Femi Adesina and the Demons In Aso Villa, By Majeed Dahiru
POLITICS DIGEST – In celebrating President Muhammadu Buhari’s electoral petition victory at the Supreme Court, presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina crossed the line of decency in public communication in a piece he wrote with the title, “How They Gave Atiku a False Sense of Hope.” In a fit of negative triumphalism, Adesina did not only question the very basis of President Buhari’s main challenger, Atiku Abubakar’s fundamental right of political participation in the 2019 presidential election but also summarily dismissed his supporters as a corrupt, religiously bigoted ethno phobic bunch of Buhari haters, whose collective interest is to derail a working administration.
If there was ever any doubt about the conspiracy theory put forward by former presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati, about the preponderance of demons within the precincts of Aso villa, it must have been sufficiently cleared by the recent treatise by Adesina. The manifestation of these demons are believed to be in the form of possessing occupants of the presidential villa with spirits of negative energy, which transforms Nigeria’s best to its worse, with far-reaching consequences of debilitating administrative absurdities that render the ship of the Nigerian rudderless. Only the Abati demons in Aso presidential villa theory could possibly explain the unexplainable transfiguration of Femi Adesina, from one of Nigeria’s finest patriotic soldiers of truth into a hate mongering and fake news peddling regime apologist.
As though detached from the reality of the negative effect of the unprecedented leadership failure of the Buhari administration he serves, which has slipped Nigeria into socio-economic comatose, Adesina now stands for everything he stood against in his glorious days as an unwavering advocate of good governance. As a presidential spokesman, Adesina has defended a worse form administrative ineptitude than he attacked in the past, while deploying Goebellian sophistry to serenade gullible Nigerians into accepting acute governance inertia as the best thing to ever happen to them. Adesina now comes across as a hailing hailer whose loyalty is no longer to the Nigerian nation and its constitution but to the person of his lord and national saviour, President Buhari; a thoroughly failed leader who Adesina nevertheless deifies as a human god.
As far as Adesina is concerned, President Buhari is a god-like figure who deserves to be worshipped, and to whom any form of criticism is an unforgivable sin. He apparently deems Buhari’s actions or inactions as infallible, and this cannot be subjected to the constitutional process of checks and balances. In his capacity as presidential spokesman, Adesina has tried unsuccessfully to rationalise the most irrational policies and programems of the failed Buhari administration. An outspoken social critic, whose good governance advocacy through the medium of his seminal newspaper publications helped put successive administrations, since the return to civil democratic rule in 1999 in check, Adesina has now transformed into a man that has become intolerant of the same dissenting opinion he consistently held for 16 years. As a journalist whose pen waged a war on behalf of the Nigerian people for the enthronement of good governance against the sword of successive administrations in the 16 years preceding the Buhari administration, without state harassment, Adesina is now a cheer leader of a regime that is averse to press freedom, human rights and the rule of law.
After an unprecedented failed outing in his first term, as clearly manifested in his inability to fulfil any of his key campaign promises of revamping the economy, and tackling insecurity and corruption, the choice before Nigerians was as clear as daylight going into the 2019 presidential election. Confronted by national instability, Nigerians were to choose between APC’s President Buhari, a man with a heightened sense of provincial proclivities, whose elevation of sectionalism to a near state policy left Nigeria most divided along ethno-geographic fault lines in its 59 years history, and PDP’s Atiku Abubakar, a man of unimpeachable nationalist credentials, whose immense contribution to national unity is well recorded in history. Faced with a monumental economic challenge that reduced Nigeria in just four years to the poverty capital of the world, with nearly half of its 200 million people miserably hungry, Nigerians were to make a choice between APC’s President Buhari, a novice in matters of the economy, who for most of his adult life has been in the payroll of government with zero knowledge of wealth creation through private business enterprise and PDP’s Atiku, a man with vast experiences in the management of successful private business ventures that resulted in significant distributive wealth creation in the form of creating thousands of career jobs.
Between APC’s President Buhari, whose administration incurred a $10 billion debt for Nigeria and PDP’s Atiku who served as vice president (and chairman, National Economic Council) in the Olusegun Obasanjo administration that secured for Nigeria a debt free status by paying a lump sum of $12 billion as a condition to get $18 billon written off, to get relief from a 30 billion dollar inherited debt burden, the difference was clear. Where the Buhari administration mismanaged the economy to such an extent that Nigeria slipped into recession with consequent job losses in millions, the Obasanjo/Atiku administration successfully managed a growing economy, resulting in massive job creation for Nigerians, despite inheriting the very dysfunctional economy of a pariah country. And whereas, the Obasanjo/Atiku administration introduce a national savings culture with the establishment of the excess crude account and left a $9 billion dollars balance in there, the Buhari administration has not been able to save a penny but depreciated the account from the $2.4 billion dollars it inherited from its preceding Goodluck Jonathan administration to less than $800 billion presently.
In APC’s President Buhari, Nigerians has a man with a dubious façade of integrity, which covers up an elaborate official corruption scheme in his administration through nepotism, cronyism, influence-peddling that has resulted in the outright stealing of public funds, while PDP’s Atiku, who is perhaps the most investigated but never found culpable of any corrupt act, was remembered for the role he played in the formulation of relevant legislations and administrative procedures, leading it up to the launch of a comprehensive war on corruption, with the establishment of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) by the Obasanjo administration.
Therefore, on the eve of the 2019 presidential election, those who chose to vest their democratic legitimacy on the candidacy of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the “Articulators”, were clear headed, patriotic and liberal minded Nigerians who were articulate in their thought processes for a united, secure and prosperous Nigeria for all as against a mob of irate, hate-filled, ultraconservative ethnophobic religious irredentists, the “Buharists”, whose main basis for supporting President Buhari was primarily hinged on the primordial sentiments of sectional supremacy. The voting pattern in the 2019 presidential election was such that PDP’s Atiku won the most votes among the urban, educated working class population, while APC’s President Buhari secured the most votes of the uneducated, rural poor in mostly the Muslim north of Nigeria, who are easily susceptible to the manipulative tendencies of the region’s conservative political establishment.
Beyond the fog of the morally reprehensible outbursts of a public officer, who is expected to maintain an exemplary level of decorum deserving of the highest office in the land, Adesina’s treatise illuminates a dark phase in Nigeria’s democratic trajectory. Nigeria is steadily being goaded into a state of fascist authoritarian rule with the gradual erosion of every facet of its democratic culture. By choosing to make mockery of a presidential candidate, his supporters and his abiding faith in the judiciary to ventilate his dissatisfaction with the electoral process, rather than invoking “the blood of baboons and dogs”, Adesina has lent his intellectual credence to aid Nigeria’s slide into authoritarian fascism. In his consideration, Adesina who has taken a stand in the front row of the Buharists’ choir of ignorance, President Buhari should have been returned unopposed in the 2019 presidential election, because like Napoleon in George Orwell’s Animal Farm,” Buhari is always right”. Alas, not even the Buharists mob should be denied their fundamental rights of democratic self-immolation in any election.
Majeed Dahiru, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja and can be reached through [email protected].