Ekekeee Editorial: Reno Omokri: How Low Can A Presidency Sink?

By Nedu Ekeke

The discovery by eagle eyed Twitter users that the Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on New Media, Mr Reno Omokri, launched a smear campaign roping the recent upsurge in terrorist insurgencies around the country around the neck of suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, should be seen for what it is: an insidious act unbecoming of a Presidential aide and which should cost Mr Omokri his job.

A regular Twitter user, Feyi Fawehinmi (@DoupleEph) had asked Journalist and Blogger, Abang Mercy (@AbangMercy) to forward him an email making the rounds and received by the latter linking the worrying spate of killings in which more than 200 persons had lost their lives (including 43 college kids) in Nigeria's turbulent North East region in the space of four days, to the suspended Sanusi Lamido who has since dragged President Jonathan to court for legal breaches in ousting him. The revelations that followed from Fawehinmi's Twitter Timeline would have the online community buzzing for a while. The emails, written by a certain Wendell Simlin have since been traced to Mr Omokri who handles the President's social media brief . Mr Omokri's name turned up after the mails were subjected to a property and digital footprint analyses. As the backlash from furious Twitter users aimed at Mr Omokri's Twitter handle intensified, Mr Wendell Simlin's Facebook page got yankedoff cyberspace. The microsoft document from where the inciting email was attached bore Mr Reno Omokri's name. Wendell Simlin has since been discovered to be Reno Omokri and Reno Omokri, we have since found, shares the same flesh and soul with Mr Wendell Simlin.

Using pseudonyms on Social Media is not an altogether new practice and is in fact as old as the internet. Now popularly referred to as 'Catfishing', thousands have lost vast sums of money to internet catfishing and many more have fallen in love with virtual love partners who were more often than not pseuodonym experts. The internet bestows ample anonymity on users and the lines between real and virtual internet "friends" are becoming increasingly blurred. Some mischievous social media users have taken catfishing to new heights; opening several Twitter and Facebook accounts to rein in unsuspecting persons into believing a cause or associating with nefarious agendas. But when a Presidential aide gets ensconced in what is an unwholesome practice and uses same to preach hate and whip up vile sentiments, we all should have cause to worry.

There are several ethical reasons why this is an altogether new low for the President's media team which is adept at throwing plenty of mud at perceived opponents and opposition elements alike while hoping it sticks. In a corner of the country, the corpses of several slain school kids who were murdered in cold blood while they slept are only just making their way to the morgues. Defenseless and starry eyed, their lives had been brought to premature ends because they hailed from a country which couldn't protect them. Their families are still grieving. Three days before, 109 persons were also killed by the Boko Haram sect in Borno. As the nation mourns her dead, a Presidential aide finds it amusing and worth his time to send a nebulous email using a pseudonym. His aim: to play politics some more, to get back at the opposition and to upturn the media narrative in his boss' favour. It may have been an act of overzealousness, but it doesn't gloss over the fact that it was a most despicable brand of overzealousness from an aide of the highest ranking public officer in the land.

Over time, Mr Reno Omokri has proven himself a voyeur of a sinister ilk in the social media terrain; one whose acts of schadenfreude have won for him and the President more enemies than friends. Presidential aides should have some sense of decorum and responsibility, some love for country and a sprinkling of honour amidst the ungainful propaganda. Mr Reno Omokri's penchant for belittling his office and that of his Principal time and again are sadly well documented.

In the light of this latest revelation and opprobrium, President Goodluck Jonathan should immediately relieve Mr Reno Omokri of his responsibilities. Firing him will be the only logical conclusion to what has become a most embarrassing tale.