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Why VP Osinbajo’s presidential declaration got it wrong on so many levels

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Why Communication and Branding Matters

EditPro | Lagos Metropolitan newspaper By Victor Oladokun

I am glad VP Osinbajo finally came out to declare boldly what was long suspected … his interest in the highest political office in the land. After faithfully serving as VP for 7 years, he has more than earned the right to do so. I would, if I were in his shoes. No one should construe his ambition as a betrayal. He is very well within his constitutional and political rights.
Whether he can win or not is not the issue. But for goodness sake, who in the world choreographed this declaration?
It was so bad on multiple levels. I’m shocked because I know VP Osinbajo is infinitely smarter than this. His political and communication advisors simply failed him.

  1. The Yoruba’s say “Oju loro wa,” meaning “communication is in the eye of the beholder.” Why would his comms folk shoot a video that, for the most part, showed his side profile? Afterall, this was supposed to be the most important speech of his political career. Its bewildering. For effect, they should have ensured that VP Osinbajo looked Nigerians straight in the eye, from beginning to end, and told them what his intention and plans were, as briefly as possible.
  2. Who wears black for a political declaration? Please. Black is for funerals. Visually, any political/communication expert worth his or her salt would understand that, at a minimum.
  3. What was that music underneath VP Osinabjo’s voice? It was not necessary and it sounded at best like a funeral dirge, and worse, like a music score to a horror movie. If in doubt, watch the video clip again.
  4. The orange background was truly confusing as a color scheme. The primary colors of the APC logo or flag are red, white, blue, green and brown. Nowhere is orange in the schema. Talk about brand confusion!
  5. The APC flags drowned out the national flag. The reverse should have been the case, particularly if the goal was to sell VP Osinbajo as a candidate with a truly national appeal.
  6. Words matter. I would have started off the speech by looking all Nigerians in the eye, and with an impassioned tone said, “My dear fellow Nigerians…” Then, I would have waded into the speech and backed it up with solid but brief bullet points of key administration deliverables. For some curious reason, VP Osinbajo never did. From a communication perspective, that was a faux pas, especially given the current clime.
  7. Before I saw the video clip of the declaration, I had first read the speech. I got to the end and kept scrolling down thinking it was the intro and that there were more substantive, even if brief, details of accomplishments, as well as solid reasons why supporting the VP would be in the very best interest of APC and Nigeria.
    Alas, abruptly, the speech ended. Lost was the opportunity to tactically and subtly highlight his own accomplishments in areas he has had responsibility for. Some have suggested that the speech said everything but not much.
    Even though I hold multiple degrees in history, political science, communication, and a terminal degree in strategic leadership, I am still scratching my head on this one. It could have been so much better.
    Communication and political pundits will certainly continue to analyze this speech and its setting for a very long time to come.
    I hope that VP Osinbajo, a cerebral genius, and his handlers, know something that we all don’t know about the “how” and “why” of the content of this speech, the video production choices made, and the overall brand imagery utilized. I truly hope so.
    I sincerely wish VP Osinbajo all the best in his noble pursuit.
    Ultimately, may the best man, or woman, emerge for the good of our nation and generations to come. The stakes are high.
  • Dr. Victor Oladokun is a journalist and communications consultant. He is the Senior Advisor to the President, (Communication & Stakeholder Engagement) African Development Bank Group.

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