By Oshiokpekhai Utu-Orbih
As President Mohammed Buhari furthers a procrastination to unveil his agenda as Nigeria’s new commander-in-chief, one cannot but notice one man that in no small measures, has perfectly abetted this President in reminding Nigerians of their division and fragmentation as an entity. That man is Mr. Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity.
A quick peep at the man Femi Adesina reveals that he was the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the Sun Newspaper before his appointment; president of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, who attends the Four Square Gospel Church; writes a weekly column titled “Before The Cock Crows,” and last, popularly called a “ Buharist”.
I pondered on, as well as tried to reconcile the conflict of interests in his position as President of the Nigeria Guild of Editors, and a bizarre profile as a Buharist – which he no doubt enjoys. On second thought, I quickly recollected that since Mallam El Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna State introduced the word “Jonathanian” into our national lexicon with so much vile, it was now permissible for people to be labelled “Buharist” in order to look the opposite of a spiteful portrait which El Rufai painted out of supporters of the former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
Adesina had announced his presence on Twitter, July 1, 2015, where he referred to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and all those who opposed the appointment of the acting Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Amina Bala Zakari for her alleged closeness to President Buhari as Wailing Wailers.
Since that faithful day, the hashtag “wailing wailers” has become a taunt for any opposing voice of the government of the day. A good majority of Nigerians have taken up that taunt believing that it is better to be a wailing-wailer than a “lying-liar” or a sad howler. The response to that tweet can be best imagined as Nigerians condemned the most divisive tweet ever, coming from a presidential aide on media and communication-related disciplines.
No doubt, Adesina is reverberating the body language of his dictator-boss, President Muhammed Buhari, which in deeds and words runs contrary to the oath of office he took, especially and most significantly, the part that specified that, “In all circumstances, I will do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will…”.
This vital part of the oath administered to the Buhari on the May 29, 2015, has severally been breached and violated by this president with his infamous declaration in Washington DC, that those who gave him 97% votes cannot be treated in similar manner like those who gave him 5% votes. While updating Nigerians on his Facebook page on the United States visit, Adesina referred to Nigerians who had come to see their President as just APC members. Hear him; “The previous day, the party members had massed at the gate of Blair House, bearing different placards hailing President Buhari”
Furthermore, Adesina in his ingenuity gave a different meaning to the Biblical phrase “in the fullness of time”. He had told Nigerians that Buhari will appoint a cabinet in the fullness of time against the constitutional provision which makes it mandatory for a President to name a cabinet. President Buhari on his own part, told the Americans that his fullness of time according to the “Book of Adesina” is September 2015.
As if these were not enough, Adesina further told us that the President’s proposed probing beyond the immediate past administration would be a distraction. And I quickly asked myself, when did the fight against corruption which was the fulcrum of the “Change” mantra become a distraction? In sheer contradiction, President Buhari, in his visit, had urged the American government to help trace and repatriate about N150 billion Naira looted by government officials over the last 10 years. How do we reconcile these two songs of between a President and his Special Adviser?
Funny enough, Adesina has not made any statement on the Halliburton bribe scandal which today is the American benchmark for measuring the anti-corruption posture of President Buhari. If Buhari reneges on the probe of the Halliburton scandal and the successful prosecution of indicted past military heads of state, including Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, he can be rest assured that the Obama’s camp would never pick his phone calls going forward, let alone welcome him again on the American soil.
These days, I tend to get my comic reliefs from Adesina’s update on his Facebook and Twitter walls. While giving updates and relishing the American visit on his Facebook page – July 26, Adesina wrote “To America we flew last Sunday, arriving after a voyage of 12 hrs.” I don’t know how a 12-hour flight turned into a voyage.
However, the outcome of the visit has come out to be a voyage of propaganda and photo-shooting festival. In another breath, on the same update, Adesina got me so amused. Again, hear him; “We have heard of the work rate of former army general and civilian president, Olusegun Obasanjo. Now we see another retired army general, now civilian president, exhibiting the same horsepower work ethics. Could it be true that they give them injections in the military, which makes them go on and on?” Mr Adesina has said it all, those injections they give them in the military makes them overtly ambitious as to militarize the Nigerian conscience with total disdain for constitutionality.
We cannot exhaust Adesina in one piece, but it would be injustice to him if I don’t acknowledge his perception of ex-President Jonathan’s efforts in combating Boko Haram. Femi Adesina wrote; “The then President Jonathan was thus forced to look towards South Africa for arms. He loaded millions of Dollars in a private jet as if going to Oyingbo Market and got his fingers burnt in the process”.
It appears to me that Adesina doesn’t understand his new role as Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the President – a country that has the largest concentration of black people in the world. He has not taken his brand of journalism beyond a usual “Oyingbo Market” approach – a low level “brown-envelope” communication engagement where professional ethics means nothing.
Adesina needs to step up and inject some measure of civility into his communication practice. While a total disconnection with his boss remains a major concern, he needs to prove to Nigerians that he is everything a media Aide should not be. SHALOM!
Oshiokpekhai Utu-Orbih is an attorney, broadcaster, and media consultant.
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