This book, written by the former spokesman of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, has opened yet another chapter on how the politics of this country is and has further underscored the extent of lack of trust among the various tribes and regions that make up the Nigerian nation. Additionally, it underscores the ugly nature of politics of godfatherism just as it exposes how most politicians are hell-bent on putting their stooges in power so as to do their bidding.
The book, according to the writer, was written at the time he went fora course at the prestigious Harvard University in the USA. He said the course was sponsored by President Goodluck Jonathan and after successful completion of the book, the first person he gave the book to was the President as a mark of appreciation for this sponsorship. While giving the President a copy of the book, the author said, he was happy to tell the world that the course was sponsored by Jonathan and it was while he was studying that he had the opportunity of writing the book.
It is obvious from Adeniyi’s statement and, indeed, his action that the book was written in such a way that it would suit some sentiments and interests. In fact, it goes with the time-tested saying that he who pays the piper dictates the tune.
Anyone who has read the book with utmost caution and deep comprehension will no doubt benefit from the quality of presentation and the sound use of language, which is typical of Adeniyi. Indeed, the book will be useful to many, including teachers of literature in our various universities. It will also be of immense significance to students of mass communication and writers who are caught between trying to set their story-line at the course of writing a book.
As a matter of fact, a keen reader of the book will be exposed to how facts are distorted in such a way that unsuspecting readers will assume them to be true. Through the book, one will see how people succeed even with double loyalty.
Throughout the 194-page rendition, one thing the writer uses whenever he introduces a story that needs to be corroborated by somebody even to the point of mentioning the person’s name is that he is cautious enough to say what happened the way it happened. But when he sets out to narrate a story that he knows there is no one to corroborate it, the author says the discussion is between him and the late President Yar’Adua and, as we all know, the dead cannot give evidence.
The author has portrayed himself as someone who wielded enormous powers during the reign of Yar’Adua and not
merely a spokesman. In fact, he presents himself like a special vice president who intervenes in virtually every matter for it to be successful.
Right from the foreword, the author depicts the picture of Yar’Adua as someone who does not like anybody, as a result of which even as President, he relied on the information of other people in making all his appointments. Consequently, in the government, every key figure was brought in by somebody else.
Adeniyi has tried to over-stress his importance by saying that in that government, virtually all the good things or nice policies initiated were done with his support. He stresses that it was either he was the initiator or was instrumental to implementing it. As a matter of fact, the author strives to show that he has tried all he could to avert all the mistakes of the Yar’Adua administration, suggesting that where such happened, they were because government failed to heed his advice.
Adeniyi portrays Jonathan as someone who was victimised in the Yar’Adua era and describes him as someone who is patient to a fault, someone who never minds all the ordeals he passes through until truth eventually materialises and he assumes power.
A careful analysis of the book reveals that for all the period Segun stayed in the villa, he was busy working for some people and certain interests and not Yar’Adua who appointed him. It is not surprising because he stated categorically that he was forced to accept the appointment by his godfather, not that he accepted the offer on his own volition.
In Segun’s book, we were told that the former boss of EFCC, Malam Nuhu Ribadu, had close political affiliation and relations with former U.S. President George W. Bush so much so that Bush felt a little short of pleading with Yar’Adua to allow to Ribadu continue as the chairman of EFCC.
Segun, in a chapter on corruption and the Ibori saga, reveals how the American government supported Ribadu on his chairmanship of the anti-graft agency and how the American government turned it back on the agency when Ribadu was sacked (pages 17 to 42). In this chapter, the writer eulogizes Ribadu just the way and manner the U.S. eulogizes him. He stated explicitly the role he played in ensuring that Ribadu was not sacked or sent to NIPSS. All through the book, nobody was praised as much as Ribadu.
On the Niger Delta, to which the writer dedicated a chapter titled “The Niger Delta Amnesty Deal”, the author asserts that at a point in time the issue of amnesty almost failed but for his intervention (pages 61 to 87). On banking reform, he claims that Yar’Adua did not know the central bank governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, until he (President) asked him how he viewed Sanusi and whether he saw Sanusi as someone who could be trusted. The author said yes, as a result of which Sanusi was given the job (pages 91 to 101).
In a chapter titled ‘Between Mutallab and Boko Haram’, Adeniyi speaks on how the Mutallab issue and Boko Haram started. He eulogises himself as he stresses that he had to speak to virtually all those who mattered that the way the late Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was executed was not proper. Indeed, he reveals how the American government severed its ties with the Yar’Adua government because of the Mutallab saga (pages 102 – 114).
When I read Adeniyi’s account on the Mutallab saga and the killing of Mohammed Yusuf in the book and observed his silence on one important issue, I couldn’t help but be baffled. The important issue about which he was silent is the attempt to murder Sheik Ibrahim El Zak Zaky during the reign of Yar’Adua. The Sheikh had said during a Ramadan preaching that there were plans to eliminate him. He gave a detailed account of the plan and called on the government to appreciate the fact that he was living in his own house with his aged mother and children and that the government should know that he was living among people.
He appealed that whatever happened, those innocent citizens who stayed around him should not be affected. Virtually all the national dailies in this country reported the matter. Why was Adeniyi silent over this matter and couldn’t bring it in his book? Who hatched that plan? Who gave the directive? Who were those who wanted to execute it? Why was the plan not executed? Everybody knows who Sheikh El Zak Zaky is and his significance in the country. Why did Adeniyi speak on the issue of Boko Haram and Mutallab but was silent on the murder plan?
Indeed, this is surprising and has raised so many questions for which the only person to offer answers is Adeniyi since he has a stake in virtually everything that happened within the government circle as revealed in his book. He wrote that for any story that borders on Nigerian nation or the late President, even if it was in a press release and was not published by any newspaper, he usually directed for cuttings of such reports and commented before sending them to the President.
Why didn’t he send the story of the plot to kill Sheik Zak Zaky to the President? If he did send it, what was the President’s response?
Why was it not reflected in the book since the issue almost disrupted peace in Kaduna state so much so that the then governor and now vice president sought audience with the pupils of Sheikh and indeed he met with them to douse tension? Indeed, we are waiting for Segun to tell us.
One chapter where the author also engages in self-praise is the one captioned “When Counted Vote Don’t Count”(pages 115 – 130), written on the election in Ekiti state where the author said he had to be invited for questioning by the SSS. He said he had threatened to resign his appointment if men of the SSS pestered his life.
In part two of the book where the author writes on illness and death (pages 157 – 286) Segun said Gen. Aliyu Gusau was among those who stood as next of kin for the late Yar’Adua at a German hospital. He noted that the President was taken from a German hospital to Saudi Arabia because of the fear of the West.
He said he learnt of the return of Yar’Adua to Nigeria from Saudi Arabia from the publisher of Sahara Reporters who phoned him to tell him before he confirmed from other sources. He avers that even when the President arrived, he could not see him until he threatened to resign his appointment before he was granted access to see the ailing President, whom he said although he was still breathing, his chances of survival appeared very slim.
He said indeed, both Muslim and Christian clerics who were said to have seen the President on his sick bed did saw him. The pastors were even the ones who told Jonathan that from what they had seen, Yar’Adua’s chances of recovery were very slim, therefore, he should relax and rule the way and manner he so wished.
One of the harshest critics of the Yar’Adua administration, Dele Olojede, wrote the foreword to the book. Olojede it was who established NEXT, a newspaper that focused on bringing the government to its knees. The paper died immediately after the death of Yar’Adua. The newspaper published reports that tainted the Yar’Adua government. In fact, NEXT was the first paper to report the death of Yar’Adua.
Any reader of this book would note that Segun Adeniyi keeps reaffirming that he had a cordial relationship with all media houses, both local and international, claiming that all the reports written about the Yar’Adua government were true, especially those about his ill-health. The book can be given different interpretations, including, of course, a breach of trust. In it, tales were justapoxed with truth and the author was unjustifiably silent on some salient issues. All one can say is that one has heard Adeniyi and shall await another book by him or another one to be written by somebody to see more lurid tales.
Danjuma Katsina is the PRO, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Katsina state chapter
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Filed Under: Book Review