Wailers “should wail on…” – Femi Adesina, SSA Media to President Buhari
In this interview with The News Chronicle, Femi Adesina, Senior Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity speaks on sundry issues – the Buhari government and its critics, being linked with certain unflattering remarks like allegedly labelling President Buhari’s critics as ‘Wailing Wailers’ or the alleged remark about ‘your life or your land’ in response to herdsmen’s attacks in some areas, allegations of clannishness and Fulanization against the President – and many more.
TNC: First, let me thank you for finding time from your very busy schedule for this interview. Can I start by congratulating you on your re-appointment as the President’s SSA Media. I will really like you to look back at the last four years or so that you acted as the President’s spokesman. What will be your assessment of that journey? Any regrets? What are the peculiar challenges of the job?
FA: Do I have any regret in four years as spokesman for President Buhari? I’ll tackle the question this way: I have no regrets taking on the assignment, which I did voluntarily. I was not looking for a job at the time, and I didn’t expect it. I have admired President Buhari since he was military head of state, and the admiration has not waned nor diminished. So, I am happy to serve him. Have I done everything right in the past four years? We are mortals, and fallible. I may have fallen short in some ways, and if I reflect deeply, I may not do those things same way, if I had the opportunity to act or decide on them again. As human beings, we should always improve, so I don’t believe that we do everything perfectly at all times.
The peculiar challenges of the job include deliberately being misunderstood, and my words twisted, particularly by the media. It is worse on digital media. They try to make you look bad, and become enemy of the public, through a deliberate twisting and misconstruing of whatever you say. But I’ve learnt to take it all in my strides. God knows our hearts, and a large number of Nigerians are discerning, no matter the attempt to obfuscate issues by a tiny but vocal minority.
TNC: How do you feel when people link you with certain unflattering remarks like labelling President Buhari’s critics as ‘Wailing Wailers’ or the remark about ‘your life or your land’ in response to herdsmen’s attacks in some areas?. What are really your views on Buhari’s critics, the herdsmen-farmers’ crisis and the controversy over the now suspended RUGA scheme?
FA: In the early days of the administration, PDP made it a point of duty to condemn every action, every move the government made. Olisa Metuh spoke for PDP then. There was a day I responded to him, because it had to do with the President directly, and said no matter how virulent PDP was in their criticisms; they would always lose, as Nigerians had rejected them. I said they were wailing wailers, borrowing from the name of the band of the late reggae star, Bob Marley.
It was amazing to see the expression catch on like wildfire. All those opposed to the Buhari administration appropriated the appellation to themselves. They willingly assumed the name, saying I called them all wailing wailers. If they wanted the name, who was I to say no? And that is what they are till today, though I used it for Metuh and his PDP cohorts then. No regrets. Since they have decided to baptize themselves as wailers, I won’t begrudge or charge them for copyright violation. They should wail on, while President Buhari works on.