Friday, 17 March 2017

Amidst the Picture-Puzzle Metaphor from the Presidency - By SMB Johnson

I join other well-meaning Nigerians to welcome president Buhari back home. Yes, that President Buhari has returned back into the country (Friday, 10 March 2017) is no long a breaking news. Having spent about 50 days in London as part of his official vacation, PMB landed at the Kaduna airport from the Presidential Aircraft before entering a chopper to Abuja. Why landing at Kaduna? Remember that Abuja International Airport is undergoing a repair which started on Wednesday; hence, Kaduna airport now serves as an alternate airport for Abuja airport.
Without mincing words, this write-up is a follow up to my last week write-up titled “PMB, the ‘Silencer’: The Paradox and Corollary of Buhari’s Silence” published on this platform. In the aforementioned write-up, I did a diagnosis and a prognosis of the intrigues and nuances that greeted the president’s medical vacation vis-à-vis the rumour spree of the purported death of president Buhari, the silence of the president, pictorial communication by the presidency and the phone calls to selected individuals. For a full grasp of my cogitation, you can read up the write-up. I will like to reiterate here again that following the rumour spree of the purported death of president Buhari; a censorious analysis of the political communication strategy of Buhari’s government vis-à-vis it’s Machiavellian, iconic, ritualistic, laudatory and dramatist mode shows intrigues, nuances, injudiciousness, discordant cognition and complexities.

The pictorial communication on the health issues and medical vacation of Buhari by the presidency reached its climax on Thursday, March 09, 2017 when there was a pictorial display of the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Abuja House in London. Media politics (particularly on social media) that greeted this series of pictorial communications is historical in the political history of Nigeria. Arguably, I consider this as ‘picture-puzzle metaphor’. Reacting to these pictures, there have been varied and cacophonous interpretations, misinterpretations, deconstructions and reconstructions. There were also attempts to prove that the pictures were ‘photo-shopped’. Some Nigerians even went into the extreme ends of ‘photo-shopping’ some of the pictures released by the presidency.

By logical reasoning and perversity occupying my muse as I pen this write-up, I am tempted to submit that the use of pictures by the presidency to convince the Nigeria’s public seems intrinsically unsuited to monothematic political explanations especially within the framework of the complexity and heterogeneity of the make-beliefs around the president’s medical vacation. Just as history is said to be a set of objective hard core of facts with outer layer of subjective interpretation, these pictures as released by the presidency are now part of historical facts or should I say facts of history which are now coloured with diverse interpretations and which will still be subjected to more analysis, interrogation and interpretation. Observably, almost all the pictures released by the presidency which ordinarily would have attracted interpretation that is clearly plausible and apparent, and which could have become obvious and immediately convincing to the public became inappropriate, unprofessional, inadequate and too naïve. Evidently, pictorial communication as characterised by puzzle-solving and concomitant affects is an unexpectedly flexible metaphor which political leaders must be cautious in employing even as the president returns from London and getting back to work in order not to give room for premeditated misconstructions and concocted interpretations. Now, those that are not comfortable with the release of pictures from the presidency should relax. Evidently, PMB has returned home and at least the video of the president’s return is now real in our social spaces. As I write this piece, I am highly opinionated that the president will soon address the nation. In the mean time PMB has asked PYO to continue as Acting President.

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