Many Nigerians have criticised the presidency for releasing a documentary about President Buhari amidst protracted fuel crisis.
The presentation aired on NTA between 8-9:00 p.m. on Sunday.
It showed senior administration officials and political associates of the president speaking glowingly about his unique and grounded democratic attributes.
Amongst those who featured in the film were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Babatunde Fashola, Nasir El-Rufai, John Odigie-Oyegun, amongst other governors, ministers and other politicians.
The State House announced that the infomercial will hit the airwaves from Sunday until Tuesday night on NTA and Channels Television.
The disclosure drew early objection from Nigerians online, who accused the government of being insensitive.
At issue is the fuel scarcity that has lingered for three weeks, leaving millions stranded and complicating Yuletide plans for many.
As the anger raged on social media and many suggested that the documentary be put forward against the backdrop of the stinging fuel shortage, the presidency issued a defiant response.
Femi Adesina, a presidential spokesperson, who led the team that put the documentary together, said Nigerians should not allow the crisis distract them from the insight the film would accord them.
“Should we then be perpetually like King Lear at his worst, and consign ourselves to the doldrums occasioned by fuel scarcity at a festive period?” Mr. Adesina queried. “No.”
“Despite the temporal pains, life must continue, and we must look at the cheery side, while government works hard to bring succour,” the spokesperson said.
He also dismissed most of the voices against the airing of the documentary as “armchair critics” who would never agree to any auspicious time to roll out any initiative that portrays Mr. Buhari in good light.
Mr. Buhari had earlier sympathised with Nigerians for the hardship occasioned by the fuel scarcity.
He said he had directed the state-run NNPC to ensure prompt delivery of petrol at filling stations across the country with utmost urgency.
But several critics, including known supporters of the president found the documentary unnecessary and out of touch.
“Buhari documentary commissioned by Femi Adesina during fuel scarcity is an insult on Nigerians,” said Kayode Ogundamisi, a rights activist and social commentator.
Like Mr. Ogundamisi, Japheth Omojuwa also supported candidate Buhari in 2015 and has continued to back him.
He, however, found the documentary largely inappropriate.
That documentary released today, inside #fuelscarcity inside Christmas has to be the lowest point of @MBuhari ‘s disconnection with the Nigerian masses. I am sure even Aisha Buhari would be shocked! https://t.co/c1OpJkeXas
— JJ. Omojuwa (@Omojuwa) December 24, 2017
Cheta Nwanze, a public affairs analyst who backed Mr. Buhari’s 2015 campaign but had since distanced himself from the administration, saw the documentary as a sign of the president’s waning popularity.
That you have to commission a 'documentary' displaying your "human" side during a time of immense suffering for your people shows that your brand is perhaps irreparably damaged.
— Chxta (@Chxta) December 24, 2017
Other Twitter users also expressed their reactions to the documentary.
What has kept Nigeria going, in which of course our governments too have excelled consistently, is our incurable sense of humour. If there's a prize for comedy open for government officials, that Buhari documentary may be up for a sure win.
— Gimba Kakanda (@gimbakakanda) December 24, 2017
Nigerians: The purchasing power of the Naira is at an all time low, we've lost 18 million jobs in 2 years, we've not had petrol all month.
Buhari's Media Team: You know what Nigerians need & are really desperate for at this time? A documentary on the human side of @MBuhari
— Mr. Aye Dee (@MrAyeDee) December 24, 2017
Watching the documentary on Buhari. ElRufai, Dabiri and Fayemi all talking about how Buhari is funny and never stops cracking jokes. Dabiri says, while guffawing, he once laughed at an aide for scratching her wig.
The president' s softer side, ladies and gentlemen.
— Yomi Kazeem (@TheYomiKazeem) December 24, 2017
I like that Femi Adesina and Abike Dabiri, are doing a good inside job to bring down Buhari's government. That's the only logical explanation to this documentary madness in this excruciating period of fuel scarcity.
— Henry Ezeanya (@henryezeanya) December 24, 2017
With this human side of Buhari documentary we can safely say he is a narcissist.
The rest of us don't matter to him. He is in a world of his own having fun at our suffering.
President Muhammadu Buhari @MBuhari is cold, self absorbed and incapable of feeling! pic.twitter.com/XEWIO49Kpz
— Aisha Yesufu (@AishaYesufu) December 24, 2017
Buhari's media handlers chose a wrong time to air that documentary about him. Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu keep goofing everytime. Aren't they professional PR practitioners?
— KING MULLA 👑 (@ZinoMulla) December 24, 2017