By UCHE CHRIS
The past week has been very traumatic both for the nation, and particularly for the presidency and its spokespersons, personified by Mr. Femi Adesina. Nigerians of all categories have been quite in a restive and combative mood, swinging at the government deservedly from all directions, which is not only upsetting to government but setting it in an overdrive and killer mood in a desperate attempt to defuse opposition, shore up its sagging and badly damaged image from the onslaught by Nigerians.
As expected they are hitting back at any target in sight, and embarking on emergency inspection of projects it did not initiate or implement, like the gas plant and modular refinery in Imo state and, claiming credit and ‘commissioning’ others it has not even started. With all the myriad of troubles confronting the economy, arising from the recent policies such as tax and tariff hikes that impose more hardship on the people generally, the presidency and its spokespersons has abandoned governance in pursuit of image laundering and demonization of critics.
In all this Mr. Adesina carries the greater moral burden of history, whose judgment, which is always fair and righteous. Hear Adesina last week: “In the past one week, those who think they own Nigeria, and their cohorts, have been making magisterial pronouncements on the state of the nation. What they couldn’t get through the ballot box in 2019, they are attempting to achieve through misinformation, disinformation, malevolence, false narrative, and outright malediction.
“Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, wants us to believe that the country is collapsing, and is now a basket case, with the economy and unity in tatters. Fine! Nigeria has a lot of challenges: Insecurity; insularity; fallen economic fortunes; rising costs; and huge unemployment. And many more! But are those the only things happening in the country? Not, at all. It would be disingenuous, even deceitful to say so. And only the unwary, the undiscerning, would be fooled.
“And well, including those who choose deliberately to be fooled. To the applause of ‘sour grapers’ in groups like Afenifere, Ohanaeze, Northern Elders Forum, PANDEF, and some others, Chief Obasanjo spoke, and called his country and its leadership all sorts of names. But am I impressed? No. These were people in the same boat before the 2019 presidential elections. They wanted President Muhammadu Buhari out of office for different personal reasons. But what did they get? A shellacking; Bloody noses, and they went away with their tails between their feet, like a beaten dog. Their boat capsized.
“I remember that infamous letter of early 2018, a year before elections, from the professional letter writer. He directed the horse rider (read, President) to dismount, and allow another person to mount. The landlord of the country had spoken, and his word was law. No sir! President Buhari politely told his former boss in the military. We went to the polls, and the people spoke in a loud voice. The landlord was ejected, thrown out into the cold.”
These are very offensive language used for an elder and former president by somebody who was appointed, not elected to do somebody else’s dirty job. Mr. Adesina actually crossed the line between decency and public service; crass propaganda, moral abasement, and flight of integrity. He fell into the same virulent and insidious malfeasance of which he accused Obasanjo and other critics. Students of history and social psychology know the signs and tell-tales of despotism – when an ordinarily normal and reasonable human being begins to assume an air of irreproachability.
But, why Adesina, you may ask? What of Mr. Lai Mohammed, minister of Information, and the garrulously unscrupulous Mallam Garba Shehu? To any perceptive observer, the answer is pretty obvious. Lai Mohammed is a politician and all politicians are liars, and only interested in the next election and their belly. Somebody once said that the greatest incongruity of human behaviour is that people actually believe politicians.
No politician, especially in this country, can stand any test of moral integrity and scrutiny. Such a politician would be one who has not cross-carpeted parties, nor served in government as elected or appointed officer. So, as a politician, he has nothing at stake but his ambition and that of his paymaster.
On the other hand, Garba Shahu is a carpet bagger, a hatchet man of sort, who is ready, willing and available to betray even his mentor and friends for a pot of soup. Recall that Shehu was nothing before Alhaji Atiku Abukabar, former vice president, picked him up from the dung-heap and polished and publicized him. Now, see how he has worsted his former master and seizes every opportunity to denigrate him without any compunction and conscience.
Talk of biting the fingers that once fed him! Compare that with the conduct of Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, who quietly left his party job as APC spokesperson when his then political boss, Dr. Bukola Saraki, fell out with the party and jumped party ship. That is integrity and faithfulness, even though, he too, in the Nigerian party fashion of dogs, may have returned to his vomit.
So, Mr. Adesina represents the moral force and public image of this government. Apart from his imposing physique and handsomeness, he is also a confessed Born again Christian who is not ashamed to deploy the scripture to advance his moral indignation and the righteousness of his positions. Since that is his predisposition, he should be judged by its tenets. Unlike the vice president who is also a politician, Adesina is more or less a free agent that can determine when and how to leave the position if he so desires.
Again, he is the face and representative of the Nigerian media – the conscience of the nation and defender of the masses – as the president of Nigerian Guild of Editors at the time of his appointment as presidential spokesperson. It was a position that made him the number one media chief and manager in the country. Editorship is the highest position in the media industry which put it in the class of top positions in any profession. Also, the media is the only profession that has constitutional role in governance. As such, he brought many responsibilities into the present job, which by his current conduct, seem to be in jeopardy.
It is often said that power and wealth do not change people; instead they bring out the real ‘you’ in people. As a God-fearing Christian and gentleman, which is the testimony of friends, colleagues and subordinates, Mr. Adesina has disappointed many of these people, especially his professional colleagues. Nobody doubted his full commitment to the Buhari presidency, as a long time confessed apologist, but many disavow his apparent sycophancy, betrayal of his moral and professional ethics, reckless use of foul language and disrespect for elders and dignitaries.
What would make Mr. Adesina disrespect Obasanjo, a former president, in defence of Buhari? When Obasanjo talks about Buhari and his government, first, it is not personal; and second, he is talking as a former president to a contemporary in every respect – two-time president as Buhari. It is therefore, not in Mr. Adesina’s place and position to respond, especially in such angry, hostile and abusive manner. As a Yoruba and Christian, which, Obasanjo also is – and younger person – Adesina is the most unlikely person to publicly savage and decimate the person of Obasanjo.
Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, can respond to Obasanjo, since Buhari is either too indisposed or too imperial to bother himself with such distraction of the “ranting of an ant”, but not Adesina. Even Mr. Lai, who is also a politician, can do so, because he can later deny it without scruples as all politicians do, but not Adesina. He carries a moral burden of history and therefore, should understand the lessons of history.
Where does he think he is; and where will he go after leaving office? Does he think the office is forever, and Aso Villa is his permanent house of residence? He should remember those who were there before him; the likes of Olusegun Adeniyi, and Dr. Reuben Abati. Both did not carry moral weight of office and personality, which he embodies, but they seem to have excelled him, even though, their own performance was less than commendable. Remember, those who ignore history become history.
Adesina, like most of the cult of personality worshippers before him, has sown the wind; he will definitely reap the whirlwind. History, which is the ultimate judge is waiting patiently for its verdict which will be uncomplimentary and, indeed, damning of him. He has put his morality and Christian virtues on the balance, and he has been found wanting. As a Christian nothing matters more than the Christ-like virtues of love, humility and temperance. Aso Rock will end one day but life will not end in the Villa. What happens after then?
Adesina should remember that he will not follow Buhari to Daura, but will return to Obasanjo’s Yoruba-land. He should remember the likes of Babatope and Baba Kekere under Abacha. A word is enough for the wise!