Femi Adesina’s first “inside” column is a presidency own goal

For your information, President Muhammadu Buhari’s media aide Femi Adesina just started a Friday column titled “From the Inside”.

Adesina announced the move on Thursday adding that the “online column…is meant to further explain the President’s position on certain issues.”

“I will also take up personal issues, as they affect me and my work for the President,” Adesina said.

Friday came and so did the first instalment of “From the Inside”, and Adesina used it to shoot his own boss – and our president – in the foot.

True to his promise, the media aide used Friday’s column, which he published on his Facebook page, to address a matter close to home. Being a Christian, or at least professing to be one, it was not out of place for Adesina to do the presidency’s bidding of addressing recent comments attributed to the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

The religious body unloaded on President Buhari after an Adamawa CAN leader Rev. Lawan Andimi, whom Boko Haram kidnapped two days after the New Year, was killed in captivity on January 20.

CAN president Samson Ayokunle minced no words in a statement his spokesperson issued a day after Andimi was murdered. It reads in part:

“In the light of the current developments and the circumstantial facts surrounding the prevailing upsurge of attacks against the church, it will be difficult for us to believe that the federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari is not colluding with the insurgents to exterminate Christians in Nigeria bearing in mind the very questionable leadership of the security sector that has been skewed towards a religion and region!”

CAN added that: “Maintenance of security is the least responsibility of any government that knows its worth. We are once again calling on President Buhari to purge himself of the allegations of nepotism and religious favouritism by reconstituting the leadership of the security forces.”

Adesina, however, used his Friday column to react to CAN’s “discredited accusations”. The media aide said the allegations of nepotism, tribalism and religious favouritism against his boss had not only been debunked but held no water to present realities.

To buttress his point, Adesina reminded whoever cared to listen Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin is a pastor, and that our Chief of Naval Staff, Ibok Ekwe-Ibas, is a Christian.

And that was how the media aide scored an own goal against the president he is paid to defend.

Let’s take a moment and go down the religious road with Adesina by listing Nigeria’s security chiefs and stating their religious beliefs. Doing so, perhaps, could make the media aide realise that he shouldn’t have made that primitive argument in defence of his boss.

List of critical security leaders (in no particular order)

1. Chief of Army Staff – Lt. General Tukur Buratai (Muslim)

2. Chief of Air Staff – Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar (Muslim)

3. Inspector General of Police – Mohammed Adamu (Muslim)

4. Director-General of the Department of State Security (DSS) – Yusuf Bichi (Muslim)

5. Commandant-General of the Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) – Abdullahi Muhammadu (Muslim)

6. Chairman of The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) – Ibrahim Magu (Muslim)

7. Comptroller-General of Customs – Rtd Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Muslim)

8. Comptroller-General of Immigrations – Muhammed Babandede (Muslim)

9. Comptroller-General of Prisons – Ja’afaru Ahmed (Muslim)

10. Minister of Defense – Rtd. Major General Bashir Magashi (Muslim)

11. Chief of Defence Staff – General Abayomi Olonisakin (Christian, pastor and member of CAN)

12. Chief of Naval Staff – Ibok Ekwe-Ibas (Christian)

Can you see that? I just listed 12 security bosses in Nigeria – a country split between Christians and Muslims – and only two members of one of the religions made the cut.

CAN president Rev. Ayokunle.

Does the religious argument help anyone? No. But this is the kind of list CAN brandishes to validate its allegations against President Buhari. And that’s why I feel that a man of Adesina’s calibre shouldn’t have descended with CAN into that rabbit hole.

In Friday’s “From the Inside”, Adesina also turned a blind eye to the government’s policy of releasing “repentant” and “de-radicalised” Boko Haram terrorists into our society. In fact, the government just released over 500 of such “converts” and did so the day after Rev. Andimi was killed and two days after Boko Haram executed Daciya Dalep – a University of Maiduguri student who happened to be a Christian.

Think about it. Boko Haram is responsible for the murder of many Nigerians – and that includes Christians and Muslims. It’s only when Christians fall victims that CAN will be bold to issue the kind of statement it did on January 21. But Adesina did no one no good by resorting to a religious rejoinder.

“Rev Andimi was not killed solely because he was a Christian,” Adesina wrote in his column. “Those evil people kill anyone they lay their filthy hands on,” he added.

The president’s media aide should have stuck to that argument without enabling CAN’s religious agenda.

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