Saturday, 15 October 2016

MOVING FROM CRISIS TO OPPORTUNITY; How Buhari could have turned Crisis into an Opportunity

A lesson from Hilary Clinton
Ishola Ayodele (Result Oriented Communication expert)

In 1998, the secret sexual affair between the then President Clinton and a White house intern Monica Lewinsky was exposed. After the initial denial, Mr Clinton later admitted publicly.

This is a shameful act and a big crisis for the US presidency as well as the Clinton family. There were lots of condemnations and call for his impeachment.

Suddenly, the whole nation was thrown into bewilderment when Mrs Clinton came out and publicly said, she forgave her husband.

According to, "Hillary Clinton explained that she forgave Bill Clinton because of the love she feels for him, which is a gift that comes from her faith.

This statement set the tone for another view point for Mr Clinton's sex scandal. But Mrs Clinton wasn't done she went on to blame herself for her husband’s misdeeds.

According to UK Telegraph, Mrs Clinton had insisted that the sex between Mr Clinton and the then-21-year-old Monica Lewinsky had no “real meaning” and said *she had not been “sensitive enough” to her husband’s emotional state.*

Suddenly, the whole nation forgave Mr Clinton and he was allowed to complete his term.

Hilary Clinton's gain

I. She gained  perception of a loyal wife and an epitome of partnership.

II. She gained great popularity and was also perceived as a woman of faith.

III. She won an election to represent the city of New York despite not being originally from New York.

IV. She is on the verge of becoming the first female US president.

*Aisha's Buhari's comments*

Mrs Buhari in an interview with the BBC said her husband did not know many top government appointees in his cabinet. She also accused them of not sharing the vision of her husband’s party, the  All Progressives Congress party.

Although she did not mention any names, she however asked people to watch out for them on the television programmes.
And she said she won't support  Buhari's reelection in 2019 if things don't change.

According to the Vanguard, President Buhari while standing beside the German Chancellor Angela Merkel  responded jocularly
*“I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room.”*

PR Lessons

1) *Orientate don't react to a crisis*

According to the businessinsider, Mrs Clinton went through hell during this period of her husband’s sex scandal.

A reactionary action would have been to divorce her husband but this would have aggravated the situation as it may fuel the impeachment call from a section of Americans.

Buhari reacted to Aisha's comments and caused more damage. That statement diminishes the role of women and may make the international community see him has having no respect for women.

The cure for a chronic headache can't be chopping off of head.

2) *Resist the temptation to Blame,  Condemn or Ridicule anybody during Crisis*

What is most needed during crisis is not criticism but leadership. Critics emphasis the magnitude of the damage and hardship a crisis will bring but leaders proffer the solutions to crises.

One way to start is to avoid blaming or ridiculing people in a crisis but to assume responsibility for what happened. The Clinton's crisis needed a leader and Hilary stepped up to the leadership position. This is why most Americans want her to lead them as President.

President Buhari ridiculed his wife rather than addressing the issue. He could have just said, *"Well, that is her opinion and I respect her perspective on my appointees. Her support was crucial to my winning the 2015 election, When I get back we shall discuss it further in our bedroom(jokingly)*

This shows that the president accept criticism, respect other people's opinions and his willing to engage his critics in a discussion.
(good qualities of leadership)

3) *Get on the field*
This is where you do all the repair work. Once a crisis strike you must get busy doing all the right things, meeting all the right people, assembling all the right set of people needed to manage this crisis and most importantly start saying all the right things that need to be said to the right set of people and at the right time they really need to hear it.

Hilary consulted wide and came to realize that deserting her husband in his time of trial may have some negative consequences on her future political ambition.

Thus, getting on the field to repair her husband’s reputation as well as her family's has paid off for her.

Immediately, Aisha granted the interview, the President should have consulted PR experts on the implications of that interview and the best ways to respond to reporters.

I think his media team failed him they should have anticipated all the questions Aisha's interview might generated and most logical answers to them.

4) *Use Crisis as a leverage to demonstrate some great virtues that will win you public confidence and respect*

Samsung's recall of its Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is expected to cost the company about *$5.8billion* according to marketdrive. This act has been praised and commended as a way to regain customer's trust.

On February 6, 2014, General Motors (GM) recalled about 800,000 of its small cars due to faulty ignition switches.

Hilary Clinton leverage on the Monica Lewinsky crisis to show Americans she is truly a dependable friend, a loving, loyal and compassionate wife and a courageous leader. These are the type of virtues Americans love in a hero (check out Hollywood films).

This was wise because she used that crisis in 1998 to position herself as a suitable candidate for the American president in 2016.

Actually Aisha's comments presented the President an opportunity to put himself in good light and to be perceive as a true great president by the International community but unfortunately he missed it.

President Buhari could have responded this way.
*"Well, that is her opinion and I respect her perspective of my appointees. Her support was crucial to my winning the 2015 election, When I get back we shall discuss it further in our bedroom(jokingly)*

Leveraging this opportunity he could have gone further by saying

*but on a serious note, to rebuild Nigeria and grow our economy we must look beyond political lines and prioritize competence.*
(or something better than this; anything that will sell him to the world as being committed to turning Nigeria around)

This would have make the International community perceived him as truly committed to the growth and development of Nigeria. And indeed a great leader.

John F. Kennedy said, "When written in Chinese, the word 'crisis' is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity*.

Please share your thoughts with me by clicking on the post a comment box below

Ishola Ayodele is a Public Relations practitioner and a member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations.
He offers the following services to Large Corporations, SMEs and Individuals.
Result Oriented Communication,
Effective Crisis Communication,
Effectual Political Communication,
Reputation and Image management,
And Impactful Presentation Coaching.
He can be reached on
BBM 58ED6030,
twitter @ishopr and via

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