Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, is in a deep moral shithole. Adesina is facing the most contentious test of his integrity yet since he became the Buhari administration’s media spokesman. A mob of public moral inspectors are out and awaiting what rationalisations both liberals and Adesina, their model of Spartan virtue, would make for the sin of polemical diarrhoea he committed in 2008 against the person of Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, the new Chief of Staff to President Buhari.
On July 12, 2008, Adesina, in his column, published a hounding article in relation to the appointment of Prof. Gambari to chair a steering committee on Niger Delta. He hammered Gambari for supporting Abacha’s murderous administration and particularly for supporting the killing of Chief Ken Saro-Wiwa. His genuflections in that piece were words of thunder. Samples: “Gambari enslaved himself to please his paymasters”; “When you are sent on a slave errand, do it as a freeborn.” He also jeered at Gambari for describing Ogoni leaders as “common criminals.” He described Gambari as a “fawning bootlicking groveller” toward Abacha.
I can relate and sympathise with Adesina here. A lot of being a writer depends on how much you can cope with upsetting people. Except Adesina is a dotard, I hope he is not, he will be in a serious moral discomfort for ever vomiting such bilious words against a wanabe Fulani prince, called Ibrahim Agboola Gambari. Today, Gambari is, by a queer permutation of destiny, a boss to Adesina in Aso Rock.
Adesina, as a media hound, is well aware that we live in a world of social media scrutiny with all its fake news and narrative fragility. He is also aware that the merciless digital court of social media can shatter reputation, damage carefully coiffured personality and also wreck to pieces years of professional integrity.
The filibustering and combustible words deployed against Gambari in 2008 are enough to send Adesina into a convoluted spasm of professional quandary and questionable justification of his continuation as a media adviser alongside Gambari, who, he once attacked and brought into public shame and ridicule.
For real, this writer is aware that we truly live in a nation of flexible moral fluidity where integrity and conviction are no longer practicable as personable virtues but ideological conveniences that could be used and dumped to suit our immediate political temper and material calculus.
On his part, Gambari, if we should go for broke, is like a delicate tray of eggs. Some fearless commentators have been out dropping sorties and reinforcing a painfully obvious reality about the many defects in his character as a former public figure. He may be overeducated but he is a countercultural figurehead and far more rightwing that leftwing.
At this juncture, and this has to be said: President Buhari will forever be forcing haba, oohs and ahhs from Nigerians on his choice of hiring incongruous and controversial elements into his cabinet. Buhari is a master of Fulani dynastic politics in spite of its threat to Nigeria’s social and political fabric. To him, his Chief of Staff must either be a nasty Rottweiler like Abba Kyari or a right wing man from the lunatic fringe like Gambari, who once supported Sani Abacha and called Saro-Wiwa a common criminal.
Coming from such a nasty past with a history of firm support for Abacha, one of Nigeria’s mad, murderous, wicked and devilish rulers, and to be made Chief of Staff, is affirming the ugly truth that President Buhari has put integrity and moral rectitude of appointed public officers in the deep freezer. The whole universe of Nigerians have continued to demonise the legacies of Abacha and his genocide against helpless people. However, in Buhari and Gambari could be found fond nostalgia for a demon-incarnate who mercilessly plundered public money in a corporation scale and yet integrity-compromised Buhari could shamelessly say that Abacha, his hero, did not steal our money.
The canonisation of Abacha from Buhari down to many of his Fulani political revisionists (Ganduje and co) is a sad trajectory that is systematically eroding transparency in our democracy. At the same time, Buhari is, by default, posturing and body language, rearming serving political leaders and appointees to start a mindless lootocratic agenda in a nation where accountability, transparency, morality, integrity and honesty in the discharge of public duties are nothing but outworn virtues that are no longer fit for purpose.
In our dark and toxic democracy that harms more than cures the multilayered woes of our society, a serving Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, could audaciously label repatriated Abacha looted fund of $311 million as Abacha’s assets. Well, that’s for another essay. I have to give all these interplay of moral somersault, political insults and the Fulani molestation of our collective intelligence and the recent imposition – of a crafty, ass-licking, patronising, inhumane, wanabe Fulani apologist, (where did Agboola come from?) and a supporter of a tyrant – as typically symptomatic of our pandemic failure as a society of hypocrites, demagogues and political jobbers.
In all these, we expect a Fourth Estate defender, journalist, columnist and a moral umpire like Femi Adesina to do the needful and self-isolate from the shadows of Gambari, a man he found so contemptible and unworthy of public office some few years ago. The moment Adesina transited to Abuja, my writer’s skeptical instinct was on alert. Since his tenure as media adviser, Adesina has ruffled many public feathers in his zealot defence of some unpalatable policies of President Buhari. Under the klieg limelight of Aso Rock euphoria, Adesina had been known to sidestep the journalistic dedication to the pursuit of truth to be a molester of truth.
Twelve years on, will Adesina remain the fierce defender of all the plangent critique he wrote about Gambari? Will Adesina be the new “fawning bootlicking groveler” to a no-nonsense Gambari, as Gambari was to Abacha? Will Adesina be a slave to Gambari but deliver his assignments as a freeborn as he advised Gambari in 2008? Or does he want to remain as a helpless victim of Nigeria’s moral collapse under sustained Fulani/Hausa tribal assault and inept governance? Is Adesina going to put his tails behind his hind legs and humble himself as an apologetic before a vengeful wanabe Fulani Sheriff who is notorious for toughness and vengeance? Is there going to be redemptive recantations from Adesina for all the witchcraft incantations against Gambari in 2008? Are we going to televise Adesina’s public confession of sin as a Judas against a righteous and vindicated Gambari?
Your guess is as good as mine. Political post with all its ephemeral starchiness is still desirable in the mill house of competitive Abuja/Aso Rock social mountaineering. Adesina will go for the old rubric: “Prof, make you no vex…I made error of judgment in 2008. I now know better. Very sorry sir,” to affirm and reaffirm again the received wisdom that in Nigeria, the ritual contortions of survival, in a brutal landscape of greedy and accumulative predation, will not allow anybody, no matter the horror of his/her misdemeanour, resign voluntarily. Rather we dig our heels further and carry on in a state of constant denial, self-contradiction and complete moral hypocrisy.