Friday, April 10, 2020 10:24 am
By Femi Adesina
This is a piece I have written very reluctantly. It took me three full days to decide to write it, as I was between and betwixt on it. Should I, or should I not? If I do, wouldn’t I be exacting vengeance for myself, when the one I serve has told me: “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” And because of that conviction, I very, very rarely do rejoinders, no matter the virulence of the language deployed against me. I often leave matters to the one who recompenses, and who will judge every wicked or hateful word on that Final Day.
But I decided to write, out of the permissive will of God. The Yoruba people say if you don’t call a wicked man by his name, he will think he’s among those remaking the world, and turning it to an Eldorado.
Again, I also wrote because the people viciously attacked along with me are innocent souls. My principal, President Muhammadu Buhari, and the women who love him, whom I wrote about on this platform last Friday. They were quietly minding their businesses when I wrote on them, and if someone then savages them unduly, I am morally bound to rise in defense, particularly when the attacker operated out of a malicious mind, perhaps because his request was not gratified.
My piece last week was titled Women Who Love PMB, and it was a focus on the committed women who support and defend the Nigerian President on Facebook. The article received wide comments and remarks, both positive and negative. But the positive far outweighed the negative.
However, the comments were not principally what I wanted. I just was out to celebrate those women, who have the courage of conviction to stand by a man they believed in, through thick and thin. Like I said in the concluding part of the write up, it was not that those women did not see the shortcomings of the Buhari Administration, for every government has its own weak points. But rather, they decided to dwell on the strengths, knowing that it would ultimately redound to the good of our country. Bravo, dear women.
But on Monday, one wicked soul who goes by the name Bayo Oluwasanmi came after the President, myself, and those faithful women on Sahara Reporters. He wrote an article under the headline, Women Who Love PMB as Darling Tyrant. He opened the foul cesspit, which his diseased mind is, and employed words from the pit of hell to savage everyone. As stated earlier, my own, I would have overlooked, as I most often do. But for PMB and those women, this rebuttal and clarification became imperative.
Bayo Oluwasanmi postures as a writer and columnist, who loves Nigeria. Very regularly, he takes an axe to public office holders, cutting them down, as if the only thing that defines column writing is the deployment of foul language. Well, some small minds hold that misbelief.
So, on Monday, there was no evil word he didn’t use against us. He even wishes me Luciferous thoughts post-office. Well, that is one of the prices you pay when you leave your quiet abode to serve your country. Everything is thrown at you, including the kitchen sink.
But let me tell you about Bayo Oluwasanmi, and you can then make up your minds whether he’s a true commentator on national affairs, or just another self-seeking scoundrel, a wastrel, a boy screaming loud enough to bring the roof down, because you denied him a lollipop.
My first encounter with Oluwasanmi was in this wise: On November 12, 2014, by 12.54 p.m, an electronic mail popped in for me. It was from one [email protected], and the subject was ‘Columnist.’
By the above stated date, I was Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of The Sun Newspapers, a job I was quietly doing and making my modest contribution to the media landscape in the country, before I was called to serve in government.
Oluwasanmi introduced himself as a journalist with first degree in Journalism and graduate degree in Public Opinion and Propaganda, both from Temple University, Philadelphia, USA.
He mentioned the friend who gave him my email, and said he was a syndicated Columnist for 16 Internet portals, including Sahara Reporters. Could he have a column in The Sun, which he said I was running quite well? He included five sample articles.
I read the articles. Two were on the arms procurement saga involving the private jet of a Christian preacher, who was a core supporter of the Goodluck Jonathan government. The remaining were a trilogy on My Next President of Nigeria.
In one of the articles, Oluwasanmi appraised President Jonathan, and Major General Muhammadu Buhari, who was candidate of the main opposition party then. He concluded thus: “So far, the two aspirants who are running in 2015 for the presidency, in my opinion, do not qualify of my next president for Nigeria.”
This one is not a Buharist, I told myself. But it didn’t matter. A newspaper is a marketplace of ideas. Wasn’t my Publisher then a top member of the ruling party, PDP, but he didn’t stop me from writing to support Buhari. All he wanted from me then was a fair, balanced newspaper, which I struggled keenly to produce, giving a voice to all sides.
In the final part of his articles, the aspiring columnist picked his preferred President and Vice President. Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, and Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin. I laughed and raised my two legs up. Was Nigeria ready for a female President at that time, with a female deputy, and with both of them coming from one part of the country? Ezekwesili, South-east. Joe Obiajulu Okei-Odumakin, though married to Yoruba, also originally from the South-east. He didn’t seem to understand what he was advocating, and in what kind of polity.
I eventually linked Oluwasanmi up with the editor of the paper by email, and I told that one to publish his pieces, and see if he could grow into being a regular columnist.
By May, 2015, President Buhari appointed me as his media adviser. I got goodwill phone calls in many hundreds, from within and outside the country. Oluwasanmi called from his base in Maryland, USA, a trend that continued for many months. Each time we traveled to America, he also called, praising President Buhari and the good work he had begun to do for Nigeria. I always thanked him, not suspecting that he had anything else up his sleeves.
On 14/8/2015, I got an email from Oluwasanmi. He said he was in the country on vacation, and would love to visit me at the Presidential Villa. I replied that I would give him time the following week, which I did.
He kept the appointment. A rather smallish man, who talked in a whisper. His person was contrary to the angry man I had always read on Sahara Reporters. No matter.
My visitor praised President Buhari to high heavens, and also lauded the work I was doing in superlatives. As he did, two thoughts crept into my mind: but this man is not a Buharist, judging by his position before the election, why now the praises?. I also remembered my father, a great educationist, who always quoted John Plowman for we his seven children. “When a man makes too much of you, he either needs you, or he wants to cheat you.”
I didn’t have to wonder for too long. Oluwasanmi whipped out his CV, and pleaded with me to find a place for him in the Buhari government, which he said was God-ordained for such a time as this.
Now, let me make something clear. There’s nothing wrong in seeking to serve your country, if you believed in the government of the day. If you also worked to enthrone that government in one way or the other, there’s nothing wrong if you aspired for any position. Angels are not the ones to come down from Heaven to serve. Human beings, with all our strengths and weaknesses, will still do.
But Oluwasanmi didn’t believe in Buhari. He had written as much. Why then was he seeking a position, and so desperately? Has he changed his mind? If so, all well and good. He was almost prostrating as he gave me the CV, and pleading that I should help. I remember making it clear to him that the Buhari Administration was product of a political coalition, and thousands of people were waiting to be compensated. He pleaded once again that I should help, and we said goodbye.
On September 25, 2015, we were in New York for the 70th edition of the UN General Assembly, when by 12.51 p.m, a message popped in by email. It was our dear friend.
“Welcome to the U.S. Please let me know if I could be of help during your stay. I wish the President successful deliberations in his engagements.”
I replied, and thanked him.
On October15, 2015, by 12.50 p.m, another message popped in. “Great job on the pictures posted on Facebook. Anyway, just touching base with you.”
Many phone calls did I receive regularly from Oluwasanmi, as he touched base with me, and reminded that he wanted to serve in the Buhari government. I always took his calls and tried to be as civil as possible.
On December 30, 2015, by 2.08 p.m. Another pop. Yes, from you know who.
“With the legion of corruption cases in the docket of EFCC, I believe the agency would need additional hands to successfully prosecute the scoundrels. I’ll be very useful and effective in the areas of information and research. Please use your connection to hook me up. I really want to be part of the Buhari Revolution that ‘will kill corruption before corruption kills us.’”
It was just four days after I had lost my elder sister, a professor of Dramatic Arts, in an auto crash. I was sorrowing deeply, but I still managed to reply the email, saying I would let him know, if EFCC was recruiting.
Later, Oluwasanmi read of my bereavement, and sent me a condolence message. I thanked him very much, and still thank him today, despite the ill will he now bears, even to the point of wishing me evil after public office.
He says President Buhari is a tyrant. The women who support him are hypocrites. And me, I have failed like all my predecessors in the office I am holding. So, all my predecessors failed? So, who will succeed as media Adviser to the President. Maybe an underwhelming man called Bayo Oluwasanmi. And what happened to all the encomiums he had poured on me? “When a man makes too much of you, he either needs you, or he wants to cheat you. “ So right was John Plowman. And very right was my father. God rest his soul.
What happened to the Buhari Revolution, which he had labored so much to be part of, bending very low (in fact, almost prostrating as he gave me his CV?). Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, is what Shakespeare wrote. Oluwasanmi has refined that saying. Hell hath no fury like a columnist scorned. He will come back with a vengeance, like a fiend out of hell.
But Oluwasanmi was not scorned. Thousands of faithful Buharists have not found space in government, but they remained faithful in 2019, just as they were in 2015. Why then should an American-based writer, who never ‘believed’ be the first one to be given an appointment over them? Fair is fair.
The scoundrel has called the President, the women, and myself all sorts of names. If it was me only, I wouldn’t have replied. I would simply have joined Paul the apostle in saying “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil. The Lord reward him according to his works.”
But because of President Buhari and those faithful women he took an axe after, Bayo Oluwasanmi has got this comeuppance. I hope it serves him right.
.Adesina is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Buhari