Launch Of Books On Muhammadu Buhari Titled – Working With Buhari: Reflections Of A Special Adviser, Media & Publicity (2015-2023),’ And ‘Muhammadu Buhari: The Nigerian Legacy (2015 – 2023)’
REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, IMMEDIATE PAST VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE LAUNCH OF BOOKS ON BUHARI TITLED: ‘WORKING WITH BUHARI: REFLECTIONS OF A SPECIAL ADVISER, MEDIA AND PUBLICITY (2015-2023),’ AND ‘MUHAMMADU BUHARI: THE NIGERIAN LEGACY (2015 – 2023)’ AT TRANSCORP HOTEL, ABUJA ON THE 16TH OF JANUARY, 2024
Let me begin by congratulating my dear brother, Femi Adesina, for writing this book, “Working with Buhari, Reflections of a Special Advisor, Media and Publicity.”
There have been quite a few books already written about President Buhari and they cover a lot of detail, a lot of it historical and of course, several about his numerous achievements since he first came into office in 1983.
But the reason why this personal account will be interesting for those who read it and I have had the particular good fortune of having read it before today, the reason why this is particularly interesting is that even after eight years of being President, President Buhari and so many books written after, remains an enigma to many Nigerians who want to understand, who really is President Buhari. Not the public persona, but who is he as a person.
I think Femi Adesina has done a great job, especially in covering an aspect of the former president that is not well known, which is his sense of humor, and his ability to tell a good joke and to take a good joke. His ability to laugh at himself.
I have a long repertoire of Buhari jokes and Femi has helped me to add a few more, and one day soon, we will launch a book this time, not “Working with Buhari”, but “Laughing with Buhari.”
But permit me to share a few anecdotes. Femi Adesina writes that on the day that the then President, President Buhari, on his first day in office at the Villa, requested him to meet with journalists accredited to the Villa at the State House Press Gallery.
The President came in, he shook hands with all the journalists, and as they introduced themselves, he had something to say to each of them. Then when Juliana Taiwo Obaloye introduced herself as representing Daily Sun newspapers, the President said, “warn your cartoonist, warn your cartoonist, my chin is not as long as he usually makes it!”
Sometime in 2019, I complained to him very bitterly about a libellous comment that was made against me and that I wanted to give him notice that I would be suing those who had libelled me.
He said to me in his usual style, “Professor, Professor, don’t let these people bother you. Do you know what they did to me recently? They actually printed an invitation card that I was going to get married on a Friday at the National Mosque.” He said, “You won’t believe Nigerians, there were thousands of them waiting for me at the National Mosque, waiting for me to come and get married.”
And to tell you that President Buhari was always ready to laugh at himself, and of course, we’ve heard already from General IBM Haruna, Rtd, of how you know when he was being criticized about his journeys and all that. But the second part of that story is that Femi Adesina tells a story of how following his overseas trips which were criticized you know by the press in an opinion piece in the newspaper criticizing his travels abroad, the headline was, “When will President Buhari visit Nigeria?” And the president laughed and laughed.
I remember sometime in 2016, just before he went on his medical vacation, I told him I wanted to visit the oil-producing communities in the Niger Delta, and that I thought a dialogue with the militants in the wake of the destruction of pipelines and other assets was a good idea. And he told me the experiences of the then Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, who had visited the Niger Delta some time back.
But while agreeing with me that it was a good idea, and just as I was getting up to leave, he said with that mischievous glint in his eyes, “Don’t be the first Vice President to be kidnapped!”
There’s a story that the President likes to tell and it is about the German Sentry and Femi Adesina recounts that story in the book and President Buhari told that story again when the Peace Committee headed by General Abdulsalami Abubakar visited him. Also on that team were the Sultan of Sokoto, Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar and Bishop Hassan Kukah.
They had come to appeal to him that the anti-corruption war should be waged within the ambit of the rule of law. The President listened patiently and then responded, “In the military, there used to be a joke about the German sentry” he then explained that when an ordinary sentry on duty at night hears any movement in the dark, he would bark out, “Who goes there?!”, advance to be recognized with his gun ready. He will then interrogate the person and if he tells an acceptable story, he waves the person off.
But the German sentry is different, when he hears a movement in the dark, he immediately lets out a volley of shots and then he shouts, “Who went there?” Of course, there will be absolute silence because he’s already killed the person.
The President then explained to his audience that when he came as a military ruler, he was like the German sentry. “I packed all the people who were suspected of corruption and kept them in protective custody. And I told them that they were corrupt until they could prove themselves innocent. But now, under a democratic setting, I see corrupt people going around in Rolls Royce cars, but they remain innocent until I can prove them guilty.”
Femi Adesina writes that on one occasion, President Buhari sent him to represent him at a book launch. And when he asked him, “So how much should I donate on your behalf? President Buhari said, “Give them a big smile and tell them that that is what I sent.”
I hope on behalf of the authors today that those of you here will come with more than a big smile!
Congratulations again, my brother, Femi Adesina, and congratulations to President Buhari for yet another literary celebration of your intriguing and significant life and times.
Thank you all very much.