The final gallop home
There’s a saying in Yoruba language that the horse does not spurn the final gallop home. True. Home is that place you go to rest, after the labour and toil of the day. It is that place you find succor and respite, after the vagaries and vicissitudes that go with your daily exertions. No wonder they say, home, sweet home. There shouldn’t be a bad home. Worse than hell.
In about 44 days, we’ll be home. Who are the ‘we?’ Those of us who serve with President Muhammadu Buhari, whose second term expires on May 29, this year.
Some of us have been around, serving in government since 2015. Eight solid years of being like a sojourner in a foreign land. Modern day Gershoms, (Exodus 2:22) who left home, family, profession, abandoned terra firma to go into what was then terra incognita. We had never served in government, didn’t even want to, but for love of country and of that honest man from Daura, we took the plunge. Now, it’s time to return home. Happily.
I’ve had two types of experiences as we embark on the final gallop home. Some people pray with you, wish you happy and safe landing. They tell of how much they would miss you in the public domain. Others, low people, despicable, count the remaining days with glee, saying whether you liked it or not, “you will soon be out of that place.” Deserving of pity. Do they know that I started counting the remaining days long before them? “And teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” (Psalm 90, verse 12).
The clutter you generate in eight years can be a huge pile. And that is what has happened in my office. All sorts of files, documents, proposals, which would really make no meaning to the next occupant of the office. I met an office that was spick and span, and I need to leave the same for my successor. Why bequeath what is akin to an Augean stable, and pass unnecessary burden to him? Or her?
So, in the last couple of weeks, I’d been painstakingly going through my office with a fine tooth comb. I’ve looked at every document, thrown away what is considered not useful again, kept those which will come handy in the writing of my memoirs, and filed those the next Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity will find useful.
You need to see how I vibrate each time I engage in this packing. With joy, expectations, like a horse galloping home. And my Secretary of eight years, Rosemary Ezugoh, a career civil servant who was there before me, and remains after me, would come in, hiss, turn her face away, and say: “Oga is just harassing us with the fact that he’s leaving soon.” Hahahaahaaaa. “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one that is to come,” says the Good Book. (Hebrews 13, verse 14).
Many people have I met across all walks of life, who congratulate me for successfully serving as S.A Media for 8 years (only Chief Duro Onabule, God rest his soul, has done that, serving Ibrahim Babangida for that same length of time, and no one has achieved it in a democracy). They pray that we will end well, and land safely.
I thank such people, and bless them in my heart. They are good souls, and God will reward them. Amen.
But those low people? They also abound, particularly on social media. They use the anonymity of that platform, and their own lack of good upbringing, to spew all sorts of bile. “You will soon be out of that place. You will come back and meet us.” As if they were the persons that sent me to serve in the first place, and as if I was accountable to them. I simply laugh them to scorn.
The reason? When you are on this kind of National assignment, it’s your boss you are strictly responsible to, and not other extraneous tendencies. You hold your office at his pleasure. Once he’s satisfied with you, forget the noise of the market. The Good Book: “Who are you to judge another man’s servant? It is before his master that he rises or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:4)
How many times have I appeared on television, granted radio interviews, and the President has watched, listened, or read every word I said in newspapers. He would see me later, and thank me for being there.
I won’t forget two particular instances, among very many. I had appeared on Sunday Politics, on Channels Television, and you know how combative, nay, pugilistic, the host of the show, Seun Okinbaloye, can be. Well, you know also that your’s truly can equally hold his own.
The next morning, the President saw me in the office. And said: “Adesina, I watched you on television last night. I could virtually see how fast your brain was working. The interviewer was digging holes for you, and you were cleverly sidestepping them. I said to myself; are these people not colleagues? So, why was he trying to pull you down? Thank you, thank you and thank you for being there.”
At another time, early in the life of the administration, my church, Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria, was turning 60. The leadership asked if the President could receive them.
I spoke with President Buhari. And he said; why not? Let them come.
The then General Overseer, Rev Felix Meduoye, led a team of about 10 people. During the meeting, he said thank you to the President for appointing one of their members as his media adviser. And what did the President say?
“I should rather thank Adesina for coming to serve. He has built a professional career of integrity and sound reputation, and he now brought everything to serve us.
“Whenever his colleagues come after me, which they do often, I hide behind him. I take refuge behind him. So, I am the one to say thank you to him.”
So, that is why when the mob, whom I gave the epithet Wailing Wailers, come after me, calling me all kinds of names, it never bothers me. I have the confidence of my master, and that is all that matters.
We land in about 44 days, and it shall be a safe landing, as good people do pray. “When I land I land softly on a sofa floor. So far so good ko ni baje o…” (apologies Kizz Daniel and Tekno, in their song, Buga).
In 8 years, “Good friends we have, oh, good friends we’ve lost, along the way…” (Bob Marley, No Woman no Cry). That is a topic for another day, soon, by the grace of God.
In my very first week as Media Adviser, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, had visited the Villa, and met me along the walkway to the President’s office. We had been acquainted for many years before then and he usually called me by my email. And he said: “Kulikulii, you have come to do a very thankless job. That’s the way it has been for your predecessors, but with you, it won’t be so.”
And I’ve not stopped saying amen to that prayer for 8 years, and no low person will stop me from that amen chorus.
-Adesina is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Buhari