One of the best novels I read while at the University was Chinua Achebe’s ‘Anthills of the Savannah’ which made the 1987 Booker Prize Shortlist. It is an evergreen political satire as the germane issues it addressed during the military rule are still with us in our so called democracy. Well educated Professor Reginald Okong, who studied political science up to doctorate level in the United States and the Attorney-General who was educated in the United Kingdom were reduced to sycophants and bootlickers who spewed out nauseating garbage which goaded the Military Head of State President Sam to his eventual ruin.
Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media & Publicity, Femi Adesina is notorious for making gaffes all in a bid to keep his unenviable job of eternally massaging the ego of a dictator and retaining his job which tragically has an end one day with concomitant consequences of a damning judgment by posterity. He once said that Nigerians in the South – ironically where he hails from should be prepared to give up their land for the northern agenda of cattle ranching as it is better to be alive than dead.
His latest gaffe was when he was when he wrote an article captioned: ‘The Essential Buhari: VP Osinbajo got it!’, “Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo is an honest man. Whatever he tells you, please take it serious,” he said.
“When he said Buhari was possibly Nigeria’s most popular politician that we have had in generations, I believe it, not just by the hearing of the ear, but because my eyes have seen it.
“I am old enough to have seen our colorful and even swashbuckling politicians in action. I have seen the great Obafemi Awolowo. The charismatic Nnamdi Azikiwe (Zik of Africa). Shehu Shagari. Aminu Kano. M.K.O Abiola. Bashir Tofa, and many others in action.
“But I have not seen anyone with the kind of attraction, magnetic pull, that Muhammadu Buhari has. And that is round the country, north and south. People swarm around him as bees do to honey.
“I have been around the country with the President. I have also been to several countries of the world with him. I have not seen any other Nigerian leader, past or present, with his kind of allure, pull, fascination, magnetism.”
Adesina said Buhari is a man that wants to serve and not be served.
“The virulent opposition we see in the land can only be self-serving, an odious attempt to grab power for power’s sake. I’ll rather follow an honest man, for the sake of our country,” he said.
“One more thing. The VP also told his London audience that we are better off as one people, one country.
“One hopes those beating the drums of discord, evil speech and dismemberment are listening. Nigeria is stronger, better off as one united entity.
“Issues we have can always be resolved, without breaking into splinters. That is the only way the labour of our heroes’ past shall never be in vain.”
How can he compare Buhari to the Great Zik of Africa and Awo who had visible legacies even to their adversaries? If not for Awo who introduced the free primary education in the then western region in 1955 as Premier of the region, Adesina may never have gone to school as his parents were indigent. The free primary education introduced by the visionary Awo is the reason why the Yorubas are arguably the most educated tribe in the country. That was a visible legacy even to the visually impaired. What about the development of the western region solely on the proceeds of cocoa which reinforced Awo’s belief in true federalism? He built the first television station in Africa – WNTV at a time when even most countries in Europe didn’t have it. What about his development of sports through the building of the famous Liberty Stadium which indirectly produced soccer stars like the late Thunder Balogun, Segun ‘Mathematical’ Odegbami and many more? Awo was a man well ahead of his time and the country wasn’t clearly prepared for his revolutionary and radical ideas. Awo identified and mentored other notable Yoruba leaders like the former action Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, Chief Bola Ige, Ex Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Chief Bisi Onabanjo of Aiyekooto fame, Pa Adekunle Ajasin, former Ondo State Governor etc. His greatest contribution to journalism is in the establishment of the nation’s oldest newspaper – The Nigerian Tribune in 1949 which is the oldest surviving newspaper in the country – 72 years old and still waxing strong – in an industry with an extremely high mortality rate.
Zik of Africa as Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was fondly called was an orator’s orator as he held his audiences spell bound with his gift of the garb. He spoke the three major languages in the country – Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa and grew up in the north, west and east which was the remote reason of his nationalistic outlook in his political career. He used his journalistic talent with the founding of the Zik Group of Newspapers with the West African Pilot as the most prominent to effectively galvanize the nation to take over power from the British. As Premier of the Eastern Region, he laid the foundation for the establishment of the University of Nigeria Nsukka which was patterned after educational institutions in the United States. It was his 1959 compromise when he jettisoned his ambition to be the Prime Minister by rejecting an offer from Awo to be Prime Minister with the latter serving as Finance Minister in Awo’s bid to form a coalition government between the NCNC and AG that saved the nation from a break up.
We all know the contributions made by the Late Chief M.K.O Abiola to the deepening of democracy in the country.
Buhari has been privileged to rule the nation twice. What legacy was he known for in his first outing? He jailed Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor of the Guardian Newspapers for being critical of his dictatorial administration; executed some Nigerians for drug running based on a retroactive law, It was under his ill fated regime that the UK introduced the use of visas without a whimper in terms of protest from him. He fooled the nation with the aid of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu that he was a repentant democrat in 2015. He demonized Jonathan and warned that the dog and baboon will be soaked in blood if he lost the election. What have been his achievements? The insurgency has worsened – Nigerians are being slaughtered like rams all over the country, Nigerians in the north and in parts of Benin Republic now sire generations in Internally Displaced Camps, the naira has skyrocketed to close to 600 to a dollar, Bandits and kidnappers are prowling over the country with a military jet being shot down and the Nigerian Defence Academy being attacked with two soldiers murdered and one abducted. Travellers travel with their hearts in the mouth as they are scared of being killed or kidnapped. Fulani herdsmen unleash their AK 47’s on the hapless people with the Buhari administration reluctant to designate it as a terrorist organization. His economic policies have killed SME’s and even large businesses as many multinationals have relocated to neighbouring countries most notably Ghana. The Twitter ban has cost the nation billions of naira. The youths have received a raw deal under him – the end sars protests led to some deaths which the government attempted to cover up but for technology and social media which is beyond their control. We have been declared as the poverty capital of the world with an unemployment rate of about 33% by the National Bureau of Statistics and much more for under employment. The change and next level promised by the government has led to tales of woe and agony by emotionally battered and beleaguered Nigerians.
It is an insult and assault on our collective intelligence for Femi Adesina to say that his Boss is more popular than Zik and Awo. Even comedians know when to draw the line.
This is a joke taken too far and is worse than the proverbial Emperor dancing naked in the market square in the name of fashion by a mischievous courtier.