When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died –Hosea 13:1.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed was the undisputed Josef Goebbels of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-cum-retired General Muhammadu Buhari’s civilian regime. Lai was the face of the APC propaganda machine that demonised the then President Goodluck Jonathan and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Learning from Goebbels and his master, Adolf Hitler aka the Fuhrer, Lai weaved tissues of lies and coated them with some truths about Jonathan and the PDP. Goebbels and Hitler had posited that all a propagandist needed to lead a whole people astray is coat a whole tissue of lies with a thin layer of truth. That way, the people would have swallowed everything before realising what hit them. That was how Jonathan was demonised but Buhari white-washed and railroaded into office in 2015.
Hitler and Goebbels also posited that human memory is very short. The masses forget hurts easily and you need to remind them of the same facts again and again. Yet, they will soon forget! Conjure and construct an outlandish falsehood but be persistent in insisting it is nothing but the gospel truth and the people will soon come around believing you and denouncing anyone who speaks to the contrary. That way, you can even sell ice to the Eskimo and smile your way to the bank! The mass of the people are not only gullible; they are forever so. That was how Lai and the others decked Buhari, the well-known military dictator, in borrowed robes and sold him to Nigerians as a “converted democrat.” But I remember warning Buhari here to beware of becoming a convoluted – not converted – democrat! How prophetic!
As they say, you can fool some of the people all the time and all the people some of the time but you cannot fool all the people all the time. The truth is out today and Nigerians already know Lai Mohammed for who he is. I wonder how he feels whenever he hears his first name, Lai (Olayiwola?) corrupted to read “Lie” (Olayiwolies)! Buhari himself is like the proverbial Yoruba “oku ogun odun” (someone who has been dead for 20 years) who is no longer a stranger to the grave. Nigerians today know Buhari inside out – worse than how Lai had derogatorily bedecked Jonathan. True, then, is the scriptures that there is nothing hidden that shall not be made known (Luke 8:17) and the saying that if falsehood travels 20 years ahead, truth will catch up with it in just one day. Today, the wind has blown and we have seen Buhari’s and Lai’s rumps! This piece, however, is not about Buhari or Lai; it is about my brother, Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity (correct?) to Buhari.
Femi is my own brother in many respects. We belong in the same profession of journalism. Our paths crossed on many occasions and at different levels of our progression. We enjoyed very good rapport throughout. By the grace of God, both of us made it to the very top of the profession. Again, without being immodest, we both managed a reputation of sound professionalism and integrity, leaving a good name behind. I doubt if you have anyone who will speak ill of Femi’s practice as a journalist. He remains one of the best that the profession has produced. In that respect, I not only remain proud of him, I, in fact, doff my hat for him!
Femi and I are both workers in the vineyard of Christ; in other words, we are both born-again Christians. We washed in the same pool; drenched in the Blood of the Lamb. We recited the same vow; and we carry the same Cross. The burden of the same passion is laid upon us both and we look up to the same Saviour and to a place at his feet in His kingdom. We are, therefore, children of the same Father having the same heritage. As that song says: “We are heirs of the Father/We are joint heirs of the Son/We are people of His Kingdom/We are family/We are one.” To God alone be the glory and honour and power and praises and adoration in Jesus mighty name!
When Femi got his appointment as Special Adviser, I congratulated him. I must confess, now with utmost regrets, that I voted Buhari in 2015. What with Yemi Osinbajo as VP – another child of God who, I think, would ably carry the Cross and stoutly defend Christians and the cause of Christianity? Moreover, he is Yoruba and Yoruba interests would be adequately protected. How mistaken! So, I prayed for Femi regularly and also for my other professional colleagues in that government – Garba Shehu and Laolu Akande. Garba and Laolu responded once or twice, but Femi NEVER missed replying, if not immediately, then, later in the daily or early the next morning. In this, Femi stands poles apart from some of his snobbish and arrogant predecessors who mistook duty for favour. Cultivating good rapport with colleagues is in the line of duty for a thoroughbred professional.
I owe Femi a bottle of Fanta. Years back, I visited him during one festive period at his Olusosun, Lagos home and his amiable wife offered me a bottle of Fanta. I met Femi in discussion with one gentleman who he later told me came to raise issues similar to those I had come to raise with him. What were the issues? Professional colleagues were complaining that Femi was too aloof from his constituency. Nothing was happening, they said. Femi told me his office had no budget. He had made propositions after propositions and nothing had changed. So he had decided to calm down, as they now say and as Femi himself has asked Nigerians to do in his latest treatise on Buhari. If I doubted his narrative, he said I should ask Garba Shehu who is more of my own contemporary.
Femi calls me “Egbon” In Yoruba; this is a mark of respect. Thanks, Femi. His humility does not surprise me, though. That is one of the charges laid upon all true believers and followers of Christ by the Master Himself. Pride and arrogance are weapons the devil uses to destroy people, more so the children of God. Scripture says God keeps the proud and arrogant far away from Him. And when the humble turns from his humility and dons the garment of pride and arrogance as became of Ephraim in the opening quote above, then, sin and destruction lieth at the door, as God Himself told Cain in Genesis 4: 7.
I have visited the Presidential Villa once since Buhari became its landlord and it was courtesy of Femi. When the man ahead of Dr. Ademola Adebo retired as chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau and it was supposed to be the turn of Adebo from Ondo State to step up as chairman, “akara tu s’epo”, meaning, the bean cake scattered inside frying oil! Adebo would have been the first southerner to head the CCB. Osinbajo was acting president when the plot to manoeuvre another Northerner into the office was hatched. Adebo desperately needed to get in touch with the seat of power.
I had known Adebo since my days at The PUNCH newspapers while he and Umaru Shinkafi were party leaders during those IBB years of unending transition to civil rule. I agreed to help but they called again to say I should not worry; that the Olowo of Owo, Oba Victor Folagbade Olateru-Olagbegi (now late) had consented to take Adebo to Osinbajo. They said the oba had been the VP’s lecturer or whatever at the Law School. I was told Kabiyesi actually met with the VP but Adebo was asked to sit outside. In the course of the meeting, Adebo was asked to “show face”, which he did, and was told all would be well.
Not long afterwards, however, the unexpected happened: Another Northerner was named for the CCB chair. Adebo and I went to the Villa. Whether on account of age or of tenure, Dr. Adebo did not deserve to have been eased out of the CCB at that point. In the midst of that, Buhari returned from medical tourism, reconstituted some offices and the CCB was one of them. It went the way of another Northerner and Adebo was left high and dry. I learnt Adebo and some other aggrieved CCB members went to court but I wouldn’t know whether or not they are still in court.
Immediately the announcement was made, Femi was gracious enough to alert me, “Egbon, you can now see that events have overtaken the issue” and I fired back “After all the shenanigans?” He did not reply and we were off each other’s radar for a while before I resumed my prayer ministry to him and the others again.
I could not blame Femi for the turn of events. For one, he might have tried his best or it was simply beyond him. For another, it is wisdom that some matters are best treated as “iso inu eku” or family affair. When a masquerader fouls the air inside his costume, he must suffer his fate all to himself. That incident, however, shattered Osinbajo in my reckoning.
You can, therefore, imagine my consternation and grief when Femi crossed the borderline of a spokesperson to become an attack dog and spin doctor. Incensed, I have fired a few salvos at him but now, I change my mind and tactics. The Northern oligarchs specialise in ruining the very best of the South while serving Northern interests. The feudal North is a use-and-dump master. Ask Danjuma. Ask Obasanjo.
Femi should compare notes with his predecessors who played the kind of role he plays today in the Presidential Villa. New arrivals on the fringes of the corridors of power; the lackeys, errand boys and running dogs who cry more than the bereaved and strive to be more Catholic than the Pope – only get wiser after the music has stopped.
Femi must retrace his footsteps by fire by force! He said he is Buhari for life – or is it Buhari’s for life! Talking down on that young lawyer on the set of Channels television, Femi went dangerously overboard; behaving damn too condescendingly. He delights in calling Nigerians the wailing wailers; yet, if his recent Channels’ debacle is anything to go by, it is Femi himself that was at the verge of weeping, wailing, moaning, and gnashing his teeth (apologies, The Mighty Diamond).
But we will not let this one perish or self-destruct like the others before him! Already, we have far too many otherwise outstanding professionals who got ruined within the Villa and who came out thereafter like rain-beaten chicken to begin to repair an illustrious career and reclaim the good name that had taken them decades of toil and sacrifice to build.
My brother, Femi, it is not commonsense to destroy an illustrious past and mortgage the future like Esau did for a mess of pottage. Remember the Lord’s saying: For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Mark 8:36). Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings (Jeremiah 3:22)!