I Can’t Lie For The President – Femi Adesina
By Oluwatoyin Kole -/-
On Sunday, March 19, 2017, the nation’s presidential spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina was on weekly TV talkshow, FAJ-Alive. The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity fielded questions frankly and without mincing words.
Well known media scholar and former photojournalist, Kole Ade Odutola, now commonly referred to as Oluwatoyin Kole monitored the close to 30 minutes chat…here are excerpts:
FAJ Alive comes alive at 4:26pm (Time in Florida; 9.30pm in Nigeria) with Femi Adesina
FAJ started by saying with a broad smile on his face “I have an interesting character in the house and you will know why I say so” and then starts to reel off the bio of his guest…”He left National Concord for the Sun…”. He ended the intro “He is my friend and brother, senior adviser (to the President on Media & Publicity), Femi Adesina…”
FAJ-Alive: Why did you put yourself in this kind of job (Laugh)
ADESINA: That is a big question. Left to me I just wanted a quiet life and do my job professionally…no limelights for me…. (he went on to talk about how his support for General Buhari has been for a while)… “When he said come and work for me, It was a tough choice for me to make, I supported him since his days as a military president…and in the 3 elections he ran till he won the 4th one….I have no regret in the real sense of it… things should be a lot quitter.”
FAJ-Alive: What are you doing in Lagos? One would have thought you would be in London. The position you have is that you should be the eye and ears of the president.
ADESINA: When the president traveled on a private trip I am not always with him….
FAJ-Alive: I know there are too many [people] after your job…either you don’t talk enough or you talk too much…
ADESINA: You will never satisfy everybody. My job is to manage his image and tell Nigerians about what he does.
FAJ-Alive: ..and say what the president wants you to say, can you lie for the president?
ADESINA: He once said to me, “tell me the truth always”… the president will not like me to lie on his behalf….I have noticed that Nigerians like to be lied to…
FAJ-Alive: [You and Garba Shehu (SSA Media)…don’t you step on each other’s legs in the running of your unit]… Do you run into each other…?
ADESINA: … I served in this station [LTV] in 1986. (He also talked about Jide Adekusibe who gave him a job at Radio Lagos)… I worked in Vanguard, and the first year I worked in Concord I won an award. I have known Garba Shehu in the last 20 years and we hardly run over each other. The place is big enough for all of us to work.
FAJ-Alive: Do you have a family life?
ADESINA: In my 26 years I have never lived apart from my family…
We have two children… it is a big sacrifice…my wife is a nurse….
FAJ-Alive: We hear of the fast life of Abuja, how are you coping?
ADESINA: My lifestyle is already formed. Work, home, church… the church is a big part of my life…when I was in Lagos… It has not changed much in Abuja… work has just taken more…and church has not been like before… In fact…I have a friend who will always say, “If you are not in the Villa you are at home… Let us go out…”
FAJ-Alive: How is it like when you hear that your principal has lost a lot of momentum? Especially amongst his supporters?
ADESINA: I think it is a perception, there’s a minority on social media that is very vocal. You still have a mass army behind the president. You needed to see what I went through when I released the news that he called me. The president is still well loved….
FAJ-Alive: They seem to be singing hosanna about the VP…
ADESINA: Those who are doing that are doing it for mischief, and they continue to do what they like to do…
FAJ-Alive: I understand your pain. Nigerians are worried…(about the President’s ill health)
ADESINA: If there was no vacuum in governance, why would that be a problem? They want a president they must lead by the nose…
FAJ-Alive: Why not localize his treatment? Will it not be symbolically right to be treated locally?
ADESINA: The issue of whether he be treated at home or abroad, they is no law that forbids you from going abroad….
FAJ-Alive: Will you go back to journalism?
ADESINA: (Absolutely…I’m on a leave of absence from.. The Sun… But) the future is in the hands of God, that is why the scriptures say “by the grace of God”….
FAJ-Alive: The Agric minster said Nigerians are not hungry…
ADESINA: Without holding brief for the minister, even Jesus said that the poor you will always have with you.
I guess what the Agric Minster was saying that (that we have enough grains to feed everyone…) By the third quarter of this year we should be getting out of recession… and looking up…!
FAJ-Alive: …and we need money to buy the food…!
This has been Femi Adesina talking to FAJ Alive (4:58pm)
(As monitored via live streaming in Florida, USA)