Dear Mr. Femi Adesina, I trust this letter meets you well and that you are in splendid health. I read your very insightful article published in the Vanguard Newspaper of January 20, 2018 aptly titled “Why I stand with Buhari,” and felt the need to put pen to paper in the hope that my modest thoughts expressed would catch your attention.
In light of the gruelling schedule I assume you operate on a daily basis as the Special Adviser to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Media and Publicity, it would be unreasonable for me to ask for more than a few minutes of your time, so please bear with me.
I thought your article made for very interesting reading, compelling in certain aspects and undoubtedly a demonstration of your gift with words and a masterful ability of knitting them into a tapestry any boss would be proud to display on their wall. The more I read, the more I knew your teachers and lecturers would have scored you quite high in class tests and examinations during your time as a student.
However, what you were going for, when you decided to put fingers on keypad, I would imagine, wasn’t an academic dissertation, written to sublimate the art of essay writing or to be graded by the many seasoned consumers of op-eds we have in this country. It was intended, I believe to address real life issues, confronting real life people, living in the real world, and in that, I think the dart may have veered off the bull’s eye and possibly away from the board completely. But what do I know?
Mr. Adesina, I doubt that the majority of your readers, if they were Nigerians, would score it highly. You will no doubt get high marks for semantics, imagery and loyalty to the “oga at the top,” but not so much for being in touch with the reality on the streets of Remo, Rumumasi, Umuedeachi, Ikom, Utonkon, Numan, Agege, Mararaba or even Wuse.
It is no wonder, the videos of Senators Ben Murray-Bruce and Isah Misau went viral, to the point of catching the attention of the First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In choosing to re-tweet and share them to her followers on social media, the First Lady may have passed on a veiled message to her husband and his handlers, and the people living and doing business in the places I just mentioned that all is not well.
Your dismissal of the fears and concerns expressed by the people we voted for, to speak for us on the floors of the Senate and House of Representatives, being the most granular form of representation our democracy permits at the federal level, debases the culture of checks and balances we embraced and have promoted here in Nigeria post-1999. Montesquieu and John Locke are not yet turning in their graves; let it not get to that.
Sir, if you’re not convinced about the neutrality of the political class, then ask your friends to forward videos of random Nigerians, bemoaning the great hardship in the country, that are making the rounds on WhatsApp and Facebook. I would have sent you a couple myself, only that I don’t have your number. However, if by chance you have seen some, don’t dismiss them as the handiwork of the president’s enemies. They are the honest, unscripted reactions of people to the terror in the land.
Before you dismiss every genuine expressions of regret as fake news, and I noticed you alluded to it in your article, think again. You may even want to verify some of the sources of these videos, because I bet you, there may not be any link to Russia. The taxi driver in Berger or the market woman in Oshodi is not seeking relevance or running for political office; they just want to pay their bills and sleep with their eyes closed at night, knowing that their friends and relatives in any part of the country they reside are safe.
Mr. Adesina, you have chosen to stand with Buhari, and you have done so since the 1980s when he first emerged as military ruler. You have followed him ever since, and now, because you know him even better by virtue of your position as his top media aide, you believe Nigerians are not being fair in their assessment of his ability to lead and his preparations for the office his occupies.
I wouldn’t know where you were at the time, but didn’t Mr. President admit just this past weekend while hosting leaders of his party to a dinner in the Villa that he didn’t expect to be President? Didn’t he admit to have gone into a coma when he got the call in March 2015 congratulating him? Is that why it took him six months to announce his cabinet of the same old faces, and why the economy and almost everything else in the country is in a comatose nearly three years after?
In your article, you mentioned that the President believes in action and not in the theatrics of visiting ravaged communities in Benue state. I too would choose action over optics every time those two options are up on the board. However, if you really want to know the truth, if you really want to know if the people of Benue State are happy with the President’s handling of the attacks by herdsmen and his decision to end them by setting up grazing colonies across the country, then take a trip to the State and hear directly from them and their Governor. Your findings might shock you.
Mr. Adesina, I think you may have muddied your I’m “in-total-solidarity-with-Buhari” pitch with politics by stating in your write-up that the people commenting and publicly castigating your boss are scared of him making a second term bid. Sir, this is not the time to bring up politics or make the case for another 4 years of entropy. No! This time is for reaching out to victims. This time is for unleashing Sympathiser-in-Chief and Commander-in-Chief. We don’t want to see candidate Buhari now, please.
Again, Mr. Adesina, this is not the time to brandish loyalty to one man and one man alone. This season calls for loyalty to Nigeria. This is not the time to stand with PDP or APC or APGA. This is a time for multi-partisan condemnation of terror and hate. Any officer, department or arm of government doing that is doing the right thing. It is not politics; it is not de-marketing your boss; it is not standing with the opposition – it is standing with Nigeria.
Written by : Michael Afenfia
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