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We need a leader, not a father

Dear Femi Adesina,


I do not envy your job, because I know the enormity of your responsibility especially working with a man of insufferable incompetence and lack of capacity to lead a country that is suffering from terminal illness, corruption, kidnapping, banditry, insurgency and nepotism.


But having been a spokesman to a former president, a governor and political party, I think I have the cognate experience to know a bad salesman, when I see one.


At the beginning of the Buhari presidency, I was one of those incurable optimists who thought a General Buhari, ex-this, ex-that, would offer the much-needed leadership to lead from the front and not from the back, in our desperate desire to relaunch Nigeria back to global reckoning, reduce poverty and hunger, build infrastructure, and entrench a sense of belonging amongst her multiplicities of people and interests.


Given the tell-tales of the early eighties about President Buhari’s sense of discipline, I had thought corruption would be watered down from its unenviable pinnacle to the rubbles of nothingness. I had thought the country will be his primary constituency and that insecurity would be banished out of the land.


Alas, they were mere rhetorics! When he took off on a quiet note, I was bubbling with enthusiasm that Nigeria was going to commence the process of economic rejuvenation, moral renewal, infrastructural turn-around and a culture of ownership of the country by a citizenry that was already famished and over-exploited by armed banditry, kidnapping and insurgency.


Day in, day out, I waited with bated breath to see that silver lining, that cutting-edge approach, to governance, doing things differently and generating more result-driven approaches to solving our developmental problems. Days, weeks, and months, Buhari refused to make the expected appointments to keep the pendulum on permanent swing.


Even, your appointment as a spokesman came in August, almost three months after his inauguration. He waited for six solid months before he started dishing out appointments and thus, kept everyone in awe as to the direction of his administration.


The end result was a sudden sharp decline in our economy. Portfolio investors, unsure of the forecast, had exited with their resources, importers were unsure of his direction, no foreign currency to attract importation, exporters could hardly export, the general feeling of waiting for Godot pervaded the political landscape.


If you really desired to achieve your policy objectives, you must balance your politics and the economics of governance. Femi, no one can doubt your use of the English word. Aside from being a journalist, you rose to become an Editor-in-Chief of one of the most flourishing newspapers in the country,


The Sun. But your encounter with this job is doing colossal damage to your hard-earned reputation. It is either you now live in self-denial, unable to discriminate between performance and promise, or you love your job so well that you would not want to see anything wrong with your principal.


The subject matter of your discourse these days are often too patronising and not deep enough to underscore the real Femi Adesina that we have read for years. Your latest introspection into the Buhari persona as a father, is, to me an exercise in patronising scholarship. Something in me kept nudging my sensibilities if truly, the evil spirits in the villa, have not overwhelmed you.


Reuben Abati, your predecessor aptly captured the allure of power and the powers of unforeseen powers that dominate the Aso Villa pantheon. You must have the grace of God to get into the Villa and come out of it with your head still standing.


And one thing that gladiate my heart is the fact that two of IBB’s vicious critics, your humble self and Abati, have now tasted powers and now have a better understanding of how power play works, how decisions are taken, how responses are given to situations, how “fathers” react, and how real leaders react to situations.

Both of you can rationalise the difference between leading from the back, as Buhari and Jonathan are wont to do, and leading from the front.


A country that has been castrated by poverty, hunger and deprivations, littered with Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) and banditry, kidnapping and general insecurity, desires to have a leader, a real leader, not a father, who sits at home quietly, when the family farmland is on fire.


The taciturn approach of the president in crisis situation is a bile in the dish, an unfortunate response strategy that is empty in content, watery in knowledge, and deep in hypocrisy.


We need to have leaders who understand the destination of 200 million people, and not a father who approximates his responses in a manner that equates a small family to 200 million people. The response of President Buhari to the #EndSARS protests was most unfortunate, especially as we literarily had to push him to speak to his “children” if the theme of your fatherly claim is to sink.


Were Nigeria to be a family, or biological members of a family, the children would have been eliminated before President Buhari’s type of “father” would respond. Leadership comes with challenges. It comes with responsibility.


It comes with boldness. It comes with pro-activeness. It comes with reaching out, visiting crisis spots and making informed commentaries. It comes with leading from the front, not sitting in the inner comfort of Aso Villa, while sending aides on fact-finding.


If President Buhari was to be a father of the nation, I guess he would be a very wicked one at that. What manner of a father will increase pump price of petrol to N170 per litre at a most difficult time in the nation’s history, following economic dislocations occasioned by lockdown as a result of COVID-19 pandemic. What a father will vote N12.5 billion for Presidential Air Fleet, that he promised to reduce in 2015 and yet wants to be taken serious?


What manner of a father will watch the mindless killings of his children for daring to raise concerns over poor leadership and police brutality?


What manner of a father will look the other way when the nation was burning, unable to address his children at the most auspicious time, until it became so embarrassing? What manner of a father will be mortgaging the future of his children through needless borrowings and debt accumulation?


From growing unemployment to underemployment, from rots in health and education sectors, to housing deficit and roads infrastructure decay, this father has left his children to agonise in perpetual penury.


What manner of a father will allow ASUU to be on strike for only God knows how long, for the simple reason that ASUU asked for additional attention to university education in Nigeria.


This father’s children are roaming the streets, unable to attend university to earn degrees and gain knowledge. The father sleeps in the comfort of the palatial Aso Villa, leaving many children wallowing in penury and hunger. Millions go to bed everyday without food in their stomachs, yet, someone wants to remind us that we truly have a father in the Villa?


These days, it is not enough to be called a father, you have to be a responsible father who can fend for the family. In the life of a nation, we seek a leader who understands the dynamics of collective responsibility; a leader who is ready to provide the roadmap for charting the course of growth and development.


During the #EndSARS protests, Nigeria was like a ship without a rudder. We were hearing very loud cacophony of voices from the citizens, while their leaders were hiding away in the inner sanctuary of federal and state governments’ fortresses. Spokesmen went on temporary holiday. The president was “detained” inside the Villa, unable to address his people timeously. Blame game surfaced. Police will blame the people.


The people will blame the Army. It became a season of altercations. That is what you get when a supposed father vacates the home for his children or locks the door against his children, an absentee father, if you like.


A father that could not visit the farmland to see the extent of damage to the family till or one who was smiling when pictures of destruction were being shown to him, calls for serious interrogation. A father that promotes nepotism, favouritism, cronyism and selective amnesia to the hilt, or one that doesn’t engage his children in dialogue. Na wah for father o.


One good thing the Buhari presidency has succeeded in doing is to erase all doubts as to his capacity for leadership. Were he to die without being president, his itinerant supporters and adherents would have continued to worship him till eternity, by saying the best president Nigeria never had.


Having been president for almost five and a half years now, we have seen the extent of his leadership capacity. He does not just have it. His style is obsolete in a modern economy where technology drives the pace. His approach is slow for a country that should be running, a country that should grow at night to fill in the missing links.


His policies are unsustainable. I mean, how can you say you want to generate 774,000 adhoc jobs in 774 local governments for three months at N30,000 per person? What manner of economics is that? You complained of diminishing revenue on the one hand, but you are wasting resources to sustain Presidential Air Fleet, such a drain pipe, 11 airplanes doing practically nothing, for which N12.5 billion is budgeted for 2021. Hellooo! Are you serious?


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