a hurry, we all will not forget the Catholic Priest saga! It was an imagination of the then leadership of ACN to rubbish Ohakim. Nothing like Reverend Father Eustace Okorie. Even till now, did the media show us the picture of the priest in person? It was even as if Archbishop A.J.V Obinna worked against Ohakim, because we were afraid a time that he would come out to refute such material against him, but he never showed up till now; he is yet to brief the world on this very sagacious issue.
How about Rev. Fr. Mbaka’s involvement?
Fr. Mbaka was misled! This same defunct Party gave the Catholic priest fake information of what never transpired. It should be stated here that Ohakim never stripped and flogged a priest. We were used as agents to misinform the public, Archbishop Obinna and Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka. I could remember how we were visiting Enugu often to consolidate our words to Fr. Mbaka against Ohakim. These men of God I will say are innocent, because they acted on what we made them to believe. Then, after the Church preaching, we will on our own take the video CD for mass production. We shared them all to marketers and people for free.
Did his arrogant attitude as accused not stop him?
Can you tell me how his personal being could stop him? If they are saying he is or was arrogant, I will tell you is his own personal life. But I will say, for you to govern a State like Imo to get it right, you really need to be strict, arrogant and focused to the core. We have a lot of people even in Imo PDP who likes taking people for granted. In fact, the best governor Imo can have now is Ikedi Ohakim, because when he returns, many political godfathers will go on exile. He will deal with them now, because so many of them failed and betrayed him. Their actions even made Ohakim not to complete his second tenure. Besides, he will appreciate leadership better now, because he has had his share of failure and what it takes to get it right.
But then, so many factors stopped Ohakim’s reelection. Can you please unveil some unmentioned?
I can only tell you the one I got engaged for, no matter I’m still owed for the services. So many agents were down in Imo to stop Ohakim’s reelection, of which I can remember a woman who engaged an activist also. Maybe, when I come across that very woman’s contact, I will let it to you.
Where is the woman from?
I don’t know, and her case should not be the issue here.
What would you advise politicians to do in this 2015 general election?
I will advise them to engage more of political propagandists than using violence to get what they want. Politics should not be about do or die affair in Nigeria. Enough of Boko Haram attack, the people behind all these should use propaganda as a means of strategy. People should not be victims of politics.
Till now, I’m wondering how one could go to the extent of buying guns and weapons only to cause confusion in the country and then win elections. Let’s think innovatively with the environment technology has created for us today. We have a whole lot of consultants who can handle jobs that will realize one’s ambition.
Do you think it can help the system of this country?
Of course it will! The best we can do for this country is to device a means of controlling the destruction of lives and property during elections. Let us come with a better idea on how crime could be curbed. It will save us the stress of enforcing security against terrorism. It will also play a good role in preventing crime.