OPINION: Femi Adesina, Garba Shehu And Merchants Of DiscordArticles/Opinion, Featured Contributors/Columnists, Latest News Thursday, April 7th, 2016
By Olufemi Idowu Samuel
BALTIMORE, MD (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The making of the duo of Mr Femi Adesina and Mallam Garba Shehu as media anchors to President Muhammadu Buhari did not come by happenstance. At different times, the two gentlemen had paid their dues in the media world, blazing the trail at critical times in the task of helping the growth of democracy in Nigeria.
Once an Editor and Managing Director, Adesina had waded through the thick and thin in the pen profession. Providence enriched his sojourn in journalism with the headship of the Nigerian Guild of Editors. As a suave writer, Adesina reflected his love for Nigeria and had severally communicated his predilections for ensuring that governance in Nigeria runs in the interest of the down-trodden. In writing, he stood against mis-governance, crass opportunism and corruption on the part of government officials.
Ahead of the last Presidential election, regular readers of his column in the Sun Newspapers suspected strongly that his preferred candidate was President Muhammadu Buhari. From indication, his desire was to have Nigeria taken over by a disciplined, firmer, focused, purposeful and more determined government, as Nigerians went to the polls in 2015. His dream was eventually fulfilled.
In the same vein, since he left active journalism, Mallam Garba Shehu has been plying his trade as a media and public relations manager in the private and public sectors. Nigerians should recall that he played memorable roles at critical times in assisting to deepen democracy in Nigeria. Yes, he worked tirelessly and with unflagging loyalty for former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Undisputedly too, Mallam Garba has always been a loyal party member. If Atiku is known for enjoying very robust media at every point in time, Mallam Garba shares the larger credit as the main anchor, for years. Lest we forget, Mallam Garba Shehu stood sentinel all through the electioneering campaign, and had with his team miraculously weathered the storms of campaign of calumny and destructive propaganda mounted against the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its Presidential Candidate at the instance of the then ruling party.
Against this background, the Presidency had no fault bringing the duo of Mr Adesina and Mallam Garba on board to manage the President’s media, in the nick of time.
From day one, the two started approaching their briefs like gentlemen, yielding to flawless strategies on how best to excel on the assignments entrusted to them. The Presidency seemed to be at peace with their code of operation, a reason the two have continued to soar in operations. So far, maturity has come to play in the manner the image of the President is infused in the mass media, with almost every Nigerian being kept abreast of issues and events revolving round him. Quite unlike before, the duo have succeeded in closing the information gap between the President and the Public with their ability to deploy every segment of the media, including the social media, to reach a disproportionate audience.
Interestingly, some individuals are very much unsettled that close to a year in office and on their duty posts, Mr Adesina and Mallam Garba have not rebelled against one another, contrary to expectations. In Nigeria, someone must be seen to be creating problems where avenues for such remained closed. In the media, someone must be seen to be crying more than the bereaved, most especially on why Mallam Garba is not being heard or seen as ruffling feathers with Mr Adesina.
On this, a write-up published recently in the name of one Bamidele Ademola-Olateju in the Premium Times captioned, Garba Shehu: Official Disrespect And Arrogance, calls for attention.
The views canvassed by the writer on the working relationship between Mr. Femi Adesina and Mallam Garba Shehu, to every discerning mind, dripped with malice, patent treachery and needless vile. The write-up is simply a pure stunt against the background that no issue at the moment provoked such direct attack launched by the Bamidele Ademola Olateju against the person of Mallam Garba.
That he was perceptibly incensed to instigate a discord between the President’s media anchor men for no just cause made his efforts an exercise in futility. This is because, checks on Mallam Garba’s most recent remarks alluded to by Ademola-Olateju in his article had belied the line of thought he was attempting to sell about Mallam Garba being arrogant and disrespectful, in purpose and intent.
The truth welling from available records on Mallam Garba’s interviews, remarks and utterances is that the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity never addressed the Vice President as Osinbajo.
He never also attempted to usurp the briefs of the ‘taciturn’ Mr. Adesina, or eclipse him, as insinuated. Indeed, those in the media should attest to the good rhythm of co-ordination between Mr. Adesina and Mallam Garba, in which case, materials often released by either of them are jointly spread to all layers of media in Nigeria for publications.
It is, therefore, apt to argue that since President Buhari and the Presidency seem to be at peace having Mr. Adesina and Mallam Garba working in unison, critics from outside should hold their venoms and find better things to do, rather than fruitlessly attempting to ignite a fire of discord where none exists, or is least expected.
Perhaps, the duo of Mr. Adesina and Mallam Garba should do the discerning members of the Nigerian public some good by coming out to explain how at peace they have been serving Nigeria in their different capacities as the President’s main media anchors.
Olufemi Idowu Samuel, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja
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