FEMI ADESINA: Service and Imperishable Legacies 

Mar 19, 2024 - 09:32
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FEMI ADESINA: Service and Imperishable Legacies 

It was the famous playwright, Chinua Achebe who said "Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter."

It is somewhat difficult to write about a man you have never crossed paths with, nor met before. It is much more difficult to write, when it involves a high profiled personality; in this context, a pen man and author of universal distinctions. Pressmen, like lawyers, are presumed to be learned until proven otherwise. Though, I may not be skillful, with the requisite depth of knowledge and research, to present the facts as they should be in the public space. However, it must be noted that this writer is not in any form, set out to celebrate an undeserving personality. I have chosen to write about this extraordinary writer whose sharp pen and professional excellence had contributed immensely in shaping the leadership direction of our great country.

Though certain facts about him, may have been consigned to the dustbin of history, and riven by the dust of social conflicts. But one cannot hide a golden fish whose footprints, remain quite fresh and illuminating in the Nigerian political sociology. His inherent values, world view and character evince a rich resume of a highly gifted intellectual. By dint of hard work, he rose through the pinnacle of career to become the chairman of the Nigerian Guild of Editors. More so, his foray into the presidency, as media adviser, was a function of technocracy and intellectualism.

However, until his well deserved appointment in 2015, Femi Adesina was a radical journalist whose journalistic prowess knew no bounds. For instance, as the then Editor-in Chief of the Sun News, his rich weekly collumns were critical, brilliant, proficient and must-read for passionate and avid readers.

Pressmen or officers, especially in advance climes, are senior advisors who provide advice on how to deal with News Media and using advance news management techniques, help their employers to maintain positive image and avoid tendençies that may elicit negative publicity. Hence, they are usually good writers with sound rhetorical prowess.

This perhaps explains why contemporary presidents and governors of states are usually circumspect in appointing press advisors, because they could make or mar the reputation of a particular dispensation. This could be glean from late president Musa Yar'Adua's appointment of Olusegun Adeniyi in 2007, as well as Dr. Reuben Abati's extraordinary performance as the special adviser to the president on media.

Like his predecessors, erstwhile president Muhamadu Buhari did not falter in this direction in December 2015. This was manifestly expressed in his meticulous choice, thoroughness of purpose and sense of judgement, by appointing an intellectual of high standing, a reliable and dependable man of many parts - Femi Adesina - as his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity on 31st December, 2015.

Though cynicism and blind criticism seems to have enveloped our democracy, however, Femi Adesina needs no introduction in the Nigerian Press, legal, political, economic and social landscape.

The infamous culture of insulting and vilifying leaders is ingrained in the political system of Nigeria is why leaders hardly perform while in office, due to lack of encouragement from the masses. As was observed when Adesina served his term as the Media Adviser to president Buhari. For instance, a lot was said by his traducers to bring down his reputation. But nature must always exonerate men of integrity whose actions or inactions were for public good. As such, the truth must always be separated from falsehood and misleading accounts about Adesina. This troubled writer is compelled to set the record straight for future generations to know that in truth and fact, there was really a Media and Publicity scion and authority that history would never fail to acknowledge.

Femi Adesina is an astute scholar of universal significance, a journalist par excellence, whose stellar performance in the world of journalism took him to the enviable height of leadership and dedicated service to our fatherland.

Born into a noble, humble and decent family, he grew up with such decency and values, having a knack and penchant for excellence and performance wherever he went to, and was saddled with any responsibility. It is also worthy of note that in spite of his wealth of knowledge and experience, ganered through hard work, and rigorous training, this beautifully packaged product of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, would never despise nor discriminate, as one could easily see him exchanging pleasantries with persons who belong to the lower rung of the society.

As a special adviser on Media, he wrote and spoke with caution; taking into cognizance at all times, the peculiar sensational Nigerian media space.

In fact, Mr Adesina is a manifest expression of Tudor Zhikhoves serminal and doctrinal assertion that "a good journalist is not the one that writes what people say, but the one that writes what he is suppose to write."

Press officers all over the world strive to protect the image of their bosses. As observed by a renowned scholar, "a press secretary who starts to narrow down or close the president's options because he answers delicate negotiating questions no longer serves the president." Adesina was such a press officer who loved his boss and his work. Thus, while he advocated for the masses, he also did not forget his constitutional responsibilities of image making for the presidency. Indeed, he was a reflection of the view that when round pegs are put into round holes, excellence and service delivery become inevitable.

A case in point was in 2017, when the erstwhile president took ill and went abroad on a long medical vacation. There was so much apprehension which generated so much ire and criticisms against the former president. Yet Adesina braced up to the task and managed the social space until normalcy was restored. He stepped up his duties by using his sharp pen to publish weekly articles with factual details of the real state of affairs. He was never aloof or found wanting from both sides of the divide.

Unlike other press officers who would have embarked on vigorous campaigns of calumny, name-calling and mudslinging, as well as hate speeches, Mr Adesina was civil, proactive, dispassionate and professional in his approach to issues. He is not a psycophant. As a result of his sound intellectual pedigree, he spoke truth to power when the need arose. No wonder many have described his phenomenal achievements as one of Nigeria's best press officers in living memory.

Great literal icons, as one analyst aptly puts it, have argued and concluded that a person in the man, is known on what others say about him in relation to his manners, lifestyle, actions and reactions." Hence, we must allow Adesina to be on the right side of history, as we celebrate his shining examples of excellence, service and imperishable legacies.

Ori Owan, Esq, writes from Abuja.

E-mail: ntuokwaori123@gmail.com