Nigeria And War Of Tongues By Femi Adesina

A file photo of Mr Femi Adesina.

 

NIGERIA AND WAR OF TONGUES

Our country is at war today on many fronts. Nigeria battles insurgency, terrorism, banditry, kidnappings, armed robbery, cult killings, ritual murders, and war of tongues.

War of tongues. Is that a new one? No, it’s as old as man, but it is perhaps the deadliest of all the wars. It is fiercer than insurgency, terrorism, banditry, kidnappings, armed robbery, cult killings, ritual murders, all put together.

A war of tongues has been unleashed on Nigeria, her leadership, anyone in government, in fact anybody serving the country in one capacity or the other.

Want to become an enemy of the public? Then just take a position in government, major or minor. Irrespective of where you were coming from, your stature and station in life, you become an enemy.

READ ALSO: Benue Crisis: Expose Those Who Killed Soldiers, Return Army Weapons – Ortom Urges Communities

You may have served creditably in the military, rising to become a General, been a military head of state, headed the Petroleum Trust Fund exceptionally, and now a two-term civilian President, a war of tongues that is so virulent and mind-boggling, is unleashed against you.

A vicious war of tongues is raging in the country, and from President Muhammadu Buhari, down to the least political appointee in government, no one is spared. And who are the warriors? So-called social activists and commentators. Newspaper columnists. Talk show hosts on TV, radio, influencers on social media, bloggers, anyone who can afford an Internet-enabled smartphone, politicians, and very embarrassingly, clergymen.

The ones who should teach us to bridle our tongues. They say things that make the flesh tingle, with a chill running down the spine. No grace, no decorum, using words that are not seasoned with salt. Do they read another Holy Bible? Another Holy Quran? Holy Moses!

President Buhari left these shores on March 30 for “routine” medical checkups. Mark the word: routine. Did you hear all the ululation that attended the announcement and the trip? War of tongues: oh, he’s sick again (as if there’s anyone who’s 100% healthy.

If there is, let’s see the person). Resident doctors are going on strike, the President is traveling! Couldn’t he have built world-class hospitals in Nigeria within the six years he has been in government? He’s going on medical tourism again! How much is the trip costing us o? Are we sure he will come back anytime soon?

To take it to a very ridiculous level, some Nigerians in London organized a ‘one million man march’ (attended by a huge crowd of five people), went to the Nigeria House where they said the President was staying, and attempted to “force him back home.” People in the gall of bitterness, overtaken by paroxysms of hatred.

The executive, legislature, judiciary, military, police, indeed, all national institutions are the butt of the war of tongues. You find all sorts of commentators in the media condemning everything and everybody, but themselves. In their lives, they have probably never been a class monitor, not to talk of school prefect.

They can’t even run their riotous homes, with obstreperous children and wards, yet they come out to abuse the President daily. A man who has ruled as a military officer was brought back 30 years later because of his sterling records, and running a second term in office as a democratically elected leader, yet they call him all sorts of names on TV, radio, social media, simply because there’s freedom of speech. But ask them what they have achieved in life, compared to that of the President, and they are blank.

There is a rabid focus on negatives in Nigeria today. Agriculture revolution. Infrastructure renaissance. Prudence and probity in government. Doing a lot more with a lot less revenue. IMF revises growth projections for the country upwards. Nobody talks about that. It doesn’t interest them. They only focus on job losses. Poverty rate. Killings, maiming, unhappiness. Yes, those are germane, but too much sunshine makes a desert. That is not all there is to Nigeria. “Life is like being out on the sea,” said the philosopher, Marcus Aurelius. “A body has to take the rough and the smooth.”

No government would love to see its citizens killed. Maimed. Displaced. Unhappy. And if anything, the Buhari administration is doing so much in battling the insecurity in the land. But sadly, it faces another deadlier war-the war of tongues. Why don’t we pause and think that it is the only country we have, and begin to speak better, more positive things?

I am surprised at some of our clerics, particularly the Christian ones since it is the religion I am more familiar with. They speak as if they read another Bible. They preach hate from the pulpits, propagate falsehood, generate animosity against the government. And when these things are fully grown, the animus boils over, leads to violence and upheavals, lives are lost. Don’t these preachers of hate know that they are liable, and won’t be found guiltless? May God save us from war of tongues, even from those who should be showing us examples.

As you speak into the ears of God, so shall He do to you. (Numbers 14:28). When we speak evil about our country, and its leaders, it comes back to us. What we say is what we get. It is an inexorable spiritual law. Sow wind, reap the whirlwind.

In Nigeria of today, if there are no issues to bellyache over, some people will create one. There must be no quiet time. The war of tongues must continue. Pity.

However, what we don’t know is that the war of tongues is a two-edged sword, which cuts both ways. It wreaks havoc on the person wielding the sword, and on whom the blow is directed. “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. So is the tongue among our members, that it defiles the whole body and sets on fire the whole course of nature, and it is set on fire of hell.”

War of tongues causes acrimony, discord, disharmony. But let not the person who causes that war think he will get away with it ultimately. His tongue eventually gets set on fire of hell. (James 3:6)

Nigerians, let’s watch it.

*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

Buhari Never Promised To Make One Naira Equal One Dollar – Presidency

 

The Presidency has said that there was not a time when the current administration promised to make one naira become equivalent to one dollar. 

Mr. Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, said the claims suggesting that President Muhammadu Buhari made such a promise, are false.

“It does not exist, it is fake, it is false, it is apocryphal, it doesn’t exist” Mr. Adesina stated while appearing as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.

Adesina said the minister of information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has debunked the claim severally and challenged anyone with clips and publications to make them available.

READ ALSO: Inflation And Unemployment: It’s Not Enough To Focus On Negatives – Adesina

More details shortly.

Inflation And Unemployment: It’s Not Enough To Focus On Negatives – Adesina

 

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, says Nigerians must stop dwelling solely on the negatives if the country is to forge ahead in the progressive path.  

Mr. Adesina made this assertion while appearing as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.

He argued that there are silver linings in the sky, stressing that it is typical of Nigeria that when the break in the clouds come, no one talks about them.

READ ALSO: We Must Help This Govt Address Our Current Challenges – Atiku

Adesina’s comments come on the heels of some assertions made by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, following a recent report that tagged Nigeria as the nation with the highest unemployment rate in the world.

Atiku in a statement on Sunday said the present Nigerian government lacks the capacity to address issues facing the country.

The PDP presidential candidate in the last election called on stakeholders and elder statesmen to help in rescuing Nigeria which he noted is on the precipice.

In addressing Atiku and reacting to the negative report, Adesina maintained that all nations in the world experience negatives and if that becomes a focus then there will be more to talk about.

He, however, declared that there are positives in Nigeria, adding that Nigerians must look out for the positives and encourage themselves.

According to him, looking at the positives in Nigeria will not only help individuals but will also accelerate whatever the government is doing.

The spokesman urged critics to cut the Buhari-led administration some slack and give Nigeria some credit. He noted that the nation is making progress, adding that though it may be slower than some want it, things are looking up.

We Will See Better Security In Nigeria, Presidency Assures Nigerians

Presidential spokesman Femi Adesina speaks during an interview  on Channels Television’s Politics Today

 

The Presidency has assured Nigerians of improved security in the country despite reports of abductions and killings in several parts of the nation.

Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Monday, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina said President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to tackling the security challenges the country grapples with.

“We will see better security in this country, that is what the President is telling the country,” Adesina said.

“No President expects the citizens of his country to be abducted, kidnapped or killed. President Buhari is determined to step up the war against insecurity.”

READ ALSO: Gunmen Storm Secondary School In Zamfara, Kidnap Scores Of Female Students

The presidential spokesman explained that President Buhari had sworn in 2015 and 2019 respectively to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians, noting that his principal is committed to the pledge.

As part of efforts to containing the worsening insecurity in the country, Adesina said President Buhari would convey a security meeting tomorrow at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Security Is Everybody’s Business

To Adesina, the issue of security is not just left for the security agencies alone but to all Nigerians in the country.

He advised Nigerians to be wary of the immediate environment, charging them to report suspicious movements of strange people to security operatives.

“Everybody is part of the security architecture in the country. It is just that the responsibility weighs heavier on one person or the other, but we all are part of it.

“If we have the mind-set that everything about security is the duty of the President that can only be wrong. Yes, the President has the responsibility to guarantee safety of lives and properties.”

Adesina’s remarks come at a time when the nation is facing serious security threats ranging from kidnappings to banditry, terrorism to militancy among several others.

Just three days ago, gunmen stormed a government secondary school in Jangebe, Zamfara State, kidnapping over 300 female students from their dormitories.

The latest abduction in Zamfara is happening when banditry is increasingly threatening the peace of the nation, especially from within the northeastern and northwestern region.

About five weeks ago, gunmen also attacked the Government Science College Kagara in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State.

The incident which took place on February 17 occurred at about 2:00 am when the gunmen shot sporadically with one student feared killed and several others abducted.

Some teachers and their family members residing within the college staff quarters were also said to have been abducted by the gunmen.

Killer Herdsmen: Anyone Caught With Illegal Arms Should Be Tried, says Presidency

 

President Muhammadu Buhari’s position on the issue of killer herdsmen is that anyone caught with illegal arms should be arrested and tried, spokesman Femi Adesina said on Tuesday.

Mr. Adesina, who made an appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today, was reacting to recent comments made by Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom.

Mr. Ortom had said the President was silent over the issue of armed herdsmen causing havoc across the country.

READ ALSO: Buhari Flags Off Nigeria-Niger Railway Project

“If the Governor would say he hasn’t heard the President speak on that matter, that’s what he should make clear; it’s not that the President hasn’t spoken,” Mr. Adesina said.

“Because the number of times the President has spoken on that issue . . . and his position has always been the same: anybody, whoever he is, that carries arms unlawfully should be arrested and prosecuted. The President has said it countless times.”

However, when asked how many herdsmen have been arrested in recent times, Mr. Adesina said “I don’t have that figure at my fingertips . . . but I know that a lot of people are awaiting trial.”

Ranching as solution?

Clashes between farmers and herdsmen have escalated this year, especially in the southwest where quit notices were delivered to people of Fulani extraction.

Kano State Governor, Umar Ganduje, recently suggested that ranching was the solution to the phenomenon of herdsmen moving across the country with cattle.

Reacting to the Governor’s suggestion, Mr Adesina said all suggestions should be discussed.

He also pointed to the Federal Government’s Ruga program, which was rejected by some states.

“Nigeria is a peculiar country where the federal government has no land,” he said. And if states say they have no land for ranches, then another solution has to be found.

“So we need to discuss these things and appraise them critically until we can get to what we can call ‘the’ solution.”

 

PDP Should Stop Defaming President Buhari’s Former Service Chiefs – Presidency

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina has criticized the United States’ government for placing Nigeria on the Special Watchlist of countries violating religious freedom.

 

The Presidency has dismissed the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) ‘attack’ over the nomination of the former heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and the Military Intelligence to the Senate for confirmation as non-career ambassadors.

According to the presidency, this transition is normal in decent democratic societies.

In a statement on Saturday, special media aide to the president, Mr. Femi Adesina frowned at the fact that newspapers and online media are full of pages of ‘laughable’ criticisms of the President and former Service Chiefs by the party, the latest of which was the claim that they were nominated as ambassadors so as to shield them from trial by the International Criminal Court, ICC.

“How on earth can decent people run down hardworking professionals who have put in their best to defend their country? How can you run down your country and equate that with normal political dialogue and opposition?

“What is baffling about this false and baseless assertion is that this is coming, not from Boko Haram terrorists who the military kept largely in check and confined to a known section of the country, Sambisa, but from a so-called leading opposition party that fraudulently kept power for 16 years and is nursing the hope of one day returning to office as an elected government.

READ ALSO: PDP Urges ICC To Investigate Outgoing Service Chiefs Over Crime Against Humanity

“What is more, under these corrupt politicians the insurgency conquered large swathes of territory-18 Local Government Areas.

“Pray, if a political party, in a blind search for power can spurn the interest of the nation, embrace the language of hate campaign against the country’s military as enunciated by the terrorists, as the PDP does, what will be left for the Boko Haram to do? PDP is doing Boko Haram’s work!” Adesina’s statement read in part.

The presidency’s spokesman argued that we live in an evidence-based era for arguments and asked the PDP to provide evidence of rights abuse against the military in the war against terrorists.

Adesina asked: “Wouldn’t it be beneficial to the nation that they publish such evidence instead of levying grave accusations without proves? And to ask, in whose interest are they making these accusations that lack any depth?” 

He said the ICC does not need to be lectured on democratic values and human rights by the PDP.

“Who are they, and what is their record in office to lecture anyone? Zaki Biam and Odi where thousands of citizens were on record, the genocide operation comes to mind. Did they report themselves to the ICC?”

Adesina said PDP’s attacks on the ambassadorial nominations should be seen in the context of the opposition party’s track record as a university of liars, whose modus operandi is to propagate lies.

In his opinion, the President is rewarding hard work and exceptional sacrifice by a set of military leaders who gave their best to the nation and will be remembered, sooner than later, for their contributions to the security and survival of Nigeria as one nation.

The special media aide said they (former service chiefs) should be allowed to move to the next level as this is so that their examples will help to inspire others if given the opportunity to serve.

Presidency Alleges Smear Campaign Against Buhari, Urges Nigerians To Be Wary

President Muhammadu Buhari addressed the nation on the occasion of the country's 60th independence anniversary on October 1, 2020.
File photo of President Muhammadu Buhari addressing the nation on the occasion of the country’s 60th independence anniversary on October 1, 2020.

 

The Presidency on Friday said a smear campaign intended to paint President Muhammadu Buhari as an ethnic bigot is set to be launched.

In a statement titled ‘Unrelenting Plot to Wage Smear Campaign Against President Buhari’, spokesman Femi Adesina said the allegations being readied against the President are “by no means supported with reasonable facts and figures.”

READ ALSO: Buhari Writes National Assembly, Seeks Confirmation Of Service Chiefs

According to Adesina, the President “has continued to place members of his ethnic nationality in sensitive positions, so as to confer undue advantage on them.”

He warned Nigerians to be wary of persons behind such a campaign as it “is all about quest for power, and filthy lucre” and not for the nation’s good.

Read Adesina’s full statement below:

STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE

UNRELENTING PLOT TO WAGE SMEAR CAMPAIGN AGAINST PRESIDENT BUHARI
There is compelling reason to alert the nation of another orchestrated smear campaign against President Muhammadu Buhari, using some online newspapers and blogs.
The campaign, scheduled to be launched anytime soon through editorials and purported special investigative stories, is designed to further exacerbate tension in the land, by portraying the President as pandering to ethnic and other primordial tendencies, contrary to his pledge to belong to all Nigerians.
Impeccable security findings indicate that those behind the plot have procured online blogs and newspapers, which are to launch coordinated publications, alleging subjugation and suppression of a particular religion and ethnic groups.
A specific medium has so far contacted some opinion leaders, especially those very critical of President Buhari.
Part of the planned publication is to make unwary readers believe that the President has continually used the powers of his office to shield and protect an ethnic group against crimes of murder, kidnappings, rape and banditry in the southern, middle belt and some northern states.
The publication will also refer Nigerians to a 58-page document, which chronicles purported atrocities of the ethnic group in the South since 2017, all of which it claims the Presidency has turned blind eyes to.
Again, the hatchet job will allege that the President has continued to place members of his ethnic nationality in sensitive positions, so as to confer undue advantage on them. This allegation is by no means supported with reasonable facts and figures.
Just on Thursday, President Buhari, while meeting with the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), led by Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, restated his even-handedness on the issues of ethnicity and religion. Said the President:
“The Federal Government under my leadership does not, and will not, allow religious prejudice or partisanship to influence any of its decisions and policies. It is my solemn decision to be fair and just to all segments of society.”

Those who are bent on stoking ethnic and religious unrest in the country remain deaf to reason, and impervious to reality. They are hell-bent on distorting reality, and Nigerians are urged to be wary of them. It is all about quest for power, and filthy lucre.

Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President
(Media and Publicity)
January 29, 2021

President Buhari Felt It Is Time For Change In Military Leadership – Adesina

 

The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Femi Adesina, says the President felt it was the best time to rejig the security system in the country with the appointment of new service chiefs.

Adesina who was a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Tuesday, said this in reaction to comments that the replacement of the service chiefs may have come following various calls by Nigerians for the sack of the former officers.

According to Adesina, “the President knew the time to do it and I believe the time has come and that is why it has been done”.

He faulted claims that their resignation was a result of a number of security failures under their tenure or a result of the pressure mounted on the government for the sack of the service chiefs.

Read Also: Meet Nigeria’s New Service Chiefs

“I don’t think it is a matter of right or wrong,” Adesina said when asked to clarify the situation, adding: “it is just a matter of doing what is best for the country at the best time”.

“It will not be right to say one side was right or one side was wrong because the President even in the statement we issued, also commended the outgoing service chiefs for their contribution to engendering a safer country.

“That shows that by and large, he was satisfied with their performances and he just felt it was time to rejig the system; have fresh energy, have fresh blood, have fresh ideas”.

Following the resignation of the service chiefs, Major-General Leo Irabor replaced General Abayomi Olonisakin as Chief of Defence Staff; Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao replaced Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar as Chief of Air Staff; Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo replaced Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas as Chief of Naval Staff; while General Ibrahim Attahiru replaced Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai as Chief of Army Staff.

Appointment Of Security Chiefs Not Subject To Federal Character – Adesina

 

Mr Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, says the appointment of security chiefs is not subject to federal character.

Adesina who was a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Tuesday, said this while responding to comments about alleged nepotism in appointments under the current administration.

According to him, while certain appointments are subject to Federal Character, security is not one of those.

“There are certain appointments that are subject to federal character, for instance, the constitution says that there must be a minister from each state of the country but there are certain appointments that are also not subject to federal character and one of them is in the security,” he said.

“In security, they are not subject to Federal Character. It is about competence; it is about the ability to deliver.

“So, the president will appoint whoever he feels is fit and proper and will deliver to the best level for the country and for Nigerians”.

Read Also: Meet Nigeria’s New Service Chiefs

Adesina’s comments come hours after the President appointed new Service Chiefs following the resignation of the former officers.

Major-General Leo Irabor replaced General Abayomi Olonisakin as Chief of Defence Staff; Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao replaced Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar as Chief of Air Staff; Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo replaced Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas as Chief of Naval Staff; while General Ibrahim Attahiru replaced Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai as Chief of Army Staff.

Contrary to comments that the replacement of the service chiefs may have come following various calls by Nigerians for the sack of the former officers as a result of a number of security failures under their tenure, Mr Adesina said “the President knew the time to do it and I believe the time has come and that is why it has been done”.

“It will not be right to say one side was right or one side was wrong because the President even in the statement we issued, also commended the outgoing service chiefs for their contribution to engendering a safer country.

“That shows that by and large, he was satisfied with their performances and he just felt it was time to rejig the system; have fresh energy, have fresh blood, have fresh ideas,” he added.

Adesina Urges Nigerians To Pray, Says Victory Is From God Alone

Femi Adesina (file photo)

 

Mr Femi Adesina, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, has urged Nigerians to always pray for the country, saying that victory over the myriad of problems, can only come from God.

He said this in a Facebook post on Thursday, while referencing a video in which some soldiers of the Nigerian Army were dancing and singing, apparently in commemoration of the Armed Forces Remembrance Day, celebrated every January 15 in Nigeria.

The President’s aide described the video as one that inspires hope that “the country yet has a throng of young people, focused, patriotic, ready to lay down their lives for the peace and progress of their fatherland”.

He said despite the travails that the young soldiers witness on the battlefields daily, they remain resilient and put their trust in God as chanted in their songs.

Read Also: Nigeria Records Highest Number Of New COVID-19 Cases Ever

Adesina, therefore, urged Nigerians to rather than grumble and complain or criticise the government, they should channel their energies into prayer.

“I have watched the video scores of times. And it never fails to make my eyes misty each time. Four young men, with their strength as their glory, confronted by danger and death everyday, yet glorying in their tribulations, rejoicing in hope that the many battles confronting Nigeria would be won and that this country shall yet know all-round peace again, in a very turbulent world,” the post read in part.

“Listen to the words of that soldier that went sole: ‘Yes, victory is from God alone.’ But do some people know? Does it ever enter into their consciousness? They only wail: ‘this insurgency war has lasted too long. The banditry has demystified our military. They are cowards. The top guns don’t even want the battle to end. They are making money in billions.’ Okay.

“Making money in billions, and wasting our soldiers, our youths, our future and hope, in their hundreds and thousands. Because of blood money.

“That is all some people see. Permanent cynics and skeptics, who know nothing of altruism, and whose God is their belly. They think only of pecuniary gain. Nothing else. Issorait.

“But victory is from God alone. That is what we must realize as Nigerians. Do we ever pray for our troops in the frontlines? Do we remember those youths, our pride and strength, faced by death daily, as we sleep in the comfort of our homes, ensconced in the tender bosom of our wives (and em em, girlfriends). As we pray; God give me money. Give me car. Give me promotion. Kill my enemies. Do it now. NOW!

“You can’t say evil about your country, and think that good will come to her,” he said.

“You can’t say the country would implode, explode, scatter to smithereens, and then hope for unity and amity. It doesn’t happen. Not by a sudden flight. Death and life are in our tongues, “and we shall eat the fruit thereof.’

“The things that we talk of repeatedly have a way of happening to us. It is an inexorable divine law. We can’t sow plantain, and expect to reap apples. We can’t sow the wind, and not reap the whirlwind.

“As we mark Armed Forces Remembrance Day, oh, that we will say good of our military. Pray for them daily. Encourage them. Boost their morale, and not run them down, thus dispiriting them.

“In the words of those singing soldiers, “We are always gathered, rugged every season, we are moving forward to end this fight.”

“And so shall it be. Soon and very soon, the many fights all over the country shall end,”.

Insecurity: Even Zulum Will Tell You The Situation Is Better Than In 2015, Says Adesina

 

The Presidency has insisted that the security situation in the country is better than what the Muhammadu Buhari administration met in 2015.

This comes in spite of the increasing rate of attacks and killings in parts of the country, especially in the North by insurgents and bandits among other criminals terrorising harmless residents in the region.

As various individuals and groups continue to criticise the Federal Government for the present situation, Mr Femi Adesina believes it is wrong to say President Buhari has failed in terms of security.

Adesina, who featured as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, argued that people cannot use a few events to rate the government low in terms of securing the people.

“You don’t take one, two, three events, and then you conclude that it is all failure; you will get to some other parts of the North and they will tell you that things are a lot better.

“Even Governor (Babagana) Zulum who is in Borno State which is like the epicentre of the insurgency will tell you that the situation in that state is far better than what it was in 2015,” said Adesina who is the Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity.

He went further to evaluate the performance of the present administration, saying they have done fair enough beyond what was expected.

READ ALSO: Buhari Should Read PDP’s Statements For Solution To Nigeria’s Problems, Says Ehilebo

Mr Femi Adesina featured as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics on January 3, 2021.

 

A Govt With Integrity?

The presidential aide admitted that 2020 was a very challenging year not just for Nigeria but all countries of the work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to him, it cannot be the real benchmark year to review the promises made by the government at the start of the year.

Adesina explained that most of the promises made could not also be actualised to the letter because from March, the country and indeed the world, was on what he described as suspended animation.

He, however, stressed that despite the low earnings and the fact that the nation’s economy did not function at full capacity, a good number of the promises were still accomplished.

“In a political situation where you have a term, as in four years, the consequences will usually be loss of reputation, loss of respect for that government, and eventually, it could reflect at the polls.

“But we know that this is a government that has a reputation, that has integrity, and what has been promised will be accomplished and at the end of the term when the elections are held, we will see the results again,” said the President’s spokesman.

He added, “There were lockdowns everywhere and it lasted till like the last quarter of that year, but it is to the advantage of this government that most of the things promised may not have been accomplished 100 per cent but a good number of them were accomplished.”

Buhari At 78: If Only We Knew This President, “By Femi Adesina”

A file photo of Mr Femi Adesina.

 

Ask for a President beleaguered from all sides, and I’ll show you Muhammadu Buhari, the ramrod straight man from Daura, in Katsina State, who turns 78 today.

In the build-up to the 2015 presidential election, we used to say everything had been thrown at him as projectiles, except the kitchen sink. Permit me to update that expression. Today, everything possible has been thrown at President Buhari, including the kitchen sink. Anything. Everything. Fake news. Hate speech. Lies. False propaganda. Evil thoughts. Malediction. Odium. Opprobrium. Ogbunigwe. Ogulutu.Surface to air missiles. All offensive weapons. But the man trudges on. Calmly, sedately, peacefully.

If only more Nigerians knew this President. If only they knew the essential Buhari, the quintessential patriot and gentleman, they would behave differently, handle him with more care, and show him more kindness. Yes, everyone needs kindness, even Presidents.

President Muhammadu Buhari

Remember that song by Mary Mc Kee and The Genesis?
You’ve got to try a little kindness
Yes, show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness
Then you’ll overlook the blindness
Of narrow-minded people, on narrow-minded streets.

Too many people have chosen to believe the wrong things about President Buhari, and have ossified their minds against the truth. But then, those of us who have had the privilege to work with him studied and known him at close quarters, have a duty to tell what we have seen. And what better day to do it, than on his birthday.

Oh, he eats from the President. What else would he say than to sing his praises? True? False. If need be, I will serve this President for free. I consider it a great privilege to serve a man I admire. Even gratis.

Somebody commented that a blitzkrieg has been launched against Buhari and the government he leads, from all quarters. Some elements in the media, human rights groups, so-called activists, NGOs, Boko Haram, ISWAP, all at once. But is Buhari the loser? Not at all. It’s the country that ultimately loses, just as Eric Donaldson sang in ‘Little Did You Know:’
You think that you are hurting me
But little did you know you are only hurting yourself
Little did you know you are only hurting yourself.

In about two years and five months, with God being merciful as He always is, President Buhari will land safely, and retire to Daura for a well-deserved retirement at 80. And if those engineering distractions against his government continue, it is the country that would have lost. A great deal.

What are the things some people hurl against the President, which shows that they don’t know him at all?

He’s a religious bigot. Really? I’ve not seen a scintilla of evidence in the past five years. Every Christmas and Easter holiday, he calls those of us who are Christians, working with him, and asks us to stay off work, and enjoy the season with our families. That’s not the way of bigots, who would never acknowledge any religion, except their own.

As a military commander, history has it that Buhari would always give soldiers working under him time to go for worship on Sunday mornings, just as he did to the Muslims on Fridays. Yet, bigot, bigot, some people continue to shout.

He’s a Fulani, he rears cows, and all Fulani herdsmen are criminals, that’s why he tolerates them. Really? Some people even say all Fulani are herdsmen, whether they see them with cattle or not. Truth is; every ethnic stock has its deviants, its criminal elements.

You can’t just demonize all Fulani, simply because you want to excoriate the President. Did he choose to be born Fulani? Did I choose to be born Yoruba, and did the Ishan, Idoma, or Ijaw man choose the ethnic stock he wanted to be born into? It’s a biological accident. You have nothing to do with it. A man then doesn’t go repudiating where he comes from, simply because some people have decided to tar his people with the brush of infamy.

He’s nepotistic. A common refrain, but non-scientific. About three years ago, we did a scientific exercise. We chronicled all the appointments made by the President since 2015 and allocated them to states and regions. The result showed that the Southwest had the largest share. Followed by Imo and Kano states. Then Edo and Katsina. And on and on. But the naysayers ignored facts and figures and stuck to their false narratives. Nepotism.

One day, the President had given me an appointment to announce in the early days of the administration. By then, some people had started talking of northernisation agenda. So I said, “Mr President, this is the murmur we hear. Why don’t you consider giving this position to another part of the country?”

He looked at me calmly, smiled, and said: “If a search has been conducted for a position, and someone has been thrown up as the best candidate. And I then bypass him because of where he comes from, or because of his religion, haven’t I been unfair to that person?”

Food for thought, indeed.

This is Jubril from Sudan and not Muhammadu Buhari, who had died during the medical vacation in 2017, some people say. You have a clone in Aso Villa, not Buhari. Idiocy, sadly believed by even some intellectuals.

Let me tell you a story. On the day the President finally returned to the country in August 2017, after months of absence, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Abayomi Olonisakin, was giving out his daughter in marriage. I had attended the church service, decked unusually in complete Agbada, with a cap to match. From the wedding, I went straight to the airport to join the reception party.

We formed a welcome line, as we usually do. And as the President shook each person, he had one wisecrack or the other to say. When he got to me, he took my hand and said: “Adesina, this is the best I’ve seen you dressed.” We both laughed heartily, and the television cameras captured it. I remember that many people asked me later what had tickled me and the President, that we laughed so uproariously.

Jubril from Sudan? Would he know my name as Adesina? Would he know I rarely wear Agbada? How ridiculous can some people be?

Another story. The journalist Lindsay Barret had been a long time friend of the President. One day, he sent me to give his greetings. When I did, the President said: “Lindsay Barret. I remember meeting him at the war front in 1968. He was covering the war. There was a day he was almost killed in an ambush, and he then described himself as a ‘devout coward,’ who was lucky to be alive.”

Jubril of Sudan? And he remembers Barret, whom he met at the war front in 1968? Tell it to the marines.

Ask me for a loyal man, who never forgets a good turn, and I’ll show you Muhammadu Buhari. Among the last class of Ambassadors, he had personally picked Justice George Oguntade, who was sent to the United Kingdom, and Justice Sylvester Nsofor, who he deployed to America. The latter died only last week, aged 85.

How did the two men gain the favour, loyalty and respect of the President? In his many legal battles after disputed election results in 2003, and 2007, they had given dissenting judgments at both the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, nullifying the election results, saying Candidate Buhari had been cheated. The man never forgot, and sought them out in due time. The same also happened to some of us working with him today.

A kind man. I have lots of stories to tell, but let me restrict myself to a few. In December 2015, I had lost my elder sister, a Professor of Dramatic Arts, in an auto crash. While I was crying like a wailing wailer, who was on the phone, consoling and condoling with me? Muhammadu Buhari.

And before he became President, when my mother passed on in 2013, and we had a commendation service for her in Lagos, who flew in all the way from Kaduna to attend? Muhammadu Buhari. He sat through the Christian service. Yet, they say he’s a bigot. I hear. Bigot from Sudan.

And in January 2017, I was to receive the traditional title of Nwanne di Namba of Mmaku Kingdom, in Enugu State. Courtesy demanded I tell the President. This man, who prides himself as ‘very stingy’ gave me a handsome amount of money to ferry my friends and family to the ceremony. How much? I won’t tell you, lest you ask for a belated share.

And in May 2018, I was billed for China for a 12 days course for senior government officials from Africa. He said when the journey was two days away, I should come to see him. I did. You know what he said? “Adesina, I know that you don’t have money. But you are too shy to ask.” We both laughed, and he gave me an envelope which contained foreign currency. How much? You think I’ll tell you? For where?

This President is a patriot. He loves this country dearly. A man of personal discipline. Single-minded about the infrastructural development of the country. And he’s succeeding at it. I have loads of stories to tell to justify each virtue. But time and space won’t permit.

However, let me tell this final one, as told to me by a retired Colonel of the Nigerian Army.

He said he was a Major at the Second Mechanized Division, Ibadan, when the then Major General was posted there in early 1983, as General Officer Commanding.

There was a cocktail reception, billed for 8 pm. Fifteen minutes to the time, the new GOC walked briskly in. Only a sprinkle of officers had arrived. He moved round the venue, surveying the place, and at the dot of 8 pm, with the hall still scanty, he went to the gate and directed the sergeant-major on duty to lock the inner one firmly, admitting nobody.

Nobody.

Yes sir!

The GOC went back inside, held the cocktail with the few officers available. Event over, he went back to the gate, to see the battery of latecomer officers huddled there. He surveyed them, and then instructed:

All of you, see me in the office tomorrow by 8 am.

Yes sir!

The GOC walked briskly away. And you know what? As early as 6 am the next day, most of the officers had reported in his office. Once bitten, twice shy.

At 78, the President still scrupulously respects time. Do they make them like this anymore? Doubtful.

Yet, many people are plotting, and engineering all sorts of artifices, to ensure Buhari does not succeed. Who loses? The country!

There is this classic Yoruba film, Saworoide, which I watched years back. Adebayo Faleti, who wrote and starred in the film, looked at the stratagems and underhand dealings of man. And he sang, rather philosophically: Koi ye won, yio ye won lola.

Translated freely, it means: They don’t understand today. They’ll understand tomorrow.

It’s better for a lot more cynical Nigerians to understand this President today, rather than tomorrow, for the good of the country. That would be the best birthday gift they can give him.