Brands X-RAY

Tinubu vs Osinbajo: Who’s the stronger PR brand?

Tinubu vs Osinbajo: Who’s the stronger PR brand?

The race for Nigeria’s presidency is off to a flying start with APC front runners Osinbajo and Tinubu all set for a nail-biting finish for the party’s ticket.

Like a chess game, there are still many unknowns working behind the scenes. It will take far more than a dollar rain to clinch this one. From a public relations point of view, the question is, who is the stronger brand between Osinbajo and Tinubu.

A SWOT (strengths and weaknesses) analysis of Osinbajo and Tinubu will give us a clearer PR picture.

Tinubu’s strengths

  1. Confidence and sense of entitlement

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is reeling with confidence and a sense of entitlement. He has vowed not to leave any stone unturned to actualize his age-long dream of becoming the president.

He has also openly declared that: “It is my time to be Nigeria’s President. I’m educat­ed, I’m experienced. I have been serving for a long time. Bring me the presidency, it is my turn.”

Such confidence and salvo not only project a strong brand image, it also creates some panic in the minds of the opposition. This is a classic war tactic.

  1. Cash machine

In Nigeria’s highly monetized politics, a formidable war chest is a strategic advantage. That’s one asset that Tinubu is not in short supply of, when it comes to dollars or Naira or indeed any other currency, Tinubu, cash bag dwarfs Osinbajo’s and all the other candidates.

3. Strategic power and political infrastructure

The former governor of Lagos State from 1999 to 2007 is a master strategist and has grown his political infrastructure to become one of the most formidable in modern-day Nigeria.

Tinubu has an iron grip on Lagos and most of south west Nigeria. He also has many governors and ministers under his belt.

4. Media dominance and rhetorics

Tinubu has a deeper understaffing of the media chemistry and knows what to say to make headlines news and control the narrative.

In PR and mass communications, message repetition and media domination always raise the equity of the brand.

5. Kingmaker

Tinubu is probably Nigeria’s most influential kingmaker. Since he left office, he has hand-picked every Lagos Governor.  His influence spreads to many other states and even the presidency, where he also chose the Vice President Osinbajo and a number of other ministers

Tinubu’s weaknesses

Tinubu vs Osinbajo: Who’s the stronger PR brand?

Can the king maker now become king? Here are 5 weaknesses that could stop him:

  1. Corruption hangover

In communications and public discourse, it is said that perception is reality

The EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) has never knocked on Tinubu’s doors and no charges of corruption has ever been filed against him in or out of office.

However, the avalanche of rumours around his business dealings has given him a corruption stigma severely tarnished his brand reputation in the minds of the public.

  1. Health factor

Tinubu’s health raises concern and some skeptics question his official age of 70, with theories based on supposedly suspicious edits on his Wikipedia page.

This might not be too much of a disadvantage in the long run. Former president Yar ‘adua did not have great health and even President Buhari has had his health struggles.

However, the health factor could play in the emotions of the general public or specific target audience.

  1. Reputation as political ‘godfather’

Tinubu has been seen as grooming Lagos state governors ever since he left office in 2007.

Tinubu told Reuters some years ago that, “I am a talent hunter. I put talents in office, I help them. I use the best hand, the best brain, the best experience for the job.”

Critics highlight this practice of installing his own man in office in Lagos State as evidence of Tinubu’s cronyism.

  1. “Yorubaism”

Both Tinubu and Osinbajo are Yorubas, but one is seen as more Yoruba than the other. Tinubu’s speech in an event in Lagos describing how he brought Buhari to power, was delivered entirely in Yoruba.

Tinubu would have a more Herculean task in winning the hearts of North and Eastern Nigeria. That will be a tall PR bridge to cross.

  1. Media credibility issues

The Nigerian media has also become highly commercialized and the size of your wallet can often determine the size and favorability of your media coverage.

But then even the monetized media would be reluctant to blatantly overplay the strengths of Tinubu, when he doesn’t have an obviously populist demeanor. Does Tinubu have the charisma and stage presence that will make him the media and public favourite?

Osinbajo’s strengths

Tinubu vs Osinbajo: Who’s the stronger PR brand?

  1. Freshness

When it comes to PR and branding, freshness always has a strong appeal

Osinbajo would be seen to be a fresher offering for Nigeria which has the largest percentage of the global youth population.

  1. Stability and economics

Tinubu vs Osinbajo: Who’s the stronger PR brand?

Osinbajo could also be seen as a safer pair of hands who would provide stability and pursue a more liberal economic policy.

He is also expected to have a deeper understanding of economics and the interplay in the wealth of nations.

  1. Incumbency factor

The power of incumbency in the politics of developing countries is hard to dismantle. Though he was Vice President, and not President, Osinbajo would ride higher on the power of incumbency in becoming a strong PR brand.

  1. Power of articulation and media voice

Tinubu vs Osinbajo: Who’s the stronger PR brand?

Philosopher king can be used to describe VP Osinbajo. Smooth talk and action are two different things. Obasanjo was not a great orator but he scored high marks as President.

Oratory skills are however still useful as they enable you to convey the message persuasively. Osinbajo will also have stronger media appeal, leading to a higher share of voice, share of mind and ultimately a stronger PR profile.

  1. Personal integrity

This is where VP Osinbajo scores the highest marks. Aligned to his image of freshness, he has a high level of personal integrity. He doesn’t carry a corruption tag. The public and also the international community would eagerly embrace this virtue.

Osinbajo’s weaknesses

Osinbajo certainly has some commanding advantages, but his PR underbelly also highlights a number of big PR weaknesses.

  1. Weak political base

Osinbajo doesn’t have a strong infrastructure and the level of a well-oiled machinery as his rivals in APC and the other two major political parties. He would need to build a strong coalition of supporters to take on the political machinery of Tinubu and his other opponents.

  1. Inadequate financial power

Politics is not cheap anywhere in the world. But it is even more expensive in Nigeria.

Osinbajo would need to tap on the shoulders of key political players with deep pockets to pursue his Presidential ambition. The question of compromise and horse-trading would surely come into play at a later stage.

  1. Moral burden

Osinbajo owes his position as Vice President to Bola Ahmed Tinubu who hand-picked him for the office, to avoid an all-Muslim presidency. Can Osinbajo still stand on a moral high ground, if he is running against his political benefactor in the same party?

  1. Is he tough enough?

Critics say his voice wasn’t often heard during his 8 years as Vice President. Could it be he was simply fiercely loyal or was it more a lack of spine?

Will he be able to tackle Nigeria’s disastrously alarming insecurity as well as the many entrenched movers and shakers in the corridors of power?

5. More optics than reality 

According to a highly respected political commentator and though leader, Osinbajo is more concerned about optics than reality. And if he becomes President, his actions might be out of sync with reality.

3rd alternative 

In light of the above, what if neither Osinbajo nor Tinubu is deemed a formidable PR brand given  their collective PR and branding liabilities? Could the question of a 3rd alternative as a better medicine to be put on the table?

Last joker card 

In a level playing field or an ideology-driven political dispensation, the Public relations SWOT analysis can go a long way in pointing to the eventual winner.

In Nigeria’s case, what goes on behind the scenes is the script both Osinbajo and Tinubu will soon be singing from. And that’s the joker card.

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