As fresh crisis surrounding the health of the First Lady Mrs. Patience Jonathan brews, the presidency has fired her spokesman, Mr. Ayo Osinlu.
The news is contained in a press release issued by the president’s Special Assistant on the Media, Dr. Reuben Abati.
Sahara-reporters sources say that the decision to fire Mr. Osinlu was taken by the First Lady from her hospital bed in Europe. Mrs. Patience Jonathan was mad at the inability of Mr. Osinlu to provide a foolproof decoy of a story to distract the media from her current medical surgeon abroad.
Mr. Osinlu was roundly criticized for the way he handled the news about the whereabouts of the First Lady last year. During the period, Mr. Osinlu told journalists that the First Lady went to Germany on vacation but Mrs. Jonathan later confirmed the story published by Saharareporters that she was hospitalized in Germany for weeks.
Our sources in Abuja said that the presidency felt that Mr. Osinlu had lost credibility with the media establishment and that the First Lady needed a heavy hitter the way the president recruited Dr. Doyin Okupe to strengthen his media team that was once in disarray.
All efforts by Saharareporters to reach Mr. Osinlu by phone and text failed.
In the press release, the presidency named Rudolf Okonkwo as the new spokesman of the wife of the President. “Mr. Okonkwo,” the release says, “has a good understanding of social media and the internet world and will use those skills to counter the barrage of lies being peddled by some disgruntled Nigerians on the web about the person of our First Lady.”
Until his new appointment Mr. Okonkwo was a columnist for Saharareporters.com and the host of Dr. Damages Show. His satirical show routinely makes fun of the First Lady as well as mine President Jonathan’s utterances to create an unflattering portrayal of the president.
Since the announcement all efforts to reach Mr. Okonkwo by phone and text has failed. Saharareporters cannot ascertain his whereabouts at press time.
A friend of Mr. Okonkwo told Saharareporters.com that he was not surprised at Mr. Okonkwo’s acceptance of this position in a government he had roundly condemned. “The man is as poor as a church rat and I knew it was a matter of time before he jumped ship,” he said. “He is following the lead of the likes of Reuben Abati and Femi Fani-Kayode. They are all shameless hypocrites.”
The move to appoint Mr. Okonkwo as Mrs. Jonathan’s spokesman is seen by some Aso Rock observers as “a coup” of some sort as one of voices critical of Jonathan’s administration will effectively be silenced.
Speaking to our correspondent, an Abuja based editor who pleaded anonymity said that he doubted if this appointment would work. “Rudolf Okonkwo was at one time a promising journalist,” he said. “But right now, for all intents and purposes, he is just a clown. You don’t use a clown to defend another clown.”
The Abuja editor went on to say, “I hope this is just an April Fools’ joke.”