July 19, 2024

The Judas Testament: Femi Adesina’s ‘Working With Buhari’

  • June 17, 2024
  • 20 min read
The Judas Testament: Femi Adesina’s ‘Working With Buhari’

By Moses Oludele Idowu

“Every great man has his disciples but it is the Judas who writes the biography.”
– Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

THE art of memoirs and biography is one of the great inventions of civilised communities. It is part of the culture and essential feature of democratic governance. Unfortunately, this great art, as in most other things in our country, has declined and been deconstructed, thus becoming a medium for propelling falsehoods, a compendium of lies and tissues of lies. Perhaps in nothing more than in this great art is the genius of Nigerians for deconstruction more in display. This literary form of non-fiction narrative is designed for truth-telling from the perspective of the author to help the readers and ultimately the process of nation-building. Alas, it has become something else in Nigeria. This is the only place I know where someone tries to sell outright falsehoods, rearrange the truths, falsify history and make white to become black. In this regard Femi Adesina’s Working With Buhari (Safari Books Ltd, Ibadan; 2024) did not disappoint.

Adesina is a journalist and one of the prominent figures in Nigerian journalism today. He was a president Nigerian Guide of Editors, and director of The Sun newspaper before his appointment by former President Muhammadu Buhari as chief spokesperson. Working With Buhari (hereinafter referred to as WWB for short) is the first book written about the government in which he played a prominent role.

The Strength of WWB

Let us start first with the strengths and uniqueness of this book. WWB is well written. Adesina was a newspaper columnist for many years before his appointment and a fine writer, too. He displayed that here too. The editors also delivered a great job. I did not spot any typos except one where instead of television station we have “television states”. That is not bad for a book of almost 500 pages.

This book enables us to see the inner workings of Buhari’s heart to some degree. A whole chapter is devoted to his kindness. Here we see a man who delayed the announcement of change of Service Chiefs to enable them get home and break the news to their family members themselves. Adesina also writes about Buhari’s love for the poor which necessitated the creation of safety net for the poor.

Adesina did not forget to tell that on three occasions Buhari gave him money to attend his sister’s burial, receive chieftaincy title in Enugu and travel to Beijing for a conference. In one or two of these it was in foreign currency which surprised Buhari’s domestic staff. “Oga gave you that amount? He must really like you. He does not give people money like that.” How much was that amount? We are not told. As veteran journalist, Sonala Olumhense asked, “Where did Buhari get the amount of money in foreign currency at home to give?”

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At the beginning of the administration, Buhari solicited from Adesina: always tell me the truth, argue with me and if your position is superior to mine I will accept yours. How about that? Such a man cannot be bad. So what went wrong? That was a blanket cheque. Did Adesina use the cheque to help Buhari by engaging him on some of the policy issues and misdirection of that administration? Buhari also told him not to allow anyone to erect a barricade between them but to see him anytime he wanted. What else do you expect from a leader? So Buhari started well. Buhari meant well.

Why then did a journey that began with so much promise and national expectations flounder on the shore of disaster, for if the truth were to be told, Buhari’s 8-year administration was a disaster – an unmitigated disaster.

And if Buhari’s government was a disaster, the aides who worked with him and surrounded him like Adesina were the primary culprits. They were too enamoured of Buhari’s mystique, the Buhari myth – a myth that has now been completely deflated. They revered him, adored him and even worshiped him that they couldn’t find anything wrong in his decisions or policies to advise him about course corrections. Until a collective negligence has now ossified into a disastrous national calamity.

WWB drips with that myth that captured many Nigerians – integrity, honest man, anti-corruption crusader… In 8 different times, the myth of “a honest man from Daura” (Mai Gaskiya) was trumpeted. (See pages v, xi, 12, 70,193,207,416 ). This was the mantra that was sold by Adesina and a section of the corrupt, self-serving and illiterate Nigerian press. Before 2015 when they began to work together, Adesina had only met Buhari twice – at Tam David-West’s book launching and during his mother’s burial. They had never worked together. Yet he wrote and campaigned and trumpeted the myth of Buhari’s incorruptibility. How do you assess a man’s integrity whom you have only met twice and never worked with? You can see that the Nigerian press is an existential danger and a source of collective miseducation that is now afoot in Nigeria. This was how the disaster – the myth that slew Nigeria, “the man who lost Nigeria,” the “general conquered by terrorists” ( apologies to Tell magazine) was incubated. It shows how credulous even some of the men who shape public opinion are in this nation – “useful idiots.”

Buhari asked to be told the truth by his chief spokesperson but the spokesperson was too much in love with him, his mistakes, flaws, that he saw nothing wrong until it was too late. Adesina told us that much. That he possessed a love for Buhari that is even only short of idolatry and superstitious veneration:

Hear him: “Believe in your principal. Implicitly. It is not just a day job. It is a commitment. And that is why I am a Buharist. For life.”

In other words, his faith in Buhari cannot change, like the laws of Medes and Persian, regardless of whatever happens.

Hear our man again in case you don’t get that: “With me, anyone that loved Buhari, all his sins were forgiven. If they be as scarlet, they would be as white as snow. And if they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

Even if the fellow had committed blue murder, if they can show Adesina that they love Buhari then their sins were forgiven and covered. What is idolatry by the way? These were the kinds of minds that surrounded Buhari and made Nigeria’s disaster possible. What then is man worship or idolatry? Has Adesina ever heard of the First and Second Commandments? He even used a verse of Holy Scriptures to validate his heresy. By the way, Adesina claims to be a pastor of the Foursquare Church, a part of the Pentecostal segment of Nigeria’s effete Christianity.

There is more in this book. I dislike the philosophy of this book, the deception, the attempt at obfuscation, deflection, containment and web of deception. I am also opposed to the grandstanding displayed in this book.

Jesus was mentioned 11 times at pages 66,67,68, 69, 70, 74 ( four times) and 87. That’s not all. The Bible was quoted in 33 places. Some pages actually carry several quotations from the Bible ( see pages 93, 173, 176,198,199,362, 377, 435 & 437). I decided to quote the pages so you would know I read the book. This is not a book on theology or morals, mind you.

The question then is: why would the Holy Name of Jesus be invoked in a book on a Muslim Fulani hegemonist and the Scriptures quoted 33 times if not that someone is trying to deceive? I mean, why would you invoke the Bible so profusely in a book chronicling the affairs of a Muslim – a man who even gave $1million to the Talibans of Afghanistan while our universities remained shut – under which tens of thousands of Christians were killed?

I learned this from Theology and Logic that when a wicked person wants to deceive, the first recourse is to religion and tools of Faith. It is really sad that Muslims take their own Faith seriously than many Christians. It is tragic that someone is using the Holy Scriptures to validate the most unholy, unrighteous and corrupt government that ever ruled Nigeria; and a pastor of Foursquare Church. Too bad. Did Adesina not pass through the training? Did he not learn the 22 tenets of his church denomination?

This is why I consider this book a piece to read but not to keep.

Buhari’s Achievements
Expectedly, this book takes several pages to celebrate Buhari’s “achievements.” A whole 80 pages are devoted to the celebration. I would not begrudge the Buhari administration of some token achievements in the area of infrastructure. These were listed. Think of the number of projects that will fill up 80 pages of a big book? If these were indeed the case, then Nigeria should not be so naked and prostrate at Buhari’s ending. Let us examine some of the projects and “achievements.”

Electoral Act (Amendment) Act of 2022
This has been presented since 2018/19, but Buhari refused to sign it because he never wanted it to be used in the election of 2019 in which he would be a candidate.
Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act 2022
This was signed into law by the administration but when United Arab Emirates forwarded names of terrorist financiers to that government, nothing was done.
Executive Orders
Adesina agrees that Buhari pioneered the use of Executive Orders by any government in Nigeria. He issued more than 14 Executive Orders. Why is this seen as an achievement? It is not and could become a facade for executive lawlessness and tyranny.
How many of the power projects that were to generate incremental 4000MW were completed? At Afam, Kaduna, Okpai? How many metres were produced and how many Nigerians got metres from the National Mass Metering Programme for which CBN provided N200b? It is still the cry of estimated bills all over Nigeria. This is one of the “achievements” being celebrated by the book.
Oil and Gas
Rehabilitation of Port Harcourt Refinery held in 2021 is one of the achievements. Till now in 2024, Port Harcourt is yet to refine even a litre of fuel yet trillions of naira have been paid for Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) on the eve of a crucial election in 2019.
Social Investment and Poverty Alleviation
The most controversial of all the achievements listed are under this section. Buhari might, in fact, have meant well but the fraud associated with this scheme is alarming. Part of what is listed as achievement is Conditional Cash Transfer, a scheme through which some officials in Buhari administration helped themselves with public funds. EFCC just recovered N37b from the same Humanitarian ministry and the female minister. So much was the fraud and audacity of corruption under a supposed anti-corruption crusader that students at home during Covid-19 were claimed to have been fed with billions of naira.

National Youth Investment Fund and National Special Public Works Programme in which 774,000 beneficiaries across 774 local governments were supposed to have been employed. This was another fraud by Buhari administration quoted in the book as achievement. Uncle Dele Sobowale decided to engage researchers to see just one person in the small Lagos Island Local Government who benefitted from the scheme. They couldn’t find a single person. Festus Keyamo who helped facilitated the hoax is the loudmouth presently calling the shots in Aviation under this present government. How about Survival Fund where billions of naira were siphoned from the public purse to give SMEs after submitting details. Till this day, I have yet to meet a single person, who got the benefit among SMEs. Anchor Borrowers Scheme listed as achievement is another scheme for diverting public funds as revelations from former Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele’s trial has shown.
This book also credited the Buhari administration with achievements in education, because it licensed 94 additional universities, six new Federal Colleges of Education, eight new Federal Polytechnics. But of what use are these as an achievement when the existing universities were underfunded and ill-maintained? It was under Buhari that the universities were shut for several months without pay, leading to the exit and death of many scholars. Yet Buhari had a university built in his hometown of Daura. What an achievement!
Assets Recovery
Of all the “achievements”, this is the most vexatious. For a government that prides itself as an anti-corruption crusader and blamed every other person for the woes of the nation, it is astounding that nothing today exists from the “battle” against corruption. The Auditor General of the Federation in his report of 2020 noted that the CBN has no record of monies recovered by EFCC between 2016-2019 as required by law. The last record that was in CBN book was December 2015. All the forfeited assets from corrupt people were merely relooted and shared by Mai Gaskiya. This is the man, the idol that Adesina worshiped for 8 years and even for life. It would have been funny if it were not so pathetic.

This is not to say that the Buhari administration did not achieve notable results in infrastructure. We do not deny that. The most noticeable of them is Second Niger Bridge, many water projects were completed, some standard gauge railways, even if the cost was outrageous compared to others in part of the world. The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway was also completed – at least substantially.
Lies and Falsehoods
There are too many lies in this book. I should expect it. Winston Churchill says that the truth is too important that sometimes it must be protected by bodyguards of falsehood. When a book begins to name Jesus and quote Scriptures, a book on political memoir, what do you expect? To conceal something!

Let me engage some of the lies here and let them out to the public to be the judge. WWB says that Buhari left Nigeria in 2023 far safer than he met it. Hear the author: “President Buhari many times promised that he would bequeath a safer country to his successor. And that was what he did.” I contest, on my honour, that Buhari left Nigeria safer than he met it. When he came in 2015, insecurity was localised to Northeast alone; alas, when he was going in 2023, insecurity had engulfed everywhere in the North and even South. It was Boko Haram that we were contending with before he came, but under Buhari’s watch, and before his 8 disastrous years was over, herdsmen terrorists, ISWAP, bandits, kidnappers, etc had become part of Nigeria’s insecurity package.

In short, insecurity became worse under Buhari. Let the truth be told. There is a reason why Nigerians called Lai Mohammed, the Information Minister of Buhari, a lie. Adesina challenged anyone to name three lies Mohammed told, and that he as a Christian can never tell a lie. He doesn’t seem to understand. The issue with Buhari administration is not just telling lies, the real issue is that the government itself and its totality is a lie. Everything about APC was a lie right from the campaign, the makeover of Buhari as a “born again democrat” which he is not, the campaign slogans and promises (including bringing the exchange rate from $1 to N1). The lie has now unravelled.

Remember the Rice Pyramid of Abuja that fed no one? Remember the Air Nigeria – the immaculately-packaged deception on the eve of an inglorious administration? Even one of his former officials has admitted that APC lied about its population. Another ranking official has admitted that you cannot serve APC and not lie. These are the men of honour, honest men. Not the likes of Adesina “who has never told a lie”, yet is comfortable serving a lie. The Buhari administration was a lie sold to Nigeria by the likes of Adesina and his media accomplices and other “useful idiots”.

Let us hear the verdict of an elder statesman and veteran columnist Dele Sobowale, a repentant Buharist: “Of all the 7 Nigerian governments I have covered, Buhari administration is the one that has made lying a core aspect of their policy. They lie when it is unnecessary and when the falsehood is evident to everyone.” That is enough. Let me not quote Chief Tola Adeniyi, another veteran.

The Church and Buhari
Chapter 6 of this obnoxious book is devoted to lambasting the church or “a part of the Church.” Here Adesina takes on the church for criticizing his idol and pointing to his criminal errors of judgement. Several clergies had a raw deal from the pen of the writer. Bishop Kukah, David Oyedepo, Bosun Emmanuel, and several others, including his own Foursquare Pastor Babajide Olowodola for daring to come against Buhari. It was this category of pastors he was referring to in another passage: “They speak as if they read another Bible. They preach hate from the pulpits, propagate falsehood, generate animosity against government…”

If there is anyone who read another Bible, it is probably the author of this book. Not Kukah definitely. And certainly not Bosun Emmanuel – one of the most upright pastors and patriots we have today. Bishop Kukah said the truth about Buhari administration; being a clergy does not mean being deaf or mute. And he challenged you to a debate, all the aides of Buhari. Why didn’t you accept his offer if you were sure he preached hate?

Adesina describes a secret meeting of pastors involving Pastor Enoch Adeboye before the election and what was supposedly said there. And he uses this to ridicule the senior clergies for what was said in a private meeting. He also ridicules Wale Adefarasin, Tunde Bakare who he says “love to play to the gallery.” His worst attacks are devoted to CAN for protesting the deaths of many Christians. Adesina cannot find fault in his idol and so cannot see why it is wrong that 14 out of the 17 security positions were from Buhari’s tribe and religion. Hence he could not see any fault except in CAN and the pastors who had the boldness to confront his idol. He, however, selects for praises the pastors who kept quiet why Nigerians were killed and slaughtered – William Kumuyi, Enoch Adeboye, Kris Okotie, Taiwo Odukoya, etc., and, of course, the pastors of his own denomination.

What kind of a pastor excoriates the umbrella body of Christians, not because they told lies but for standing for the voiceless? What kind of person attacks the very cerebral Kukah for saying what every Nigerian knew then to be true? What else do I say? I won’t even waste my time challenging the anti-corruption label that he hangs on Buhari and his administration. Because it is now challenged everywhere except to the deaf and the daft. If anyone still believes that Buhari is a saint, he needs to have his head examined.

Here was a man whose own wife stayed put in Dubai for months and he always professed his vaunted integrity. In February a report came out that Aisha Buhari allegedly benefitted from a scheme in which army chiefs inflated the cost of helicopters purchased where Aisha made $30 million and bought a villa in Dubai.

Sabiu “Tunde” Yusuf who was related to Buhari and a personal assistant, a boy who was selling recharge cards in Daura before Buhari came to power, is now so stunningly rich that even Emefiele, it is alleged, became alarmed and advised him to ‘scatter’ the funds in deposit money banks. Daily Monitor newspaper reported in March that the trio of Sabiu, Mamman Daura and Malami are negotiating with new government to return only $25b out of $75b allegedly looted from oil money. Another associate now late, Isa Funtua, made so much from CBN that he bought entire companies. These were associates and relatives of Mai Gaskiya, the idol of Adesina’s adoration for life.

SERAP is in court to compel the new government to explain what happened to the $3.48b IMF loan under Buhari that has now disappeared. Femi’s own newspaper, The Sun of May 26, 2024 carried the report of Obono Obla, a former Assets Recovery Chair, that “Nigeria lost $500b to corruption under Buhari.” What then did Buhari come to fight? Corruption or what? If Buhari was so saintly, where did he get the money for a billion-naira wedding for his son where iPhones were distributed as souvenirs?

This is the same man that Adesina swore for his integrity and honesty: “Buhari is straight as an arrow, clean as a whistle and there were no dark corners in his life…” Really? That is why I say most Nigerian Christians are “useful idiots.”

Oscar Wilde once said that “every great man has his disciples but it is the Judas who writes the biography.” Except that in this case that statement needs to be qualified. Muhammadu Buhari is neither good nor great by any standard. As a soldier, his colleagues removed him from power because he was too divisive and was mismanaging Nigeria’s diversity exactly as he did in his 8 years. Today, Nigeria is more divided than before Buhari came. That cannot be a great man.

Two, Adesina is not a Judas Iscariot. Judas only betrayed his master to save his nation. The Jews felt that it was better for one man to die than for the whole nation to perish and Judas too was part of this plot and view. Thus he betrayed his own Master to save his own nation. Adesina, in this book and for 8 years, has used his skills and brain to save his master and – I am afraid – betray his nation, religion, the church and even the tenets of his denomination and even the Bible.

When Nigerians cried over herdsmen terrorists, what did Adesina say? “Your land or your life.” When the kinsmen of his principal turned Benue to killing fields and drove farmers from the farm, did Femi has any good word for them? “Your land or your life…” Judas betrayed his own Master for his own nation; Adesina betrayed his own people and nation and ethnic nationalities to save his Master. In that way, he has out-Judas Judas!

Today, millions are permanently in hunger. In 2015 when Buhari came, only 67 million were in poverty. Today, it has burgeoned to 133 million people and Nigeria has become the Poverty Capital of the World. We are now under threat of a “famine of biblical proportion” as a result of farms being deserted due to herdsmen terrorists which Adesina with his principal defended for 8 years rather than confront. Suicides have spiked and everywhere today there is pain and anguish because Nigerians allowed one man whose fathers wandered from Niger to rule them.

Judas returned his loot when he saw the havoc caused by the effects of his betrayal. Adesina too has made money from the book, and from donation for making a hero out of the man who has singularly been responsible for the misery and present distress and for the greatest suffering for the greatest number. All around him today he could observe the cries and pains of people as a result of the fraud that he defended for 8 years. Adesina has not returned his own “loot” and he is not thinking of penance yet. But let us pray that like his Biblical compeer, he would make the needed repentance while we pray that as he continues to see the monumental havoc of his underachieving master, he would not, as that unfortunate predecessor, take his own life.

Special appreciation to that disciple of mine who bought this book and sent it to me to undertake this review. He is a senior official in one of the MDAs whose name I must protect. I confess I won’t have bought a book like this for that amount.

* Oludele Idowu is a writer, researcher and professor of Ecclesiastical Theology

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