There would’ve been no Nigeria again if Buhari didn’t win in 2015 — Adesina -GCFRNG

There would’ve been no Nigeria again if Buhari didn’t win in 2015 — Adesina -GCFRNG

President Jonathan escaped  trouble by not staying put, his profile today better

How and when my love for Buhari developed

My saddest day was when Buhari was overthrown as Head of State

Why I think bandits should not be declared terrorists

S/East not playing right politics; how they can get Presidency

No cabal but influential Nigerians in Villa

You may not have read anything like this before. It is a special interview. Quite unusual and unconventional. There is no straight line and therefore there is no definite theme. It was a no-holds-barred. Conversational and interactive.

Mixed humor, jokes mounted. Laughter broke out involuntarily. The allusions were rushed and, in fact, everything went into it. From the bloody confines of crude politics to the turbulent questions of governance and national importance, the rise of personality and its attendant spike of arrogance, to palatable soft-selling stories, the tough questions arose. And the responses were a flurry.

For nearly 50 minutes, we sat glued to the sofa in the visitor’s lounge of his official residence at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, last week on Sunday, distilling, dissecting and deconstructing the issues. And the following was the result of an absorbed and passionate journalistic engagement with President Muhammadu Buhari’s special adviser, Femi Adesina, a dean and media guru who rose through the ranks of the media hierarchy to become editor and director. executive of The Sun Newspapers and the president of the Nigerian Publishers Guild, NGE, prior to his current office, which began in 2015. Please sit back and enjoy the interview.

6 years have passed in the life of this government. Next year, they say, is an election year, so to speak, and 2023 is almost here when the delivery will be made. How far so far?

Well, you said next year is an election year, that won’t be entirely correct.

(Laughs) Ok, political activities will start …

Perhaps it can be said that the year is for political activities. Elections will continue to be held in 2023 in the first quarter. I agree with you, 6 years and about five months, the administration should end in another 19 months. Asking how far, I will say, far away. This administration has come, seen and done everything possible and will do better until the last day in office. It has been through very challenging times and seasons. Nigeria, like many other countries in the world, is going through difficult times, but the administration has overcome it all, it has made an impact despite the problems. Some of the problems are external. Others are internal and others are global like the corona virus pandemic. There have been many challenges, but the administration has come through and despite the challenges that affected the economy, affected socio-political relations, which affected the country in various ways, the administration remains firm. He is standing with his head held high. On the economic front, of course, it came in 2015 when things were spiraling downward.

No one could have stopped that downward spiral because it was already underway. The recession that came in 2016 was inevitable. No one could have stopped him due to some actions and inactions of the government that left. The coordinating economy minister even said then that the government did not have the will to save. If a government is unwilling to save, what happens when rainy days come? The rain will hit you and hit you seriously.

That is what happened to Nigeria. Oil prices rose as high as $ 140 a barrel, stabilized at an average of $ 100 for many years, but foreign reserves were less than 30 billion, the excess of the crude account was depleted, the account of the The federation emptied and then oil prices plummeted to just $ 30 a barrel. It was almost humanly impossible to stop that recession.

That recession lasted for almost a year because the government got down to work, rolled up its sleeves, and did the right thing to get out of the recession and when the economy began to pick up steam, ready to take off again, the COVID-19 pandemic struck. and an economy that was about to explode took another nosedive. And we know that for most of 2020, the world was closed, and thus the second recession became inevitable as well. But then the miracle was that we got out of that recession again faster than anyone thought.

In fact, it is recorded that the Nigerian economy emerged the fastest from the COVID-induced economy. It shows that the fundamentals of the economy are solid and the fact that President Buhari has put the money of the country where our mouth is, matters, diversifying the economy. Imagine if they hadn’t had that kind of emphasis on agriculture, how would we have done it? Two hundred million people? The world was blocked.

Nobody exported. If you wanted to import, there was no money. Oil prices fell. How could we have coped if agriculture had not been emphasized? So, it helped us. And you would see that in the second quarter after the close, we came out of the recession again. And the latest report according to the National Statistics Office (NBS), the Nigerian economy grew by 5.01%. It is unprecedented. It is said to have been the biggest growth since 2014. So on the economic front, Nigeria is not doing badly. We can do much better because it has been said that, with respect to our population, we need to grow by 7% annually for the economy to touch people’s lives, but we are on our way to achieve it. It is not a sudden flight. It is a progression and we are on our way to that. Nineteen more months, yes, this administration will do everything possible, but the government is a continuum. The next government will come and pick up where this administration left off. So Nigeria is in a good direction.

It’s okay. That’s on the economic front …

Yes, that’s about the economy, I’ll talk about others because there were three things that President Buhari promised: We will revive the economy and create jobs. In that economy, the promise is being fulfilled. The other? Security? A big elephant in the room. Security is a big problem in Nigeria, as it is in many other countries in the world, but they will take care of their own problems and we must take care of ours. You know that in 2015, the main issue in the country was the insurgency. That insurgency was in the northeast, it was in the northwest, it was in the north-central because Abuja was being bombed in series, it was already in Kogi. From Kogi, where did you think he was going? It was southwest. And if you were to go southwest, the only place left would be south south. The whole country would have been consumed and there would have been no country again, if not for President Buhari entered in 1015. He came, made the right decisions, did the right things, equipped the military, motivated them, and saw where we are. today in the field of insurgency. In fact, there was a news report earlier today that Borno will close all IDP camps by December 31st.

Close the camps for internally displaced persons if the problems have not been solved? To a large extent, I think the last number of insurgents who surrendered was over 14,000. That shows that they themselves know that they have been beaten, beaten and beaten thoroughly. Look at the ISWAP leader, two of them have been eliminated in two months. Al-Banawin eliminated, his successor Bako eliminated. He shows that the military has the upper hand in terms of insurgency.

He was inherited. It actually started in October 2009 under Yaradua and was later inherited by the Goodluck government, inherited by Buhari. But overall, Buhari has almost reached the end. I read about a lecture that General Buratai, the former army chief, delivered two days ago at Biu, the military university, thanking President Buhari for dealing a decisive blow to the insurgency, boko haram. So that inherited front of insecurity will be concluded before Buhari comes out and that is a front. Now, insecurity turned into a hydra along the line. Banditry, kidnapping, cult and all kinds of agitation for separatism also added to the insecurity. Then insecurity turned into a hydra head. The confidence we have is that if we could defeat the insurgency party, we will defeat everyone. We will defeat banditry. In fact, banditry has now been hit hard. Before long, I am confident that we will see the end of banditry.

I know you are talking about the three areas because we come to the fight against corruption. But let me take you further on insecurity. A situation in which bandits close down a military plane and all that, would you really say that yes, the government of the day has dealt a severe blow to this insecurity? Because some Nigerians will be quick to say: No, we don’t agree with you, because we still have this going and Nigerians have seen more insecurity now than before. So how would you react to that?

It depends on what you choose to believe. You know, some people choose to believe the worst. And so when they see things getting better, when they see things getting better, they don’t admit it because they have chosen to believe the worst. The truth and the truth is that banditry is taking a severe blow. Look at the statistics. In Kaduna, in Niger, in Zamfara, in all the places where these bandits operate, look at how they are being taken out. Every now and then, yes, they still hit like Sokoto recently, but when they hit once like that, know the casualty they’ve taken before and they’ll continue to suffer until they change their mind or are completely eliminated. We will see the end of banditry in this country because evil has never prevailed over good. The bandits, what do they want, just spread pain, tears and blood. They will never prevail.

Still talking about banditry, not long ago, the Senate passed a resolution asking the president to declare them terrorists and 24 hours later, did the House of Representatives join in that call and clamor? It seems that the presidency has done nothing about it. But of course, Nigerians keep crying out. Do you see that is happening or not?

For me personally, mark my words, personally, it is a matter of semantics. Semantics is a theory of meaning in language. So whether they are called terrorists or bandits, it’s just semantics. A criminal is a criminal. Either they repent, change their ways, or you eliminate them. That’s what matters.

Who are terrorists? Terrorists most of the time wage war against a nation and seek to seize and occupy territories. That is a terrorist and that is why the Boko Haram are terrorists, because before this administration came, they occupied a minimum of 17 local governments in this country and they wanted more. They wanted to take over the entire country and create a caliphate. They are terrorists. These bandits have no ideology. Without ideology. They are only interested in crime for crime’s sake. Steal, rape, maim, steal, without ideology. Did you hear that they took over the territory? They’re not interested in it. So, but like I said, criminality is criminality. Eliminate them all and that is what our security forces are doing.

But they are multiplying, they are growing in number every day, spreading from Sokoto to Niger …

(Interrupts) No, they are not spreading. They are running. It’s not like they’re spreading. You know they were concentrated in certain places before: Binin Gwarin side of Kaduna, there is a forest in Zamfara where they were, they were in the forest. But now that the battle was brought to them in those forests, now they are running. From Zamfara they ran to Niger. A couple of weeks ago, when the heat took hold of them in Zamfara, they were trying to cross into the state of Niger and the military ambushed them and 42 of them died in that ambush. So it is not that it is spreading all over the place, but that they are running and as they run they spread pain, tears and blood on the road, but the whole country is not big enough for them, in fact the whole world is. is. not wide enough for them to run. Justice will catch up with them.

Could they be responsible for the recent bombing of the Abuja-Kaduna railway?

Anyone who does that kind of thing is a criminal. No matter what name they use, they are criminals. And if the law reaches them, they will be treated.

How did we get here, to this point as a country and as a people, because before now we heard that these things happened abroad and not in Nigeria?

When we heard about suicide bombers in other parts of the world, we said that Nigerians loved life too much; that they would never be suicide bombers, he suddenly sneaked in here. So, it shows you that the world is truly a global village. And don’t think you are immune to what you see in other parts of the world. And one thing that exacerbated the Nigerian situation is badmouthing

What do you mean by “speak evil”?

Particularly by those who claim to be leaders, thought leaders, ethnic group leaders, opposition leaders, claim to be leaders but engage in bad talk, say those evil things that will eventually unite in violence, in eruptions, in bloodshed. and murder. Not everyone who engages in wicked speeches is innocent.

Is it really about speaking badly or criticizing…?

(Interrupts) The criticism is different. Well-directed and well-founded criticism is even welcome. But one who is virulent, one who sees nothing good in anything leads to these kinds of things happening. Because if something is good or not, they just criticize it. It builds up and leads to repressed anger, repressed anger leads to violence, violence leads to murder and bloodshed. All who do these things are not free from the blood of human beings. The blood of the people of the people is on their hands.

But when he sees some wrongdoing or wrongdoing by the government and says no, that this is not how it should be, the government should do this and the government should do that. Would you also compare that to speaking badly?

I told you that criticism is good if it is well directed.

But that to me is what I feel like most Nigerians have always done.

No no no no. What we see in Nigeria is evil, not even criticism. Criticism, in essence, is meant to make things better. But the ones we see in Nigeria are destined to bring the country down.

Are you ready to give me some examples?

(General laughter) No, no. You’re a journalist. You know it.

Let me tell you about the fight against corruption. President Muhammadu Buhari was a military man and ruled between 1983 and 1984. With Operation War Against Indiscipline, WAI, they fought corruption to the ground. And based on that I’d say Nigerians actually came out in droves in 2015 and voted for him. But 6 years later, the monster is still there. In fact, many Nigerians feel that the officials of this government are even more corrupt than in the past. How would you react to that?

Let me address the last part of the question that current government officials are considered to be the most corrupt. That is a general statement. It is a sweeping statement. People are not accused of corruption with a blanket like that. You have to go out there and say that this person did this, he did this, he did this. And if the government does nothing about it, then it says it is tolerating corruption. The easiest thing in the world is to argue. It’s just sitting back and arguing and that’s what a lot of people do. They allege that there is corruption without justifying it.

They allege that there is corruption without justifying it. Now, you talked about how people chose Buhari because they wanted him to fight corruption. Yes, he is fighting it, but his style must necessarily be different from the one he adopted as a military ruler. As a military leader, you rule by decree, you simply state what you want to do and back it up with a law. And go ahead to do it. That is not the same style in a democracy. So the president is now a Democrat and he has to do everything like …

(Short) But you still have government institutions like the judiciary to process if you still want them to accelerate action on an issue …

So how will you do it? Is the judiciary independent of the executive? As you do? Nothing can be imposed on the judiciary.

Assuming you have credible evidence …?

It is still up to the judiciary to do its job. The president will not call the judiciary and say to imprison him within 6 months. No.

So for you, how far do you think we have gone in the fight against corruption?

We’ve come too far. Do the statistics even speak for themselves? Go and check the number of trials and convictions by law enforcement agencies, you know, there are many. EFCC came out recently to speak, I think it was a week or two ago, from 1999 to date, about the number of prosecutions, the number of convictions. Go look at it and see what has happened under this administration.

Some people will say that the irregularities of the former SGF and EFCC President Magu are impeachment cases against the government because they are government officials. If they had preached against, how is it that they are found wanting?

Those are cases that are in execution and pending. So the less said the better. For the former SGF, the case is in court. For Magu, the president must also pronounce definitively. So the less said about it, the better. But the fact that someone in an administration is accused of something is not enough to tarnish the entire administration. There is no management that is perfect. There are none that are complete anywhere in the world.

Since you came into the government, would you say that there are some actions that you may not have taken because you seem to rate the government 100% on all counts, even though it is two years older?

Not until two, 19 months to go. I did not give that mark. I will give the government a passing grade, but I would not give it 100%. So don’t attribute that to me when I haven’t said it.

Nigerians before 2015 bought a bag of rice from N7,000 to N8,000, but today the price has skyrocketed and you have between N25,000 and N35,000 and there is a lot of hunger in the land. People are crying. The prices of the good in the market are so high that the president in his October 1 speech blamed the intermediaries. But Nigerians are saying no, that is not what it should be doing.

The intermediaries are part of it and I think we are also part of our problems.

What do you mean, sir?

A minister told us one day that he loves to eat eggs from the garden. Then one morning on the way to work he stopped at the farmers market to buy garden eggs and all of a sudden the price was double what he used to buy and he asked the woman what was wrong and she said “it’s a dollar. “(General laughter) How does that affect the price of garden eggs? Nigerians are part of the problem. Things that have nothing to do with the dollar exchange rate, we just hide under it.

But before there was a price control mechanism or am I wrong? I don’t know what’s happening because I know that in a situation like that the government comes in and says no, we can’t …

There is something wrong with the Nigerian psyche. Everyone wants to take advantage of the smallest situation.

Tell me your love for this president (another general laugh) because I see you speak highly of this president. You are so in love with this president. How did the idea come about?

Yes, yes, (smiles) I don’t worry about that. And I will say this anywhere I love President Buhari, I love him.

Is it because you work for him?

Before meeting him, he loved him. I will tell you the story. In 1984, he was actually a junior at the University. So you couldn’t call me an impressionable young man who will adore him like a hero, no. He had grown up, he could make a decision. In 1984 when he emerged as military head of state with Idiagbon and they were at the head of the country; I liked the direction they were taking the country because I grew up under a very tough father. My father was a pedagogue through and through, a school principal, a disciplinarian who ran the house with an iron fist (general laughter), just as he ran the school.

So when I saw Buhari go out and lead Nigeria with that iron fist, I felt the country needed him and I admired him. It was not a perfect government. You will not see a perfect government anywhere. He made his mistakes but he was doing it right. 18, 20 months later, he was overthrown and I was very sad. That day may be one of the saddest days of my life. The day he was overthrown he was very sad. Then he went into political hibernation, so to speak. He was absent, he returned as head of PTF. You know how he did PTF, leaving transparent marks and touching Nigerians. So now you know how it made an impact through PTF.

And then in 2002, he now he said that he was joining partisan politics. It was my happiest day (long laughs). I rejoiced. This man returns because I felt that the country was lost. If it was the Buhari / Idiagbon regime that lasted eight years, that the Babaginda regime lasted, Nigeria would never have been the same. But it lasted only 20 months. Nigeria would never have been where we are today if the regime had lasted, but fortunately it did not.

And when he now he indicated that he would come back through partisan politics, I rejoiced, I rejoiced. Since he first ran in 2003, I have been supporting him, 2007, 2011, I have been supporting him. And when after 2011 he said that he would not run again, I told him that he cannot, general, he can run again. (Laughs)

But do you remember that he cried and he said that he would never run again?

Yes, yes, I wrote it. I wrote it. Yes. And I wrote the piece. I said: No, you are not bound by that promise. You are not bound by that. You can come back because Nigerians love you.

But some Nigerians criticized this move because if “a man of integrity” has said something …?

(Interrupts) No, no, no. It has nothing to do with integrity. We can all change our minds when superior arguments arise. In fact, a man who does not change his opinion and his mind in the face of superior arguments for positive reasons is a very rigid man and a danger to himself and to society. (Another laugh) So, I was glad when he offered to come back and the rest is history. I was lucky that they asked me to work with him. I didn’t think in the least that he would come to work with Buhari as much as he admired him. I didn’t think it would happen. When the offer came like this. He couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t believe it. He could only have said yes to the offer because he was Buhari. Nobody else? The answer would have been no.

So does it mean that he also noticed your love for him over the course of time?

Oh! Yes Yes! When Professor Tam David West (may God rest his soul) was releasing a book in Lagos at the NIA, “The 16 Sins of Buhari”, I was the emcee at that event and Buhari came and it was there that we met to the first time. He had always been reading me.

When was that?

It was before the 2011 elections, maybe 2010.

That means from 1984 to 2010 …

(Interrupts) I didn’t know him. In 2009, 2010 was when David West released the book, but he had always spoken to me on the phone. You know, I used to write every Friday in The Sun and every time I wrote about it, whether it was that Friday or the next day, my phone would ring. The first time he rang and said my name Muhammadu Buhari, I screamed (elongated general laughter). I couldn’t believe it and he told me, I read what you wrote, thank you very much. After that, he always called me. Whenever he wrote something that interested him about him directly or about our country, he would call me and we would argue.

And then, in August 2013, my mother passed away. And when we were going to give him a compliment. I sent out some invitation cards. I just said, let me send General Buhari. I didn’t think he was coming. He didn’t expect it. I just send it. I sent it to my reporter in Kaduna to drop at General Buhari’s house. On the day of the commendation service, which took place in Alausa in Ikeja, I was at the door welcoming the people who came in, welcoming the people who had come to attend the service; an SUV drove it. So, I left the gate and went after the vehicle to greet whoever was inside, when he opened the door, I s-c-r-e-a-m-e-d. (General laughter). He was laughing and I was laughing. I said General, have you come?

Do you know that the commendation service was a Christian service? General Buhari came from the beginning and sat until the end. When they said get up, he stands up. When they said sit, he sat. It was incredible. After that service and he had returned to Kaduna, I think that night or the next night, I called him to say: General, thank you for coming. I was surprised you could do it. He said no, Adesina, there are people who could have paid you millions for your support. You didn’t follow them.

Yo, I haven’t been able to give you a bottle of Coke since you’ve been supporting me. He said the least he could do was come pay tribute to your late mother. So, we had been like this. Therefore, when I was invited to join his government, I came even though I did not want to serve in the government. I was CEO of The Sun newspaper, president of the Nigerian Publishers Guild. He was satisfied with what he was doing. I was happy with what he was doing. He did not want to come and serve in the government, but since he was Buhari he had to come. I, more than six years later, have been working with him. If I loved him at first, I love him even more now. (General laughter).

In his closet, perhaps, with the president, did he ever think that the immediate past government did not relinquish power to him in 2015 because most Nigerians would think it was unthinkable to defeat a sitting president seeking reelection? ?

No, you must remember that the eyes of the world were on Nigeria. I think John Kerry was then Secretary of State. He came here. Many, many foreign dignitaries came here to speak about the upcoming elections. And was there a peace pact signed by all the candidates? No, it would have been dishonorable to not have honored, not to have respected the result of the election. And I think President Goodluck Jonathan would have been the worst for that. It was good that he respected the wishes of the people and left. His profile is better today.

If he had tried to stay put, he would have gotten into trouble and Nigeria into more trouble. So he was fine. I know he must have heard different kinds of voices, but he decided to phone President Buhari to congratulate him.

The president tells us about that day when he received that call for the first time, and the person said that he was President Jonathan and that he first was quiet for a few seconds. He first kept quiet because he was shocked. He didn’t think the concession would come so soon. President Jonathan acknowledged defeat, congratulated the incoming president, and Nigeria is better for it.

Among former presidents and heads of state, he has been a frequent visitor to the Village, so to speak, amid rumors that he is likely to join APC. What about that?

Is that a rumor that I don’t know about? And I’m glad you used the word rumor.

Ok, speculations (general laughs)

Even the word speculation is still unfounded because there are no facts.

But in terms of frequent visits to the village, yes, because he carries out various assignments for ECOWAS. He is special envoy to Mali or some other country. And he comes to report to the acting president. At one point, our president was the president of ECOWAS. He needed to see it. Then when he stepped down as ECOWAS chair and someone else took over, Nigeria remained a major force in ECOWAS. So that’s why former President Jonathan comes to the Village so often. There is mutual respect between the two. If he knows the Diplomatic Room of the Villa, only a acting president visits it. There are two dors. There is a door for visitors, there is a door for the acting president. Once the acting president walks out that door, he is locked. All other people go through the gate for visitors.

One day, former President Jonathan arrived and when we got up, he wanted to head towards the visitors’ door, President Buhari pulled him and led him through the door that only a sitting president can pass through. So he shows you the respect that President Buhari has for former President Jonathan.

So is your relationship strong right now?

I think so, mutual respect. If you don’t respect a man, then in your estimation he is not worth much. So, I think there is a mutual respect between the two.

Looking ahead, before this government leaves office, do you think Nigeria will improve?

Better. On all fronts. Not all challenges will be solved, all problems will not disappear overnight. But the government exists to solve challenges. This government will solve as many as it can. And I tell you to solve many. But the government is a continuum. The next government will continue wherever this government comes out. There is no single government that solves all the challenges of a country. It has never happened before. It will not happen now. It will always be like this. Governments always come and go and must solve challenges.

Nigerians listen and talk about a clique in the Presidential Village. How real is the cabal?

Well, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had been asked that question. I align myself with that. I don’t know of any clique.

But are there some influential Nigerians who influence things within the government?

It happens with every administration. It happens in America. It happens in Canada. It happens all over the world. There will always be people. They are called kitchen cabinet in some other places. It will always happen anywhere in the world. And the president himself answered this question. It was at the UN General Assembly a couple of years ago. He was talking to the media. And someone asked that question. And he said, he doesn’t know any clique, that it was he who went around the country to campaign. Nobody did that for him. And then, he is the one who has a mandate and is exercising it.

Is the president in charge of his government?

Completely, completely, completely. You don’t know the extent of this.

Most Nigerians believe that they are lying to the president, that some people lie to him like in this security situation, they don’t really tell him …

(Short) Around the world, the president can receive false information around the world. But a president also has the state apparatus at his disposal. He can always find out things. So even if someone comes along and gives them a lie, he can find out. The state apparatus is at his disposal.

This interview will not end without me touching the expectations in 2023. I know you as a professional, I would not say that you are a great politician, much less that you play party politics. Young people cry out for power. They say we don’t need the “old ones” again. Do you think APC will empower a young Nigerian who thinks a lot about the 21st century, assuming that he will succeed on his own?

Power is never surrendered, it is taken away. The energy will not be depleted, it will be taken. Young people must stand up and carry that power through the ballot box. Go through the party primaries, win, stand for election, win the presidency, that’s the way to do it in a democracy. If you sit back and think it will be handed over to you, no, you will have a long way to go. They asked for the Not Too Young to Run Act and it was passed. So nothing stops them.

You have a title of chieftain of the southeast …

Two, actually (laughs)

Oh! showing your relationship with them. Surely you have heard them say that the inhabitants of the south of the east must occupy the seat in the Villa to be given a sense of belonging. Do you see APC and the government of the day saying that the Southeast do them justice?

Every part of the country deserves to feature the president and since my newspaper days, I have always been writing, advising the Southeast on how to get there. But so far, I wouldn’t say they have played the proper politics.

What kind of appropriate policy?

To become president in Nigeria, you have to align yourself with the rest of the country, and if you don’t, you will never be able to run for a president. President Buhari had to align himself with the Southwest before becoming president. If the Southeast continues to vote the same way it has in one direction and that direction is not working, but they continue, then they need to reorient their policy.

Before 2015 and after 2019, some Igbo thought leaders, Orji Kalus, Ngiges, Ralp Obioha, all, even at one point, said Professor ABC Nwosu. That was in 2011. He said that the shortest route to the Igbo presidency is to vote the Buhari / Bakere ticket in 2011 and then the Buhari / Osinbajo ticket in 2015 and 2019. But how did the southeast vote? .

But he has a fair number of southeastern dwellers in APC right now.

Much.

So, that won’t do any good?

Look at the 2019 election statistics, see some states 5%, some states 10%. The highest place where Buhari got maybe around 20% was Abia due to the influence of Kalu, in Ebonyi because David Umahi, even when he was in the PDP, had always loved the president. He didn’t get more than 20% anywhere, even when what he required was 25%. Therefore, the inhabitants of the Southeast will have to re-approach their politics, play more at national politics.

Could that be why the president made a 97% comment, 5%?

But it is natural in politics.

Even when you are the president and the whole country is your constituency?

Expect. No. Listen to what he said. He said that when you score 95% in one place and 5% in another place, you first take care of the needs of those who gave you 95% rather than those who gave you 5%, it is natural. And then, listen to that until the end. He said the constitution forbids him to set aside any part of the country and I will follow the constitution. The naughty people took only the earlier part of the statement and cut the rest just because they wanted to generate controversy.

But then, looking at the actions and inactions of the government as well, it seems that he is implementing what he said because the Igbos are crying that in the security systems they are nowhere. In the parastatals and agencies, they are nowhere and all that.

You are speaking from a mindset and we already addressed this mindset. At some point, it could be in 2017 or 2018, we come out with a compendium of all the appointments in the country. I think Ogun’s status had the highest. Imo’s state was second or third and it’s from a region that people say the president doesn’t like. How is it possible that the president does not like any part of the country? He is the father of the country.

How busy is your office and hours? Do you find time to rest?

(Laughs) he has been the busiest part of my life. I was busy in the media as the CEO of a newspaper, as an editor for many years, very busy, but when I came to the government, I said ha, can something be as busy as this? It’s all day because you have to answer questions from all over the world and due to different time zones, I could be sleeping and my phone will ring and they will say I’m from Finland, I’m from Iceland, can you answer? to this and I’ll tell you, do you know what time it is in Nigeria?

But you must, in good faith, respond to all. I remember a very strange day, very strange because I don’t put my phone on silent. That day I was stressed. I put it on silent and fell asleep. When I woke up in the morning, five missed calls from the vice president.

So this is a job that you can’t afford to be unavailable and that’s why the phone number you knew me with is still the same as me. I could have gone to the government and changed it. But of course, I would not be doing justice to my director if he wants me to interact with the public, particularly the media, and they cannot communicate with me.

How is your relationship with your colleagues and contemporaries in the media?

We are friends and companions.

So you mean that after now, when he leaves the office, he will still keep his shoulders up and interact with them?

Oh yeah, I’ll go back to the media because I’m on leave. So by the grace of God when I’m done, I’ll get back to the media.

But some people feel that you are, should I say, confrontational or frontal. I remember you wrote an article and said that it was no one who gave you the work you are doing and even after now, God will continue to take care of you. But that’s not the way a public relations official talks.

That’s me. I don’t speak tongue on cheeks. I will never be rude, but I will tell the truth.

Do you think that when you leave office that your goodwill will continue to exist or will it have diminished?

I have no doubt because the Femi Adesina of the past is still the Femi Adesina of today.

So, has the popularity of the president before coming to power not diminished or diminished either?

Look at the practical evidence. In 2015 it got around 12 million or 13 million votes and in 2019, it increased by around 3 million. So that already answers the question.

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