WE HAVE DIFFERENT PATHS TO TREAD IN LIFE

There’s a board in my office at State House, Abuja, which I recommend for everyone to have in whichever traffic lane of life they operate: office, home, church, mosque, anywhere, everywhere. It would remind that we are but pilgrims, passing through life like a wayfarer. We have our entries and exits.

“Life is but a walking shadow. A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing ,” wrote William Shakespeare in Macbeth. That is what and who we are. Birds of passage, with no continuing city here. But we seek one that is to come. That is, if we have any modicum of sense.

Back to the board in my office. It lists the names of all those who have served as image makers to the nation’s heads of state since 1976, with their pictures emblazoned. First is Ogbuefi Alex Nwokedi, who served Gen Olusegun Obasanjo as military head of state between 1976 and 1979. He later went on to become Manager, Group Public Affairs of NNPC, and then to the royal stool as Igwe of Achalla, in Anambra State. We were in touch for many years, but the lot fell on me sadly to announce his passage to the great beyond just last Saturday. Igwe Nwokedi lived well, and died well at a good old age of 84 years.

Next on the board is Mr Charles Igoh, who served Alhaji Shehu Shagari from 1979 to September 1983. Followed by Mallam Abba Dabo, who served the same President in his second term, which lasted just from October to December 1983. The military struck, and truncated the term. But whether long or short, Mallam Dabo is in the pantheon of those who served as image makers to presidents of this country. That’s history for you. It records everything.

Next: Mallam Wada Maida. My gentleman senior friend. We have both loved Muhammadu Buhari for a long time, and he served as Chief Press Secretary when our principal was military leader between January 1984 and August 1985. Sadly, he passed on a couple of months ago, without being ill for one day. He was ever genial, smiling, calm.

Then comes the man we call Double Chief. Duro Onabule, 81 last September, who served Gen Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida for eight years. He has the singular honour of having served longest in the position till now.

Chief Onabule is my very senior friend and inspiration. I had read him since I was a schoolboy, and was privileged to serve as editor of National Concord, a position he had held decades earlier. He maintained a weekly column with the newspaper. When I became pioneer editor of Daily Sun in 2003, I was again delighted to invite him as a columnist, a duty post at which he remains till today. Old wines are tasty, even at 81. You can’t beat experience, and you can imagine the strength I draw from Onabule’s private messages to me whenever we go through turbulence in government.

The board. Next is Sola Atere, another senior friend and professional colleague. He served the transitional government headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan, between January and August 1993.

Our Fellow! That’s how I call the next man. Emma Agu, former editor of Champion Newspaper, and Chief Press Secretary to the Interim National Government, headed also by Chief Shonekan. The tenure lasted only about 84 days, but Agu, a Fellow of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, is also in the books of history as one who served.

Chief David Attah, now deceased, served Gen Sani Abacha for five years. The lot also fell on me to announce his obituary a couple of years back. This job!

Mallam Mohammed Haruna , alive and kicking to the glory of God, served for about a year with General Abdulsalami Abubakar. He’s now a Federal Commissioner with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Three people served with President Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007. Dr Doyin Okupe, Mr Tunji Oseni(deceased) and Mrs Oluremi Oyo (also deceased).

The next three people are my contemporaries. We went through university at the same period, are in the same age bracket, and also practiced as journalists together for decades in Lagos. We are friends. Olusegun Adeniyi served President Umaru Yar’Adua for three years, Ima Niboro was with Dr Goodluck Jonathan for one year, and Dr Reuben Abati was with the same President for four years.

Next to be recorded on the board? Femi Adesina, 2015-???. We don’t know the terminal time yet. Only God knows. It’s in the womb of time. But the longest is 2023. And I would perhaps equal Onabule’s record of eight years. It is all in the hands of God. I aspire for nothing, but accept all that God brings my way.

When I look at that board daily, it reminds me that there are always entrances and exits, as Shakespeare wrote. The Yorubas talk about the man who inherited a potent charm, and is now striving to live forever. Well, if the charm was that potent, the original owner would not have died in the first place. We have our entrances and exits. I look forward to mine.

As a journalist, I pounded the streets for years, looking for news to report. And then in 1995, I was elevated to line editorship as Features Editor of National Concord. That was the first time I had an office to myself, outside the general Newsroom. What did I first do when I entered that office? I prayed, committing my stay into the hands of God, and also my exit, asking that it would be in glorious circumstances. And I’ve done that in every subsequent office I occupied. I’ve been Deputy Editor, National Concord, Editor of same paper, Editor, Daily Sun, Executive Director, Publications, The Sun Newspapers, Deputy Managing Director, and later Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief. I was equally President, Nigerian Guild of Editors, and now Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the President since 2015. On the very first day in my current office, I already handed over the last day to God. The last day would always come. Even life does not last forever.

Why have I decided to write this piece? The ill will, malediction I hear from some tiny, envious quarters. He is now anti-people, because he’s S.A to the President. He will go down. He will come back to meet us, unheralded, unsung. He will be uncelebrated. Really? I dey laff. Who are they talking about. Me? No. It can’t be me, because my destiny was long hidden in Christ and in God.

Those who served before me have all succeeded in their different ways, no matter what people choose to believe, or say of them. They served their principals faithfully. I will do same to mine. Nobody will determine what happens next. Only God will do. We have different paths to tread in life. And it is determined by the higher powers.

*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

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  1. Wow!
    Thought provoking revelations.
    But none of your predecessors faced the challenges you are facing now as the Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, the most misunderstood and most lampooned Head of State in the political history of Nigeria since Independence.
    You have to endure the attacks of your detractors and enjoy their their stories too.
    Everyone has a story.
    But not everyone will make history.

  2. THE ENIGMA CALLED FEMI ADESINA
    I am not given to writing on political matters neither do I bother myself to engage in any discussion that has Nigerian public figures as its subject; I see all of them as the same. However, recent happenings in Nigeria have made me do a deep reflection on the person of Mr. Femi Adesina who happens to be the present Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity.
    At the inception of the Muhammadu Buhari led government in 2015, the voice of Alhaji Lai Mohammed was louder than all. Of course, he was basking in the euphoria of electoral victory and he was quite aware of the goodwill the new government enjoyed across the nation and beyond. When the journey began to get tough and rough, and the promised change was not forthcoming, Nigerians began to grumble. The grumbling gradually progressed to open castigation sometime in the middle of the first tenure. As the goodwill the government enjoyed continued to wane, Alhaji Lie found it difficult to maintain the same momentum in his constant defense of deferred promises and failed government policies. Towards the end of the first tenure of General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd.), as Punch newspaper prefers to call him, Alhaji Lie became busy with campaigns, and issues of credibility were also raring their heads. It then became the turn of Mr. Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity to step up and face the myriad of bullets from Nigerians. He did his best and offered whatever lame defense he had to offer.

    Eventually, the President got a second chance to lead Nigeria as a democratically elected leader. One year plus into the second tenure of the government, divisions across ethnic lines, hunger and deprivation, nepotism, and other failures of the government have become more glaring. The offspring of all the troubles in the land is the recent #EndSARS agitation which has brought many other issues to the fore. The old and the young alike in unison continue to shout to high heavens as they muster the courage to stand against a government that appears largely insensitive to the plight of the citizens. This has also quieted Mr. Garba Shehu who hails from the same region of the country as the President. Of course, with all that have been happening, it will be a tough call for Mr. Shehu to defend his kinsman and his government effectively.

    Considering the aforementioned, Mr. Femi Adesina who is of the Yoruba extraction and a thoroughbred journalist with many years’ experience in his kitty has become the star boy. He speaks with gusto and a no-qualms attitude in his defense of the government. He has remained firm and resolute in his belief that Muhammadu Buhari is the best thing that has happened to Nigeria( I wonder how many Nigerians still share this view).

    Why this piece on Mr. Adesina? I respect him for one thing, which I will mention shortly. In the midst of the chaos across the nation and the government becoming more unpopular by the day, I kept asking myself; why is Mr. Adesina sticking with this Fulani man and his government, not minding that the tenure of the man will end in a not too distant time? As a relatively young man, I am sure he is thinking of his career in the post-Buhari era. I am sure he is aware that the international community have their eyes on all major players in this administration. I am sure he is aware that the Yoruba nation and other southerners may not forgive him in a hurry for the role he plays currently. Why then is he so stubborn? Is it about money? These are questions I have had to grabble with.

    I came to this conclusion yesterday: It is not about money; it is his person. Mr. Femi is not a quitter. He is not a fairweather friend. He is committed to what he believes. It’s about personal conviction and he is entitled to what he believes. In as much as I hate to hear the funny defense he makes for the government, I have come to respect his guts and his unflinching loyalty to his principal. If President Goodluck Jonathan had people like Mr. Adesina, probably the story would have been different today.
    Mr. Adesina may eventually pay heavily for his “sin” of supporting and speaking for Buhari; who knows, that day may never come. But this one thing is glaring; He is a dogged fighter who stands for what he believes.
    I respect you, Sir.

    Ebenezer Otijele,
    A Nigerian Citizen, writes from Yola.

  3. You have always been an outstanding distinguished person in your line of profession, your work is very sensitive regardless of your detractors efforts to bring you down, you displays total discipline in line with your profession ,& good servant to your master, no doubts your ability to sustain the insults from those people whom your boss have blocked the leakage of their looting, has been your personal up bringing, I sincerely wish you the best, in your further endeavour, even after 2023 in your present appointment.

  4. Sounded philosophical and religious.You are not envied. My prayers and good wishes to you till the appointed time of exit from office and before being back to the mother earth.The Lord is your strength.

  5. A thought-provoking write-up. We all need to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. However, while I acknowledge that the job is difficult, each holder of the office should also regularly remember that he/she is not only accountable to the principal but more to the people who made all of us what we are in the first instance. The opportunities that we have should be used to remind the principals that “Sir, we have got a job to do and no distraction should be permitted”.

  6. Uncle Femi, as we fondly called you at Journalist For Christ during my undergraduate days at NIJ. You are a great man and nothing will change that. I particularly love this article of yours with the title: ‘We have different paths to tread in life’. – A take home advise for me

    What many people failed to understand is that you are not the PRESIDENT here and your principal’s interest is what you were appointed to protect. if we want you to protect our interest, then we should engage you and I am certain you will do a great job protecting our interest.

  7. Sometimes, the voice of the people is the voice of God. Many have complained of your arrogance and dearth of empathy in the discharge of your duty.
    Truly, people have occupied your current position and moved on. For some, the diplomacy they employed in the discharge of their duty stored some honour for them ahead of their exit from office.
    Therefore, you should show more decorum by discharging your duty with diplomacy while also eschewing your widely observed arrogance and pride which has debased your honour.
    Remember the aphorism, “pride comes before a fall”
    Regards!

  8. Shame on you!!
    You are already bleeding on your back with lashes of canes from your conscience.
    You are faithful to the most insensitive president Buhari.
    God does not lift those who refuse to speak the truth..
    The Yorubas are known for integrity: a good name is better than the riches you acquiring from this deadly administrator.

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#EndSARS: INSIDE PMB’S PARLEY WITH FORMER HEADS OF STATE

WE HAVE NOT MANY FATHERS