But for the honesty and principled nature of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, mischief makers would have mounted a wedge between him and President Muhammadu Buhari, during the president’s 49-day recent medical vacation in the United Kingdom when Osinbajo functioned as acting president, Mr. Femi Adesina, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, has said. In this interview, Adesina spoke among others on how Osinbajo disappointed those who tried to create problems between him and Buhari.
His take on comments by Afenifere chieftain, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, he and Alhaji Lai Mohammed did not tell the truth about President Buhari’s health status during the recent controversies on the issue.
I saw the report and I was not surprised. Papa Adebanjo is somebody we respect very well as a foremost Awoist, a foremost Yoruba leader and a man of conviction and integrity. But I am not surprised that Papa said what he was reported to have said and that is all I can say about that.
But there were other people who shared that view
There are people who just want to believe the worst about this government. So, if those people have said that the truth that we told them was not enough or opposite of what they want to hear, I am also not surprised that they too would so speak.
Most of those people, whoever they are, go and watch them very well, from their antecedents about the Buhari administration, you too will not be surprised that they would be looking forward to hearing something like that.
Why do you think some Nigerians would be happy to hear bad news about their President?
It is a matter of conviction and they have a right to it. But all I know is that those of us who are Buharists, we have a right to our conviction and those of them who are not, they have a right to their conviction and we don’t begrudge them.
Some have accused a particular tribe of propagating false information about the President and his government. Do you see it like that?
I think this issue goes beyond a particular tribe wanting to hear negative or the worst about this government or about the head of the government, President Buhari. It is about our collective humanity. Our collective humanity demands that if we see a man going through certain challenges, we sympathise or even empathise with that person. That is what I have not seen in most of them and which is very surprising.
Those of them who say they need to know what the truth is about the President’s health; it is not because they are sincere about it. A lot of them just want to know what they think they should know for mischief making and not because of sincerity.
Now, what does the controversy surrounding the President’s health tell you about Nigerians as politicians and people?
It shows two things: That there are very good Nigerians, who have been praying for the President and have shown genuine concern. And on the flip side it also shows that there are some mischievous Nigerians. All they want is to hear bad news, particularly about those in authority.
You have seen what the mischievous people have done with it. They said he was dead at a time.They said he was in a hospital. They said he has done this surgery and that he has lost his voice. There was nothing they have not concocted. So, it shows that some people are simply mischievous and their interest in knowing the health status of the President is so that they could make mischief with it.
But then, there is a large number of Nigerians, who are genuinely concerned and they are praying not just for the President alone but also for God to strengthen him to be able to successfully fix Nigeria for them.
We saw the media assessment of Osinbajo acting presidency based on which Senator Ben Bruce said Osinbajo should teach Buhari how to perform. What is your take on that?
It is all mischief and, fortunately, the Political Adviser to the President, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, came out to say that there should be no attempt to erect a demarcation between President Buhari and Osinbajo. Their role in the presidency is one. It is a ticket. There is the President, there is the Vice President and then Vice President was Acting President but the President is still the head of the team. So, any attempt to begin to demarcate between the President and the Acting President is exercise in futility. It is an exercise in mischief and we should just ignore anybody who says that.
His take on peoples’ turnaround commendation of Osinbajo’s performance as acting president after their calls on President Buhari to change him as head of the economic team on the grounds that it was wrong to make a lawyer head of the economic team.
That tells you the kind of people they are. It just shows that they just wanted to create a wedge between the President and the Vice President. But they don’t know the Acting President. He is a cerebral, sober, decent person and will not allow them to drag him into anything.
If President Buhari’s administration is to be judged today, what can the scorecard be?
Well, I would rather want an outsider to do the scoring. I am an insider and so I am not the best person to do the scoring. But by the grace of God, in May, when the administration will be two years in office, we will do a mid-term report and then you will see the successes of this administration in security, anti-corruption and economy. Even economy that was a bit sticky is turning round. I am sure there is going to be a lot to say about this administration when it is two years in office.
His message to Nigerians
Those, who queued in the sun and in the rain to vote, knew that they were electing a President for four years. They didn’t elect him for one year, two years or three years. They elected him for four years. And it is just going to be mid-term in May this year. Those, who genuinely queued and voted, know that the person, whom they voted for, will deliver.
If some people are being very critical now, it could be people, whose loyalty was only skin-deep. But the true loyalists know that this government will deliver and they are willing to wait because they didn’t elect the President for one year or two years, they elected him for four years and, at least, majority of the promises will be kept because government is a continuum. So, whatever the government has said it will do, it will do.
We know that there is a difference between what the expectations were and what was actually met on ground when this government took over. Anybody that is discerning would know that the government stepped into a mess economically and it’s been working to build a new foundation for the Nigerian economy. Within four years they will see that foundation solidly built.
Taking you back to your reference to the mess the government stepped into upon taking over, some people are saying this idea of blaming the past government for the economic woes of the nation should stop. But the President said that he would continue to talk about it…
Yes. And the President is right because there is usually a nexus between the past and the present. If you don’t recognise this, you are bound to commit the same mistake of the past. The President would continue to talk about it because the consequences of the actions and inactions of the past are here with us.