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Funke Olakunri, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu

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Femi Adesina

Mrs. Funke Olakunri, the daughter of Afenifere leader Baba Reuben Fasoranti, who was killed, murdered, a few days ago allegedly by Fulani herdsmen along Ore-Benin Road – specifically at Ore junction on the Ore-Benin expressway, was lowered into her grave last Tuesday. Clearly, as several observers and mourners have noted, that murder was one murder too many. And that Mrs. Olakunri was murdered allegedly by Fulani herdsmen called (and still calls) to question our central government’s attitude towards the organisation of our security units. The murder also underlines the central government’s seeming nationalistic respect for the Fulani whose kinsman is in power. In truth, because a Fulani is in central power as our president the Fulani herdspersons have been doing and carrying on as they please in our polity. They can commit murder as they please in the arrogant hope that nothing can or will ever happen to them. They believe strongly in the feeling of blind arrogance that their son and brother in power will cover and protect them with (no matter what they do.) Rightly or wrongly, this is the perception many of our compatriots, especially in the middle belt and south of our country, have of our president and his presidency vis-à-vis their relationship with the marauding Fulani killers and those the Fulani plunder and kill time after time.

When the presidency, through one of our president’s media aides, in the person of Femi Adesina, said that Mrs. Olakunri was killed by “armed robbers” rather than by Fulani herdsmen, as alleged, the presidency, through him, was obviously espousing Fulani ethnic nationalism. When Femi Adesina – now a Chief – made the statement he made he attributed it to the “Ondo State Police Command.” According to The Punch Thursday columnist Abimbola Adelakun, “Adesina cared little about the deceased; his obsession about roughening up the narrative was to preempt people’s angst that would be directed at his paymasters. If he cared about the poor woman and he respected the Fasoranti family, he would have hesitated and tried [not] to stuff words in the mouth of the police” (see The Punch of Thursday, July 18, 2019, page 46). I am in perfect agreement with The Punch lady columnist, who espoused genuine sentiments of truth, patriotism and loss. Her prayer for Baba Fasoranti and the family was truly heart-felt and yielded her sincere grief and that of all of us who truly felt (and still feel) the grief the alleged Fulani killer-herdsmen have caused the deceased woman’s family. (By the way, Adesina should read pages 6-7 of Tuesday, July 23 to know what South West governors’ thoughts are on Funke’s alleged killers.)

Chief Femi Adesina- I hope his chieftaincy title was given to him by a Yoruba Royal Father – should know or ought to know that a father who loses his son or daughter is robbed of a significant portion of his prosperity. Indeed, the death of Funke will grieve her ninety-five years old father greatly until his dying or death day which could happen even before the broken-hearted old man’s apportioned time on this earth plane. (But I must still wish him longer years here to continue his patriotic duties on behalf of us all). Did Adesina think of all this before his hasty, un-kind and un-thoughtful release?

As a journalist and a columnist of note, Adesina must always remember his professional roots. He should work loyally for his bosses in the presidency, but not at the expense of his understanding that “seasons, whether in nature or in a nation’s culture and values, arrive and pass, only to return again and pass away again, so that the wise person will accommodate his living to the eternal process of change.” To write this another way, and pertinently, simply and poetically so, “If you let yourself be blown to and fro, you lose /touch with your root. If you let restlessness move you, you lose touch/with who you are.”

As a critical professional journalist and columnist that he is, I don’t need to break what I am saying down to the barest minimum of meaning for Femi Adesina, who, I understand, is a B.A. (Honours) in English. He should not imbibe the way of the dictator and the lying proselytizer. Whatever time more he spends where he is now, he must be a truthful diplomat, a sensitive philosopher and a proud journalist who must have respect and affection for the people of Nigeria – even when his ‘paymasters’ and feckless politicians exhibit tendencies that display blind opposites of love and loyalty to our country. Adesina should let us see him as an exemplary journalist in the corridor and room of presidential power to whom he must offer journalistic truths all the time on behalf of our compatriots.

Without over-labouring the point, I must offer the same words I am offering Adesina to Mallam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity. Recently, in one of his televised utterances (on Channels Television) he gave me the impression that he is intolerant of criticism that should be valuable to his principal. He sternly disagreed with all those who queried (and still query) the security landscape of our country. He did not stop there. He warned that nobody should push the government to the wall when he particularly was alluding to the Shiites’ protest in Abuja. He said that the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) protesters should wait for the outcome of the court case against their leader El-Zakzaki, who has been languishing allegedly in solitary confinement several years now, in fact, since 2015, despite a high court’s judge’s pronouncement that authorised him bail a long, long time ago.

Is Garba Shehu’s principal not pushing the protesters (and Nigerian people generally) to the wall by not obeying the orders of our courts?

And is El-Zakzaki’s case not also similar to Colonel Sambo Dasuki’s whose Garba Shehu’s principal has similarly denied bail? What matter of political principle is compelling Garba Shehu’s principal to be disobeying court orders? Now the Shiites who have been protesting and resisting the central government have been pushed to the wall. They have joined President Buhari to escalate the unnecessary conflict by making it a matter of principle based on their own sense of denied justice and the indelible affection for their beloved leader in forced state of exile in solitary confinement in detention. They may halt their protests pro tempore, but they will enter the streets again and again until they get justice that is justice. May I be proved to be on the wrong side of the opinion that I am expressing here.

Garba Shehu, a seasoned journalist and columnist, like Adesina, has suddenly revealed himself as a questionable nationalist. In fact, his kind of nationalism causes war. It is no surprise that our security landscape is what it is today because of the type of advice media-and-publicity aides such as Garba Shehu and company are giving to our demagogues, dictators and feckless politicians and technocrats in power. His Channels Television utterances, in my humble view, traded “on the unreason of mass psychology” that he wanted to employ to induce or seduce us with in the endeavour to make a variety of his principal’s horrors acceptable and satisfactory to us. We say a resoundingly capital NO! We REJECT the possibility of what Garba Shehu implies.

Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina should demonstrate to us through their opinions to their bosses that our country shall become a great and mighty nation of patriots rather than that of selfish and greedy ethnic nationalists who are intolerant of criticism which they consider an abuse and an insult. As true journalists, Shehu Garba and Femi Adesina must stand by, for and with the people against unjust governmental and political oppression. Or are they not seasoned journalists that they truly are? Or have they ceased to be so now that they are on the other side? Maybe I am building castles in Spain after all said and done! Phew! My condolences go to the families of all those who lost their lives in the recent needless violent clashes between the Shiites and the police. Gaarba Shehu, on behalf of the presidency, should do the same urgently to calm hot nerves.

Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.


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