Dr Doyin Okupe
By Ike Abonyi
President Goodluck Jonathan’s newly-appointed aide, Dr Doyin Okupe, said at the weekend that his new position as the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs does not make him attack dog for the President but one positioned to let the public know all the good sides they need to know about him.
Dr. Okupe said if President Jonathan needed an attack dog, he would not go for a 60-year-old man like him but for a younger person who can attack.
Rather he said his mission is essentially to let Nigerians know much about what the government is doing and to also take back to the President reactions of Nigerians to some of his policies and programmes.
Speaking at a birthday dinner hosted by Bureau chiefs and editors in Abuja for the former Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Timi Alaibe, Okupe said President Jonathan, apart from being a good man who means well for the country, he is doing a good job.
He added that the President is grossly misunderstood, saying that his positive side is under reported by the Nigerian media.
Okupe, who was President Olusegun Obasanjo’s media aide, said his new job would involve his trying to push to the public through the media many good works of President Jonathan.
He noted that the schedule of the media man to the President as well as the Minister of Information is huge and demanding and that there is hardly enough time for them to be able to push through many of the president’s works.
He recalled that when he visited the White House in the United States, he saw large number of workers and on inquiry, he was told that they were of public affairs department of the President with each assigned to specific areas to ensure that whatever the President does is put in public domain and their reactions obtained for the president’s attention.
Also speaking at the event, former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Austin Opara, challenged the government to make known to the public what it was doing, adding that it was not until impeachment threat came from the House that Nigerians knew that 56 per cent of the budget had been implemented.
Opara challenged Okupe to ensure that his new job leads to a change of attitude of government in information dissemination.
Speaking also at the occasion, former Deputy Senate President, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu, charged the media to strive to identify good people who have served the country selflessly and honour them especially when they are out of office.
Mantu commended the Abuja bureau chiefs for recognising Alaibe even when he is out of job, noting that the vogue is to recognise people in power even when they are not performing.
He noted that what the journalists did by hosting Alaibe was strange but commendable, pointing out that it was like man biting a dog instead of dog biting a man.
“What we do and hear always is politicians and public officers hosting journalists for their services.”
Former Senators, Effiong Bob and Senator Eme Ekaette, also commended the journalists for helping to fish out good people in the society and encouraging them not to relent.
The event, which was held at Nicon Luxury Hotel, attracted friends and family members of Alaibe.
Earlier, the Dean of Bureau chiefs, Mr. Martin Oloja, of the Guardian Newspapers, said the forum having related very well with Alaibe over the years, felt it should host him. “It is from our heart,” Oloja said.