By Yemi Adebowale
In the run up to the 2011 presidential elections, the buzz generated by the Goodluck Jonathan campaign amongst the youth community was unprecedented. A team of young Nigerians got the contract to manage his social media brand packaging. At the head of this team was Chude Jideonwo and his Red Media team, then known as RedStrat – the same group that runs the Future Awards programme.
The unforgettable Lunch With Jonathan was also packaged by this group of young media contractors. It is no longer news that these youngsters received a bashing from many youths who saw Chude and his team accepting the contract to organize for President Jonathan as a mockery of their non-partisan stance.
One of such young Nigerians is APC’s Babatunde Rosanwo (@Rosanwo) – a die-hard critic of President Jonathan who took Chude and his co-contractors to the cleaners in his article: Of Chude Jidenowo, partisanship and political participation, By Babatunde Rosanwo
According to Rosanwo, “That Chude Jidenowo claims he rejected the offer to work with Nuhu Ribadu’s campaign (emphasis mine) based on the fact that he had no interest at that time in politics or public service is far from the truth. It was about choices, President Goodluck Jonathan was the choice. He and his organisation were actively involved in the presidential campaigns of President Goodluck Jonathan. Coupled with some active young people, they facilitated the infamous Lagos Youth lunch with the President in 2011 where money was shared openly under the guise of transport fare. The unsolved puzzle at that moment was: how did Chude Jidenowo of “Future Projects” who claimed to be non-partisan, not interested in politics when Ribadu’s friends came calling, active on the board of the Enough is Enough Coalition (A nonpartisan platform) and also part of the “What About US” campaign when the same President Jonathan failed to honour a youth debate pre-2011 general elections, turn out to be the facilitator of lunch with President Jonathan. Can it be like I presume that their individual paid services from the 2011 President Goodluck campaigns facilitated their choice as conveyors of the “youth lunch”?”
Feyi Fawehinmi (@DoubleEph), another hardcore APC and Buhari supporter did not spare Chude and his ilk.
Hear Feyi in his article “The Youth Lunch With President Jonathan”-Give Me Sunlight By Feyi Fawehinmi: “The truth is that our so called ‘youth leaders’ have behaved exactly as those before us, who we rightly castigate and seek an opportunity to do differently from, would have done. I find it unconscionable that people who do not spare us even the smallest details of their lives on twitter and Facebook suddenly became publicity shy over this event. How is it that someone who lets us know that he uses a blackberry torch which has been giving him battery issues or that his new slippers are so comfortable or about his Kenneth Cole watch which, you guessed it, fits ever so nicely suddenly went quiet when it came to the small matter of anchoring an event with the President in attendance? This is not a sub by the way; I am referring to Mr Amara Nwakpa here. I engaged Chude Jideonwo on twitter asking him when exactly he knew he was going to be participating at the event and he said about a week before. So why was there no post on Ynaija? The same website that gives us a ‘twitter personality’ every month? Mr Jideonwo told me that he has a habit of not tweeting when he is at events. Really? Here’s a tweet from Mr Jideonwo on the 20th of May
Swe has got nothing on today’s all-night Obomkpa style groove. #GrannysBurial
In case you were wondering, that’s him tweeting from his dearly departed Grandmother’s burial a few weeks ago.”
Not only did Chude and his group organize the Lunch for Jonathan project, they deployed all resources available to them to package Mr. President, of course for huge sums of contract money while hiding behind the guise – we are non-partisan! On their news platform – Ynaija.com, President Jonathan was packaged and portrayed to Nigerians as the best thing that ever happened to the black race since Abraham Lincoln. One cannot forget in a hurry how Chude was granted exclusive access to the Presidential Villa to interview President Jonathan and how subsequently, GEJ graced the cover of their Y! Magazine.
It’s barely 3 years after all the razzmatazz and the cookies have crumbled. What happened? The truth of the matter was that while Chude and his friends deceived fellow Nigerian youths that they were independently working for the President based on their belief that he alone was the best for the job, they were actually on contract. Trouble started when after GEJ came into power, Chude and his friends expected to retain the privileges and access they had to the Villa based on services they rendered and were paid for. In a matter of time, the President’s handlers started giving them the cold shoulder and the result was predictable for discerning observers: anti-Jonathan articles and editorials started flying around on YNaija.com.
The last straw that broke the camel’s back was when in December 2013, after serially bashing the President on YNaija.com, the Future Boys approached the President to host a reception for the Best 100 Winners of the Future Awards. Unfortunately, it was reportedly said that the President, well aware of how these young men were trying to eat their cake and have it, shunned the reception. Chude and his Future Awards team were forced to eat the humble pie. Spoiling for revenge, they decided to teach the President a lesson. They soon found new patrons in the likes of Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti and Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers who allegedly sponsored their events in hundreds of millions.
The connection between the Future Boys as the new contract handler for Buhari’s Twitter account and their relationship with the DG of the Buhari campaign, Rotimi Amaechi is thus not surprising. The furore that greeted the realization that Chude got the contract to handle Buhari’s Twitter account is also not surprising. Hardcore APC youth supporters on Twitter could not hide their displeasure over what some of them termed ‘political prostitution’ by Chude and his friends.
Below are some tweets, which portray the indignation of these youth:
You can’t be Kissing GEJ in 2011 and be romancing Buhari in 2015 cos of money. Can’t understand this political prostitutes in my generation
— ‘Seun Fakuade (@seunfakze) December 22, 2014
We deserve to know if the company running the new Buhari account isn’t same helping to trend GEJ hashtags.
— Olusegun Dada (@DOlusegun) December 22, 2014
You can’t spend over 4 years vilifying Buhari running LIES against him 4 GEJ & want to COMMERCIALLY clean up the mess in 2014
— Kayode Ogundamisi (@ogundamisi) December 22, 2014
But where do we go from here? The problem and danger with young men like Chude is not their affiliation with whichever candidate they decide to support. That really, is their business. But the deeper issue here is the morality and character question behind using the guise of ‘New Nigeria’ to manipulate young Nigerians for pecuniary benefits. Why give me an award today with one hand only to demand support for your consultancies tomorrow with the other hand? Are we expected to believe that Jonathan suddenly became bad within 3 years to warrant the sudden u-turn from these guys? Is this new Buhari consultancy a product of love for nation or pocket?
As much as the focus of this piece is not to antagonize any particular individual, there are a lot of emerging questions that we must ponder on. How long have the youths of Nigeria been deceiving themselves in the name of ‘future’, ‘activism’ and ‘change’? Is enough really enough? Are these the youths we want to place the future of Nigeria in their hands? Is this generation of Nigerian youths indeed the turning point generation? Time is already telling.
The opinions expressed by contributors do not reflect the “OPINION and or “POLICY” of BREAKING TIMES as an online news media publishing establishment. Words on this page remain at all times, the literary expression of the writers’ prerogative or creative imagination.