Misreading Smart Adeyemi!
Smart Adeyemi is not a clown and does not even behave like one. Unlike the man he replaced at the Senate, Smart is educated enough to know what it means to be a Senator. He is not given to histrionics. He is not a spook, he does not dress like one and he does not behave like a spook. That he rose to become president of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) is a mark of how serious and clearheaded Smart is. In a society where trust has become scarce commodity, Smart is one Nigerian you want to have as a next-door neighbor.
Smart laughs big when he laughs! And he is always generous with his laughter. Still, Smart is human with blood running in his veins. He has emotions; Smart cries, not necessarily in public, when he has to. We all do, don’t we? So, something must have snapped in Smart Adeyemi when he chose the floor of the Senate, a public place, to cry the other day. What snapped in Smart must have snapped in many Nigerians who must have also shed a few teardrops, in private, of course. If truth be told, the way the ship of state is tottering is enough to bring tears to the eyes of the lionhearted.
Let me make myself clear at the onset. I have been a lifelong admirer of President Muhammadu Buhari and I am not about to be a turncoat. I have always been in the trenches to promote what Nigeria is capable of becoming under his watch. The Buhari Project, a nonprofit organization which will launch after May, 2023, is aimed at promoting the President’s ideals. Despite the sad turn of events, my faith in the Buhari/Osinbajo administration remains unshaken. Another Buhari fan there, right? Why not? After all, we are one way or the other, without exception, ardent followers and admirers of some cause, an idea or some individual!
Back to Smart. Recall that the senator’s emotional arousal happened in a week the ongoing carnage assumed, for want of a better adjective, a federal character. It was not the first time so many Nigerian lives were cut down by bloodthirsty bandits, insurgents and separatists but, for the first time the killings were coordinated. Sadly, aside boring reassurances and endless condolence messages, Nigerians saw no sign on the part of government to actualize its promise to check the carnage.
Recall also that the killings did not take place anywhere near Kogi West senatorial District which Smart represents. So, the senator was faced with two choices: to be typically indifferent or join the growing number of despairing Nigerians who rely on prayers to end the slaughter in the land. He acted otherwise and, in the belief that a Senator’s voice should carry some weight, he decided to add his to growing calls on government to move the country away from the precipice. It was a gamble, and what did he get in return?
We shall return to the gamble but, first, we need to remind ourselves that Smart contested and lost the senatorial seat in 2015 as a member of the PDP apparently because he felt uncomfortable being in the same political boat with the eventual winner who contested under the APC. But the realignments ahead of 2019 led to reversal of roles and Smart returned to fly the APC flag under and won with relative ease. As a senator, it is beyond contest that Smart is a senior member of the ruling APC party.
Now, to what Smart got for his gamble on the floor of the Senate. The first response to Smart’s public display of emotions came from fellow APC senator, Oluremi Tinubu, wife of APC leader, Ahmed Bola Tinubu. No! The potential First Lady did not respond by handing a towel to Smart to dry his tears or, for that matter, offer him a shoulder to lean on. Rather, she questioned Senator Adeyemi’s loyalty and sought to know whether he is now a member of the opposition PDP. This was not meant to be a joke, as some Nigerians want to believe: it was an unkind cut.
Recall still that, on the floor of the last Senate, the same Senator Oluremi Tinubu was verbally assaulted by Senator Adeyemi’s predecessor. On that occasion, Nigerians lined behind Senator Tinubu without asking whether she pulled a joke that went awry. Her assaulter, infamous for his disdainful clowning, got no respite from Nigerians for the vulgar words. Pause for a second to imagine the scene if Senator Adeyemi was another child trapped in the body of an adult.
Whatever the intent, Senator Tinubu leveled a grave allegation against a fellow senator and fellow party member. In essence, what the potential First Lady is saying is that Smart’s action amounts to antiparty action because, being a top APC member, he should not be seen to be washing his party’s dirty linen in public. If that allegation sticks, only God knows how many APC top shots would have to be similarly sanctioned’ Few days back, Honourable Faruk Adamu Aliyu, a hard-nosed Buhari loyalist told a foreign radio station that he saw nothing wrong in the APC tendering an apology to Nigerians for performing below expectation.
It has been suggested by some Nigerians that Senator Adeyemi should have proffered solutions instead of boring Nigerians with details of the killings. Truth is, Smart repeated some of the solutions already suggested by well-meaning Nigerians. For instance, he called for immediate recruitment of more men into the nation’s fighting force despite the fact that the new normal is for recruits to give bribes or have well-oiled connections to secure slots into the Nigerian Army. He also joined calls for proper kitting of troops and prompt payment of their allowances. If words of top military and political officials are to be believed, only the meanspirited will accuse him of withholding his assent to these demands. What, then, if the President acted promptly on the demands?
What is lacking is effective superintendence. In a situation where insecurity has become a multibillion Naira business and when some highly-placed corrupt Nigerians prosper from its prolongation, issuing directives and expecting them to be carried out is like pouring water on the back of a duck. Consider these: A presidential order for the enlistment of 10,000 constables into the Police Force has been stalled for more than one year by a needless legal tussle between the Police Service Commission and the Force headquarters. Even the cerebral National Security Adviser, Mohammed Monguno, a retired Brigadier-General, recently alluded to the possibility of the purchase of military hardware being turned into drainpipe of sort. Strangely, nobody has been sanctioned for flouting presidential directives.
Let’s for once forget Senator Adeyemi’s tears and concentrate on accurate reading of his lips. By suggesting that the National Assembly shut down, Smart did not advocate for lawmakers to proceed on an indefinite recess or be divorced from their jobs. Rather, he sent a message to President Buhari, on behalf of Nigerians, that the buck must truly be seen to stop on the President’s desk. And, if I may add, the only way to ensure this is for Mr. President to insist on accountability and, when necessary, sanction officials who revel in treating his directives with levity.
The way to go is not for us to misread Senator Adeyemi. The way to go is not for us to disingenuously make the President’s friends look like his enemies.
Magaji < [email protected] > is based in Abuja