I’m no longer ashamed of Femi Adesina
It is precisely five years now after my rejoinder to Mr. Femi Adesina, who was until his appointment as the Special Advisor to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, the Editor of the Sun newspaper. Adesina had, in his usual weekly column written a think piece, which he captioned ‘Nigeria needs Buhari more than he needs us.” More than four years after General Buhari became Nigeria’s democratic president, the jury is out on Femi Adesina’s postulations. On three previous occasions I contemplated this sequel, but Yusuf Buhari’s Bike accident, the President’s health challenges and the 2019 general elections, restrained me. But I recall that Adesina’s article, which was published on Friday December 19, 2014, prompted my rejoinder, because both the caption and body of the piece jolted me to no end. In fact, my inner being convulsed with pain that such a parody should be penned by no less a journalist than a President of Nigeria Guild of Editors. From early that very Friday morning to five p.m. in the evening, I lost my appetite and was at the same time at sea on how to handle the ‘twaddle’. My predicament was compounded by apprehension that Mr. Adesina may not be disposed to publishing the talkback.
But, on a second thought, I resolved to unburden my heart by writing and sending the rejoinder, believing that at least, it would form part of the feedback. It was quite a lengthy rejoinder, written from 12 midnight of Friday to three a.m. on Saturday. Luckily, the following Friday, December 26, 2014, the rejoinder, captioned ‘yesterday’s man’ was among other reactions published. Constrained by space and the need to accommodate others, Adesina had abridged my copy. Nonetheless, despite the brevity, calls inundated my telephone line as those who read my rejoinder called to comment, some in commendation and others with vitriolic condemnation. I was therefore further challenged to publish the entire write up in a book form, as well as extending the arguments on why yesterday’s men should have no space in leading Nigeria to a progressive future. Those who read the rejoinder and the booklet did not fail to underscore the point that it captured how I felt. Part of the rejoinder read: “It was with great pain and revulsion that I read your column on Friday, December 19, 2014 titled, “We need Buhari more than he needs us.” I, like many others, started taking interest in your write-ups from your days on the National Concord stable.
“You have no doubt grown in practice of the noble journalism profession, and like good wine, you writing has kept on getting better with age! However, your column of Friday December 19 fell short of that progressive upward swing. “I know the pains Nigerians went through in 1993, when President Ibrahim Babangida annulled the presidential election of June 12 that same year, which was believed to have been won by your former employer and chairman of Concord Press Limited, Chief Moshood Abiola. But despite the lack of similarity in their contexts, the annulment of the 1993 election bore the same imprints as an offshoot of General Muhammadu Buhari’s extinguishing of the democratic government of President Shehu Aliu Shagari on December 31, 1983. What IBB did ten years later after that interruption of Nigeria’s democracy journey was a mere change of gear in the dislocation began by Buhari.
“Whether on account of the jailing of two journalists working for a reputable newspaper or the retroactive law that gave license for the murder of three young men for acts not offensive of any existing law, I think Buhari is not fit for the leadership of any civilized country, more so, a democratic one. His offences against civil society are beyond pardon!” As noted above, every bit of Femi’s recommendations were very offensive to me. The side that sounded most outlandish was his summation that “Gen Muhammadu Buhari does not need Nigeria for anything personal or selfish….he frets that proper examples are not being set at the leadership level for the younger generation to emulate.“ More than four years on the saddle as President, Nigerians have seen the kind of examples Buhari is setting at leadership. Perhaps it is part of the altruistic garb the likes of Femi Adesina draped him with that propelled him to concentrate appointments to only a particular section of the federation.
Mr. Adesina must have seen the level of identity politics Buhari has foisted on the country, but he cannot cast out the spirit of subjectivity that inspired his adulatory piece in his column on December 19, 2014. At any event, discerning minds have located the creative way President Buhari has continued to apply Takia, (deception) in his administration, especially by employing four information managers that describe the L.I.E.S in their performance of their jobs. While the chief information officer Lies with reckless abandon, he is assisted by two gentlemen, one good at hurling Insults and the other adept at exasperating the country men. And in his usual reluctance to accommodate the female gender, the President fished for an abandoned hag to Stupefy the nation. If indeed Mr. Adesina’s prescriptions and forwarding note harboured truth, the President would have toured the different parts of the country more than his foreign travels, at least to encourage and inspire hope among the citizens. He would have taken the entire country as his constituency and played the statesman rather than a sectional tin god. Five years after, I stand by my rejoinder to Femi Adesina.
If Nigeria needs Buhari more than he needs us, the struggles and schemes to hamstrung the electoral process, subjecting the various levers of democracy, especially the judiciary and legislature, into meaningless stress should not have arisen. Most importantly, instead of using his serial foreign travels to demarket the country through ill-considered pronouncements like visa on arrival and laziness of the country’s youths, the President would have learnt a few positive lessons from some of the countries he has visited. For instance, from the Republic of South Africa, which has rich lessons for galvanizing diversity, the Nigerian president could at least have seen how the country’s administrative, legislative and the judicial headquarters were situated in Pretoria, Cape Town and Bloemfontein respectively, to give a sense of oneness.Yet, pseudo intellectuals that he surrounds himself with insist that a man struggling with cognition and paranoia is the best thing to happen to 21st Nigeria.
Some of us that grew up in the northern part of the country are convinced that the current President is not the best the zone could donate for national leadership if the country wants progress, unity and stability. But, some southerners, who enjoy the false narrative that the north is backward, would celebrate them in paradoxical adulation of incompetence, by assuring them that “we are with you all the way” or telling Nigerians to surrender their lands or lose their lives. They would not bother their local champion with discussions that heal national rifts, or even raise issues of out of school children or other developmental topics, particularly gender inclusion? Rather, they support his ‘we versus them’ divisive mentality and vengeful disposition in the erroneous belief that Nigeria needs him more than he needs the country. Femi Adesina’s email address rhymes with kulikuli, an Hausa delicacy made from peanuts that causes flatulence and disposes eaters to fart. Having fawned his way to serve as Buhari’s salesman, he is entitled to verbal farts. And having come to this realization, I am no longer ashamed of Femi Adesina, because like Ephraim, he has joined his idol.
Sobechi is a staff of The Guardian.
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