Tony Eluemunor and Yushau Shuaib

On Emir and Airpeace: How Eluemunor Goofed on Shuaib’s Interventions

By Dahiru M. Lawal

Towards the end of February and way into the first half of this month, Nigeria’s mediasphere – conventional and unconventional – was awash with an unwarranted crisis that raged between the Kano Emirate Council particularly involving the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero via his Chief Protocol and Uncle, Isah Bayero on the one hand and one of Nigeria’s foremost carrier, Air Peace on another hand.

The dispute involved issues around flight delays, alleged discourtesy and amateurish professionalism in handling the fall out of the incident that catalysed the quarrel in the first instance. Typically, ‘Sabi it all meddlesome’ actors took advantage of the situation to spew their disgust against one another’s traditional, ethnic or religious affiliations on social media and blogs, polarising the discourse across ethnoreligious lines and diminishing the key important issues and factors on both sides that should have been on the front burner.

In order to avoid total descent of a situation that had the potential to transmute into a physical crisis, experts waded in with various informed analyses of what they thought could have been done professionally better such that the face-off wouldn’t have escalated and fanned the embers of hatred between followers and fandom of both entities involved. One of such pundits who waded in, was no other than the globally acclaimed multi-award-winning crisis communicator, Yushau Shuaib, who in his article, “Air Peace, Kano Emir and unwarranted attacks,” summarily posits that the dispute could better have been resolved beyond textbooks and theories. Many seemed to align with that thought as the debate doused soon after his take went viral.

Unfortunately, some rabble-rousers will never go to sleep, especially when public sentiment is reconciled and peace envelops a hitherto heated polity. So, I was not surprised when I woke up to an article by a certain Tony Eluemunor where he vainly attempted to attack Shuaib’s Aristotle like position on the matter, in a supposed rejoinder, “Shuaibu on Emir and Air Peace: Teacher don’t teach me nonsense.”

Eluemunor’s arguments were not only puerile, but they were lacking in basic critical thinking, problem-solving and reason-based dissensions.

For instance, the man attempted to define and even pinpointed what he, in his self-glorifying thoughts termed “gaffes,” but he fails to realize that the biggest joke is on him for failing to comprehend what he seeks to counter. Eluemunor couldn’t comprehend that what Mr Shuaib practically did in his submission was to pass the idea of the need to take result-oriented decisions in such a situation based on evidence and calculated hunches. These “strategic” moves do not have to be conventional, theoretical or textbook-based! Hence the refrains by Shuaib stating that “beyond theory,” “strategic” and “communication.”

I’m struggling to reconcile if it is the phrase “beyond theory” or the term “STRATEGIC communication,” that was too complex for Tony to decipher. But if that’s the case, I hope the above breakdown suffices. Otherwise, as a budding communicator and Shuaib’s mentee myself, I’m willing to offer Mr Tony free tutorial services to upskill him with the concept, unless of course, he is up to some mischief.

Fair enough that Tony at least understands that “communicators have to find the most effective ways to communicate with the public,” but too bad that he does not see how this applies “beyond theory.” It goes to show that Shuaib’s ideals of strategic communication are one that is reserved for sophisticated communication thinkers way beyond Tony’s league and comprehension, so he has no business taking on Shuaib’s piece in the first place. It was even more laughable that the Eluemunor was relying on ‘Wikipedia,’ of all journals in the world he could have tapped from, to make an airtight point. So laughable!

But beyond all these glaring fundamental flaws, I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt by probing his human capital and perhaps any accolade to his name that would have emboldened him to attempt to disrespectfully interrupt a globally acclaimed PR professional on “expertise,” but simple search engine results about Eluemunor shocked me to my marrows.

Apart from controversies, Eluemunor’s name only turned up in search results with questionable involvements, the sort only a hack hustler and never an expert can be involved in…no social media capital, no professional/unbiased pedigree, no standard pen direction, no formidable byline and most notably is his hatchet job as defender-in-chief of Nigeria’s most corrupt former governor in Nigeria. Anyone can easily google for confirmation.

That was why the same man was described by a September 2009 article as a “sad enigma and even sadder story.”

In fact, in the prelude to that article titled, “What did James Ibori pay for Tony Eluemunor?” the writer states as follows and truly so; “to be honest, I do not remember Tony Eluemunor very well. Only that I used to read him in the press about 20 years ago or so, and fairly recently in The Guardian and the Independent newspaper. I have tried to look at his work on the Internet, but at that time, the Internet did not exist, at least in today’s form, so there is not much. What I find interesting is that he signs his name in the respected colours of the University of Harvard: “Eluemunor, a 1991 Fellow of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard.”

Apart from that, his thought process and attack dog stylistics has remained undynamic and static for, I guess, as long as he has been writing. For instance, a 2017 article he wrote titled “Ibori: Setting the records straight,” had the same treatment and pattern he gave Shuaibs article – quoting extensively from the original articles, incoherent argument and false claims such as the dangerous ones he levelled against Mr Shuaib.

But just so Tony is not too deluded, Mr. Yushau Shaib does not consider himself “some expert in strategic communication,” as Tony tries to maliciously portray. The world does and this is evidenced in his league of clientele and numerous awards within and outsides the shores of this country.

There is no debating the fact that Mr Shuaib’s PR credentials transcend borders and there is no yardstick or measurement in the world that can place his expertise and creative mien below the margin. The man practically embodies communication.

Just last month, a national daily, Thisday newspaper described Yushau Shuaib as “a consummate writer and crisis-communicator par excellence. A distinguished public relations practitioner of sterling quality, his ingenuity has won him both local and international recognitions.

“As a publicist with great panache, he is one of the outstanding media professionals to emerge from the North.”

The paper said Shuaib is a recipient of several outstanding honours, especially in Public Relations. He was PR man of the Year of NIPR Kano/Jigawa Chapter in 1995, Outstanding Digital PR Practitioner of NIPR FCT Chapter 2019 and the prestigious NIPR Presidential award also in 2019.

Through some of his initiatives, especially the PRNigeria and Economic Confidential magazine, his firm has consistently won the African PR Awards in South Africa 2016/7, Morocco 2017, Botswana 2018, Kigali 2019 and Tanzania 2020. At the global scene, his firm remains the only PR agency in Africa to have consistently won the Golden World Award of International Public Relations Association (IPRA) on Crisis Management in Qatar 2016, Bulgaria 2017, Spain 2018, Armenia 2019 and 2020. The firm was declared “the Most Creative PR Agency Worldwide 2020 by Global Creativity Index GCI and Statista, the world-renowned statistics portal.

In 2021, his firm was shortlisted among five finalists for the “African PR Agency of the Year 2021.”

So, in an ill-fated attempt to ridicule a globally acclaimed Communication expert in the mould of Yushau Shuaib, Eluemunor expressly demarketed himself as a perpetually fixated non-creative textbook copycat incapable of lateral thinking, whom beyond bootlicking and whitewashing, neither has a market value in the media arena nor is armed with the capacity to look at the dynamics of issues and come up with an innovative strategy that can stand the test of time.

Based on the foregoing, if I was a potential hirer, I’ll not take another look at his offer, if I were a potential client, I’ll put my money back into my pocket! Because the self-styled LinkedIn “media consultant” with only one connection and no post to show it, obviously has nothing to offer.

In fact, Tony Eluemunor’s incoherent and disjointed rejoinder on Yushau Shuaib’s well-intentioned article on tolerance and crisis communication is simply ‘nonsensical balderdash.’

Dahiru M Lawal is an award-winning Fact-Checker and writes from Kano

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