Friday 29 May 2015

Chude Jideonwo: Why today - andPresident Buhari - made me cry

Article written by media entrepreneur and Future
Awards co-founder, Chude Jideonwo. Read below..

This morning, my team member, Oluwatobi
Soyombo and I sat in the office, and
discharged our final responsibility to the
Buhari Campaign Organisation – we
changed the bio of the Muhammadu Buhari
account across Twitter, Facebook,
Instagram, YouTube and everywhere else
to ‘President of Nigeria’. I asked Tobi for
the privilege to do this myself, with my own
hands. Then, as he looked at me, shocked,
the tears began to follow. After sending out
the tweet for the new president of Nigeria
(personal tweets from him are signed –
MB), I took to my own private account and
shared: ‘@MBuhari better not disappoint us.

This is too important. This is too important’.
My team and I were offered the job to handle the
communication for the Buhari campaign in
November 2014. I couldn’t believe it. We had never
been close to the All Progressives Congress; I had
never even met Buhari. Even the ‘closer’ Tinubu, I
have not met since that time in 2002 when I served
him tea as a production assistant at the Nigerian
Television Authority.
I had a few weeks before declined a meet to
discuss youth communication for the Goodluck
Jonathan campaignbecause I no longer had any
faith in his leadership, but I was almost certain he
was going to win anyway.
In May 2014, I had arrived Abuja to speak at a
#BringBackOurGirls event. But I had hardly left the
airport, when someone high up in the government
called me: “If I see you up on that stage with Oby
(Ezekwesili), you are finished in this country.”
So, I wondered, was it wise to finally set up enmity
with the government for the next four years by
working directly for its opposition?
All through the time my co-founder, Adebola
Williams worked hard with the team of Uche Nnaji
(OUCH) and Kelechi Amadi-Obi to shoot the
photographs that redefined Buhari’s image, all
through the period the team was assembled from
Tobi to Alex Yangs to Kathleen Ndongmo, I couldn’t
move. I was transfixed in fear, in hope that dared
not speak. Could Nigerians actually unseat a
seating President from the People’s Democratic

I wondered if the rage I felt was worth the sacrifice
I was about to make – putting my life, my
relationships and my business on the line in a
country where the biggest advise our richest man
has given entepreneurs is ‘never fight with the
government of the day’?
All of that is history now. What looked like a mirage
then has become reality. 

The job became a
mission. After four months of the most emotional
campaign in my lifetime, sleepless nights at the
StateCraft Inc headquarters, from the campaign
office in Abuja, supervising the setting up of
billboards, fighting TV stations that didn’t want to
air our ‘Is This Transformation?’ promos, Adebola
following the candidate around the country, and
rewriting speeches in the dead of the night
because the candidate knew exactly what he
wanted to say, we are here now. Nigerians have
unseated a 16-year monopoly.

So, this morning, I shared a story on my Instagram
pagethat I haven’t spoken about in public before.
In 2013, six of us friends including Adebola
Williams, ‘Yemi Adamolekun, ‘Gbenga Sesan and
Kola Oyeneyin came together and decided that,
beyond mobilising citizens, leading protests and
using the media to drive conversation, Nigeria
needed our passionate, sustained prayers.

 A year
before, after our active involvement with
#OccupyNigeria, and the events after, we were
beyond disillusioned.
And so, every Saturday morning, we went from the
houses and offices of one to the other and we
would cry, and we would scream, and we would
pray for country. Ah, we prayed. Nigeria’s future
looked so bleak. It looked so dark, didn’t see any
logical pathway to change. So we went to God with
our hearts, we went to him with our
disappointment; we went to him with our pain. 

asked him, “What should we do? How should we
do it?”
One day, as we prayed, in an office on the Lagos
Island, I was so overwhelmed with despair I fell
down on the floor and began to speak in frenzied
tongues, tears streaming from my face, banging
furiously on the cabinet in front me. My heart was
desperate; just desperate for something to give
I didn’t know my friend, Kola, had the gift to
interprete tongues. But then he began to interpret
what I was saying. 

And it frightened me, because
he was absolutely right. He captured the fears in
my heart, and the requests I was making. He said,
paraphrased, ‘God says He will change Nigeria. It
looks like it won’t happen, but He will do a new
thing and it will spring forth. We won’t understand
how He will do it, but He will.”
Two years later, God has kept his promise.
I do not know what the future holds. I cannot even
say with certainty that this new dispensation will
fulfil the promises it made to us when it called us
on board and to you when it asked you to vote.
But I know one thing: I spent the past four years
giving the Jonathan government the benefit of the
doubt, willing it to succeed. Yet each time it failed, I
was on the street, passionately denouncing it. And
when, finally, after the Chibok girls went missing, I
lost hope in it, I put everything on the line to join
Nigerians in punishing it.
Things have changed.

I have invested faith that Buhari will be different,
not just because he is a new president today, but
because I have been priviledged to sit in the same
space with him, I have listened very carefully to his
wisdom and his depth. I have counted the cost and
I have overwhelmed faith that he is the leader we

But we, and he thankfully, know this: he cannot
play with our future. He cannot play with the future
of our children.
We have cried for this nation, because it has failed
us too many times. We have worked our fingers to
the bones, and our ‘bloods’ have boiled because
we believe in its potential. Therefore, our tempers
will be short, our forgiveness will be costly, our
reactions to real and perceived failures will be

Our hearts our broken, our spirits burdened. We
desperately need the promised change, and we
need it to start immediately.
Nigeria has suffered enough.
*Jideonwo is managing partner of Red Media
Africa, ‘the media group to reach and inspire the
largest number of African youth at any time’. One
of its companies, StateCraft Inc, was official
communication agency to the Buhari Presidential

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