By Adejare Balogun
The Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan almost fell for his charms in 2019 until his own guardian angel rescued him. Relentless lobbyists were choking the new senate president to accept Festus Adedayo, perennial applicant for “political appointment” after every election cycle, as his Special Adviser on Media. In fact, he had already been interviewed personally by the Yobe Senator for the strategic job.
Believing he dazzled his boss-to-be enough, Festus, after being jobless for years, was said to have sent jubilant words to his kith and kin in his native community in Ondo State who, in turn, had begun to look forward earnestly to the day they would migrate to Abuja in “Aso ebi” for his swearing-in.
Then came the breaking news: Festus Adedayo has been dropped after all, from consideration as S.A. to the senate president!
Of course, the development was quite shattering for Festus, even as a cross-section of APC members were exultant, claiming a moral victory against a hack fond of attacking APC in his weekly writings, never sparing any insolent words against its leaders at every turn, yet shameless enough to go groveling for a job from one of the same APC leaders after electoral victory.
Typically, fickle-minded Festus was inclined to view the hand that took away his much anticipated “pot of soup” as belonging to the usual whipping boy, the fabled “Tinubu machine”. This unrelieved agony, let the unwary be told, is the source of the bitterness that has been eating Festus ever since like cancer. The reason he would never allow any opportunity pass without venting his near psychotic anger on Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, however ridiculous or illogical. It perfectly explains his kamikaze attack on the National Leader of APC in the column entitled “Why Bola Ahmed Tinubu Must never be Nigeria’s President”.
But if any lesson is to be learnt from Festus’ job application fiasco in 2019, it is surely philosophical in nature and boldly underscores the value of character as perhaps man’s greatest moral asset. I shall return to this presently.
Before addressing the issues Festus raised there, one quick clarification. Anyone who knows Tinubu very well would attest he would be the last to move against the Abuja job applicant under the circumstance in 2019, in his enlightened principle that the young ones should be supported to grow. In any case, in strategic terms, giving Festus “something to eat” in Abuja would have simply meant depopulating by one, the rank of “wailers” — whether online or offline — up in arms against APC maniacally like a congress of famished baboons.
If you pardon Festus’ usual affectation of literary elegance betrayed by an incurable affliction of tautology, you would also realize that all the columnist crowed about in the miserable piece was largely a rehash of fairy tales often concocted by Asiwaju’s political opponents at every election cycle since 1999. The most audacious of such efforts was arguably the visual documentary of lies, half-truths and libels unleashed ahead of the 2015 polls in which Asiwaju spearheaded the coalition of progressive forces that would unhorse a ruling party for the first time in the nation’s history. Of course, when challenged at the law court, the author of that piece of mendacity could not sustain the weighty allegations with proofs. Eventually capitulating with tails between their legs, they suffer the humiliation of having to not only retract every thing but also tender a public apology to Tinubu in national newspapers and television station repeatedly for days as part of restitution.
Yet, this farrago of discredited claims were the straws Festus lashed on to launch his latest calumny against Tinubu. He, at some point in the rambling piece, even permitted himself further liberty to ridicule Tinubu’s inflection as “cockney”. Ah! What a stark irony! — a thickly accented “Ara Oke” (provincial from a rural Ondo community) mocking the linguistics of a “Lagos original”! So much for a pseudo intellectual whose cognitive capacity hardly ever transcends the vulgarities of “Ayinla Omowura” and other jesters and clowns in Yoruba’s cultural backwaters.
Back to the real issue. Well, the senate president Lawan never told anyone publicly in 2019 why he abruptly dumped Festus like a leper. But it is safe to speculate that the very thoughtful politician from Yobe probably chanced on some managerial nuggets from America’s business icon, Warren Buffet, just in time. Truly, no sane man will willingly hire a snake that might turn around to bite him the next day.
By way of timeless advisory to leaders wishing to assemble a good team, the Berkshire billionaire stresses the primacy of integrity. His thought-provoking verdict: “We look for three things when we hire people. We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy, and we look for integrity. And if they don’t have the latter, the first two will kill you, because if you’re going to get someone without integrity, you want them lazy and dumb. Today’s hiring managers must dig hard in the interview process to get the answers they need to feel confident someone has the non-negotiable trait of integrity. Otherwise, ‘dumb and lazy’ may eventually show up and cost you.”
Indeed, anyone who has followed Festus’ zig-zag career path in the last two decades — from the newsroom to political appointment — will definitely have great difficulty in vouching for his sense of loyalty. While Tinubu has suddenly become his favorite punching-bag and subject to be called unprintable names today, how many would believe that the same Asiwaju was Festus’ employer for many years and provided him and his family livelihood for years. We challenge Festus to deny he never worked between 2008 and 2011 as a journalist at National Life, a daily newspaper largely supported by Tinubu. We also challenge him to deny if, after National Life was rested, he was not immediately offered rehabilitation by The Nation, a newspaper where Tinubu also has interest.
In the said piece, Festus paints the picture of a conscientious reporter who in 2000 travelled all the way down to Lagos from Ibadan to investigate a story of alleged infraction by Tinubu and was blocked by a stentorian voice who belched “You can’t write the story… Go back… We will call your boss in Ibadan”. But our “investigative journalist” of the century conveniently omitted other details. Whether he was offered “welfare” and he was also ethical enough to reject. Or whether he never had any more interactions with Tinubu as Lagos Governor subsequently and if, whenever he was invited from Ibadan by Lagos State Government for periodic media parley up till 2007, he always refused offer of accommodation and generous “welfare”.
Of course, Festus’ last political appointment as Special Adviser on Media to Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State was also not without Tinubu chipping a word or two. As the Yoruba would say, “Efi ni wa” (character is like smoke that filters out ultimately). Before too long, predictably, Festus’ Judas character found him out at his new job at Ibadan Government House as he was relieved of his job. Now, if Festus pontificates sanctimoniously that Tinubu’s hands are filthy, he needs to explains in his next column his own hour of epiphany: before after the fact? Snakes don’t have conscience.
But you must give it to Asiwaju, his generosity of spirit is legendary and it predates his governorship in 1999. His giving spirit is instinctive, believing in sharing whatever he has. Before ever dreaming of becoming governor, he discreetly sold off his landed property in Lagos (when Sani Abacha was terrorizing the land). One of those who assisted him in disposing off landed property was Babatunde Fashola who kept a good account of the proceeds which were quietly sent to Tinubu abroad to finance NADECO which was then at the forefront of pro-democracy struggle.
It is perhaps the reason Tinubu has remained blessed while traitors who ate his proverbial “oil and salt” and yet betrayed him often found themselves condemn to the penury or hate and bitterness.
So, when next Festus whines about Asiwaju and APC, you now know the reason. Of course, on account of his proven talent for treachery and hypocrisy, only fools are distracted by his sounds and fury which, according to Shakespeare, signify nothing.
*Dr. Balogun, a media practitioner, is based in Ogun State.