Femi Adesina: Firing blanks, dangerously
By Kennedy Emetulu
I like and respect Femi and I consider him a friend. I have tried not to criticize him publicly; indeed, whatever I’ve had to say to him, I’ve said it to him privately. But I’m going to make an exception here. I’m doing so because I consider this piece an insult to Nigerians who endured 50 days of unmitigated insults from him and all those who spoke publicly for the president while he was in London. It is my view that rather than write a piece like this publicly upon the return of the president, Femi should have quietly thanked God and learned the lessons of the episode, the most important one being not to insult Nigerians over this matter, no matter their stance. Femi needs to get a good talking-to over this and I’m not hesitating to be one of those to tell him the truth loud and clear.
What we have in this piece is what happens when you cross the line from the public to the private, from the professional to the personal. Oh, of course, I’m not saying when you occupy the position of a media spokesperson for the president you shouldn’t have a personal relationship with him, no; however, the most important relationships are the professional and public ones because those are the primary reasons you are there.
You are not appointed as an ab’obaku or someone who must follow the president or whoever you are appointed to represent in the media to the grave. You are appointed to sell him and his programme to the Nigerian people. You are appointed to do so professionally and respectfully and to do so with the voice and mind of the Nigerian people themselves because they are the people you are actually working for, not the president.
The president is elected to do a good job and you are appointed to constantly inform the people about this good job that the president is expected to be doing. You are the bridge between them and the president and his administration. Your job is to make your boss acceptable to Nigerians; your job is not to vilify the opposition, tag them uncharitably and insultingly or divide Nigerians along partisan lines. Your job is to win over all the haters of the president. You might not succeed in doing so fully, but you must be seen constantly to be attempting to do so at all times.
The way you talk in public and the way you respond to criticisms of the administration and the way you explain or defend your principal must show that you respect every Nigerian, no matter their view. For instance, as it concerns this matter, whether these Nigerians are mischief makers, people who wish the president dead or people opposed to his person and his administration, it shouldn’t matter. They are not the controllers of fates and the president’s well-being does not depend on them. Joining issues with them this way is childish, unintelligent and demeaning. Nigerians have seen that their president is back, they know he is recovering from an illness and is likely to return for more treatment and they have heard from him themselves; so of what value is Femi jumping in the gutter to engage anyone over this? While the president must receive flak as par the course because of the nature of his job, you must be like Caesar’s wife, above reproach, because you are there to make things easier for him with the people, not harder. Rather than creating a siege mentality around the president, you should be showing with your open door and your open heart that the president is not ensconced in Aso Rock, removed from national reality.
This piece shows what happens when you cannot rein in your emotions or check your bias when occupying a public position. Does Femi think he’s helping the president’s cause with this piece? Does he think this shows how loyal he is to the president? Does he think this would win anybody over to his side? Does he think this absolves him and his office from the blame that must surely be theirs for the ineptitude and shoddiness that attended their handling of the whole affair? The obvious irony here is that this piece is the biggest case of gloating we have seen since the president fell ill and was rushed to London. Can’t he see that he’s actually contradicting the maturity he attributes to the president’s conduct upon his return? To cut a long story short, this piece is unhelpful. Femi should not have written it.