He was the Group Managing Director of The SUN Newspaper, a leading tabloid in Africa’s most populous black nation on earth. He was the former President of Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE). FEMI ADESINA, Special Adviser, Media & Publicity to Nigerian President is a highly trained, versatile journalist that never plays to the gallery. A godly, forthright, hardworking and humble media professional per excellence. In this Exclusive Interview during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU, Foreign Bureau Chief, United States conducted an interactive chat with him, and he states his honest views on proscription of Independent People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu’s activities, Gains made at UNGA with American Investors, President Buhari’s health and political plans for 2019 Presidential Elections.
Q: How will you rate the spot-on presentation of President Muhammadu Buhari to the United Nations General Assembly yesterday in New York?
You have described the presentation of President Muhammadu Buhari at the United Nations General Assembly as spot-on. Thanks for those words. That is how many people, world over, also feel, judging from the reactions we get. I am a participant-observer, so I’ll rather let other people judge and comment, and then come to a conclusion about the performance of Mr President from those comments.
Q: Why do you think some envious Nigerians are always out there to fault everything Mr. President does?
Oh, yes. There will always be naysayers around. As the saying goes, no drummer can ever please all dancers. If 98 people out of 100 praise you, there will always be the two, who will never see anything good in what you have done. We must learn to live with, and tolerate the views of such people. They have a right to their opinions.
Q: Some ‘wailing Nigerians’ even alleged the speech Mr. President read was ‘watery’ quoting Aljazeera Television and they heaped blame on the speech writer. Why do you think people can resort to this kind of arm-twisting?
Those that condemn the quality of the speech have a right to their views. The funny thing is that most of them may not have read, nor did they listen to the speech. They are professional critics who never see anything good in anything. If such people mistakenly get into Heaven, they will complain about God.
Q: These same Nigerians argued in various platforms including the social media that Mr. President commends other nations’ right for freedom in his United Nations’ speech, yet he refused ‘freedom of secession’ for Independent People of Biafra, IPOB. What is your take on this route?
The IPOB situation is an internal matter, which the government is dealing firmly with. It is not a UN matter. It is those who overrate themselves that think something like that must be brought up at a global platform like the UN. The President swore to uphold the Nigerian Constitution, and the Constitution recognizes an indivisible country. It is a President who holds his own promises with flippancy that will allow the country to scatter under him.
Q: There were media reports that Mr. President signed into law the proscription of IPOB as a terrorist organization in Nigeria before his United Nations’ trip. How true is this allegation?
Unfolding events show that a court of competent jurisdiction has pronounced IPOB illegal. The President does only what is lawful.
Q: Why do you think Senate President, Bukola Saraki is faulting the Federal and state governments claiming the ban on IPOB was unlawful, since it did not follow due process?
The Senate President must have conveyed a private opinion, as the Upper House was still on recess when he said what he said.
Q: As a veteran journalist with decades of media experience, will you say the activities of Nnamdi Kanu as leader of IPOB is one of the internal threat confronting Nigeria’s indivisible Unity?
From the speeches of the IPOB leader, particularly, you can judge if the utterances constitute a threat to national unity or not. The government should not watch, and see either a person or group throw the country into a tailspin, by careless words or actions.
Q: What was the outcome of the Federal government investigation into the huge funds discovered by EFCC in that Ikoyi house where top political office holders were earlier suspended?
The report on that saga has been submitted to the President, and the outcome will be unfolded as soon as the President is done.
Q: What are the plans for the Federal government to attract Foreign Direct investment into Nigeria?
Even at UNGA, there was a parley with the business community, which attracted about 80% American businessmen. A good number have expressed desire to do business in Nigeria. Many of such fora hold round the world, and results are showing.
Q: What is the present state-of-health of Mr. President, will he be undergoing medical check up soon?
Even younger people, who are not presidents, need to keep eyes on their health condition. As they say, health is wealth. No problem if a President does the same.
Q: Is Mr President contesting for the next presidential election in Nigeria by 2019, if yes, how does he intend to be the party’s flagbearer since Atiku Abubakar former Vice president has already declared for presidency? If no, what do you think are the reasons?
It is only President Buhari who can say definitively whether he would run in 2019 or not. When he decides yes or no, the country would be told. For now, he is concentrating on fulfilling his campaign promises to the electorate.
Q: Finally, what are your evergreen memories and lessons learnt directly from Mr. President throughout the tenure?
I have learnt from Mr President that it is possible to remain who you are, despite the allure of office. President Buhari remains simple, honest, straight as an arrow, a man of integrity, despite the enormous power and resources at his disposal. The lesson is that we must never allow power to turn us into another thing. To thyself remain true at all times.